Ausfly/Ozkosh is coming!

ozkoshThe Ausfly Airshow/Fly-in (now somewhat implausibly renamed ‘Ozkosh’) will soon be with us. The organisers promise an occasion bigger and better than ever, with a flying display on both public days, as well as a myriad of exhibitors from autogyros to biggish single engined GA aircraft and accessories suppliers.

Foxbat Australia will be there, look for us on display site 09 – although, based on the late changes in display sites during the last two Ausflys, you might be better off looking for our distinctive black ‘Foxbat Australia’ teardrop banners!

We are aiming to have a new all-singing, all-dancing A32 Vixxen on display, courtesy of its new owner, who will be pausing at Narromine for a couple of days on his way back to south east Queensland. The aircraft is equipped with a Dynon SkyView System with autopilot and transponder. This will be the 9th A32 Vixxen delivered in Australia.

We are also hoping to have a new Aeroprakt A22LS on display, specified with farmers and land owners in mind. Affectionately dubbed the ‘Kelpie’ (after the famous Australian working dog) this aircraft, produced exclusively for Australian customers, has a number of standard features which will appeal to those using their aircraft to help with stock spotting and managing their property. The main standard Kelpie ‘extra’ is a newly designed metal luggage bin behind the seats, with an external door on the left side (just behind the pilot door) for easy access. The bin can also be accessed from inside the aircraft and will be weight-placarded well above its partner aircraft, the A22LS Foxbat. Other standard Kelpie extras include a UHF radio, operating through both pilot and co-pilot headsets and push-to-talk buttons. This is not a mickey-mouse UHF: unlike many less expensive installations, full intercom functionality is retained even with the UHF in operation, and both pilot & co-pilot can use the UHF as well as the VHF. Adding to the list of standard kit are an Australia Warning Systems 100W siren, ‘tundra’ tyres all round, rubber mud flaps, a sun screen at the top of the windshield and a propeller optimised for take-off and climb.

Best of all, we will be offering a very special price for all Kelpie orders confirmed within 2 weeks after  the Ozkosh event.

The show days are Friday 07 October and Saturday 08 October. Location is Narromine Airport, near Dubbo in New South Wales. Come and say hello – we’d love to see you!

Don’t forget Ausfly!

Ausfly reminderA last minute reminder that the 2015 ‘Ausfly’ show at Narromine, NSW, is scheduled for Friday 4 and Saturday 5 September – only a week away!

Foxbat Australia will have on show at least one current A22LS Foxbat as well as the new A32 Vixxen – its first formal public outing since its first flight in Australia only a few weeks ago. We are also hoping to show the latest A22LS Foxbat from Moruyair, with controls modified so that disabled pilots can learn to fly it.

The show is jointly sponsored by the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA), AOPA Australia, Australian Warbirds and last but not least, Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus). As a result, there should be a wonderful gathering of all types of aircraft, from ultralights to heavy metal and all points in between.

There are air displays planned for both Friday and Saturday, with warbirds, solo aerobatics and the RAAF Roulettes strutting (or should that be winging?) their stuff.

The weather is looking hopeful at this stage – certainly for the Narromine area – but it’s still a long way off in weather forecaster’s terms, so my fingers are firmly crossed that the cloud will be high over the ranges.

If you manage to get to the show, come and say hello and have a look at the A32 Vixxen for yourself. The show site layout is still a bit flexible but Foxbat Australia will likely be on the apron between the indoor exhibits area (hangar 10) and hangar 17 – look for our black teardrop flags with the red & white Fox head logo.

Ausfly 2015 – 4-6 September

Ausfly 2015One of the few specifically light aviation airshows in Australia this year – Ausfly 2015 – will be held at Narromine, NSW, from 4-6 September. The main days for exhibits and flying displays will be Friday and Saturday (4 & 5 September) with most people, as usual, departing for home on the Sunday morning.

I’m pleased to announce that Foxbat Australia will be publicly showing the new A32 aircraft for the first time, alongside the familiar A22LS Foxbat.

As well as all the static exhibits, a full flying display is planned, with plenty of aerobatics and other aerial delights.

The show is primarily sponsored by the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA) who are the body mainly responsible for amateur built aircraft. Although there will be many workshops around building your own aircraft, there will also be safety and other seminars covering a variety of other aspects of light aviation.

For me, one of the highlights of these fly-in airshows is wandering along the lines of parked aircraft and marvelling at the sheer diversity of all the flying machines. Ausfly caters for a wide variety of aircraft from warbirds and general aviation through to amateur built, light sport and recreational/ultralight aircraft. Occasionally you might see one for sale – you never know what you might find!

There’s a dinner on the Saturday evening, where awards will be presented to special aircraft in a range of categories. If you haven’t already booked accommodation (or you’re planning on camping), it might be a bit late for motels in Narromine itself, but there’s still plenty of room available in nearby Dubbo.

Come along and say hello and have a good sticky-beak at the A32. You won’t be disappointed!

A32 – Aeroprakt-ically magic!

