Belite Achieves Maiden Flight of Ultralight Floatplane
Belite's new SeaLite had its maiden flight on December 17.
December 18, 2013 - Belite Aircraft announced the first powered flight of its new SeaLite amphibious carbon fiber float-equipped aircraft, designed to legally fly under U.S. FAR 103 regulations off of either water or land. The flight occurred on Tuesday, December 17, the 110th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.
"I was pleased with this test flight; it demonstrated the performance and utility possible with a single-place amphibious aircraft," said James Wiebe, CEO of Belite Aircraft, who was at the controls. "The ground roll was very short, the climb rate was impressive, and the landing manners were easy and benign."
The base aircraft, a design variation of Belite's UltraCub aircraft, took off from a grass strip. (The expanded flight test plan will also fly from the water.) Part 103 limits the empty weight to 254 pounds, but ultralights with floats and a parachute system can be up to 338 pounds (254 pounds plus 60 pounds extra weight for floats and 24 extra pounds for a parachute system). The SeaLite's empty weight comes in at about 335 pounds.
Wing spars are carbon fiber, as are the floats and certain other key elements of the aircraft. The fuselage is constructed largely from aerospace aluminum. Each basic wing panel weighs only 20 pounds; each individual carbon fiber float also weighs about 20 pounds.
The SeaLite is powered by the 50-hp Hirth S-23 turning a 2-blade wooden Tennessee propeller. The SeaLite also features a custom lightweight instrument panel with a full range of conventional instruments. First delivery is expected in early 2014.
In amphibious (land/water) configuration, the new aircraft is priced at $60,000 fly away factory (FAF). In straight (water only) configuration, it is priced at $50,000 FAF. Other non-aquatic versions of Belite UltraCubs have starting prices less than $20,000.
Video of first flight: