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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sun 'n Fun 2012 Day One

Sun ‘n Fun got off to a great start with weather in the low 80's, a helpful breeze and lots of new buildings and of course massive traffic jams coming in to the show because some things should never change no matter how many improvements are made.
Seriously, the Sun 'n Fun folks do a great job and there are many new things on the field to make life more enjoyable for spectators and those of us here to work.
Jim Dehart and the FK12 Comet-mounted Lycoming IO-233
fully aerobatic engine - first in the U.S.
First up:  Jim Dehart of Atlanta Light Sport Aviation was excited to show off his school's new FK12 Comet with the first-in-US Lycoming IO-233 fully aerobatic light sport engine.
"The airplane is really powerful," Jim says, "and at 696 lbs. will be a real performer."
He quotes the horsepower at 125 hp but I've seen it at 116 max everywhere else so either I've got it wrong and there's a bump in power from the inverted fuel/oil system on the aerobatic version (standard carburetted version also available, as well as a Rotax version, or he meant to say 116 hp.
At any rate, the starting price for the fully aerobatic Comet is $135K ($130K for normally aspirated mill).
"This will create a new category of competition airplane in the IAC," he says.  IAC is the International Aerobatic Club, the governing body for sanctioned aerobatic events.
Jim says flight test will commence on the Comet in the middle to the end of next month, and he hopes, though it's a stretch, to enter the first aerobatic competition by July.
"We will try to have the first Light Sport aerobatic school in the country too.  Our regular LSA flight school signed up more than 36 students last year and we've put 22 through to their license so far, and have 32 renters of LSA currently."
Christian Mundigler of Rotax led a thorough
presentation on the new 912 iS 
Next up was a morning of press conferences including a dramatic wheel in of the new Rotax 912 iS which I've got a ton of  notes on but once again, hotel wifi problems have caused undue stress and strain on your erstwhile blogster, plus it's late and I'm tired from a long day so I'll let pix suffice for now and will fill in with details down the road.
The 912 iS was wheeled in with great fanfare under a shroud
to accompanying, powerful classical music of the Russian 

persuasion...all the world's a stage. 
 It is a beautiful engine to be sure.

Dave Graham, right, shows off the magazine he created to show off
Legend's fine Cub line.  He credits Randy Schlitter of Rans Aircraft,
who did the same for his line of SLSA and kits, with the idea.
Both have done superb jobs, and it's fun to read about
an airplane in so much detail.  Great idea guys!  That snazzy AmphibCub
 behind Dave belongs to the happy owner Frank, left.
Here's the scan code so you can get your own free copy
with a smartphone and bar code reader.  

You can also find it at

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sun 'n Fun (and Splash) This Week

The Searey from Kerry and Wayne Richter's Progressive Aerodyne just sent out word that the popular design celebrates its 20th anniversary this year by "making a big splash at Sun N Fun!"
Searey LSX will be on prominent display at Sun 'n Fun starting Tuesday
- photo courtesy Progressive Aerodyne
The Searey, perhaps the most successful kit amphibian ever (and which is still on the trail of certifying its latest LSX model to the LSA ASTM standard - they thought they'd have it done by end of 2011) will be at the show in demonstrable abundance.
Five will be on exhibit from the nearby factory, and a "very large 'Gaggle' of Seareys" is expected to arrive en masse on Thursday, March 29th at 10:00 a.m. - 20 or more from the cohesive and enthusiastic Searey community of more than 500. 
Half an hour later a smaller group will overfly the Sun 'n Fun crowd.
The Searey will be on display at three locations:   Booth 58, the LSA Mall and the Seaplane Pilots Association display.  
I had a ball flying the amphib at Sebring 2011.  It's a great way to enjoy water flying at either a kit price or, in time, prebuilt as an S-LSA.
The Terrafugia Transition nears production and will be at the show.
- photo courtesy Terrafugia
Another must-see aircraft that will be at the show is the long-in-development Terrafugia Transition flying car, which is also slated for the New York International Auto (not Air) Show this year, April 6-15 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC.  
The "production ready" version of the two-seat, LSA-legal Transition is scheduled for delivery to the first of 100 pre-order buyers by the end of this year after a long development process and ever- increasing price level - currently around $250,000.
The reconfigured and refined design, which originally had a type of canard forward of the front "bumper", touts a max speed of 115mph. "Roadable" mileage after the pushbutton transition to folded-wing land vehicle is claimed to be around 35 mpg.
I'll be visiting these folks and lots more and posting here as I'm able during the show.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pushing the Envelope

