Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Full-Metal Funship

There’s a reason the RV-12, and all Van’s Aircraft designs, sell like hotcakes

Landing was another pleasure. The between-seats flap lever, a simple, effective two-position affair, drops the nose, requiring back stick and a push on the trim toggle.

My first landing, without even a demo, smoothed onto the tarmac with nary an embarrassment. Another landing approach, too high (my Achilles heel), required a slip to correct. Piece of cake. Snapping the bird out of it a few feet above the numbers brought another respectable landing: The short wing hangs onto lift at low speeds, while the big horizontal tail sends plenty of pitch feedback even near the stall. It's one easy airplane to land.

Do yourself a favor: If a low-wing, all-metal funship with wonderful handling and a good cruise are on your bucket list, don't fail to check out the Van's RV-12.

That Dang E-LSA Vs. EAB Question

Folks tend to get confused about the difference between E-LSA (Experimental Light Sport Aircraft) and EAB (Experimental Amateur Built). Here's Mitch Lock's take:

E-LSA: "Legally, Van's is the manufacturer of the aircraft, not you. There's a five-hour phase-one flight test period. You can do all maintenance on the aircraft you want. But, you can't sign off your own annual condition inspection unless you take an FAA sanctioned 16-hour Light-Sport Inspection Course. A lot of companies give it, typically over a weekend."

Lock explains that to license the RV-12 as an E-LSA, you must buy all the kits from Van's: "Spinner to tail cone: engine, prop, everything we say you need to buy.

"Even if you already have an engine, you can't delete that kit: The certification requires you buy the engine from us because that's the only way we can certify that engine is going into that particular aircraft." Once the final powerplant kit is shipped, "we send you an 8130-15 E-LSA compliance form."

Only factory-approved mods can be installed—and only during construction. Once the airworthiness certificate is issued, you're allowed to make changes as long as they don't exceed the LSA envelope (gross weight over 1,320 pounds, max speed beyond 120 knots, stall speed above 45 knots and so on).

"You could, though, take the whole panel out and install a Garmin G1000, or change the lighting system, or tint the windows and still be in compliance," Lock continues.

EAB: "Her­­e, the builder is the manufacturer; a 40-hour phase-one flight test period is required," Lock explains. "Then you can apply to FAA for a repairman certificate and do all your own maintenance and sign off your annual condition inspection."

After that, EAB builders can do whatever they want: put a different engine up front, change the tire size, whatever. Lock concludes, "At that point though, it's no longer officially an RV-12; it's your own experimentally built kit."

Labels: LSAs

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