Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Searching For The Ideal Airpark Airplane

The Tecnam P2008: an LSA delivered with a big envelope

Here and there in the endless sea of trees and gorges was a field that had been cleared. The ability to use unimproved fields is something many pilots would want in an RAA. Can the P2008 handle that? "Absolutely," said Lubore. "Remember, this is a European airplane, and most of their flying is off turf. You can take the wheel pants off and go for it."

We wouldn't be putting down in the wilderness this morning, but Lubore was eager to showcase the airplane's aplomb in the pattern, as he talked me through a touch-and-go and full-stop landing back at SCX. The procedure: slow to 90 knots on the downwind (about 1,900 rpm). Go to 1,500 rpm abeam the numbers while holding altitude, and at 80 knots put in the first notch of flaps and point the nose down to maintain airspeed. Slow to 70 knots on base and drop the rest of the flaps. Final approach is flown at 60 knots. If you're high or hot, you can slip at any flap setting. The P2008 plants solidly on the runway, and likes a little more rudder on the rollout than heavier certificated aircraft need.

The shutdown procedure for the Rotax has just one wrinkle: The magnetos should be turned off one at a time—just a second or two between key turns—to reduce the rpm a little more gradually and lessen stress on the reduction gear.

The RAA Verdict
As a pilot without much LSA experience who isn't ready to downsize his airplane, I was skeptical that an LSA could have the range of capabilities to make the list of top airpark airplanes, but came away convinced that the P2008 has the requisite capabilities on both ends of the envelope. Just don't plan on going anywhere in IMC. And the Tecnam also gets a thumbs-up from the real experts: BSFA property owners Lamar and Marilyn Parker of Winston-Salem, N.C., come and go in a Cessna 414, and Lamar thinks the P2008's high-wing configuration helps make it a worthy RAA. "Those are ideal," Lamar said. "You have an opportunity to see all the world around you. That's one of the drawbacks of me flying Pipers and low-wing Cessnas all my life."

Fred and Jean Huppert of Worcester, Ohio fly the Liberty XL, and the qualities Fred enjoys in that two-place aircraft are also found in the P2008. "I like the way the aircraft operates with push rods linking the control surface," Fred said, "and it's got a comfortable, wide cockpit."

Meanwhile, Lubore had his own verdict, not about the P2008, but about BSFA: "Looks like they've got their own little slice of paradise out here," he said.


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