Cirrus returning to LSA? Well, yes…for Icon

Icon Aircraft and Cirrus Aircraft recently announced a deal for the general aviation composite aircraft producer to build parts of the Icon A5 and the news introduced dates for the A5 to come to market.

Several years ago I traveled to Cirrus’ Duluth, Minnesota, plant in the company of the Icon top leaders, including CEO Kirk Hawkins. In those days, Cirrus was seeking info to make decisions about their since-dropped LSA project called the SRS. The Icon fellows were obviously impressed and the trip subsequently paid off.

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Remarkably priced, fully built & powerful CH-750

Some say Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) are too expensive. With some topping $200,000, that rings true… in some cases. Yet more budget-friendly models are available and Oshkosh 2012 unveiled another. Now Zenith Aircraft’s kit STOL CH 750 is available as a fully-built LSA. The price? A bargain $74,900, an intro price, admittedly, but regularly it’ll still be only $84,900. By any measure, that’s a good deal. Take the intro price back to when LSA was announced in summer of 2004 and the figure would be barely over $60,000, just as most expected then.

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The cost of certification

Since AirVenture 2012, I’ve been part of several discussions about the way — and reasons why — aircraft become certified. Sound boring? Yes and no.

One way this might get your interest is to consider if Icon Aircraft, which is developing the A5, could join Cessna in going Primary Category instead of Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA). (Disclaimer: I have no information about any such decision from Icon — this is merely a discussion.) Perhaps even more to the point is the price of airplanes based on their certification cost.

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Electric! Gorgeous! Freedom!…4th generation ULS

Randall Fishman virtually invented the electric aircraft. That’s a rather big statement, yet I stand behind it. Randall first showed a functional electric trike at Oshkosh 2007. He’s been on a tear ever since and his ULS is his present state-of-the-art, his fourth generation of electric aircraft design.

I use three words to describe ULS deliberately. [Read more...]

What’s expected at Oshkosh from our LSA expert

I have several targets on my radar for follow-up at this year’s AirVenture, which kicks off tomorrow, July 23. Here’s a beforehand review; details will follow.

LSA seaplanes will generate plenty of interest, [Read more...]

A tale of two flight schools

Flight schools — like many private buyers — are hyperfocused on, “What does an aircraft cost to operate?” Busy flight schools operating at high volume simply must track how all the pennies add up. In this post we asked US Aviation’s Scott Severen for additional info. Why US Aviation? While much of aviation has been down in the dumps, this Texas operation has been growing rapidly. Everybody is else down. They’re up. How to explain? Could it be the company’s willingness to embrace change?

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Flying the newest LSA: Sling

While out west on business,  I had the chance to fly the latest SLSA on the list, the South African Sling. Earlier I’ve written about the all-metal LSA’s round-the-world flight, but now this low-wing design is being made available for sale to Americans.

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Tecnam’s Tail Dragger keeps getting better

With five models currently meeting ASTM standards for SLSA, Tecnam has established itself as the leader in prolific design of Light-Sport Aircraft.

Much of this design prowess owes to family patriarch Professor Luigi Pascale, known for his incredible output of designs over the years under the company names Partenavia and Tecnam. Even into his 80s, Luigi Pascale continues his energetic engineering.

Tail Dragger with cargo pod

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FAA clarifies who is an LSA manufacturer

Late last month, the FAA issued its anticipated notice of policy that clarifies who can qualify as a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) manufacturer. You may wish to read the entire policy statement and, as government documents go, this one is fairly easy to read and comprehend. The agency also welcomes comments.

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One solution to the flight school dilemma

Anyone who has tried to borrow money in the last five years knows how tough it has become. Banks supported by government guarantees practically gave money away before the subprime meltdown but are now being much more careful. That’s a good thing, but it means even some credit-worthy customers can’t get the loans they need. Commonly rejected are flight schools. Flight training enterprises across the nation are struggling to obtain financing to buy new aircraft to replace aging fleets of trainers.

Despite the challenges, one LSA outfit has found at least a partial answer.

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