New Low-Cost Quick-Build LSA Hits the Market

Aeromarine LSA Merlin Personal Sport Aircraft [Courtesy: Aeromarine LSA]

If you've been looking for an airplane that fits a tight budget, the Merlin PSA may be just what you need. Lakeland, Florida-based Aeromarine LSA says the one-seat Experimental Amateur-Built (A-EB) airplane can be put together at the company's facilities in about two weeks at the very light price point of $34,900. After that, all you need to fly is a coat of paint.

Because the price is so low you may think you have to buy a powerplant too. But either a 65-hp Rotax 582 or a 60-hp Pegasus O-100 engine is included. The price also includes basic instrumentation. However, pilots who require a transponder and glass avionics can add MGL's Xtreme combination for $6,500. A Trutrack autopilot and BRS parachute are also optional.

With only one seat, the company calls the airplane a personal sport aircraft – PSA. The Merlin PSA can cruise up to 112 mph. It is controlled through a center stick and is described by Aeromarine LSA's Chip Erwin as a sporty, "mini personal fighter."

"It's a real airplane," Erwin said. "It looks like it and it flies like it."

Erwin says the airplane has lots of legroom and headroom, and a spacious area for luggage that can hold anywhere from 25 to 40 lbs depending on the configuration. The payload without options is 264 lbs.

Erwin also has some exciting plans for the future. He is working on an electric power plant for the Merlin, which he is going to test this week in Aeromarine LSA's Zigolo MG motor glider. Erwin said the electric version of the Merlin is expected to have an hour's worth of endurance (albeit at reduced power) and the battery can be plugged in to a normal power outlet for a full charge in 2.5 hours.

Additionally the Merlin is offered with tricycle, tailwheel and amphibious landing gear. The amphibious floats add $10,000 and Erwin said he has developed a wireless retraction system that can be activated from the cockpit or from a smart phone app.

The Merlin PSA will be at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo set to take place in Sebring, Florida, January 20 to 23.

The Merlin PSA can cruise as fast as 112 mph. Aeromarine LSA
The Merlin PSA is a single-seat high wing. Aeromarine LSA
Components for the Merlin kit are constructed in the Czech Republic. Aeromarine LSA
While the most common configuration is with tricycle gear, the airplane can be set up with tailwheel or amphibious gear. Aeromarine LSA
Beneath the cowl you can mount a Rotax 582 or a Pegasus O-100 engine. Aeromarine LSA
With a payload of 264 lbs, the Merlin PSA accommodates most pilots with a full tank of fuel. Aeromarine LSA
Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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