Friday, June 29, 2012

My Blog Has Moved!

Hi All who didn't know that the magazine wanted to create a new blog presence on the main website (there's a BLOGS tab at the top of the main screen). If you've been wondering whether I'd moved on to bluer sky pastures, nope, just changed my blog landing strip. You can find the blog page by going here also. See you there!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pipistrel Comes Through Again

Just a few short months ago I posted an announcement from Pipistrel about its upcoming, mid-$80K ALPHA Trainer, targeted for flight schools and already bought in significant quantities by the Indian Air Force as a military primary trainer.
ALPHA was promised for April, and Pipistrel nailed it – how often do we see that in manufacturing?
Pipistrel's ALPHA Trainer. all photos courtesy Pipistrel
Pipistrel is the same progressive Slovenian company that won the CAFE electric flight competition last year with the Taurus Electro G4 and has gained a growing reputation in the sport aviation industry for innovative, high-performing, highly efficient aircraft such as the Virus and Sinus S-LSA.
Beefed up gear, lower nose angle, shorter prop to minimize prop strikes.
After keeping its promise to debut the ALPHA in April at the European AERO show, word comes from Ivo Boscarol and company of the successful conclusion of flight testing.  The ALPHA is now in production.
The original concept was to create a do-it-all trainer that would garner substantial orders, enabling mass production economies of scale that would keep costs affordable for everyone.
Due to the wide variance in regulations country to country, Pipistrel realized that goal was not feasible and instead offers two versions of the ALPHA.
For countries in support of FAA-LSA (or ASTM-certified) standards, the company offers a 1212 lb. (550 kg) MTOW version.
Three-point belts, headrest, durable fabric upholstery.
In places where the UL LTF standard is adopted, the European Ultralight/Microlight model, with a MTOW of  1047 lb. (472.5 kg), takes center stage.
Even though the price is dramatically lower than comparable composite LSA, the ALPHA Trainer is no stripped-down, bare bones bird.
Some of many appealing features for this latest in a line of low-drag, light-weight LSA:
<> Strong and easy to fly for entry-level students
<> Ballistic parachute system
<> Benign stall and overall handling
<> Affordable and easy to operate, maintain and repair
<> Built for endurance (takeoff/landing circuits) and extremes of weather: good ventilation and cabin heating
<> Approved strobes and lighting
<> Quiet cockpit for easy communication between instructor and student
<> Readily available access to spare parts for quick repair turnaround – vital for flight schools
Flaperon handle actuates 25° of travel
<> Good cross-country training range (390 nm)
<> Easy daily service and refueling,
<> Durable finish for outdoor storage
<> Good brakes for ground handling emergencies
<> Dual flight controls with quick/easy adjustment for a variety of body types
<> Long operating life
<> Tricycle configuration with steerable nose wheel
<> Easy cockpit ingress, even for older students
<> Affordable and cost-effective to operate
Some other features: robust composite undercarriage, including a shorter, stronger nose strut which improves visibility during taxi.
The 15-gallon, easy-fill fuel tank is fuselage mounted and gives 5 hours endurance.  And that fuel burn estimate factors in multiple takeoff/landing circuits too.
High-leverage center console handle for hydraulic brakes
Pipistrel is known for its superbly clean aerodynamics: though power comes from the tried-and-true Rotax 912, 80 hp engine, the ALPHA is no performance slouch with a cruise speed of 108 knots (same as a Cessna 172), “very short” take-off distance and a climb rate listed at more than 1000 fpm.
The ALPHA Trainer uses the basic fuselage shape from its other successful designs but the wing, from the Pipistrel Virus SW (Short Wing), is significantly redesigned to eliminate air brakes (wing top spoilers) and incorporates redesigned flaperons with 25° of flap travel.
Also new is a wooden propeller, designed and CNC-carved in house, then covered with a durable coating.
Lots more to appreciate here and congratulations to Pipistrel for another dramatic entry into the field.
My big question is, will the market recognize this as the breakthrough design I believe it to be and order in sufficient quantities to make it another Pipistrel success story?  We’ll see.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Roadable Airplane, Meet Mainstream Media

Somebody at the L.A. Times has got a sweet tooth for the flying car, specifically the Terrafugia Transition SLSA-legal “roadable” airplane.  No less than six feature articles about flying cars have appeared in the prestigious newspaper’s online edition in the last month alone, in departments as diverse as Business, U.S., Nation Now, Tech Now and Automobiles, penned by a variety of journalists.
All this attention also signifies somebody at Terrafugia is really doing a superb job at getting the word out, which has in fact been evident from the beginning: I’ve seen notices of hundreds of articles in all kinds of publications since the program was first announced some years ago.
Screen capture from LA Times online
Clearly the idea of a Jetsons-style flying car continues to tickle the cultural subconscious.
That the Transition is wildly unaffordable for most 99 percenters hardly matters: it’s kind of a kick, isn’t it, to imagine being able to fly your car anywhere, then drive around once you get there?
Of course, it seems vastly more logical, and certainly more cost effective, to simply fly where you want in an airplane, and carry more than two people by the way, then rent a nice big comfortable car once you get there, but hey, let’s not stomp on romantic notions, alright?
Still, I can’t help but wonder, after returning from 2+ weeks driving through the breathtaking Utah, Arizona and Colorado canyon country, how practical a flying car will ever be.
Take the Transition: those vertical folded wing panels  might not cope too well with the kind of hellacious sand/dust storms I experienced more than once driving through high desert landscapes.  I was tense at times just driving our rental car!
To be fair, it seems likely anyone who buys one of these come-to-life fantasies would be prudent to practice the same kind of weather-checking safety acumen required of any pilot before he/she climbs into an aircraft, lest they find, after a vicious gust on the highway, that the flying mission of the car was no longer possible because the wings were cartwheeling downwind all by themselves at 50 mph.
Photo courtesy L.A. Times
I don’t mean to poke fun at the Transition or any other promising flying road vehicle, such as the Maverick (which uses a dune buggy “fuselage”, a large paraglider-type airfoil and costs $94,000 and is being marketed as a kit to avoid a mountain of regulatory hassles) and the  PAL-V roadable gyrocopter, I guess you’d call it, which is indeed a cool, spacey-looking vehicle.  They're marvels of engineering and deserve our respect just for that.
The Dutch company that produces the PAL-V, for Personal Air and Land Vehicle, just flew it’s Proof of Concept model and projects its cost at $300,000 when it hits the market in 2014.
At 1,500 lbs., though, it won’t qualify as an LSA.
Flying car dreams are nothing new.  There have been many, many designs that actually flew but most never came to market over the decades since civilian flight began.
Photo courtesy Moller International
And let's not overlook Moller International which has somehow gone through tens of millions of dollars of investor money without, so far as I’ve been able to discover, ever marketing a flying production vehicle through more than 40 years of trying.
That doesn’t prevent the company from also showing up in the news on a regular basis, typically with yet another new design (there have been several).
Kind of amazing how Dr. Moller's managed to levitate through the years amidst prevalent and recurring bankruptcy rumors without ever producing a single vehicle...and it's probably a good thing, since when these designs lose just one engine, they are heading straight for the ground.  Engine technology may someday approach complete immunity from mechanical breakdown, but not in our lifetimes for sure.
Nonetheless, last month the Transition drew admiring crowds at the New York Auto show even though it’s now pegged to cost $279,000 once it’s in production, perhaps next year.
Enthusiasm for flying cars shows no signs of waning, not if Terrafugia’s PR people and news organs like the LA Times have anything to say about it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two From The Road

 In the midst of a couple weeks away from home to marry off my firstborn daughter, I remain nonetheless able and willing to mine the LSA infoverse for newsworthy veins.
Also, check out Aero Friedrichshafen going on right now in Germany.  It's one of Europe's premier  aviation events, with lots of new aircraft (like the Pipistrel Panthera 4-seat flying Ferrari) and technologies announced every year.
The streamlined Panthera from Pipistrel will offer three engine configurations:
conventional piston, hybrid gas/electric, and all-electric!

Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP 
Now, two items of interest:
Flight Design Goes EASA
The leading S-LSA producer for the U.S. market, Flight Design, told everyone at Aero that the CTLS has earned  the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) restricted type certification ((R) TC) for the two-seater.
Photo courtesy Flight Design
John Doman, Flight Design’s director of business development of global sales and marketing, said, “For European flight schools the certification will enable additional aircraft utilization leading to more revenue and value for their purchase of a Flight Design (R) TC aircraft.” 
This type-certificated version of the CTLS will be distributed under the variant name CTLS-ELA and is nearly identical to the S-LSA version already marketed worldwide.
Flight Design presses ahead with development of its four-seat C4 too.  It has an interior mockup at Aero of the roomy aircraft which will be FAA-certified under primary category rules in the U.S.  The pic shows how roomy that cabin will be.  
"The EASA certification of the CTLS gives a boost to the C4’s certification efforts in the United States," says the official release about the CTLS-EASA, "because the C4 will have many of the same design features and systems of the CTLS,” a company official said. The C4, a $250,000, 155-knot airplane powered by a 180-horsepower Continental IO-360 engine, will be certificated in 2013, with first deliveries shortly thereafter.
Don't take that certification date lightly: Flight Design has a habit of meeting its goals.
Pipistrel Around-The-World-Flight Successful
Matevž Lenarčič celebrates his triumph.  
Photo courtesy Pipistrel
Congratulations to Matevž Lenarčič and the Pipistrel Team for his amazing journey in the Virus SW 914 Turbo, "in the most demanding possible way!" as the official Pipistrel release notes.
Noteworthy stats: part of that "demanding way" included 62,000 miles total, and making the entire journey west to east.
Matevž flew the Rotax 914 Turbo-powered two-seater across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, the Indian Ocean and over Mt. Everest just for grins.  The entire flight went through all climate zones between Antarctica and the equatorial latitudes.  
The only major setback was an encounter with severe turbulence, the worst the seasoned pilot had ever encountered, he said, that required a team from Pipistrel to fly to the Outback and make an in-the-field composite repair of an airframe crack before the journey could continue.  Even then, the repair only took four days.
Toasting glasses held high for Matevž, company founder and leader Ivo Boscarol and all of Team Pipistrel for the impressive achievement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three If By Sky: Prototype Makes First Flight

Peekaboo!  Let's head for the airport.
all images courtesy Terrafugia

While at Sun 'n Fun I heard the good news that the long-in-development Terrafugia Transition® Street-Legal Airplane (that's it's latest name) hit the road, then the skies on its first production prototype flight.
You may remember there was a “Roadable” in the name at one time, but whatever the official moniker, everybody pretty much still calls it "that flying car."
Movin' on down the highway...
Terrafugia forges on with the first flight announcement, happily picked up in media outlets from science mags to newspapers around the world, which took place March 23, 2012.
How long until the $250,000-plus car-plane rolls off the production lines? Sometime within the next year is as close as the company is willing to predict, having been at it for a few years now.
The flight reached 1400’ AGL and lasted eight minutes.  Six flight test phases are planned before the craft, which is still targeted for ASTM certification as an S-LSA, is ready for prime time.
"Yes, ma'am, it's an airplane.  Yes ma'am, it's a car too.  Yes ma'am,
I have a driver's license, a Sport Pilot's license,  a TSA redress
number and a note from my Mommy, now may I go flying please?
By the way, if you're in the Big Apple, you can see the production prototype up close and personal.  It's on display at the New York International Auto Show until April 15th.  Location: Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.
If you want to see a piece of history in the making, y'all come on down.

"Spread your wings and take the sky,
Oh, your mammy's rich, and your daddy's good looking.  
So hush little baby, don't you cry."`

"Whee!  Auto-piloting: Nothin' to it."

"I feel for those poor turkeys in gridlock down there...heh heh heh."
"Hey Frank, check out my new ride!  No, you can't take it for a spin 
around the block.  Sorry dude, that's just the way it is."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sun 'n Fun 2012: Day Five Part 3ree

Photo Wrap Up:  Some other stories that will get fleshed out down the road here and in the magazine.  Sun 'n Fun ends tomorrow.  Long Live Sun 'n Fun.

