Plane & Pilot
Friday, July 1, 2005

Symphony 160

This new sport trainer gets even better the second time around

symphonyThe Symphony 160 was introduced five years ago by OMF Aircraft of Neubrandenburg, Germany, which established a Canadian manufacturing subsidiary, OMF Canada, in 2003, located in Three Rivers, Quebec. Through no fault of its Canadian subsidiary, the parent company declared bankruptcy and the Symphony design was left stranded in the murk of litigation. After negotiating an almost unimaginable morass of legalities, several of the original OMF Canada team has emerged with the rights to bring the high-tech two-seater back to market.
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Also to Symphony’s credit is its selection of engines. The 160 features perhaps the most reliable engine in general aviation, Lycoming’s O-320. The published TBO is 2,000 hours, but it’s not uncommon for 320s to run well beyond that recommendation.

By any measure, the basic Symphony is an attractive package, possessed of Warrior-like performance and priced $139,900 in VFR trim and $154,900 for the IFR package, and $189,650 with the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra. Starting this September, Symphony will also begin offering the option of an airframe parachute from Ballistic Recovery Systems, the same people who supply Cirrus Design.

Unlike other aircraft manufacturers, Symphony has a singular focus on evolving the two-seat Symphony to its full potential. “The new company is determined to sell the 160 before they even consider building anything else,” says Symphony dealer Tony Settember of Foothill Aviation in Upland, Calif. “OMF had dedicated considerable time and money developing a 135 hp Thielert diesel-powered version of the same airplane and a stretched, four-place Symphony 250. Those designs aren’t dead, but they’re definitely on the back burner while Symphony Industries works on the basic 160.”

Wingspan is 35 feet, quite a bit longer than the span of a Cessna 150, Piper Tomahawk or Beech Skipper, and that helps the airplane support a gross weight of 2,150 pounds, making this the heaviest of the two-seat, sport trainers. Empty weight is typically 1,470 pounds, so useful load works out to 680 pounds. Subtract 180 pounds of fuel, and the airplane winds up with a payload of 500 pounds. Remember, there are only two seats available, and baggage capacity behind the pilots is 165 pounds. The Symphony can easily carry pretty much anything you can cram aboard.

“Cram” may not be the operative term, considering that the Symphony’s cockpit is four inches wider than a Cessna 150’s and 3 ½ inches wider than a C-172’s. Once you’re settled into either front bucket seat, the flight deck is reasonably roomy. Roll and pitch control is via a joystick, flaps deploy electrically to 40 degrees, and the rudder pedals are light and effective.

Visibility is very good in practically all directions, including straight up. Symphony has mounted a pair of rectangular, Plexiglas windows directly overhead to improve the view to the top. (During the air-to-air photo session that produced the accompanying photos, I used those windows to good advantage, maintaining a visual lock with the photo ship directly above us.)


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