Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lovely And Lively

The G-700S is resurrected as the AT-4, but still friendly as ever

What a sweet bird for training! It's a comfortable cruiser, too: immune from inadvertent, ham-handed overcorrections near the stall, yet able to handle bumpy weather fine at cruise since the feel stiffens up a bit at the 105 to 110 knot-max cruise I saw during our flight.

And the view? Terrific with that bubble canopy and low-ish nose angle, which makes it a snap to take in the terrain above the cowl straight ahead.

A couple more landings prove the airplane's all-around good manners and forgiving personality. We pull stalls and it's a non-event: mush mush mush, lower the nose a touch and you're back flying.

Rudder is required in turns to counter slight adverse yaw but it's not what I'd call a rudder ship. Just a little push as you roll in and you're in Fat City. Unlike some LSA such as the CTLS, powered- back descents don't require left foot to keep yaw at bay.

Fave Raves
My favorite features: The trim wheel is so easy to work. It's geared so effectively that very little movements take you right to the trim you want, while giving you good touch feedback. On some LSA, electric trim is so sensitive, trimming becomes a "chase the sweet spot" chore.

I also like where everything's placed, from pedals to stick to panel switches to (positive-locking) canopy latch. The AT-4 is refined, well-thought-out and enjoyable. And the G3X display: beautiful.

The airplane is stable in slow flight. You get a stall warning beep in the low 40s but you have to work to stall —another great training feature. You can mess up pretty badly and it won't bite you.

A lot of air vents with controllability for airflow make for good cooling potential on hot days. There's night lighting for GA missions, with dimmers. Nice. Kuehlmuss tells me he tapes off some of the cowl inlets when it's really cold so the engine doesn't suffer during descents.

The flap handle is a little stiff if you try to bring it in at top-of-flap-regime airspeeds. Slow things down and all's fine. After our final landing, we roll onto the grass for some photos. I appreciate how well the spring gear soaks up the bumps.

Quick wrap-up: The Aero AT-4 is a quality-made, durable S-LSA that deserves your consideration if you're in the market for a reasonably-priced, all-around friendly airplane.

Its decent useful load of 485 to 540 pounds (depending on equipment), means with full fuel (111 pounds) it's somewhat limited at 370 to 439 pounds, but for training ops in particular, and a moderate cruise mission profile, it's a workable range. And, Greg Trzaska notes, there's an optional 14.5 gallon external fuel tank for longer flights, although that further lowers useful load. The takeaway: AT-4 remains one of my top 10 friendliest, fun-flying S-LSA. hard helping somebody.

Labels: LSAs


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