Dr. Richard McGlaughlin gave a stirring account of his
BRS airframe 'chute save that delivered him and his
daughter to safety after a catastrophic engine failure...
over the water in the Bahamas.

Jeff Burnett of Flight Design helps a future pilot with the Gleim simulator which will soon
be available for dealers and home use.

Jeppesen's lovely display booth at the show.
More eye candy from Jepp: they're doing cool
things for the iPad.

Attendance was definitely, noticeably down this year.  Yet exhibitors weren't complaining, as attendees came
with checkbooks ready and several LSA dealers reported sales.

Derek Kuefler of BRS Aerospace and one model of the
company's airframe parachute which has saved 276 aircraft and
their occupants to date.  Fascinating stat: Of the 30,000
BRS systems installed over 30 years, 1 in 125 has been
 deployed.  That's across all kinds of aircraft and events...hard
 to argue that any aircraft wouldn't be safer with a 'chute on board

The only airplane to ever drop an atomic bomb: The amazing B-29.

Left to right, Jon Hansen, Peter Funk, and Craig, Gigi, and Jerrell C Bartow, the happy new owners of the first Lycoming-powered FK-12 Comet to be sold in America,  hand over the check to Jon and "Doc" Bailey, right, head of Renegade Light Sport, which is doing the developmental and installation groundwork for the Lycoming IO-233 in is normally aspirated and fuel injected forms for many LSA makers, including Renegade's Falcon tricycle and taildragger composite S-LSA.  Peter Funk is the highly creative designer of the Comet and FK series of light aircraft.

Sun 'n Fun 2012: Day Five Part Two

The touchscreen interface is a wonder, with drag-bend route changes,
easy sub-menu access with the tap of a finger and lots more.
One of the revolutionary portable avionics boxes the last couple years that's been so much a part of the LSA movement is the iFly 700, a 7", touchscreen, portable, moving map GPS.  I could write a 100 word sentence full of commas and descriptors with all it's features, but the bottom line is it's an amazing device that's easy to bring along and performa an amazing of functions in any cockpit.
Now comes the new iFly 720 with yet another long list of additional features.  I previewed the new unit and now I will have to sell my iFly 700 model and get this's a real step forward and these brainy guys keep working hard to add features.
Here's a list of just the highlights.
<> improved sunlight-readable screen.  It's also crisper and brighter.
<> iFly Streets for road navigation!
<> dual-core processor and memory.
<> Wi-Fi updating for fast and easy automatic data downloads
<> Visual and audio warnings of nearby SUAs, TRFs and more.
Future software updates will include flight instrumentation!
<> Terrain depiction is also coming soon!  I got a preview.  Approach objects or terrain above your altitude and you get a vocal and a truly alarming musical sound hit that gets your attention.
<> remote control for turbulence control.
There's a ton of things to say about this unit.  Best bet is to go to the website linked above and see for yourself.
Meanwhile, it's off to Ebay for me...I love this unit and I'm getting one.
Price is $749.  I don't know of another unit that carries all the features of this puppy for anywhere near that price.
A new startup menu screen, all touch-controlled or use the included remote, hints at the many new features.

Sun 'n Fun 2012: Day Five

In contrast to last year's tornado and 90+ destroyed or damaged aircraft, this year's Florida spring weather has been clear, in the 80s, and breezy enough to keep the long hours in the sun from melting down your wetware.
Back in 2008, the Sky Arrow, a tandem S-LSA (#18 to achieve ASTM compliance) with a clean pod and boom design, went out of production.
That didn't keep the sturdy pusher on the ground, thanks to the efforts of Jon Hansen and the Hansen Group, and as you may remember from recent stories it has been successfully put to good works by Able Flight as a trainer for student pilots with disabilities.
What is not as well known perhaps is that Sky Arrow, originally produced by 3I (Iniziative Industriali Italiane), was also FAR Part 23 certified.
The announcement of Sky Arrow's return to production was made by
Magnaghi CEO
Giorgio Iannotti, 2nd from left, at the Hansen AirGroup booth (Mike, Jon and Mitch Hansen at right)  
Just announced at the show is the good news that the tandem trainer will be brought back into production by the Magnaghi Group, (the website will have info soon, says media rep Riccardo Filippi), an Italian aerospace manufacturer with 600 employees.  Magnaghi will re-introduce the all-composite aircraft at Oshkosh in July.  Production will begin soon on the updated bird.
Upgrades will include reduced weight, larger wing tanks for 6 hour range, refined aerodynamics and state-of-the-art avionics.

