The very newest thing in Light Sport Aircraft looks for all the world like an airplane from the early years of aviation.
It’s the Aerolab LoCamp from Italy, sporting two open cockpits, fabric covering, a fine wood instrument panel and a radial engine – but it’s so new that it has yet to achieve LSA certification.
“It goes back to a certain era,” says Aerolab founder and Alitalia Captain Francesco Rizzi. “Our mission is to produce charming flying machines, with souls as standard equipment.”
Complete firewall aft kits are available under experimental rules, but Rizzi says FAA’s LSA certification should come through in about a year. He started recruiting a dealer network at Sun ‘n Fun, working through representatives in New York, he said.
The kits are 49% complete, containing everything but paint, chemicals, glue and an electrical system. Elegant instruments, designed to match the airplane’s style, are available as options. Rizzi says the kits require “assembly, not construction” and estimates assembly time at around 500 hours.
The LoCamp is the first of three Aerolab models eventually to be offered. The other two are a parasol wing and a biplane version, but all three share the same fuselage and mechanical characteristics. All three “look romantic but, under the skin, they are modern, state-of-the-art machines,” Rizzi said. The LoCamp was on display at Sun ‘n Fun, where it attracted the kind of adoring attention always received by elegant flying machines.
The little Italian beauty is powered by a 110 hp Rotec 2800 engine, cruises at 106 mph and stalls clean at 45, flaps down at 41. Its empty weight of 848 pounds leaves a useful load of 472 pounds while staying within the maximum LSA weight of 1,320 pounds. The fuselage is built of TIG-welded steel tubing but the wing spars and ribs are of traditional wood, meeting the last FAA regulations written for wooden aircraft structures. All wooden parts in the kit are supplied assembled. Even the instrument panel is traditional wood but, like all Aerolab parts, it’s cut by CNC guided laser. No hand-fitting. All measurements are to U.S. standards, not metric, Rizzi emphasized.
The complete firewall-to-tail kit currently costs $17,950. Throw in another $14,500 for the Rotec engine and $7,500 for its firewall-forward kit. The still-to-come LSA certified version is priced at $70,150, Rizzi said.
Why Aerolab’s emphasis on the U.S. market? “JAR VLA was a failure,” Rizzi said, referring to a European light aircraft standard. “It cost as much to certify as FAA Part 23 certification.” But, he added, “Sport Pilot works.”