German Precision: Remos G-3 is a top LSA entry

When the FAA awarded the first two Special Light Sport Aircraft Airworthiness Certificates at Sun ‘n Fun 2005, many — who had been waiting years — found cause for celebration.

The award of the first two certificates to Evektor’s SportStar and Flight Design’s CT signaled the beginning of a very interesting race. One design competing in that race is the Remos G-3 from Germany.

FLYING ACROSS THE ATLANTIC

Even though Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA) is an American invention, other countries have quickly recognized the rule. Australia has accepted SP/LSA lock, stock and barrel, while Europe’s EASA is already hearing industry support for the rule’s adoption by the European Union.

Many European manufacturers have been selling ready-to-fly aircraft for years as “ultralights” (different from American “ultralight vehicles”), which means they are prepared to enter the U.S. LSA market. Among those is the G-3.

In several visits to European air shows I’ve come to know the G-3 designer, Lorenz Kreitmayr. This German engineer is an inspiring fellow who has created a beautiful aircraft despite being confined to a wheelchair. A great attitude shows in a wide smile and his aircraft displays an intimate command of aircraft design.

The G-3 uses sleek composite curves efficiently and has enough wing area to keep stalls below 40 mph with flaps down. On the other end, it runs close to the top maximum cruise speed allowed under LSA rules (120 knots or 138 mph). It has a max continuous cruise speed of 118 knots in standard conditions, according to Rob Rollison, who logged a few years of careful examination as he sought just the right international aircraft to sell in the U.S. He also sells the economical Aeropro EuroFox, but it is the Remos G-3 that represents his company’s top-of-the-line entry.

The G-3 is made with carbon fiber and fiberglass construction. This keeps weight down and strength up, although it makes for more costly production than mere fiberglass composite.

G-3 offers a wide, roomy cockpit that is nearly 47 inches wide. It also has comfortable, adjustable seats with four-point shoulder harnesses as standard equipment.

A Rotax 912S four-cylinder, four-stroke engine produces 100 horsepower and gives G-3 spirited performance; one benefit of very light aircraft is a surprising speed and climb with engines many GA pilots would consider modest in power. The Rotax engine has been in service since the early 1990s with thousands operating worldwide. In the U.S., Rotax has a solid — if somewhat widely dispersed — service network that can handle overhauls and maintenance for this 1,500-hour TBO powerplant. GA pilots are sometimes unnerved by the higher revving engine, normally operating at 4,500-5,400 rpm, but they like its 3-5 gph consumption rates. This engine operates on premium unleaded fuel, as well as 100LL.

Cabin heat is standard. When combined with a special ventilation system and pop-out vents on both door windows, occupants remain comfortable in most climates. The cabin also boasts exceptional visibility with tinted windscreens made of special aircraft-optical acrylic. A large skylight brightens the interior and improves turn visibility when banking opposite the side on which you are seated.

VERSATILE AND FLEXIBLE

G-3’s large gull-wing doors can be removed quickly for flying without doors (up to 65 mph) in pleasant times of year, offering sporty flying as well as reasonably speedy cross-country capability.

It also employs folding wings that have proven popular in ultralight and kit-built aircraft to ease hangar requirements. You can easily fit three G-3s in the space used by a single aircraft with its wings extended. You also can store it in a custom trailer and avoid hangar fees altogether.

The plane features a clean-looking single strut construction with a single jury strut. This simple configuration facilitates wing folding, which takes two people about 15 minutes to accomplish. A small fairing at the base of the rudder allows you access to a quick-release linkage for the elevator controls. Two large pins on either side of the vertical, secured by a safety pin, are removed and you can detach the entire horizontal surface. Next, you move inside the cockpit where you can remove more pins to unlink the aileron controls. Back outside at the fuselage/wing leading edge junction, you pull out a large pin on each side. You then can pull out on the wing slightly, which allows you access to the quick-release pins that secure the flap controls.

The wing struts have a rotating ball joint that allows the strut and jury strut to stay on while you fold each wing aft. When the wings are folded, they continue to be supported by the wing strut. Extra hardware items are used to brace and secure the wings in the folded position though they don’t support the weight of the wings.

G-3’s electric elevator trim linkage functions in a slot on the bottom of the elevator but is smooth on the upper surface. The total movement is only about a quarter inch. I found it another of those sophisticated techniques that shows good forethought helping to justify the price tag.

Though the engine is tightly cowled, an opening in the front serves the radiator as Rotax engines are liquid cooled. While this adds a level of installation and maintenance complexity, it also assures the engine runs at proper temperatures; shock cooling with rapid throttle closing is much less an issue than on some conventional GA powerplants.

The wings are made of a combination of fiberglass and carbon fiber with some Ceconite fabric panels. The aircraft fuselage and wings are built in Remos’ Poland facility with more assembly and final inspection done in the company’s factory in the southern Bavaria region of Germany.

A vertical fin on the lower side of the tail has a small wheel built into the structure. Here’s yet another of the many nice touches that the designer included in his work of airborne art.

“That little wheel is intended for times when the wings are folded back and the plane sits down on the tail,” Rollison explained. “The wheel lets you roll the plane-with-folded-wings around more easily and without scuffing anything.”

More mundane but still appreciated is a fuel filler cap conveniently located on the right rear of the fuselage where you can reach it without climbing on a ladder or step.

