Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The“i”s Have It

The CTLSi delivers performance with efficiency

The light-sport aircraft (LSA) turns 10 this year. Few manufacturers have had a bigger impact on the category or enjoyed more success during this first decade than German manufacturer Flight Design GmbH, riding on the evolved wings of its composite high-wing CT microlight/sport aircraft, introduced in 1997. More than 1,700 have been delivered to date, and late last year, the company unveiled the latest in the CT series, the CTLSi, featuring the new, fuel-efficient, 100 hp injected Rotax 912iS engine. What better way to see how far LSA and this company have come than from the cockpit of the CTLSi during the 10th annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) held this past January?

Flight Design actually had the CTLSi at Sebring in 2013, but the engine installation was still going through teething pains that delayed its official introduction, Flight Design USA president Tom Peghiny told me at the company's display area. "It's a mature system now," he said.

"I'm in love with this Si engine," demo pilot and regional sales rep Brian Boucher added, "It's so simple, so easy to operate." A 20,000-hour Airbus captain in his day job, Boucher's opinion qualifies as expert.

The family resemblance between the CTLSi and the original CT is clear, reflecting the series' evolutionary development. After its successful introduction in 1999, Flight Design debuted the second-generation, millennial CT, the CT2K, featuring a lengthened wing, and in 2004 introduced the CTSW, a faster, short-wing version, later incorporating a glass panel with Dynon display screens, a Garmin 496 and autopilot. The CTLS, introduced in 2008, brought the airframe to its current configuration, featuring a stretched fuselage, improved fuel system and composite landing gear, along with the Rotax 912S engine. The longer fuselage, extended some 18 inches, creates more distance between the wing and stabilizer for reduced yaw and more pitch stability, and allows for a larger and more aerodynamically shaped cockpit. (Full-scale wind tunnel testing was conducted at Mercedes-Benz's test facility.) The composite main gear, though heavier than the aluminum struts they replace, are much stronger and more flexible, absorbing more than 50% of the landing energy on the first bounce, while new urethane polymer shock absorbers in the nose gear help dampen shimmy and smooth-out hard landings.

LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. The 65-inch three-bladed composite Neuform propeller is ground adjustable. 2. The baggage compartment holds the BRS parachute—and 110 pounds of cargo. 3. Whelen wingtip position/anti-collision LED lights (Orion 600 series with landing light) are a popular option.

At 100 hp, the 912iS offers no power increase over the 912S found in the CTLS, but the injected version reduces fuel consumption by more than 20%, increasing range by the same margin. Moreover, it runs on auto gas, providing more economy. "The further you fly, the more the superiority of the CTLS shows," the company says in its promotion material, noting the CTLSi was designed for flying routes like Chicago-NYC, Dallas-Charlotte, or from one side of Europe to the other.


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