Do you think you could take a business idea from concept to the display ground at AirVenture within a year? That’s just what the folks at Eagle Aviation LLC did.
It helped that the company is based in Oshkosh, noted Paul Klomhaus, owner.
“The company has only been in business for six months now,” he said during this summer’s big show. “It was challenging to pull off the show, but that’s the Oshkosh tradition.”
The company sells, assembles and provides training in the EA-100, a high-wing Light Sport Aircraft.
“It is an S-LSA,” said Klomhaus. “The frame design comes from South America and it has been flying for the past five or six years, so it is a proven airframe. They are also flying in Europe.”
The decision to enter into the world of LSA with this particular airframe was not made lightly, he noted. “A prior contact of ours presented the idea to us,” he said. “There are companies out there that have a frame design and want to get into the U.S. market because Sport Pilot is turning into a very large segment of the industry. We have successfully acquired the design rights to bring this machine here to the United States, but because of FAA regulations and so forth, the only way we can do this is if it is a U.S.-manufactured airplane. This is all to do with the Sport Pilot rules and all that, which I expect to be a good thing, as the community at large will see that this is an airplane that is from the United States.”
As this issue was going to press, the company had just acquired its airworthiness certificate.
“Because it is the first one in the U.S., we had to get an experimental research and development certificate,” he said. “That certificate allows us to fly the airplane to prove that it complies with the Light Sport regulations, which we know it does, and to show that the airplane performs to ASTM standards. These are the hoops that we have to jump through.”
Each aircraft will be inspected and certified at the end of the production process, he added, because the company does not possess a production certificate.
The EA-100 is a high-wing, all-metal design that, according to Klomhaus, has many features that on other S-LSA fall under the category of “options and extras.”
“It has a directional gyro, an attitude indicator, suction gauge and real engine driven suction pump,” he said. “It has a Garmin 420 radio, which will be the standard radio package. We also will have a Garmin transponder, so you can run with ATC and squawk whatever code you have to. This is a VFR airplane that could go IFR if the person really wanted it to. The only thing to limit it would be the certificate of the pilot.”
The instrument faces are all silkscreen, he continued. “There are no tape or pen marks on the instruments — it is all very elegantly done,” he said. “The night flight option has an internal fiber optic light with a central rheostat that you can dim as appropriate.
“We believe this is one of the only sport planes that has dual yoke controls versus dual stick,” he said. “However, if the customer wants a stick, we can put dual sticks in it.”
AB INITIO TRAINING
Another thing that sets Eagle Aviation apart from its competitors, according to Klomhaus, is its commitment to training.
“We are formulating a complete sport training program from ground zero,” he said. “If you want to continue on and become a private pilot, we can do that too. We have a sport pilot examiner on staff.
We also will be offering transitional training courses for people who fly other airplanes, but their insurance companies say that they need a 10-hour course and so forth. We also will be offering these airplanes for rent, fully insured. There is no club to belong to or initiation fees, you show up and if you are a current pilot you simply fly for an hour or half hour with our instructor and off you go at a more affordable rate than a 30-year-old Cessna, which is on the line right now at $90 an hour.”
Klomhaus has targeted Oct. 15 as the start date for the school. “It is getting lots of interest,” he said. “We had 10 people come in and ask about it before we even started to advertise it.”