Plane & Pilot
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Air Elite Storm Rally


This LSA is adapted from a European model that has been flying for years in Europe as both a four-seater and an aerobatic sportplane


storm aircraftAnyone who has followed the development of the LSA market in the States is probably aware that many of the current crop of LSAs were developed in Europe as many as 20 years ago. That was long before there was any formal definition of the type, and those airplanes have been adapted to accommodate the American definition. America “discovered” the economy and fun of flying LSAs only three years ago, but pilots on the opposite side of the pond have been aviating in economical two-seaters for decades to offset the high operating expenses of private aircraft.
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storm aircraft
With an ICOM A200 transceiver and Garmin GTX 320A transponder, the Rally has a panel adequate for operation in controlled airspace. Each seat is fitted with curved joysticks that allow for easier inboard foot access.
Storm Aircraft translates horsepower to thrust via a composite, three-blade Warp Drive propellor. The 70-inch-diameter prop is ground-adjustable for climb or cruise.

Base price on the Rally S-LSA is $107,900, and that includes a basic VFR radio package. Unlike some LSAs that offer minimum or no avionics as standard, the Storm Rally features a functional panel adequate to operation in controlled airspace. Standard transceiver is an ICOM A200 with an ICOM intercom, and the transponder is a Garmin GTX 320A with an Ameri-King encoder.

A portable Garmin 296/396/496 GPS/moving map is optional in an articulating Air Gizmos mount to improve visibility in various light situations. The sophisticated 496 is a miniature avionics powerhouse that brings terrain and XM Weather into the mix, along with voice alerts and battery backup power to provide several hours of operation after a complete electrical failure.

The Rally also has uncommon features like electric trim and electric Fowler flaps that translate aft as they extend down. The nosewheel is steerable through 18 degrees of travel for ground maneuvering. Both seats are fitted with four-point harnesses and cleverly curved joysticks designed to allow for easier inboard foot access.

storm aircraftThe Storm Rally weighs in at 760 pounds, and that leaves 560 pounds for useful load. Standard fuel is 21 gallons, so payload works out to 439 pounds, two hefty front seaters and a baggage compartment full of whatever. Storm wisely offers an optional fuel capacity of 34 gallons. That means, if you’re flying alone, a typical 190-pound pilot can carry full aux fuel and 100 pounds of baggage and still be 65 pounds under gross.

Put all the ingredients together in flight, and the result is a responsive LSA that’s fun and practical. It’s important to remember, that it is an LSA, and that means it’s constrained by all the limitations the FAA has imposed on the type. Cruise speed can’t exceed 120 knots, gross weight is restricted to 1,320 pounds, and stall must not exceed 46 knots.

Still, climb at max weight is 800 fpm from sea level, about the same as a midweight Skyhawk, and predictably, the Rally flies notably lighter than the popular Cessna. Storm lists cruise speed as 107 knots at 2,000 feet, probably a concession to those who like to fly low and smell the roses (and the cows). That probably translates to about 112 to 114 knots at 8,000 feet. Service ceiling is 12,000 feet.

With the tanks full (21 gallons standard; 34 gallons optional), the Rally can transport you as far as 800 nm at one sitting, suggesting an endurance of 8.5 to 9 hours at reduced power settings.

When you get to the opposite end of the trip, the wide Fowler flaps allow you to drop the Rally into virtually any flat spot that’s longer than 800 feet. Technically, the specs suggest a takeoff distance of 360 feet and a landing roll of 450 feet. Add any significant wind, and you could probably make do with 400 feet for both numbers.

The Rally will always be an LSA, subject to all the limitations above, but if you’re properly rated and equip the airplane appropriately, you could operate a Rally at night or in IFR conditions.

At this writing, the North American distributor for the Storm Rally is Air Elite (www.aireliteaviation.com), located in Three Rivers, Mich.

LSAs bring a new dimension to flying. In contrast to normal-category airplanes, they’re a relatively economical means of transportation that provide reasonable payload and performance at a price that usually won’t break the bank.

SPECS: Storm Aircraft Rally LSA



Labels: LSAs

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