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PiperSport LSA Debut Highlights First Day of Sebring 2010

Piper employees position the rebranded PiperSport prior to Piper’s announcement that the LSA would be sold by the longtime aircraft maker. Photo by Jim Koepnick

Rose Pelton
Rose Pelton, wife of Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, stands by her Cessna Skycatcher that she flew to Sebring. Photo by Jim Koepnick

EAA Booth
Ron Wagner talks with Bill Perry (president of EAA Chapter 203) and Rick Johnson in the EAA Welcome Center. Wagner is there to meet with attendees and conduct several workshops. Photo by Jim Koepnick

P2008 LSA
TECNAM’s new P2008 LSA. Photo by Jim Koepnick

January 21, 2010The 6th annual Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo opened today at Sebring Regional Airport (SEF) to a steady stream of aviation enthusiasts coming through the gate. Piper Aircraft created the biggest buzz of the morning with the introduction of its entry into the light-sport aircraft (LSA) market, the PiperSport, while Tecnam Aircraft unveiled its newest LSA, the P2008, during early afternoon flights.
Kevin Gould, president/CEO of Piper, opened the company’s press conference by recalling how William Piper introduced the Piper Cub in 1937 and recognizing its impact on aviation. “Today, we’re introducing an aircraft we believe will have the same impact on aviation as the Cub. The PiperSport is an airplane that’s as easy to fly as the Cub. With this aircraft, we’re entering what Piper feels is undeniably one of the most exciting market segments in general aviation.”
Piper will distribute the aircraft worldwide through a licensing/distribution agreement with Czech Sport Aircraft works, the manufacturer of the formerly titled Super Cruiser.
Derek Zimmerman, vice president of aftermarket development, described the PiperSport as “true to the tradition of Piper Aircraft. We believe this is an airplane that will help people fall in love with flying again. It’s back to basics flying; simple to operate and maintain.”
The aircraft is powered by the 100-hp Rotax 912S engine, and has a 30-gallon fuel capacity. At a cruise speed of 138 mph, burning approximately 5 gph, it has a 600 nautical mile cruise range. The basic model, priced at $119,900, is equipped with a Dynon D100 electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS) and BRS recovery parachute. The PiperSport LT, destined for the training market, according to Marketing Director Monte Miller, is priced at $129,900, with the Dynon D120 engine monitoring system. The Deluxe PiperSport is priced at $139,900. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in April of this year.
Just inside the main gate, Rose Pelton was excitedly sharing the details of her flight from Wichita, Kansas, to Sebring in her Cessna SkyCatcher, N450RP, the first production model delivered. Rose logged approximately 9 hours flying the aircraft to Sebring with instructor Kirby Ortega. She began flight instruction in the SkyCatcher on December 18 and now has a total of about 16 hours of instruction. They’ll fly the aircraft home following the close of the show.
But Cessna has also advised owners about a revised delivery schedule for the SkyCatcher. Bob Stangarone, vice president of communications for Cessna, confirmed that deliveries could be delayed from 6 to 10 months as the company incorporates changes to the aircraft. “Based on findings from our flight testing program, and after the two accidents the model suffered, we’ve elected to incorporate changes into the design, including a larger rudder, a rudder extension, ventral fin, and modified aileron and rudder travel.” Stangarone said that coupled with the usual production line startup issues, incorporating the design changes is slowing production.
Currently, Cessna is shipping aircraft off the production line to Yingling Aviation in Wichita. The aircraft are then transferred to Cessna where the modifications are made. Then aircraft are returned to Yingling for the addition of the customer options and delivery.
“Over the next few months, we’ll transition to having the modifications incorporated into the aircraft coming off the production line, but until then we’ll process aircraft through the factory to get the modifications completed.”
Belite Introduces Two New Aircraft
In ultralight news, Belite Aircraft introduced its Super Lite, weighing in at 278 pounds with its BRS ballistic chute and its allowance of an additional 24 pounds. “We think it’s going to be the highest performing ultralight,” said James Wiebe, president of Belite. The Super Lite is powered by a 50 hp Hirth F-23 engine. “We actually have to power it back to stay within Part 103 speeds,” Wiebe added. The company plans to test the engine with a climb prop in the near future.
Belite also introduced a tricycle geared fixed wing, the Trike, that can be powered with a 28- or 45-hp engine. The Trike has a free-castering nose wheel and composite main gear.  info@BeliteAircraft.com

TECNAM P2008 On Display
The TECNAM P2008 debuted at Friedrichshafen’s European Air Show in April 2009, featuring the combination of an advanced carbon fiber fuselage with a metal wing and stabilator.  At Sebring, TECNAM had a U.S. based P2008 on display and touted its cross-country capabilities featuring 29 gallon fuel capcity, large cabin, and “hands of” stability.

Garmin G3X adds EIS Display
Garmin announced today at the Sebring 2010 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo the addition of an electronic engine monitor (EIS) capability to its G3X panel mounted displays. Based on its GDU 370/375 systems, the non-TSO'd G3X is aimed at the light-sport aircraft and experimental markets. Read the article


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