Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Making A Splash In The LSA World
Tecnam’s new amphib marks a sea change in float design
While several seaworthy LSA employ the hulled flying boat model (e.g. the Aventura, SeaMax, SeaRey, Super Petrel and the in-development ICON A5), the SeaSky puts Tecnam's proven P92 Echo Classic LSA atop amphibious floats in place of the aircraft's usual tricycle undercarriage. The result flies something akin to a classic Piper J-3 Cub on floats, updated with side-by-side seating in a comfortable cabin and the added utility of being able to touch down on solid land, something even the most ardent seaplane pilot can appreciate.
"That means you can go out and do all the floatplane flying you want, and then go to just about any land-based airport and get fuel," said Tristan Raab, Tecnam's SeaSky demo pilot, noting, "You can't go to just any lake with a floatplane and expect to fuel up—you've got to really plan it."
The P92 looks good on floats, with enough heft not to appear diminished when hoisted astride pontoons. The airframe is basically all aluminum (wingtips and cowl are composite, and the ailerons are fabric), but the Tecnam-made floats are composite; the company took fabrication experience gained through development of its carbon-fiber airframe for the P2008 and P2010, and created its own amphibious floats.
Made from vacuum-cured carbon fiber, the floats feature a flat top with a nonslip grip coating for firm, stable footing. A pneumatic compressed air system, lighter than a hydraulic system, controls landing gear extension and retraction. (The maintenance-free pneumatic system also eliminates the potential for hydraulic fluid leaks.) A manually operated reserve pump provides backup. The landing gear components are anodized Avional CNC-machined, and the pontoons are reinforced to survive a gear-up landing or two on turf or hard surface.
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