Supersonic flight pioneer and WWII ace Chuck Yeager is famous for using, if not coining, the term "pushing the envelope", which has entered the popular lexicon for just about anything to do with growth and meeting challenges.
In that vein, since the day the Light Sport category became a fixture of the aviation regulatory landscape, there have been calls to do everything from abolish it outright to expand it's current parameter. 
With Americans "on the grow", how much room should LSA have?
The parameters invoked to arrive at the perfect light aircraft involve the Usual Suspects: faster, bigger, stronger, heavier, better load, no altitude restrictions etcetera etcetera etcetera. 
In that vein, I want to share with you some cogent email comments received from P&P reader Dr. Barry Gloger who puts forward a well-reasoned argument for reworking the LSA concept. 
Whether you agree or not with his point of view, it's hard to refute his logic, since it's based on his expertise in the actual physical size of the "average American."
And now for The Usual Disclaimer: his viewpoint does not necessarily reflect my opinion or that of the staff of Plane & Pilot. If you have a take on this subject, pro or con, please weigh in and share it with us: that's what this blog is here for. 
Rather than paraphrase his comments, I'll let Dr. Gloger take it from here:
"At 6' 4" and 250 lbs, this is a subject near and dear to me.  As an Orthopaedic Surgeon, who designs joint prostheses,  I am quite aware of the ever enlarging American body.  There are numerous LSA's that I literally cannot shoe horn my body into....
Renegade's Falcon sports a 46" wide cabin - "six inches wider than a Cessna 172" say the ads - but ever-larger people beg the question:  what will be considered "tiny" 20 years from now?  And do designers  need to factor those trends into their designs...yet still feel the pinch of weight-restricted airframes?
"Due to either height, width or weight restrictions, I estimate that most LSA's could not fly with two top 50th percentile persons together - and big people tend to associate with other big people.  That's a huge market share that LSA's cannot serve.
"In addition to cabin width, I wish manufacturers would list headroom above the seat, so customers knowing their torso length or sitting height (measured from the Ischium [sit bones] to the top of the head) could figure out if they'll be able to close the canopy.
"I cannot close the canopy of (many) aircraft and one plane, which advertises enough headroom for someone 6' 8", has a well behind the spar.  Sure my head fit back there, but I could not even see the panel, never mind the fractured skull I would suffer in any hard landing." 
"Did you see the new Bristell at Sebring - it looks like a more commodious version of the Sport Cruiser - hope it is not as sensitive..."
(My comment: I did fly the Bristell at Sebring - see my report in the next issue of P&P.  It advertises sufficient headroom for a 6'6" pilot, which seems to be a truthful claim based on my time in cockpit.)
"My major gripe is with the LSA rule is the rather arbitrary choice of 1320 pounds as the maximum gross weight limit, a number seemingly chosen by the FDA, just because its metric equivalent, 600 kg, is a nice round number.
Barry Pruitt is a good sized guy and he's showing plenty headroom
 in the new Bristell Fastback, one of the more "commodious" LSA.
(FAA also took into consideration existing foreign "ultralight" aircraft that had already produced many designs at this weight spec.)
"...In order to meet the 1320 pounds gross weight limit, manufacturers resort either to expensive components, such as carbon fiber, or build flimsy under carriages...
"The average American is no longer the 5'7", 155 lb individual, when the FAA and Coast Guard originally set occupancy/capacity/ergonomic standards: the 75th percentile man now weighs 200lbs and no longer fits an 18” stadium seat. Imagine how much larger the LSA market could be, if planes could be designed to meet all the other LSA requirements (such as stall speed, maximum speed, fixed prop, etc.) and yet safely carry a full fuel payload of 500 to 600 pounds. Perhaps you and your friend, Dan Johnson, could petition the FAA to modify the LSA rule.
(AOPA, EAA and other orgs and individuals are pushing this effort on several fronts, along with the LSA-style driver's license/self certify flight worthiness in lieu of a current FAA medical for lighter GA single-engine aircraft.)
"Terrafugia is struggling to bring its drivable aircraft in at 1320 pounds. Think how much cheaper it would be, if it also did not have to meet this unnecessary weight restriction.
Could four-seat, ASTM-certified aircraft
like this Piper Archer LX be in our future?
"So what are the chances of modifying the LSA rule? And for that matter how about creating an ASTM/FAA standard/rule for a cheap, inexpensive 4 passenger, sport license plane similar to the current crop of LSA airplanes?
"And that brings up the problem with LSA’s; they don’t have large enough payloads...I understand why the FAA and LAMA came up (with) the requirements that an LSA shall be a 2 passenger plane that stalls at 45 kts max, flies at 120 kts max, has a single engine with fixed prop and landing gear.  
"But they should have stopped there...left the gross weight unspecified, so manufacturers would have the flexibility to design planes with full fuel payloads of 500 to 600 lbs.  Yes a plane heavier than 1320 lbs has more kinetic energy and momentum, but that has no effect on safety unless you crash into someone’s house.
"So I propose that the FAA revise the LSA rule to eliminate max gross weight restrictions, replacing it instead with standards governing landing g forces, wing loading or whatever design parameters are needed to produce a docile plane that doesn’t break up in routine flight or hard landing, maintaining the important restrictions of a 2 passenger plane that stalls at 45 kts max, flies at 120 kts max, has a single engine with fixed prop and landing gear." 
Thank you Dr. Gloger.  There are many, many ways to go at this argument both for and against such a proposal: we could fill a magazine several times a year just with this topic alone.
Dear readers, please weigh in with your thoughts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Fuel-Injected Rotax 912 iS!