Both S-LSA and FAR 23 versions will be offered and production has already begun, with a production capacity of 3-4 airplanes per month.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sun 'n Fun 2012: Day Four

I caught up with a fellow hang glider pioneer from the 70s', Scott Severen of U.S. Aviation, Denton, TX who filled me in on the latest events for his broad-based Light Sport/GA service and repair center.
U.S. Aviation is a large, well-established aviation service center that does it all: flight training, aircraft and avionics sales, service and maintenance (for general aviation as well as LSA).
Scott has been involved with Indus Aviation and its Thorpedo LSA aircraft for years.  That project is moving to a China-based manufacturing base and "It's a big process to pull it all together," he says.  He was just over there, assembling a couple Thorpedos to support the transition.
"It will be a beautiful facility over there once it's built.  We'll still do parts and aircraft sales in Dallas, and US Aviation will assist in factory support of the  Thorpedo; it's one of several LSA we do.
U.S. Aviation's vision for the LSA side of their operation "is to create a centrally located, national in scope factory authorized service center for as many LSA manufacturers as we can gather."
"We’ve been successful at that: we just became the Flight Design service center for our area, but anyone can come to us, say if they’re flying through and have an issue, and we can give them factory authorized support right there in Texas.  We’re real proud to have Flight Design, there’s a lot of CT's flying  in our area and it’s a great airplane."
"We also just picked up Evektor and are excited about that relationship too."
U.S. Aviation also lists Jabiru, Tecnam, Remos, Allegro, SportAir, Aerotrek and others in their service stable.
"If you don’t include the Cub LSA aircraft, we’re now authorized to service more than 92% of all Light Sports!"
(Scott has talked with the Legend Cub guys."But the factory is only 35 miles away!")
Becoming an authorized service center is no casual affair.
"We have to prove ourselves with each client first.  It took quite awhile with Flight Design: there was training to do to really get to know the product before we got the factory stamp of approval.  Companies either come to us for training, or we send our people to them."
"We’ve also got a Part 145 avionics repair shop so we have a high degree of competency for installing and servicing avionics.  We’re dealers or representatives for Dynon, Garmin, Zaon, Aspen, Avidyne, all the major Light Sport names and many of the General Aviation names too."
The FBO is a Dynon SkyView center too for the central U.S. and has already been through that training.
"We already have a SkyView demo so people can come play with it."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sun 'n Fun Day Three: Take Dieux

Here's an aerial shot from my Courier flight of Paradise City, the Light Aircraft runway at the southeast end of the field that will soon be used year round.  Many upgrades, including filling the dreaded ditches that used to run lengthwise.
The attendance looks down from recent years but I haven't put boots on that ground yet, time to head over there for a look.
And below is a shot of the B-29 "FIFI" that crossed our nose on the Courier flight this morning.  Not often you get a B-29 in your sights these days...not often at all, at any distance.

Sun 'n Fun 2012: Day Three

Greetings, Earth creatures, from sultry Florida, where it's hot, humid and shooting toward 85 but already feels hotter than that.
Jana Morenz of Rans Aircraft shows me the ropes in the S7 Courier
Nonetheless your intrepid shooter/writer/flyer had the pleasure of spending a couple hours this morning with Jana Morenz, the gracious and lovely pilot for Rans Aircraft.
Jana took me for a dawn patrol demo flight in the newly updated Rans S-7LS Courier tandem taildragger and as expected, it's a real sweetheart...not just you Jana, but the airplane too.
We did some airwork where I discovered to my delight the Courier, though resembling a Cublike S-LSA, is its own animal: light, and I mean light on the controls, nimble, responsive, with excellent power performance, climb, clean cruise over 100 mph and benign stall characteristics.
As Jana says, "It's the kind of airplane you really don't want to spend a lot of time in straight line flight with.  It's so much fun to fly."  Too true.

