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Sling TSi Makes World Debut

Four-place turbocharged kit aircraft is the latest in the Sling line

By James Wynbrandt

July 27, 2018 - The Sling TSi, a four-place turbocharged kit aircraft from South Africa’s Airplane Factory, is making its world debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018, taking its place as the flagship of the company’s line of Sling LSA and kit aircraft.

“It’s the big brother to the Sling 4,” said Mike Blyth, Airplane Factory founder, director and shareholder, at the company’s exhibit area (North Aircraft Display, Booths 618-619). “About three-quarters of the fuselage is similar, but the rest of the aircraft is new.”

The TSi on display is “actually our first kit that we’ve sold,” said Blyth, made by launch customer Wayne Toddun and his son from a quick-build kit with builder assistance.

The aircraft was made possible by Rotax’s introduction of its 135-hp 915 iS turbocharged and fuel-injected FADEC (full authority digital engine control) engine in 2015. “When I first started designing the Sling 4, I knew the 915 engine was being developed, so the intention all along was to make a new aircraft when the new engine came out, and that’s what we’ve done,” Blyth said. Compared to the Sling 4, “We’ve got 35 percent more power on this engine. It’s a true four-seater: It’s got a 145-knot cruise at altitude, fantastic handling qualities, good range, and lots of space inside.”

The wing is optimized for the aircraft’s power and weight, and the leading edge is flush-riveted for low drag, as are the forward fuselage and empennage. The wheelpants are low drag, the landing gear is airfoiled, and the cowling is also redesigned.

The TSi’s useful load, at 1,015 pounds, almost equals its empty weight of 1,080 pounds. The TSi climbs at 1,000 fpm at gross weight and reaches its max cruise of 145 KTAS at 9,500 feet MSL, where it burns just 8 gph. Maximum range is 800 nm.

The Sling TSi kit, including the engine, Airmaster constant-speed prop, and glass panel, is priced at $135,297; the quick-build kit, which shaves about 500 hours from the estimated 1,200-hour build time, is $157,292. A ballistic parachute is optional.

Under the TSi Builder Assist program, customers spend about two weeks in construction at the build facility, leave while detail work is performed on the aircraft, and then return for the final construction phase and flight testing. The cost of the Builder Assist program varies from country to country (the Airplane Factory has distributors in 17 countries, Blyth said) and individual aircraft configuration. “If you go up to the most expensive, quick-build, build assist, plus parachute and full IFR, [the cost] could go up to $220,000, I guess,” Blyth said. “It depends on what you put in there.”

In addition to efficiency, Slings are designed for ease of handling, particularly at the slow end of the envelope. “These are often going to new pilots, young pilots, and [the aircraft] can’t pretend to be high-performance jets. So what you want is something that has a reasonable cruise, good climb, but especially good manners at low speed, so it’s not going to hurt anybody ever.”

The Sling line is also known for its rugged reliability, a reputation Blyth helped establish by circumnavigating the Earth in both the Sling 2 and Sling 4 immediately upon completion of their flight-test programs. “I’ve flown my family, children, grandchild, I fly at night [with them], and I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t know exactly what goes into them, and I absolutely 100 percent trust everything in them.”

As for reaction at Oshkosh to the newest Sling: “I’m absolutely blown away this year by how well we’ve been accepted,” Blyth said. “For me personally, Oshkosh is the epitome of everything you do when you’re a light aircraft designer and manufacturer. I couldn’t imagine not coming every year.”

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