Plane & Pilot and Pilot Journal Magazines

SUN 'n FUN 2009!





Great (and getting hot!) weather and a good, if not record-breaking, turnout mark the beginning of the EAA Sun 'n Fun flyin.
The exhibitor turnout is likewise somewhat down, although Dan Johnson's LSA Mall at the entrance is filled with aircraft and lots of serious interest from potential buyers, as in previous shows.
I've talked with many LSA companies here who say there are more serious buyers, fewer "tire-kickers".
Some LSA makers like Flight Design have racked up aircraft sales already. Others are still hoping to do business: it depends on who you talk to on whether the show is better or worse than expected. Expectations due to the economic times were not high to begin with, so it's too early to put a number on the overall picture.
Lots of new developments though, with more details to come here, such as:
* a new electric/Rotax hybrid engine that will boost economy and provide electric power safety backup in emergencies, announced at AERO Friedrichshafen
* Evektor passes LAMA audit
* Legend Cub offers sub-$100,000 "Aeronomic Stimulus" SLSA, and new Garmin 696 installation
* EAA presents Earth Day celebration with electric LSA prototype in center of the LSA exhibitors in the southeast display mall.
And lots more to come.
HEART OF TEXAS FLY-IN
Chris Regis of Paradise Acft. did me a favor in absentia by filing a quick report from the field about the Heart of Texas LSA Expo fly-in he and other manufacturers recently attended.
"The folks organizing really took great care of all vendors;it was a small event since it's their first year but all the top manufacturers were there:Paradise, CT, Jabiru, Sting, Rans, Lambada, Sport Star, etc...
During the first day, the wind was very strong and no one did demos but Sunday everyone was busy.
The location is very good, between Dallas and Houston and I am glad that Karl and the rest of the folks decided to do this event. Jim, Texas is a huge market so we will definitely be there next year.
They even put together a nice Texas style BBQ for all of us, it was delicious!"
Also thanks to Chris for the photos.
We'll keep an eye on this new LSA venue and hope to cover a larger show next year.
NTSB: "DON'T FLY" Zodiac 601XL!
In a Safety Recommendation released Apr. 14, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) "has investigated a series of in-flight structural breakups of Zodiac CH-601XL airplanes designed by Zenair, Inc...in the United States in the last 3 years. The Safety Board is also aware of several in-flight structural breakups of CH-601XLs that have occurred abroad. It appears that aerodynamic flutter is the likely source of four of the U.S. accidents and of at least two foreign accidents. The Safety Board believes urgent action is needed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to prevent additional in-flight breakups. Two of the accident airplanes were classified as Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA)."
In six of the breakups, NTSB noted 10 people were killed.
Aerodynamic flutter occurs when aerodynamic and structural forces interact and lead to unsafe structural vibration in the airplane. Left undamped, the vibrations can quickly lead to structural failure.
NTSB's
urgent recommendation to the FAA is to prohibit further flight of the CH-601XL until it can determine the airplane is no longer susceptible to aerodynamic flutter. The NTSB asserts its investigations of the US accidents point to a problem with the design of the flight control system, which makes the airplane susceptible to flutter.
Said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "...we believe such action will save lives. Unless the safety issues with this particular Zodiac model are addressed, we are likely to see more accidents in which pilots and passengers are killed in airplanes that they believed were safe to fly."
The report went on to specify stick force and airspeed indicator anomalies.

Also notable in the report was NTSB's expression of concern for the US light-sport aircraft industry.
"The Board also identified several areas in which the design standards for light sport airplanes were deficient."
Instead of the FAA-mandated certification typical for general aviation aircraft, FAA accepts ASTM International standards, developed by industry working groups as certification that LSA designs are safe to fly.
NTSB has asked the ASTM to take the following actions:
1. Add requirements to reduce the potential for aerodynamic flutter to develop
2. develop standards on stick force characteristics for light sport airplanes that minimize the possibility of pilot’s inadvertently over-controlling the airplane
3. ensure standards for LSA for accurate airspeed indications and appropriate documentation in new airplane pilot operating handbooks.
Expect a buzz saw of comments and activity around this surprising development in the weeks ahead.

-photo courtesy Zenith Aircraft Co.
SUNNY SIDE UP!

Somebody forgot to tell Paradise Ind. Aeronautica about the major global economic meltdown. Chris Regis of Paradise, (see my spots about their acft. below), tells me the company just opened its new 70,000-square-foot-plant in Brazil, which will produce 120 airplanes per year.
Customers can even keep track of their airplane's construction progress on the internet thanks to a remote camera system on the assembly line! How cool is that?
Paradise makes the P1 and P1 SP (with all-hand controls for disabled pilots). Their aircraft (look for my report on both models in an upcoming issue of Plane & Pilot) are built in Brazil and assembled, outfitted and test flown in Sebring, FL.

Price is in the $109,000-$120,000 range, depending on avionics and options.
Pix as soon as I get 'em from Chris.

New EFIS for Light Sport

This week's Dallas AEA (Aircraft Electronics Assoc.) Convention has tons of cool new electronics. Of note to sport pilots is the G3X system from Garmin. It's a PFD (Primary Flight Display) and MFD (Multi Function Display) system that's built around Garmin's GDU 370/375 displays. Intended for LSA and Experimental category aircraft, the non-certified system can display information across one, two or three screens. The single screen version with all capabilities lists at $3995. The full G3X system that will include ADAHRS (Attitude/Heading Reference System), EIS (Engine Information System), magnetometer and temperature probe, once available, will go at an estimated price of $9,995.00.
Garmin will display the system at Sun'nFun in two weeks. Be there or be square!
CEO Makes ICONic Flight

The Icon A5 made a big splash, you should excuse the pun, at last year's Oshkosh Airventure. The high-profile marketing campaign posits that there's a whole generation of high-energy recreational enthusiasts looking to own their own flying motorcycle/jet ski, and they're putting up some hefty investment capital to back up their vision.
The company took another major step toward finding out whether that vision has legs when ICON Aircraft founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins made his first flight in the prototype on March 11, 2009, as part of the company’s user trials. The flight took place at Lake Isabella in Kern County, CA, site of 45 earlier test hops.
“I walked into the test flight completely focused on evaluating the aircraft as a potential customer,” said Hawkins. “As an experienced pilot who’s flown everything from ultralights to fighter jets, I expected my reaction to be, ‘Yep, it flies just like I expected. Good job,’ said Hawkins. “I think my first comment after the ground crew opened the canopy was, "Wow! This thing rocks! I may have just had as much fun flying as I've ever had."
You can find out more about the ICON A5 and the high profile company behind it here.
ICON says flight testing of the prototype will continue through 2009 with deliveries targeted for late 2010.