An aerodynamic pedigree that reaches back to the J3 Cub and Champ...but has thoroughly modern sensibilities.

Not that you can't fly it straight.  Jana brought it all way out to Florida from Hays, KS and says she had a great time.  Once you trim it up (with a couple taps on the responsive stick-top electric trim button), you can relax and enjoy the view.
The Courier is sensitive in roll and pitch, and you want to block the rudder pedals: it doesn't take much of a push with the narrow fuselage to get out of yaw-kilter, which I amply demonstrated more than once.  An hour or two and the sportscar-like handling personality of the bird should feel like something you've flown all your life but because it has such delightfully light handling, I didn't fly it like an ace first time up.

I made one landing, a three-pointer at South Lakeland's grass strip that, because of the Courier's much-lower-than-J3 Cub deck angle on the ground, was a piece of cake...didn't even embarrass myself.  
Really, it felt like it landed itself, with a nominal approach over the fence around 55 mph, mellow round out and easy-effort flare.  I didn't even retrim, just eased the stick back with light pressure...with the Courier it's a breeze to look like you know what you're doing close to terra firma. 

The S-7LS is a sweetheart: lively, fast and easy to change direction, a real fun airplane with lots of room, two opening doors and many nice features typical of Rans airplanes.
Thanks again to Jana and the always-fun Rans crew, including pals Randy Schlitter and Michele Miller for a delightful, all-American designed/produced airplane.
Toe brakes front and rear seats, steerable, break-loose tailwheel,
lovely plumbing and hardware throughout.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sun 'n Fun Day Two: Take Four

Bret Koebbe of Sporty’s Pilot Shop introduced me to a cool new ADS-B weather uplink product, the Stratus.
US built by Appareo Systems, it's a completely portable, wire-free, subscription-free weather solution that works in conjunction only (so far) with the Foreflight ap for the iPad.
The Stratus provides ADS-B-based weather, Nexrad, Metars, TAS, Airmets, Sigmets, TFRS, "the whole nine yards of everything that’s included with ADS-B" as Bret describes it, all wirelessly transmitted to your in-cockpit iPad.
It uses the iPad's WiFi connection, and can be broadcast to more than one iPad in the cockpit.  Just open Foreflight, link it to the Stratus box, and you've got all your weather info with you.
The ADS-B weather coverage will be coast to coast-complete sometime in 2013.
It's a simple device: eight-hour battery, wire free, built-in ADS-B antenna buiilt into the box, and also includes WAAS GPS with 1-2 meter accuracy.
Price is $799, with preordering now for April 23.
And it's all American-made; "It's manufactured in North Dakota," says Bret.  "Designed and developed by pilots for pilots, something we all wanted: ADS-B without a lot of work or wires."

Sun 'n Fun Day Two: Take Three

Ran into my old pal Dave "Higs" Higdon who's been an aviation journalist/photo Iron Man for decades.  We go back to the early ultralight days of 1981 I think, and Dave has hammered out a long and respected career producing quality insights and images for the aviation industry, willing to work harder than most of the rest of us.
So here's a plug for hisUncontrolled Airspace: News & conversation about the world of General Aviation flying website.
"Higs", right and partners in crime:
Jeb Burnside, co-host and founder, and
 Jack Hodgson, producer and co-host/founder.
Lots of entertaining jabber about all things aviation, including contributions from people like my old collaborating pal Jim Wynbrandt, who like Dave is an avid pilot and aviation journalist and widely respected in the industry.
It's an aviation-centric podcast, which presents itself this way: "Every week the UCAP gang gathers in the virtual hangar to talk about all things GA. You can listen-in as some of General Aviation's most knowledgeable, opinionated, and plain-speaking characters, do some online hangar-flying."

Sun 'n Fun Day Two, Take Two

Later in the day:
There's never a shortage of cool stories or airplanes to talk about, only shortage of time and space to cram it all into.
That said, here's more on topics previous and new.

