Want to fly a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) but continue with the fun of flying aerobatics? You can with the new Fk Comet.
Manufactured by Fk-Lightplanes in Speyer, Germany, and distributed in the U.S. by Atlanta-based Hansen Air Group, the sporty Comet made its American debut in January at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. The airplane, sporting a yellow, black and white paint job with a racing number 64 on the side, was trucked in and displayed sans wings.
“Are those its wings?” one man asked, looking at the stubs where the wings attach. He explained he was of the same vintage as the GeeBee Racer, and that he’s seen fast airplanes with small wings. “Is it one- or two-place?”
“It’s a two-seat biplane,” explained Mitch Hansen, Chief Technical Officer of the Hansen Air Group. “Or it can be single place, depending on what canopy you want. The wings aren’t on the airframe right now because it just came over from Europe.”
Even without the wings on it the Comet attracted the attention of a rock star at Sebring. Several people asked if it was a Pitts or a Christian Eagle, then asked why it was at a show for LSAs. The explanation that the airframe can qualify as a LSA and be used for aerobatics drew looks of astonishment.
“There is nothing in the ASTM standards that says you cannot build a light sport aerobatic airplane,” said Hansen, noting that some modifications must be made for the plane to be certified as LSA Aerobatic. For starters, it will have to use an engine other than the Rotax 912 ULS, because the Rotax is not certified for aerobatic flight.
“The word we are getting from the Fk factory is that Lycoming may be able to get them an ASTM compliant engine for aerobatics by June or July,” said Mike Hansen, Chief Operation Officer of Hansen Air Group. “If so, we could, in theory, have our first aerobatic Comet here in October. The fuel injection /inverted oil system would be like the ones used on the Eagle and supplied by Christian.”
Although the Comet is new to the United States, it has been produced in Europe for some time, according to Mitch Hansen, who noted that the basic design was modified slightly so it would qualify for the American LSA category.
“Fk extended the wings and slowed down the stall speed to about 35 knots,” he said. “It has a great feature — full span ailerons so they work with the flaps like flaperons.”
The airplane has options for three different canopies. There is a single-place racing canopy, a two-place bubble canopy ,and a two-place open cockpit design, he said. “The canopy can be changed out by simply pulling three pins,” he added.
The fuselage mainframe is steel tube with carbon fiber formers. The covering is Seconite. Controls are actuated with a center stick. The fuel tank, located in the front of the airplane, holds 15.5 gallons of either mogas or avgas. The airplane has an empty weight of 656 lbs. and a maximum gross weight of 1,190 lbs., which results in a useful load of approximately 500 lbs.
The airplane is designed to be light and, since it is intended to be used for aerobatics, is one of the sturdier LSAs on the market, according to the Hansens, who note it will be rated to +6 and -3 Gs.
“But the ultimate load test is somewhere around 15 Gs, so it is a very strong airplane,” said Mitch Hansen.
Cruise speed is 95 knots. The baggage compartment is small, with room for perhaps a headset and a jacket, but not much else. The Comet also has an option for a BRS parachute.
Although the Comet is an LSA, it is not intended to be a entry level airplane, because it is short coupled and a tailwheel, the Hansens said.
“It will keep you busy on the ground,” said Mitch Hansen. “This is not something that you can fly with your hands in the air. The pilots who fly this airplane need time in their logbook and tailwheel experience.”
Customers can expect a wait of approximately 120 days from order to delivery. According to Mike Hansen, the price of the Comet depends on what the customer wants.
“Price range for a Rotax-powered Comet starts at $111,000 for a two-hole open cockpit, no radios. High end is $128,500 for Garmin radios, EFIS and double canopy. For a Lycoming-powered Comet, required for aerobatics, add $5,000 to both numbers.”