More Innovations from Sun 'n Fun 2009
By Kent P. Misegades
Arion Aircraft LS-1
CubCrafters’ Super Sport Cub
The hot-looking Super Sport Cub cockpit.
William Wynne (left), “The Corvair Authority,” and Scott VanderVeen of Pro-Composites next to the 2700 cc Corvair conversion used to power VanderVeen’s Personal Cruiser.
Quasar Lite S-LSA from Quasar Aircraft.
Screen shot of entry-level S-LSA Quasar Baby, now under development.
Screen shot of low-cost seven-passenger composite air taxi concept from Quasar Aircraft.
Ravin 500 from Ravin Aircraft of Llano, Texas.
Trace OE600A engine; David Czarnecki, the company’s COO, in red shirt.
April 30, 2009 — The recently concluded Sun ’n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, offered us another opportunity to focus our attention on innovations in aviation. Here’s more of what EAA’s roving reporters found at the 35th annual spring celebration of flight. Look for a complete report on the fly-in the July issue of EAA Sport Aviation and EAA Sport Pilot, as well as EAA’s free Experimenter electronic newsletter. Don’t receive Experimenter? Sign up here.
Arion Aircraft’s LS-1
(Shelbyville, Tennessee, www.FlyLightning.net)
Borrowing heavily from its kit-built cousin, the Arion Lightning, the new LS-1 two-seat special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) from Arion Aircraft, made its first public debut. Powered by a Jabiru 3300 100-hp, six-cylinder engine provided by Arion’s sister company, Jabiru USA, the LS-1 features an all-composite structure. Company officials say it retains the smooth flying qualities that resulted in the kit-built Lightning receiving the Best Composite award at Sun ’n Fun 2008.
CubCrafters’ SUPER SportCub & CC340 Engine
(Yakima, Washington, www.CubCrafters.com)
CubCrafters’ CEO Jim Richmond’s obsession with reducing weight and maximizing performance has resulted in the latest generation of the venerable Super Cub, which his company has dubbed the SUPER SportCub. The extensive use of carbon fiber has lowered the part count and fabrication costs, reduced airframe weight, and provided smoother airflow in and around the plane’s engine, which is the real story behind the airplane.
The new CubCrafters CC340 engine, developed in conjunction with engine maker ECi (San Antonio, Texas, www.ECI.aero), is a 340 cubic inch, four-cylinder engine that weighs less than 250 pounds but develops an amazing 180 hp on takeoff. When throttled back to 80 hp for the flight to Lakeland, the engine burned a mere 5 gph at 107 mph indicated airspeed. The SUPER SportCub is light enough to qualify as an S-LSA, making for perky takeoff performance. CubCrafters is considering selling the CC340 engine to other manufacturers. To view photos of the engine, visit www.CubCrafters.com/SuperSportCub/Engine.aspx.
Personal Cruiser from Pro-Composites
(Arlington Heights, Illinois, www.Pro-Composites.com)
As described in the April issue of EAA’s Experimenter electronic newsletter, the Personal Cruiser is the latest creation from innovative kit builders Steve Rahm and Scott VanderVeen. Incorporating a unique Fold-a-Plane construction method and powered by a William Wynne 2700 cc Corvair engine conversion, the single-place, V-tailed Personal Cruiser transported VanderVeen with his camping gear from Waukegan, Illinois, to Lakeland in three hops while burning a mere 3.5 gph.
With the help of Mother Nature, the return trip from Steve Rahm’s home in Daytona Beach was made at an average groundspeed of 180 mph. The total fuel burned for the 2,000-mile round trip was 60 gallons. The Personal Cruiser is a customizable, affordable, quick airplane that provides ample room for even large pilots like Scott. The two-place Vision and four-place Freedom aircraft from Pro-Composites share the Personal Cruiser’s many innovations; a number of completions are imminent, according to the company.