Dan Johnson gave a briefing yesterday on three new developments to do with LAMA , the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association that he heads up and puts in so many tireless hours to support.

1. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest aviation school, has finalized agreements with LAMA to provide industry-centric production audits for LSA manufacturers.  Audits are a potential sticking point with the FAA because the ASTM self-regulatory standard that makes Light Sport Aircraft such a unique and innovative entity in aviation turns on an important central principle: compliance with ASTM  standards.
Every process, material and activity involved
with building an LSA, right down to how long ago a torque wrench was calibrated (it's all specified in the ASTM certificate of compliance that's initially awarded to an airframe maker) needs to be codified, then adhered to by the manufacturer, and that adherence, or compliance, then verified by the audit process.
ERAU audit personnel will receive the same training as FAA personnel and the program offered to manufacturers by the university will cost $15,000 (equivalent ISO audits for GA manufacturers are twice that) and include a full document review (quite an involved, hours-intensive process) and on-site inspection of all procedures.
“FAA is embracing the industry doing this,” says Dan.  “If we do a good enough job, they’ve said they’ll be happy to back away and let us do most of the audits down the road.”
“For smaller companies that will find a $15K ticket burdensome, we’re working on creative ways to get the job done for them, but we’ll start with a few of the biggest companies because this is important: if we don’t show we’re in compliance with the ASTM standard that allows us to exist as an industry, FAA will step in.”

2. Five Years for The LSA Mall!  Congratulations to Dan and all involved for this boffo concept which for four years was located right by the main entrance gate.  It’s been moved down closer to Paradise City, the light aircraft mini-airfield at the southeast end of the Sun ‘n Fun show grounds.
I’ll have some pix of it tomorrow, haven’t gotten that far in my wanderings yet.  Sun ‘n Fun is a couple miles from one end to another all told, and make a couple round trips from the new (and vastly improved) but more remote Media Center and it feels more like 10 miles.  And there aren’t enough motor carts to go around for all the media people.  So I stick my thumb out a lot, with mixed results and tears of gratitude shed on the sleeves of those compassionate souls who stop to pick me up.

Anyway, in its fifth year, the Mall provides a focused showplace for LSA manufacturers to exhibit their wares.  “It’s been filled to capacity in all the years of this tough economy, and I’m pleased with how it’s now closer to Paradise City.   It will give us more room to expand and flexibility is improved: we’re able to fly during the air show now - always taboo before - and next year there will be a taxiway from the Mall right to Paradise City, which will allow on-the-spot demo flights."

3. Paradise City itself has its own share of the news: “It’s much improved,” says Dan.  “That runway that we know so well will be used by the Central Florida Aerospace Academy year round for pilot training.  All these years before it was only open one week a year, for the show.  They’ve also removed some trees and one of the two ditches that ran along the side, and will fill in the other one soon.  Also the big berm at the west end approach is gone.”
“The airport, by the way, not Sun ‘n Fun, is paying for it.   The whole layout will change over time.”

Sun 'n Fun Day Two: Taildraggers R Us

Tecnam North America is banking on what CEO Phil Solomon believes is a strong market interest in taildragger LSA.
Tecnam is putting their R&D into attracting some of that market share with the revamped P92 tricycle gear S-LSA into a tail dragger version, and adding in some spice to boot: either a Lycoming YO-233-B2A or a Rotax 912/S2 powerplant is available to power it.
The new version of the long-popular, well-proven P92 comes with a host of typical Tecnam quality features too, including a new wood-grain panel, adjustable seats, luggage compatrments, map and storage compartments on the door, epoxy corrosion proofing, lock/key entrance, tinted windows and lots more.
Hydraulic toe brakes, electric flaps and lots more to join the electric trim and free castoring tail wheel.
I'm hoping to fly it the week after the show, if some paperwork issues with the brand new plane get resolved.  More on this along with excerpts from a lively interview with the ever-insightful Mr. Solomon to come.
The P92 joins the Renegade Falcon and some other LSA hoping that the taildragger interest isn't just for Cub-style LSA.  Time will tell.