Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Prius With Wings
Two-fisted thermal grabber, fuel-sipping cruiser and trainer—in one airplane!
That economy comes from two prime origins: 1) gorgeous, clean aerodynamics, even though the landing gear (tailwheel or optional trike) live in the slipstream, and 2) the 80 hp Rotax 912 UL engine, which turns a 15-gallon (26 gallons optional) fuel load into an impressive range 650 nm (or 890 nm) reach.
The load factor spec is +4/-2G. Max tested load factor was +7.2/-7.2G! Strength doesn't take a backseat to performance at Pipistrel.
Considering those power specs, you'd be tempted as I was to conclude Sinus is a tad underpowered. Au contraire! In our climb from sea level to angels 8.5, we throttled back to a cruise climb of 80 knots at around 4,800 rpm. Our climb rate was still nearly 800 fpm! Another time, climbing from 6,500 to 8,500 to cross the ocean en route to Cedar Creek, Fla., we ran at 4,400 rpm at 90 knots. Climb rate? Better than 400 fpm.
Pipistrel specs max climb at an impressive 1,280 fpm at 65 knots...but still 1,240 fpm at 84 knots! We didn't quite reach the top value—it was a 70-degree day—but I saw 1,100 fpm, and our optional trike gear is more draggy than the standard tailwheel version.
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