Monday, September 26, 2011

REMOS GXeLite: Super Diet?

Sign of the times: cut costs wherever possible.  And kudos to those LSA makers who can cut weight too!
Remos Aircraft has a lower-priced, dramatically lighter version of its flagship GX that bears closer scrutiny. 
It’s called GXeLite, and lists at $133,924.
All photos courtesy Remos Aircraft
The model is targeted at pilots, clubs and flights schools that don’t feel the need for all the latest high-tech glass and embellishments.  Typically, “loaded” models like the GX and new GXNXT models price out at well over the wallet-flattening $150K mark. 
The eLite is dramatically lighter in empty weight too: just 638 lbs. (My recent flight report on the NXT listed that model’s empty weight at 718, or 90 lbs. heavier!).  That would allow full tanks as well as some truly hefty passengers too, since the useful load is 682 lbs.!
The main steps taken to lighten the load on the eLite include reinstating the composite landing gear, using carbon fiber instead of metal wing struts, new carbon fiber seats and a new instrument panel, which is lighter as well as lower.
All of this adds up to good news for people interested in Remos.  I’ve found the GX in general to be among the easiest, most enjoyable all-around airplanes I’ve ever flown.  It has a wonderfully harmonious control balance, light, solid control feel, well-behaved takeoff and landing characteristics, and is simply a joy to fly.
This Remos panel chart also shows a FlymapL moving map.
The eLite also offers a ballistic parachute safety system as an option rather than standard equipment, along with that lower-profile panel which enhances forward visibility.
The panel still mounts a good rack of gadgets, starting off with Dynon's workhorse D-180 EFIS/EMS panel and Becker’s Com AR6201 transceiver and BXP6401 transponder.  Power comes from the proven 80 hp Rotax 912.
Even though the lower-cost electrical system eliminates interior lighting needed for night flight (something day VFR-restricted Sport Pilots don't deal with anyway), the eLite still has anti-collision, position and landing lights.
An interior storage area has been removed and there is now only one coat of paint, to help with the load-lightening engineering. 
But think about that Remos diet plan: they took an already-light weight LSA airplane and managed to trim more than 11% more! 
Owners can still opt for all the Remos options the more robust models have, but I’d like to compare this lighter version to the heavier GX to see if there’s an appreciable difference in crosswinds and turbulence. 


Pete Zaitcev said...

Although the increase in the useable load of an LSA is always welcome, I am not all that enthusiastic, from my selfish point of view, of course.

I am tall, so I look over the cowl in GX. Making panel any lower does absolutely nothing for me. I would be quite happy if they made panel slimmer while raising its bottom, to give me the knee space. What they do is exactly backwards from what I need. It's not that GX is unbearable - I flew 4-hour cross-countries in it. But it would've been much better if knee room were added. The odd thing is, they already have an accomodation for short pilots: the seat goes up as it is moved closer.

Next, one cannot help thinking that carbon structs are not going to help the price. It would rather have them keep the current struts and lower the price.

And finally, the wing-folding mechanism is hardly useful for the most pilots, and is a safety hazard. It should be deleted with the price drop. (for nitpickers: folding wings themslves are fine, but preflighting the quick-disconnect links is a pain; and people have died for it before in Remos GX).

So, I don't think approve the focus of these changes. I would rather have cost reductions over weight reductions. The payload of the stock GX is excellent as it is. Also, any weight reductions in front of the seats move us closer to the edge of balance envelope.

James Lawrence said...

Hi Pete, thanks for your insights. How tall are you? Your points are well taken. The new GX models do raise the bottom of the panel, I wrote about that in my GXNXT flight report for the mag recently, but forgot to mention that in this post, so you might well find you've got the increased legroom you're looking for.
I'm 5'11" and the NXT (I haven't flown the eLite yet) felt very roomy. Unless you're a real cloud scraper, I bet you'd find it an improvement too.
You make good points about price too: LSA lighter on the wallet are what we're all pining away for. If the dollar/Euro race to the bottom continues and there is more parity between our respective currencies, we could see prices 20% lower sometime in the future.
Then again, that's not going to get most high-end LSA like the GX below the Mendoza Line (<$100,000).
Even US manufacturers are hard pressed to sell their wares at much less than $90,000, because the economies of scale (high sales volume which allows larger purchases of raw materials and fitments for production) aren't there.
When LSA makers of high quality aircraft sell five airplanes in the whole country over a whole year, nobody is making any money. Until that turns around, we're not likely to see anything approaching what we would consider the true evocation of the original affordable LSA dream.

Pete Zaitcev said...

I am 200 cm tall exactly, which comes up to about 6'5". Thanks for the note about the bottom of the panel on NXT.

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