The special light-sport aircraft market offers a range of airplanes — there are 115 S-LSA models approved by the FAA — that serve many missions. To gain a bit more perspective on the offerings, I arranged for demo rides in three S-LSAs during this year’s Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Florida. Each was touted as serving primary missions, from touring and training to taildragger fun.
Flight Design CTLS
When I introduced myself to Flight Design USA national sales manager John Gilmore at the FD booth, after shaking my hand and saying hello, the next words out of his mouth were about how his 10-hour, one-stop flight in a CTLS to Lakeland from Minnesota was a breeze. I didn’t demo the carbon-fiber-constructed CTLS on a 10-hour flight, but I did have the chance to fly in the left seat with John on a two-hour cross-country from Orlando-Apopka (X04) to Gainesville (KGNV) and back.
Immediately apparent to me as I strapped in was the roominess. The 49-inch-wide cabin could easily accommodate the tall and long-legged. Next, I couldn’t miss the equipment: namely the optional dual 10-inch Dynon SkyView displays and the Garmin 696 panel. Both offer all the necessary data a VFR pilot could ever need, from XM Weather to terrain, real-time traffic, dual ADAHRS and georeferenced charts.
Now, how fast can the CTLS get there? Both to and back from KGNV, this LSA’s swiftness was easily demonstrated with a 115-knot cruise speed. With the minus-6-degree flap setting at cruise, we were burning 5.5 gph. The winglets and strutless wing helped with that speed too. The CTLS is powered by the 100 hp Rotax 912S, and its two 17-gallon tanks are approved for less expensive mogas. With an economy range of 830 nm at 4,300 rpm, fuel burn is 4.7 gph. Fully loaded, including the standard BRS parachute system, the CTLS can carry a useful load of 550 pounds. Altogether, the comfort, technology, speed and range of the CTLS made it easy to see why John’s 10-hour cross-country was a breeze.
Tecnam P92 Eaglet
Tecnam North America procured slots during Sun ’n Fun’s daily Showcase Fly-Bys to display the Eaglet LSA. Dave Lubore, Tecnam’s vice president of training services, invited me to ride along in the Eaglet on one of the flights with demo pilot Andrew Jones (read more in my blog post, “Tecnam Showcases Eaglet”). Prior to launching from Winter Haven (KGIF), where the Eaglet was based, I had some time to chat with Dave about the Eaglet and its mission.
“It makes sense some of the LSAs should step up to meet demands of flight schools and modern training with less expensive airplanes, modern equipment and simpler engines,” Dave says. “The Eaglet does that and has great training characteristics, thanks to a fatter wing design that produces power-off stall speeds at 36 knots clean [9 knots lower than required by the LSA rule] and 26 knots dirty.”