Quasar-Lite and Quasar Baby from Quasar Aircraft
(Pompano Beach, Florida, www.QuasarAircraft.com)
From the shop of noted Brazilian aircraft designer and ethanol-fueled aircraft engine pioneer Dr. James Waterhouse comes the two-seat S-LSA Quasar Lite, a collaborative effort with his American partner, Frank Porter, the U.S. representative for HKS Aviation. The composite/aluminum airplane is powered by a 60-hp, two-cylinder, four-stroke HKS 700E and incorporates many special structural features to enhance safety and crashworthiness without sacrificing performance. With a fuel burn of 3 gph and cruise speed of 119 mph, the Quasar Lite can efficiently and comfortably transport two people and 33 pounds of baggage nearly 1,000 miles. It’s offered at around $85,000 ready to fly. Waterhouse and Porter provided a glimpse of two other projects now under development in Brazil: the entry-level S-LSA Quasar Baby that will be offered for under $35,000 from the factory, and a low-cost, seven-seat, non-pressurized air taxi to be powered by a TCM IO-550 French Mistral rotary engine or the new Rolls-Royce RR500 turboprop. Further in the future, the two are considering a light twin-jet they believe can be offered for $800,000.
Ravin 500 – A Swift, Long-Legged Kit Aircraft
(Llano, Texas, www.RavinAir.com)
Far from being simply a composite remake of the venerable Piper Comanche, the all-composite Ravin 500 from Ravin Aircraft on display at Sun ’n Fun was billed as the “fastest, most fuel-efficient four-seater with a range of 2,000 nautical miles.” Powered by a 260-hp Lycoming IO-540, the Ravin 500 and its fixed-gear cousin, the Ravin 300, feature a spacious cabin and an efficient wing stressed to 10g’s with a fuel capacity of 160 gallons in four integral tanks.
The kit consists of relatively few large composite components with key hardware pre-installed. The wing and stabilizer are delivered “closed,” requiring only control surface installation and final surface finishing. All antennas are pre-installed inside the Ravin’s structure, which is even more aerodynamically clean than the original Comanche on which its dimensions are roughly based. The aircraft on display in Lakeland included air conditioning and a well-appointed interior to make transcontinental or transoceanic flights more comfortable. Options planned for the future include pressurization and a firewall forward package for the 350-hp LS1 Corvette engine conversion from Geared Drives (www.GearedDrives.com).
TRACE OE600A Engine
(Midland, Texas, www.TRACEengines.com)
Inside a bright red tent near Exhibition Hall C was a powerful-looking V-8 engine from TRACE Engines of Midland, Texas. According to Chief Operating Officer David Czarnecki, TRACE is the latest chapter in the now-defunct Canadian Orenda OE600 effort, purchased by a group of Texas oilmen and moved to Midland in 2006. Czarnecki, an experienced engine builder who was recruited from Pratt & Whitney, described the improvements made recently by TRACE in its efforts to offer the engine as a powerplant for de Havilland Beaver and Otter aircraft and as a lower-cost, more fuel-efficient alternative to the PT6 turboprop. To underscore the company’s commitment to high performance, TRACE displayed a model of Kevin Eldridge’s future Reno racer, a new NXT, now being constructed around a TRACE engine modified to produce more than 1,000 hp.
Van’s Aircraft RV-12 Factory-Built S-LSA a Possibility?
(Aurora, Oregon, www.VansAircraft.com)
Van’s red-with-yellow RV-12 LSA was the center of attention once again, but the real news was the small print on the simple four-page flier describing the plane, which until now has been only offered in kit form: “Flyaway S-LSA RV-12s are a more distant possibility.” When pressed for details, Gus Funnell, support engineer at Van’s, confirmed (with Van looking on) that the company is considering how this might be possible. Don’t send an order in yet, though! Van’s is now in the process of documenting and delivering the last two RV-12 sub-kits (avionics and powerplant) and expects to receive S-LSA compliance by EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009. E-LSA certification should follow shortly thereafter.
American Champion Aircraft’s Aqua-Bama
(Rochester, Wisconsin, www.AmerChampionAircraft.com)
American Champion Aircraft’s (ACA’s) array of aircraft at Sun ’n Fun included its Super Decathlon aerobatic ship and the 8GCBC Scout. All new aircraft are now pre-installed with a mounting bracket just outboard of the right forward wing strut to hold an optional Forward.Vision EVS-100 infrared camera system. ACA described how specially modified Scouts, dubbed Aqua-Bamas, are being certified at a higher maximum takeoff weight of 2,600 pounds to serve as an aerial “bucket brigade” to fight spot fires and provide a cost-effective alternative to firefighting helicopters. EVS infrared cameras play a crucial role in guiding pilots through smoke and terrain to deliver 100 gallons of water or Class A foam. A small fleet of such aircraft will operate from roads close to the fire, refilling from prepositioned bladders. At this point in time, the aircraft will be offered only as a special order for government/military users.