Sebring generates a solid start to 2009


Although marred by the fatal crash of a Remos LSA on its last day, the 2009 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo provided an optimistic start to the new year, posting the best opening day in the show’s five-year history.

According to my visits with many airframe manufacturers or importers, a sense of improvement is pervasive. This is a cautious optimism, to be sure, but it’s a clear change from the gloom of the last few months.

In other LSA news:

Given how she flies, I really don’t know why the Zlin developers settled on the name Savage. It simply isn’t “savage” despite being a taildragger that challenges some tricycle-gear-trained pilots. Sure, you’ll need training or prior experience to qualify for insurance, but it’s no more challenging than a Legend Cub, a Sport Cub or a RANS S-7LS.

Savage exhibits very cooperative handling down to low stall speeds (below 40 mph indicated).
Coming next is a bushplane option, perhaps to be named the Sport. The new model will include reinforcements to withstand the rigors of bush flying and landings on rougher surfaces. Additional X bracing has been added, the gear extended 3 inches to allow huge Alaskan Bushwheels, and you can order a belly pod for camping gear. If you want floats, you should select the left side door option.

According to expert Cub pilots, another option worth considering, especially for bush flying, is vortex generators.

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On Dec. 29, a new Special LSA was approved. Welcome to the FA-04 Peregrine, which was inspected after assembly at Hansen Air Group in Atlanta. I believe this to be the first LSA from the former East Germany.

FA-04 Peregrine is a low-wing carbon fiber LSA that evolved from Flaeming Air’s FA-02, which earlier had won European VLA approval. The interior is 44 inches wide (a Cessna 172 is 39.5 inches) with lots of leg room and a large luggage compartment that makes the model appropriate for longer cross-country flights. Adjustable seats aid occupant comfort.

In an interesting variation, Peregrine has main landing gear that can “easily be converted to a taildragger,” said Jon Hansen.

Hansen Air Group, an early player in the LSA world that also worked on the ASTM committee, paved the way for Tecnam as its first representative. Later the organization put its efforts into selling the Sky Arrow. The FA-04 Peregrine represents a significant return to the market for the Georgia enterprise.

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FAA officials are more than half way through their assessment of the LSA industry. According to post-assessment interviews with companies, FAA teams performing these info-gathering visits have generally been satisfied, but some changes will likely be made to assure better written records and procedures.

In preparation for actions it believes will follow the assessments, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) accelerated its efforts to perform compliance audits on more companies. The association has been assembling an expert audit team, processes, and extensive checklists to make the effort easier on producers and very cost-efficient.

LAMA Founder and Chairman Emeritus Larry Burke reports 22 companies are either done, in the process, or in negotiations to become LAMA audited. When these are complete, possibly by next Oshkosh, it should cover more than 80% of the LSA being sold.

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