French ultralight fly-in celebrates 31 years
By Marino Boric, EAA 1069644, for e-Hotline
Swiss Motor Engineering is already a distributor of two-cylinder engines based on the German Weber automotive components. This year they debuted its new single-cylinder, four-stroke engine called the M 250 injection. The engine, which was developed with the help of the Italian gyrocopter manufacturer Claudio Pagotto.
The LH 212 Delta, a two-seat ultralight helicopter, was probably the biggest surprise in Blois. Its North Italian manufacturer, LCA s.r.l., developed the aircraft almost secretly over the past eight years.
The Czech manufacturer debuted its new high-wing airplane arGO. The all-metal two-seater should be capable of almost a 110-knot (200 km/h) cruise speed, and weighs 648 pounds (292 kilograms). An LSA version is likely. All photos by Marino Boric
September 8, 2011 – Thirty-one years ago the first Blois fly-in took place in central France. Since then a lot has happened on the AÉRODROME Blois - LE BREUIL - Vendôme (LFOQ), approximately 100 miles south of Paris.
The event, which took place over the weekend of September 3-4, was once the biggest and most important ultralight fly-in in Europe, and for 30 years was called the Salon de Blois. Starting this year the event’s official name is Festival International de L’aviation Ultra Légère, indicating that major changes in the organization have been made. Now, the sole organizer of the event is Jean Marie Carré.
Attendance for the event was lower than anticipated, no doubt due in part to bad weather forecast for the two-day event, but some “fee-sensitive” French pilots also may have rebelled against the first-ever €5 landing fee imposed. But vendors (approximately the same number as last year) left Blois fairly satisfied, even if the number of visitors and airplanes was lower than in previous years. According to all, the quality of visitors at this fly-in and trade show was much better than in the past. And we saw numerous national and, surprisingly, several world premieres.
The LH 212 Delta, a two-seat ultralight helicopter, was probably the biggest surprise in Blois. Its North Italian manufacturer, LCA s.r.l., made Blois the world premiere of the LH 212, which was developed almost secretly over the past eight years and could become one of the most interesting new designs on the European ultralight market (up to 1,000 pounds/450 kilograms).
According to Roberto Lamanna, CEO of LCA, the LH 212’s empty weight is only 600 pounds (275 kilograms), and it is powered by the Rotax 914 turbo engine. The complete titanium tubular frame weighs only 35 pounds (16 kilograms). The helicopter features a two-blade main rotor (with a diameter of 6.6 meters) and should cruise at 100 mph. Its range is three hours or 240 nautical miles. The prototype should correspond to a future serial product. The €125,000 price tag is pretty competitive for a helicopter. www.lcahelicopter.com
Italian manufacturer Famá was present with its Kiss 209M helicopter, shown for the first time in Italy two years ago. The public was able to see two versions of the 209 helicopter - with retractable gear (RG) and on skids. The skid version of the Solar turbine-powered helicopter is selling very well in France, being 30 pounds lighter than a RG version, and weighing around 650 pounds (295 kilograms). Nino Famà announced that production for the next two years is already sold out. www.famahelicopters.com
This year was truly a helicopter year in Blois, as another Italian manufacturer, Helisport, arrived with its latest product, the CH77. It is based on the company’s earlier Kompress helicopter, but with side-by-side seating instead of the tandem. The helicopter flew from North Italy to Blois in one stop and once on the ground was pretty well kept out of the reach of the visitors. It’s powered by an EPA heavily modified Rotax 914 engine delivering approximately 130 hp. The CH77 will be sold only in a kit form; it will be eligible for the Italian microlight category. First deliveries are estimated near the end of 2012; introductory kit price is less than €100,000, excluding engine. Technical data and weight are not yet known. www.ch-7helicopter.com
Since 1990, the well-known French ultralight manufacturer DTA (Delta Trikes Aviation) has manufactured trikes and trike wings. With that in mind, Blois attendees were surprised to see a world premiere of the company’s newest product, a gyroplane called the J-RO “Cabriolet.” The autogyro features tandem seating and may be powered by a Rotax 912S or a 914 turbo engine, and will be delivered in two versions, called Premium and Optimum, weighing 556 and 600 pounds respectively (264/273 kilograms). The basic Premium is the door-less version, while the better-equipped Optimum will be delivered only fully enclosed.
