At the AOPA Aviation Summit I spent time in the Lockwood Aviation booth, which gave me a chance to speak with a few RV-12 builders. Van‘s has reportedly sold approximately 600 RV-12 LSA, of which 150 may be flying, making RV-12 by far the most successful Experimental LSA. RV-12 would among rank high among all LSA were we able to include ELSA in the SLSA List (…we cannot, for several reasons).
In a sign that proprietor and industry leader Phil Lockwood sees good potential in RV-12 service work, he displayed the leading ELSA on his latest Lockwood Aircraft Supply catalog. Van’s did not exhibit at Summit 2011.
I found it equally interesting to hear much improved reception to the Rotax line compared to earlier AOPA Expos or Summits. Perhaps it’s the 2,000-hour overhaul time. Maybe it’s the 40,000 9-series engines Rotax has installed on aircraft or more widely available Rotax service as seen on our FIRM List. Regardless, it seems likely Lockwood Repair services — and those provided by other Rotax centers — should enjoy good maintenance business for many years.
At the static display known as AirportFest, visitors were greeted by a Cessna Skycatcher, which the big company positioned as the first aircraft inside the gate. Among LSA purveyors, Remos, Flight Design, Jabiru U.S., Arion Lightning, and CubCrafters had displays, as did Terrafugia, though the latter was in the convention hall regularly folding its wings in and out.
At Airportfest, Liberty Sport Aviation’s Bristell was a hit, making its U.S. debut. People liked the 51-inch-wide cockpit, “…as wide as the Cirrus SR22,” said rep Barry Pruitt, who noted that a 6-foot-8-inch father and son duo sat, and comfortably fit, under the bubble canopy with headroom to spare. Many were impressed with the smooth curves on the all-metal SLSA. Prices start about $125,000.
Bristell is the rebadged NG 5 LSA, which was not previously offered in the U.S., although it was sold in Europe as the NG 4 from Roko Aero. When Roko closed its doors, production stopped for the NG 4. It became NG 5 as the company reformed into BRM Aero.
Changes occur in any industry but Bristell Fastback designer, Milan Bristela, is a steady hand on the joystick known for his foundational work on the SportCruiser (for a year known as the PiperSport) that is presently ranked #2 in U.S. registrations. The Bristell is certainly similar to the SportCruiser/PiperSport, though not identical.