Glasair's Merlin LSA Takes Flight

Experimental airplane maker progresses toward first certification.

Merlin LSA
Merlin LSA

A little more than a year after Glasair first announced its new light-sport Merlin, the airplane made its first flight last week from the company's facility at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington. The flight lasted 57 minutes with Glasair test pilot Grant Smith, who evaluated the performance of the Rotax 912 iS engine and flight characteristics of the high-wing two-seater.

The Glasair Aviation team, including the Merlin's flight design engineer Chuck Hautamaki, all witnessed the first flight. "Seeing the joy and exhilaration on everyone's faces was as satisfying as hearing the test pilot Grant Smith's positive comments as he emerged from the cockpit," said Glasair's development manager Ted Setzer.

We sat in the cockpit of the Merlin mockup when it was on display at last year's Sun ‘n Fun and it felt very roomy. Glasair says the cabin is 45 inches wide, about five inches wider than a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The Merlin is equipped with Dynon's Skyview avionics and has an under the panel center control stick configuration similar to Cessna's Skycatcher LSA, which is no longer in production.

The Merlin is a major departure from Glasair's traditionally all experimental product line. It will be certified under ASTM consensus standards as an SLSA and produced in house in Arlington. Glasair will not, at least initially, offer an ELSA version. Glasair will produce Merlin LSAs in its factory in Arlington and in China.

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