THE GREAT INDOORS

The G-3 has many features and appointments. After getting in, I noted the locked parking brake, which is housed in the center console. The device involves a hydraulic brake lever with a red knob just aft of the lever and its hydraulic reservoir. You prime the system by pushing forward on the brake lever. When you twist the T-handled brake lever to the right, to the three o’clock position, you set the park brake. It’s more complicated to explain than to do.

Just in front of the hand brake lever is another right-twisting knob, the fuel cutoff. Logically it should be in the forward position for “go.”

A modestly sized storage area, which can hold an overnight bag or two, is behind the left side seat. Kreitmayr also provided another spot for storage on a hat rack-style shelf behind the pilots, including two small recessed areas that are covered with nylon nets. There are map pockets in the doors and some additional storage areas under the seats.

The cabin provides full dual controls, making G-3 useful for flight training. One handy option is a left side throttle for each seat, allowing both instructor and student pilot to keep their right hands on the joystick as is often preferred by right-handed flyers. Each control stick has a push-to-talk switch.

In front of the brake control, four color-keyed knobs control fresh air (blue), cabin heat (red), carb heat (yellow), and choke (green). Above the key switch is a series of electric switches; the large one is the master.

One thing you rarely see on American designs is a large red knob just to the side of either pilot’s head. The knob provides a quick release for the doors, facilitating removal in the event of an emergency or for quick removal for flying without the doors.

To support the door during entry or exit, G-3 uses a gas-lift strut. Once lowered and closed, locking the door is done by moving forward a knob at your knee, which pushes three locking pins into position. One angles forward into the fuselage, one down, and one aft to firmly secure the door. A pickproof lock and key secures any valuables left in the airplane parked for the night.

Standard equipment on Remos G-3 includes airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, precision 20,000-foot altimeter, compass, slip indicator, electric fuel gauge, and a FlyDat digital engine monitoring system that provides tachometer, water temperature, four EGT temperatures, oil pressure and oil temperature.

Pilots used to glass cockpits and GPS navigation can add such options to the machine, as well as an emergency airframe parachute system from BRS.

FLIES LIKE A GA PLANE

Remos’ G-3 is a good candidate for GA pilots considering a LSA. It is conventional in its general shape and handling, and can be operated much like a Cessna, Piper or Mooney. However, it benefits from ultralight-like fast takeoffs, steep climbs and a great performance-per-cost ratio.

Of two available flap positions, 15° and 30°, the factory recommends the first notch for takeoff. It won’t take long to reach pattern altitude, where you’ll quickly come to love G-3’s excellent lateral and forward visibility.

Most GA pilots will have to adjust a bit to G-3’s 17:1 glide, especially as this comes at slower speeds than best glide in a typical GA aircraft. Indeed, on a short runway, you must plan for the long approach G-3 can make. To help those still adjusting, the hydraulic brakes are quite effective and the Remos composite landing gear proves very supportive. Flaps in the full-down position reduce that glide reach and slips are quite effective. Flaps and elevator trim are electric.

You can cruise at 120 mph, although I was most comfortable with the power set at just over 5,000 rpm when the ASI indicated 115 mph at about 1,400 feet above the ground.

Controls in the G-3 are fluid and quite light. I experienced some initial challenge keeping the ball centered due to the responsive controls. However, steep turns at a 45° bank required no back pressure, speaking to the plane’s clean lines. If I pulled aft in such turns I simply climbed, even when the maneuver was done at a medium power setting. No additional throttle was required — as is common in other aircraft — proving Kreitmayr’s efficient airfoil.

Performance is not simply how fast a plane can cruise or its abilities in tight turns. I recorded a 300-350 fpm descent rate at about 70 mph, a figure relatively lower than most light planes and noticeably better than many heavier airplanes. G-3’s sink rate handily beats most ultralights or GA airplanes I’ve flown.

Slow flight with full flaps and 3,800 rpm (a low setting) produced 60 mph where G-3 controls felt very solid. It feels slightly softer at 50 but it still has plenty of roll authority.

Trim was mounted on the joystick; logically, you move the switch forward for nose down and back for up. The trim control operates a surface only on the left elevator. Just above the VSI on the left side of the panel is a small dial that shows the trim position.

As with takeoff, landings work best with one notch of flaps. Initially you can slow to 75 mph, but you can back off the throttle to about 3,500 rpm and hold 60 mph as you get on final. Operating off runways of 1,000 feet or less will prove simple once you become comfortable with the G-3.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Now that the SP/LSA rule is in place, aircraft like G-3 have become real alternatives to conventionally certified aircraft. In fact, at LSA prices, used GA planes will find competition for your airplane-purchase dollars.

At 69,950 euros (about $84,500 in mid-June 2005), Remos is priced competitively among all LSAs of this sophistication. True, the same amount can buy you a fairly clean 172 or Cherokee, but the GA aircraft will be quite a few years old and operational cost will be significantly more.

LSAs enjoy maintenance provisions that can save you money. If you take a 16-hour course, you’ll be able to do your own annual condition inspection. And the Rotax burns only four gallons an hour in cruise. Being able to use auto fuel can save another dollar a gallon, putting fuel costs at $7-10 per hour versus $25-30 for a typical Lycoming or Continental-powered machine using 100LL.

As of summer 2005, Rollison reports that 162 G-3s are flying. With SP/LSA a reality, the fleet of G-3s in America is sure to swell. If it catches your eye and meets your flying interests, one flight in a G-3 could make you ready to buy.

For more information: 812-384-0518.

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