The next decade of LSA innovation

At AirVenture Oshkosh this year, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) mounted a very visible celebration of Light-Sport or Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft. The exhibit drew dense traffic throughout the week by offering a large cross section of the aircraft types and configurations available since the FAA loosened its control over the process of approving new aircraft for sale to the public. It was the 10th anniversary celebration of Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft (SP/LSA).

EAA’s collection of aircraft tells only part of the story of what might be expected in a second decade.

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Is this the new GA?

C4

The word “legacy” is often used to refer to products that are dominant today but threatened by disruptive influences. Legacy airlines, for example, are today’s largest carriers but ones burdened with aircraft bought earlier and with labor contracts negotiated years ago. Legacy connotes power, but also vulnerability.

The same logic can be applied to general aviation. Cessna and Piper are certainly legacy manufacturers. Decades back both become larger corporations increasingly distant from the original work of Clyde Cessna or William Piper. Others have already succumbed to market forces or have materially changed. Think of Beechcraft or Mooney. Both are quite different organizations from what Walter Beech and Al Mooney once created.

All this reflects normal developments that happen over time. Legacies can be good, even great, but one fact is true: Legacy cannot stand still.

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SkyCraft finishes ASTM compliance, opens new factory

SD1Minisport

SkyCraft Airplanes has declared to the FAA that its SD-1 Minsiport is compliant with all ASTM regulations for Light-Sport Aircraft one year after publicly announcing it would be producing the airplane ready-to-fly.

SkyCraft now awaits an FAA audit, after which it will be able to make its first aircraft deliveries.  The FAA has scheduled SkyCraft’s audit for two months from now, company officials report.

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A quarter century of power

912iS engine

In 1989 something remarkable happened. You might remember the fall of the despised Berlin Wall that separated Germany. Certainly that was a remarkable event in human history, but it wasn’t the only noteworthy occurrence that year. Not far away in Wels, Austria, something else happened that, for pilots, was also important.

In 1989, Rotax Aircraft Engines introduced its 912 engine. [Read more...]