Friday, July 1, 2005
This new sport trainer gets even better the second time around
Environmental systems are as simple as possible. Heat is via a conventional exhaust muff, and ventilation in flight is channeled through NACA ducts to standard Wemacs. There are no openable windows, but keeping cool on the ground is a simple matter of leaving the doors in trail until you’re ready to fly.
In taxi mode, the airplane enjoys maneuverability more in line with a taildragger. The non-steerable nosegear casters 90 degrees to allow the airplane a full 180-degree rotation practically within its own wingspan. The only obvious downside is that braking is the sole method of directional control at low speeds, so regular brake maintenance is critical.
With 160 hp under the cowl, the Symphony manifests an enthusiasm uncommon to other sport trainers. Power up for takeoff, and the Symphony generates good acceleration, not surprising considering the available power.
The airplane comes off the ground cleanly and starts uphill without pausing for breath, ascending at about 800 fpm with the stock, composite, MT propeller. A Sensenich climb prop also is available that will elevate the airplane at more like 900 fpm. (Symphony also plans to offer a three-blade, MT, constant speed soon.)
Service ceiling with the long wing and plentiful power is listed above 16,000 feet, so the Symphony should be reasonably adept at density altitudes of 5,000 to 7,000 feet. This may make the airplane more attractive for operators in the American West and other locations where pilots need airplanes to match their mountains.
If the Symphony hopes to make serious inroads into the training market, good slow flight characteristics will be critical. Fortunately, the Symphony is gentle and forgiving throughout its speed range. The airplane sports a full flap stall speed of 51 knots at gross (48 knots at a typical mid-cruise weight), slightly quicker but not that different from the competition. That means you can plan approaches as slow as 60 knots if there’s a need to plunk it on and stop it short. More normal approaches are recommended at 65 to 70 knots.
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