Familiar frame, different name

For some planes, it’s the (air)frame, not the name, that sells it.

Such is the case with the Polish-built AT-4, an airframe that was introduced to the American market a few years back as the Gobosh 700. Gobosh, which stands for Go Big Or Stay Home, went out of business in 2009, but the AT-4 has returned to America, marketed by Aero AT-USA, based at Northampton Airport (7B2) in Massachusetts.

The design for the Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) has not changed significantly from its days as the Gobosh, noted Aero AT CEO Walter Jankowski.

Walter Jankowski

“The pedigree for the AT-4 comes from the AT-3, which is a fully certified airplane,” he said. “One thing that makes the AT-4 different from many of the other LSAs on the market is that it is a full metal airplane. Many of the newer aircraft are composite.”

The AT-4 on display at this year’s Sun ’n Fun arrived in the United States in January, just before it made its debut at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida. Since then, Aero AT officials have been working to establish a foothold in the United States.

“We are building momentum,” said Aero AT-USA’s Greg Trzaska. “We just need people to know we are here.”

Like its predecessors, the AT-4 sports winglets. Access to the cockpit is by lifting the bubble canopy and putting a foot on the wing. You won’t find a side-step on the AT-4, said Jankowski, explaining that it was done away with because there had been times when two people stepped on the steps and the airplane pitched up, banging the tail.

Another refinement is the addition of an annunciator light on the canopy. Because the bubble is made of metal and composite and so light, extremes of heat and cold can cause it change shape slightly. When this happens, there is the chance the canopy won’t be completely latched prior to departure.

“The light is a safety to let you know if the canopy is not fully latched,” Jankowski explained. “Also, the mechanism to open and close the canopy has been redesigned for smoother operation.”

Sitting in the cockpit you may feel a little like you’re in a sports car. If you’re vertically impaired, you ‘ll probably want a cushion or two behind your back to be able to reach the pedals.

The Aero AT-4 panel includes a line of caution lights, at top left, that quickly alert the pilot to the status of the generator, engine warnings and cautions, fuel pump status, low fuel state, and the like. Beneath the lights are a pair of Garmin 300S screens.

There are two throttles, one far left, the other in the center, so if you are a pilot who is more comfortable with your right hand on the throttle and left hand on the stick when you’re in the left seat, you’re all set.

Just above the airspeed indicator and altimeter you’ll find an air vent. One of the downsides of the bubble-type canopy is that they tend to get rather warm in the sunnier climates.

Both the flap actuator and the trim wheel are located on a pedestal. For extra safety, there’s a fire extinguisher next to the pilot’s left leg.

“The cockpit it laid out pretty intuitively,” noted Michael Kuehlmuss, who has the unique perspective of being both a licensed A&P, as well as an LSA instructor pilot teaching in the AT-4.

“The AT-4 is really easy to inspect because of the design,” he said. “You can lift the seats out of the cockpit and see the control systems. It is basic sheet metal construction, which makes it easy to see if there is a problem with the structure. You can get behind the glare shield to the instruments by lifting up a cover. You don’t have to go panel diving — that is, trying to reach the radios from underneath if there is a problem.”

Another maintenance friendly aspect of the AT-4 are the push buttons to open inspection plates.

“There are 10 covers that just pop open with the push of a finger,” he said. “You open them and you can see the control linkages and get to the control rods very easily.”

The powerplant is a Rotax, the industry standard for LSAs.

According to Aero AT-USA’s Pete Merski, delivery time is about three months, which includes shipping time from Poland. Base price starts at $105,000.

For more information: AeroAT-USA.com


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