New, Fast, and Efficient: Aerochia's LT-1
photos by David Levin
By Tim Kern, EAA 852075, for EAA.org
February 16, 2012 – It's real, it's flying, and it's coming to AirVenture Oshkosh this year. We're talking about the Aerochia LT-1, a new experimental amateur-built kit with a speed range from 60 to 160 mph and an estimated kit price (firewall aft) in the $20,000 range.
Andy Chiavetta, EAA 508794, was providing skimboarding champions with his "custom-built for friends only" surfboards when some airplane people heard about his talent. Lancairs were already slick, but Andy's mentor, seven-time Reno Air Races Unlimited champion Darryl Greenamyer, EAA 691087, figured there was more speed available in a Lancair Legacy. Andy's wing root fillets, cowl modifications, and other detail mods helped Greenamyer's Legacy win Reno's Sport Class race four times. Now, virtually all the Lancairs at Reno use Andy's parts.
Slickness increases range, too. A couple of years ago, Chiavetta and now-partner Greenamyer built a single-seat composite craft aimed at the light-sport aircraft (LSA) category, but the limitations of LSA design parameters and the limited appeal in that class for a single-seat aircraft sent them to the more traditional route of offering a "pretty foolproof" experimental amateur-built kit, suitable as a builder's first project and reasonably priced. But we're ahead of ourselves.
The airplane, which they called the LT-1, carries enough fuel for up to eight hours of flight in its Steve Cox-designed elliptical wing. It rides on a fixed tricycle gear. At less than 800 pounds gross, it accelerates to top speed quicker than a P-51. The LT-1 is designed to fly from 60 to 160 mph (wheels, brakes, and wheelpants aren't finalized yet), and it burns about 3 gph at cruise in its four-stroke HKS engine (it can use either the normally aspirated 60-hp opposed twin or its turbocharged brother).
Lancair test pilot Len Fox did first flights in the LT-1 in May 2010. Greenamyer flew off the flight test time for Phase I, and handed the plane over to Chiavetta. Total time on the airframe is about 50 hours, with only the basic spin matrix still blank.
The little plane is about 15 feet long, with a nearly 21-foot wingspan that gives it 60 square feet of wing.
Limits are +6, -4g (though the HKS engine is not designed for negative g's). The all-composite airframe kit is targeted under $20,000 (plus engine, prop, instruments, upholstery, and paint). Think mid-$30,000 range, well-equipped.
There are still a few details open, and we hope to learn more when the airplane arrives in Oshkosh for AirVenture.