The J-RO was developed over three years of intensive work, in which three prototypes were built and 3,000 hours of labor were invested. The J-RO Premium with the Rotax 912S lists at €59,900 and with the Rotax 914 at €68,300. According to a company spokesman, the J-RO will probably be shown in Oshkosh in two years. www.jro-dta.com
The Czech manufacturer Directfly presented for the very first time its new high-wing airplane arGO. The all-metal two-seater flew to France and is powered by a Rotax 912S engine. The braced high wing should be capable of almost a 110-knot (200 km/h) cruise speed, has a 43.3-inch (110-centimeter) wide cabin and weighs 648 pounds (292 kilograms). The introduction of an LSA version is probable; the company’s low-wing airplane, the Alto, is already available in the U.S. Pricing starts at €56,000. www.directfly.cz
Germany’s well-known manufacturer Comco Ikarus brought to Blois the 1,000th C42 built and presented for the first time its new model, the C52, which was first shown at AERO 2011. The new C52 is under testing now and will enter serial production by the end of next year.
The French trike manufacturer Ellipse Delta has modernized its “naked” single-seat Alizé, adding aerodynamic fairings and renaming it Pulma. The model gained, with the same engine, almost 7 miles per hour speed in cruise. www.ellipse-delta.com
We also saw a lot of news about powerplants at Blois. The event is not only a trade show but also a fly-in. It is the showcase of French engine manufacturing creativity, especially for small, one-person manufacturers who are usually showing conversions of automotive and motorcycle engines.
Swiss Motor Engineering is already a distributor of two-cylinder engines based on the German Weber automotive components. This year the Swiss company presented (another world premiere) its new single-cylinder, four-stroke engine called the M 250 injection. The engine, which was developed with the help of the Italian gyrocopter manufacturer Claudio Pagotto, uses components from cart-racing engines and is a sophisticated electronic fuel injection powerplant. The dry weight of the complete engine with all accessories is 55 pounds (25 kilograms); it develops 28 hp out of 250cc at 7000 rpm. The price is €3,900. www.swissmotorengineering.net
For those who always wanted to add electronic fuel injection to their 80/100-hp Rotax 912 engines there is a new solution. The French company LAD Aero is offering the complete set to transform the carbureted 912 engine to a fuel-injected powerplant. The kit includes everything from the electric fuel pump, engine control unit (ECU), to injector nozzles for €2,700.
For those concerned about flying with the single ECU, the company is offering the redundant twin ECU solution for additional €1,000. The company has sold 10 kits, eight of which are already flying. According to the manufacturer, after the conversion the Rotax engines deliver from 6 to 8 more hp. For those who need much more power for their 80-hp 912 engines, the company offers a belt-driven centrifugal supercharger kit that is raising the power output to 120 hp. The price for that plus-50 percent power output is €2,000; if acquired together with the fuel injection, the kit price is €5,000. email@example.com
Vija is a French company that since 2008 has brought its Suzuki motorcycle engine conversions for aviation use to Blois. Vija now presented a new gearbox for its 100- and 120-hp engines that is considerably lowering the propeller axis for use in pusher configurations. The new engine/gearbox is now selling for €9,900/€14,500 for the 100-hp/120-hp units. http://vija-engines.com
The proven BMW boxer motorcycle engine was always a target of experimental engine manufacturers and conversion specialists. At Blois, the newest French conversion of that engine called Ventura 1200 was presented. The trike manufacturer Ventura demonstrated a trike powered with the BMW two-cylinder, four-stroke engine with 1.2-liter displacement. This engine is rated 100- or 110-hp (for trike/autogyro use) and sells for €7,330 with a stock BMW engine; for the reconditioned units the price is €4,720. For those who want only the reduction unit suitable for BMW engines, the price tag is €3,676. Secop2@wanadoo.fr
And, lastly, this year the British-born Sherwood Ranger was shown both on static display and in the air for the first time in France.