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GA the Star at Cannes Airshow 2011

Story and photos by Tim Kern, EAA 852075, for e-Hotline

June 16, 2011 — The fifth Cannes AirShow, the only exclusively GA trade show in Europe, concluded last weekend, featuring the European premieres of some well-known (in the U.S.) machines, including the Cessna C-162 Skycatcher and 10th Anniversary Cirrus. Another North American newbie, the Expedition 350 bush plane, flew in from Canada. Relative unknowns in the States like the Aquila 210 were joined by the world premiere of the Akoya LiSA (Light Innovative Sport Aircraft), a French design that lands on snow, grass, tarmac, and water.

The Aquila is a Part 23 airplane that’s a step above LSA in every dimension - larger, faster, heavier, longer-range - but it maintains the look and expands the construction benefits of a modern LSA. The German-built, Rotax 912S-powered airplane features a large cabin, big luggage compartment, and smooth ride that should appeal to pilots who like the look and feel of LSA, but who would also enjoy more of everything.

Oma Sud SkyCar
Look for the Oma Sud SkyCar to make its U.S debut at Oshkosh next month.

Oma Sud SkyCar
Valter Proietti, chairman and CEO of Oma Sud Sky Technologies, brought his SkyCar, the conforming example of which is in final construction now, and is slated for its debut at AirVenture Oshkosh 2011. The prototype, which flew to Cannes from Italy and has been flying for three years, is soon to be replaced by the certified machines; EASA certification was awarded earlier this year.
The twin-boom empennage support and twin Lycomings in pusher configuration on the wing allow an enormous rear door, akin to that on a C-5, though smaller.

The company envisions several missions for the aircraft, both civilian and military, such as high-value goods transport, particularly into difficult terrain, patrolling, medivac applications (with the large rear door), and more. The company is also considering a customer request for a “Surveyor” model, with the ability to lower various camera configurations - FLIR, stabilized - through a large hole in the floor. The Surveyor could be used for sophisticated surveillance, patrol, or environmental monitoring, among other missions.

With more than 150 “realistic” inquiries, Oma Sud plans to build some three dozen Sky Cars in 2012, and the company has begun production on the first six solid orders. Oma Sud also plans to open an assembly facility in Florida soon.

“We see our largest market in the U.S.,” Proietti said, “and the strongest growth potential in the Pacific Rim, with a significant demand from Canada.” Oma Sud is looking to qualify a small number of dealers and support centers in the U.S.

LiSA
LiSA has an electrically operated canopy, plus hydrofoils, skis, wheels.

Akoya LiSA
Called “The Star of the Show” by a Nice (France) newspaper, the LiSA promises to be a truly “all-terrain” vehicle, sporting wings, skis, a floating hull, and wheels. James Bond would use his license to kill for such a machine.

Though it is early in flight tests, this Rotax 912S (100-hp) machine is designed to fit in the LSA category, using its amphib weight allowance to allow inclusion of really cool features like electrically operated folding wings and canopy. The LiSA also includes all-composite construction and the integrated “water wings,” which serve as hydrofoils supporting (from a design standpoint) the company’s claim of 500-foot water takeoffs. Though that seems ambitious for 100 hp, it may very well work; prototypes are always lighter on paper than they are in practice.

At any rate, the LiSA appears to be aimed straight at whatever may constitute the Icon A-5 market, but in an arguably sexier-looking package. It looks very svelte, with its pointed nose, hydrofoils, electric canopy - and the engine mount integrated into the tail, a la the LoPresti-inspired Seawind.
Early flight tests show believable wet takeoff and otherwise docile water manners, mild flight characteristics, and manageable ground manners (it’s a tail wheel-equipped land plane).

As is the necessary case with all amphibious LSA, the LiSA uses its water capability to explain its retractable gear. After all, you wouldn’t want to have to take the time to retract the gear if you had an emergency. It’s best to pull it up right away once airborne. “It’s the pilot’s call,” explains the company’s marketing manager, Vanessa Troillard.

TB20
The TB20 is all modern, with its factory-installed Garmin 500 suite.

TBM 700
The first civilian G1000 conversion arrived with its owner.

Daher-Socata firsts
Daher-Socata was in Cannes with its flagship TBM850 and two firsts: the first civilian TBM700 (a B model) and a TB20 with factory-converted Garmin glass panels. The TB20 had the G500 system. Though this STC conversion was announced in late 2010, a completed example wasn’t available until now. Daher-Socata, the first continuously operated aircraft company to celebrate 100 years in business, estimates about 150 eligible TB-series aircraft and developed this glass STC as an offshoot of its popular G1000 retrofit for earlier TBMs.

The STC is available two ways: The first is a factory-installed, turnkey upgrade, where you bring your airplane to the factory in Tarbes, France, and pick it up later with everything finished, tested, and guaranteed. These conversions, depending on the aircraft’s equipment options and starting point, run from just under €40,000 to less than €60,000.

There is a second way: simply buy the STC for less than €8,000 and install it with the help of your favorite avionics shop. That option includes the certificates, instructions, documentation, and the change-out airframe parts (but not the avionics).

The TBM/Garmin 1000 conversion - the first on a civilian TBM700 - was at the show, courtesy of its owner. Conversions are being scheduled around the French air force’s conversions of its entire fleet (more than two dozen aircraft).

TB20
Jacques Calleis and Gilles Khaïat flew a Mooney Ovation 2 GX from New York to Cannes in less than 24 hours, an unofficial class record.

Mooney flies from New York to Cannes in less than 24 hours
The French team of Jacques Calleis, the editor of Aviation & Pilote Magazine, and Paris attorney Gilles Khaïat set a new (unofficial for now) record for the trip to Cannes and for the class in Callies’s Mooney Ovation 2 GX, which was unmodified except for a 65-gallon “turtleback” fuel cell in the back seat. That, plus the 102 gallons in the wings, allowed a final leg to come direct from Iceland. A check in Cannes revealed just one quart’s usage of the Exxon Elite 20W-50. Khaïat also noted that the flight was easy on the other fluids. “In a 24-hour flight,” he said, “we used the TKS [anti-ice] for about 10 minutes.”

“Encouraging” doesn’t begin to describe it.

Initial signs of a GA turnaround
Also participating at Cannes were jets from Cessna, Embraer, and Hawker Beechcraft, the Piaggio P180, Pilatus PC-12NG, and Piper and Cessna turboprops.

Though GA is still struggling to recover from the economic slump downturn, it definitely showed signs of a turnaround at Cannes. Piper reported “three (orders) that are waiting for signatures”; a new Bonanza is remaining in France with its new owner. Cirrus sold an SR22 G3 and the second 10th Anniversary SR22 to make France its home. Others, too, reported strong sales and encouraging preliminary books, but none came close to Tecnam. Led by its four-seat P2010, Tecnam booked some 20 sales, making Cannes its best show in memory.

For more information on the Cannes Airshow, click here.

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