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Sebring Success

Cessna's Skycatcher

Garmin 370 and 375

HKS700T Engine
HKS700T Engine

HKS700T Engine
Skyeton Aircraft K-10

IndUS Aviation's Thorpedo with Tanis Aircraft Products cold-weather mods

January 29, 2009 —“Sebring,” the adopted moniker of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo held each January in Sebring, Florida, isn’t like any other major aviation event in the world. It’s not an air show, nor a builder’s forum, nor your typical fly-in. It’s best described as a trade show for the rapidly maturing light-sport aircraft industry. The 2009 Expo was an excellent place for potential LSA owners to “kick the tires,” and it was clear that many attendees came primarily to check out the offerings available. 

This year’s event witnessed outstanding attendance, setting records on two days, while exhibitors reported that attendees were well-qualified customers. Something in excess of 15 aircraft were reportedly sold throughout the four-day event.

The maturation of the industry was represented by companies. Take Desser Tire and Rubber Company of Montebello, California, for example. Not only did this leading provider of aircraft tires display a line of products ideally suited for LSA aircraft but also representatives described new rubber compounds they’ve developed to resist greater tire wear, a direct result of the increasing popularity of LSA for flight schools. Another example was on display by Glenwood, Minnesota-based Tanis Aircraft Products, specialists in engine and cabin pre-heating technology. At Sebring, Tanis announced a joint research and development effort with LSA maker IndUS Aviation aimed at making the IndUS Thorpedo LSA better suited to cold weather operations and thus attractive to flight schools located in colder climates.

In other leading industry news, Neal Willford, project leader for the Cessna SkyCatcher LSA project updated the status of the C-162 SkyCatcher. He reported that the cause of the crash of the prototype is now understood. “The aircraft was flown into a corner of its envelope that would be very difficult to reach for most pilots,” Willford explained. Nevertheless, the aircraft’s tail has been modified to eliminate the chance of such problems in the future. The main changes included:

  • Less sweep on the vertical stabilizer and rudder
  • Elimination of the dorsal fin, as this had no contribution to recovering from the spin that caused the accident and was determined to be of little importance.
  • Increased the area of the vertical stabilizer and rudder.

Willford also reported that manufacturing progress remains on track at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) in China. Cessna is pleased with the quality of tooling and workmanship of parts. It’s expected the 162 will complete ASTM compliance testing in the first half of 2009. The first flight of an SAC-produced SkyCatcher is expected in the second quarter of this year, with the first delivery expected in the second half of 2009. All aircraft will be completed and test flown in China, then disassembled, crated and shipped to completion centers in the United States. They are located at:
Eagle Aviation, West Columbia, South Carolina

  • Southwest Platinum Aviation, North Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Yingling Aircraft, Wichita, Kansas

RANS Aircraft, Hays, Kansas, announced that it received S-LSA approval for the S-6ES Coyote II on December 23, 2008. This is the third LSA from RANS, the others being the S-19LS low-wing design and the S-7LS Courier high-wing airplane.

Hansen Air Group, Kennesaw, Georgia, displayed its carbon-fiber Fläming Air FA-04 Peregrine, and announced it received S-LSA approval on December 29, 2008. The aircraft can be converted easily from the standard tricycle gear configuration to a taildragger.

Making its first-ever U.S. appearance was the Skyteton K-10 from Skyeton Aircraft, Kiev, Ukraine. This new manufacturer is a division of the large engineering firm KARBON. The aircraft was designed for the Ukrainian government for commercial flight training use.  It’s powered by Rotax 912 or Jabiru 3300; 80-100 hp, has an all-aluminum wing, stainless steel-tube central airframe with semi-monocoque aft section of carbon fiber. The first three aircraft to be sold in U.S. offered for only $77,000. The aircraft has not yet received approval for its first flight in U.S., but that’s expected by Sun ’n Fun. Still, the company sold its first aircraft at Sebring.

Fantasy Air and Sadler Aircraft announced they have entered into a joint venture. Fantasy Air will serve as distribution network for the Sadler Vampire, while Sadler is expected to gain manufacturing and distribution rights to Allegro, worldwide. Following that all Allegro production will move from the Czech Republic to Sadler’s facility in Roseburg, Oregon.

In accessory news, Garmin introduced its GDU 370 and 375 non-TSO’d “glass cockpit” units for S-LSA and experimental category aircraft. The lower cost, 7-inch display, flush panel mount units have a multi-function display with moving map and terrain avoidance, and traffic information service (TIS) available with GTX 330 Mode S Transponder. The GDU 375 identical to GDU 370 but includes an XM receiver. The unit will support up to three interlinked displays with full reversionary capability (data from inoperative unit automatically moved to functioning display). They’re expected to be available in the second quarter of this year. Within one year, Garmin expects an upgradeable to unit including flight and engine instruments.

HKS Aviation announced an extension of the time between overhaul (TBO) for its HKS700E engine from 800 to 1000 hours or an eight-year period of operation. HKS also displayed its new HKS700T turbocharged engine, two-cylinder, horizontally opposed, four-stroke, four valves per cylinder. It’s turbocharged with an integrated intercooler, equipped with electronic fuel injection system, has a compression ratio 8.8 to 1, and projected to develop 77 hp at 4900 rpm continuous. Initial TBO is 500 hours. Weight is 126.8 lbs (57.5kg).

Virtual HUD, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, is developing a heads-up display called “NightVU”, for any tractor propeller-driven aircraft. Unlike systems that display on a separate piece of glass or the backside of the aircraft’s windscreen, VirtualHUD’s NightVU projects information against the back face of a spinning propeller onto which a ½-inch white stripe has been painted from the hub to the tip. All electronics, lamp, and GPS receiver are contained in a book-sized box that mounted above the panel on the dash or windshield. It projects basic navigation and performance information, “highway in the sky,” as well as any video through an external source. VirtualHUD has teamed with Forward Vision (www.Forward-Vision.net) to display Long Wave InfraRed (LWIR) video from its EVS-100 for night operation of aircraft.

Look for more coverage of Sebring highlights in the April issues of EAA Sport Aviation and Sport Pilot magazines.

- Special report by Kent Misegades

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