Rotax Aircraft Engines just raised the bar with its new Rotax 912 iS, fuel-injected, 100 hp engine, based on the truly ubiquitous core 912 mill we all know so well.

FYI: Did you know more than 170,000 Rotax aircraft units are in service worldwide?  Wow!  That’s a lot of engines.

The new powerplant is being hailed as the most fuel efficient aviation engine for light sport aircraft.

Alas, the 912 iS won’t download your email, doesn’t have a Retina display and has nothing in fact to do with Apple at all.

The “i” of course stands for fuel injected, and with this happy development come beaucoup  bennies:

<> Up to 30% lower fuel consumption than previous versions, and up to 78% lower than “comparable competitive engines”.  Could this lead to smaller fuel tanks in LSA?  That would easily make up for the 13 pound increase in engine weight and then some without giving up range.
The new Flight Design CTLSi fitted with the 912 iS
<> increased fuel efficiency from optimized fuel/air mixture for each cylinder at any altitude (no more dual carburetors!)
<> easier starting (Hardly a problem before)
<> more electrical power
<> easier preflight check
<> uses premium autogas up to grade E10.
<> reduced CO2 emissions
<> lower operating and maintenance costs (200 hour carb service/sync goes away!)
<>  same 2000-hour TBO as current 912 variants

Flight Design USA’s head honcho Tom Peghiny said this about the new CTLSi with the engine: "With fuel injection, Rotax has leaped forward...Carburetors demand more mechanical oversight and tuning the dual carbs increases complexity.
With fuel injection, balancing carbs is no longer necessary.  Pilots will find increased torque, easier starting, and smoother operation.  Carb ice concerns become a thing of the past."
FD and, I would assume, everyone else in the industry will be offering the 912 iS in their aircraft once mass production kicks off, in May.
The actual fuel injection process is run by a Rockwell Collins Electronic Control Unit (ECU) similar to the one in fuel injected cars.  The ECU can be software optimized for peak-efficiency burn by a mechanic with a laptop due to its computer interface.

Each cylinder has two injector ports for redundant fuel supply and reliability.  Overall weight is 13 lbs. heavier.  Size is virtually the same as the 912.
The 912 iSc will be the certified version.
No word yet on how much more we’re talking about in cost.

For a closer look, Dan Johnson will have one at the LAMA LSA Mall  inside the Sun 'n Fun 2012 entrance later this month in Florida.  Experts will be there to chat!  Tech wienie dream!