Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Old Classic

The Tecnam Echo Light is a new, no-frills version of a veteran fun flyer that won’t bust the budget

Tecnam wants you to have a lot of choices. Its current line of eight LSA includes the classy, luxurious P2008, SeaSky amphib (its composite floats have all-internal cabling), single-place SNAP aerobat and the just-announced, super-sexy Astore low-winger.

The Echo Light climb rate is surprisingly robust, reflecting the light wing loading and clean, efficient wing and airframe: At an 80-knot cruise climb (and on a hot, humid afternoon), I'm still seeing around 600 fpm. Standard day conditions book spec is 885 fpm: That seems accurate.

The cruise climb delivers decent over-cowl visibility—I see the horizon line from left to right. There's headroom for pilots up to at least six feet, three inches. My eye level—just above the wing root bottom, just aft of the leading edge (I'm five feet, 11 inches)—means I have to duck slightly to see along the wing's underside. I like the curve of overhead windscreen: You can see straight up and slightly behind. In a decently banked turn, you can see what's ahead over the wing's top: always a safety boon.

Big side windows aft of the seats supplement the generous view below with a good rear component.

CFI Todd Kallenbach (left) gets settled into the Tecnam's stitched and adjustable seat (right).

I pull some turns, Dutch rolls, and approach and departure stalls. They only reinforce my sense of flying an old friend. The Light is a born trainer: docile, stable, reassuring and a good performer. Fledgling stick jockeys should love it.

Cruise speed befits the training/light cross-country mission of the aircraft: At full power, I log a bit over 100 knots (book is 103 knots; 75% cruise is 92 knots).

As the golden sun eases toward the hazy horizon, we head back to make some landings. Entering base and powering back to around 60 knots delivers a very good power-off glide. Landings are laughably easy. The airplane is solid and stable through final (at 50 to 55 knots), round out and flare. The bird floats nicely then settles onto the runway with no bad manners.

My host suggests I make the final full-stop landing in three-pointer, taildragger attitude. I settle on the mains only, holding the nose wheel well off. Keeping everything straight is easy with the excellent rudder control. Then, as speed bleeds off, the elevator loses effectiveness and the nosewheel eases onto the concrete. Suh-weet! That's an excellent task for teaching low-speed handling skills. No wonder Tecnam Italy's CEO Paolo Pascale flies this airplane to and from his home in Italy every day.

I walk away from the Echo Light, glad to once again cop some Tecnam Time. Do yourself a favor: Go have some real fun with this fine airplane.

Labels: LSAs

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