Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: Europe’s Disneyland For Airplanes

One Yank’s take on Europe’s premier aircraft show...and why we should care

Another significant debut was Chinese producer Yuneec's eSpyder, set to make its U.S. push. The ultralight is certified to Germany's DULV standard, the first electric aircraft to achieve certification. Yuneec will soon sell other electric models in Europe.

Dan was impressed by an Italian mainstay's major display. "Tecnam's booth was maybe the biggest of any of the halls. I think they had 15 full-sized aircraft. Two highlights were the new Astore and Snap single-seat aerobatic LSA."

Another phenomenon we don't see much of in the States: gyrocopters. "Aero showcases all these gorgeous gyros. Two recent developments: side-by-side, fully enclosed cockpits and the first-ever ballistic parachute for a gyro. The 'chute deploys through the center of a five-inch tubular rotorshaft." A surprise: Dan notes that engine giant Rotax claims the gyrocopter sector buys more engines than any other category. "One company, AutoGyro, delivers 300 units a year!"

Exciting developments in engine technology are common at Aero. The FlyEco smart diesel is an 80 hp power plant that burns just seven liters of fuel per hour! The 91.8 hp four-cylinder four-stroke, liquid-cooled flathead engine claims a three gph fuel burn.

Three other LSA that caught his eye: TL Ultralight's racer-like low-wing tandem LSA Stream, in early development; the Avana Odonata amphibian mockup, which reminded him of the Icon A5 but reportedly will weigh 400 pounds less; and Zlin's Bobber, which brings the customized motorcycle concept to an established line of Cub-like flivvers.

"Zlin offers 50 customizations: chromed airframe and engine parts, control sticks and rudder pedals, big tires, beautiful leather saddlebags behind the seats, an uncovered fuselage, cool things like that. It's the Harley of the air," Dan concludes.

One thing you won't see at Aero: air show performances. Aero did away long ago with that distraction in favor of static-only display. Dan Johnson's parting comment should bring cheer to all: "The consensus among many Aero exhibitors: 2013 is showing a much stronger market. I heard the same thing at Sun 'n Fun. The industry mood is much more positive."


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