Flying the Bristell

Since the Sebring LSA Expo in January, the airshow season has rushed by at warp speed and now we can return to more aircraft flown at the event that kicks off the aviation year. In this post, we’ll have a quick look at the all-new Bristell, first unveiled to the American pilot community at the AOPA Aviation Summit last fall in Hartford, Connecticut.

If you feel a sense of deja vu when looking at Bristell, that’s understandable. It has some common design heritage with the SportCruiser or PiperSport because the man behind the BRM Aero Bristell — Milan Bristela — was once affiliated with Czech Aircraft Works which originated the design.

That’s when Milan and I first met. He left the former company before it was taken over by Czech Sport Aircraft, designed another aircraft with a different partner, and finally chose a path all his own. Milan calls this a fifth generation design owing to his earlier work. Evidently those iterations paid off because at Sebring 2012, several reporters went over the Bristell carefully and every one I spoke to was quite impressed (not always easy with reporters used to looking over everyone’s latest and greatest projects).

What really struck me were the many detail considerations, perhaps a function of long work on a design concept. Our video goes over many of these, plus the very comfortable and roomy cockpit.

I offer some specifications to help tell the story. Engine is the ubiquitous 100-hp Rotax 912; Span is just under 30 feet; Empty weight 729 pounds; Payload with full fuel (32 gallons) is 400 pounds; Range 700 nm based on more than six hours endurance burning 5.5 gph in high cruise; Cabin width is a whopping 51.2 inches, almost a foot wider than a Cessna 172; Baggage capacity is significant, carrying 121 pounds in two wing lockers and space aft of the seat. Of course, the latter depends on other loading but is nonetheless appealing to those who want to travel in the Bristell.

The U.S. importer says Bristell will get you from Philadelphia (not far from their current location) to Chicago with a single fuel stop. Stall is a low 32 knots or 39 clean and what’s called “max structural cruise” is listed at 116 knots or 133 mph. Never exceed speed is 145 knots. The Czech company is also working on a retractable model, though that will not qualify under American LSA regulations.

In flight, Bristell was a thing of beauty with wonderful handling and a seemingly unimpeachable stability profile. I didn’t find any warts and I spoke to three other flight reviewers who were equally enthusiastic. Perhaps you ought to take a flight at an airshow near you.

Because importer Bristell USA is new to the game (though well established in the LSA business), dealerships are just being assembled though the importer reports strong interest. Even in an economic downturn that is taking its toll, Bristell seemed a breath of fresh air.

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  1. Mike says

    The distributorship is going to be the key point to developing this product.  The LSA pilot certification is the most opportunity for flight schools to make a profitable flight school, most are not taking advantage of this goldmine.

    The airplane is very nicely engineered, and should be a big seller.  The distributor is the key ingredient whether this airplane becomes a real player in the US market, or is just a great design that no one else really knows about. 

    Visit my blog at to read about my thoughts on why the LSA is floundering in the United States, and what we can do to get aviation going again.

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