[Please note – many subscribers have reported that the embedded videos in this post did not work correctly. I have replaced them with links to the YouTube versions, so they now work as usual. Please click the picture to go to the YouTube video – view in hi-res if possible]

I have now spent over 4 hours flying the new Aeroprakt A32, initially on my own and then with four different passengers/co-pilots. I can confirm the aircraft really does have a speed range from stall at 27 knots with flap (actually almost zero knots indicated) right up to flat-out straight and level at 120+ knots at 5,500 rpm.

Skeptical? Yes, at first I was too, even though these speeds were demonstrated to me when I flew in the prototype in Kiev late last year. There has clearly been a great deal of work done on the aerodynamics to achieve these real-world figures, while retaining the sweet slow-speed handling of other Aeroprakt aircraft like the A22 and, for that matter, the A20 before that.

Here is a video of the A32 stalling, with full flap, two people on board and about 70 litres of fuel – total weight around 560 kgs. The ASI is just about centre of the frame.

A32 Stalling

Although it is natural to think the A32 is just a revamped version of the A22LS Foxbat, an important point I must make quite clear is that the A32 is fundamentally a different aircraft. I realise comparisons between the A22 and A32 are inevitable, but the only common elements between them are the engine, propeller and the wing, and even this has received a few tweaks for the A32. From and including the propeller spinner, right back to the tail, the fuselage is all-new. There are no flat panels on it – no mean feat in an all-metal aircraft – which remove ‘oil-canning’ and reduce drag and wind noise. The engine installation is completely different from the A22, with air ducting to smooth airflow, reduce drag and improve cooling. The oil radiator is mounted behind the coolant radiator, so there’s no need for an oil thermostat to speed up the warm-up.

The control system is all cable (like the iconic Piper Cub) and the all-flying tailplane is powerful and well-geared – particularly useful during landing, where even at 30 knots indicated, you don’t run out of elevator. Trim changes between take-off, cruise and landing are much smaller than on the A22 and it is easier to adjust the manual trim lever quickly to the required setting.

The cabin is actually a bit narrower at the elbow than the A22  (although it takes a ruler to confirm it) but is taller and the panoramic view through the windshield gives an impression the cabin is actually wider than the A22. The windows behind the seats are well-positioned to give a great view out. And there are plenty of storage pockets around the cabin for all those odds and ends so necessary to us pilots.

A32 cruise around 4,800 rpm. Photo by GoPro

A32 cruise around 4,800 rpm. Click pic for full size

Here are a few more numbers: cruise speed at 4,800 rpm (Rotax’s recommended minimum continuous rpm) is around 107-109 knots true, burning about 16 litres an hour. To cruise at 100 knots, you’ll need to drop the rpm to around 4,200, for a fuel burn of about 14-15 litres an hour. Approach speed down finals with flap should be no faster than 50 knots, with a maximum – even two-up – of 45 knots indicated over the keys. Even then, there’s a little bit of float, so I’ll be gently pulling the speed down a bit further. After all, a reasonable rule of thumb for a very light aircraft is to approach at 1.5 times stall speed; so 1.5 x 27 gives 40.5 knots, well below the 45 kts I have been using. And that’s at maximum weight….

Here is another video, this one showing A32 cruise speeds. The SkyView screen shows, on the left side, top to bottom, indicated airspeed (IAS), true airspeed (TAS) and ground speed (GS) so you can see the differences. RPM is top centre. Sorry this one is a bit blurred and shaky, the winds aloft were quite strong and bumpy that day – close to 30-35 knots and occasionally more. Also, it turns out the Garmin VIRB camera I used is not as good at close focus as my trusty old GoPro, which was used a day later for the video showing stalls.

A32 Speed vid

Where the A22LS Foxbat is a great ab-initio trainer and go-anywhere farmer’s aircraft, the A32 feels like it is much more of a sport cross-country aircraft and intermediate trainer. Speed management is particularly important in this aircraft – if you’re used to floating a bit due to overspeed when landing the A22LS Foxbat, you’ll run out of runway before the A32 stops flying – you’d better believe it!

Experienced A22LS Foxbat pilots will quickly see and feel the differences in the A32 – it’s a great addition to the Aeroprakt range.

We’re working on some more videos to show the aircraft flying, both inside the cabin as well as external sequences. Meanwhile, at least a couple of Australian aviation magazines are doing full flight tests for publication later in the year – I’ll announce when and where as soon as I have confirmation.

First Aeroprakt A32 arrives in Australia

A32 ready for inspections

A32 at Moorabbin – click photo for full size

The first production Aeroprakt A32 – a demonstrator for Foxbat Australia – arrived at CAE Aircraft Maintenance, Moorabbin Airport, near Melbourne on Monday 29 June 2015. Glowing in bright yellow, the aircraft was unpacked from the container in no time and was soon being prepared for re-assembly after its journey from the factory.

First impressions? Well, the obvious ones relate to the external appearance – smoother, sleeker, lower, plenty of new speed fairings and a snugly fitting engine cowling. To my eyes, it appears quite conventional although everyone who’s seen it so far has waxed lyrical about its looks. Comments like: ‘Much better in the flesh than photos’, and ‘Clear family similarities with the Foxbat’ were mixed with very positive overall comments about the shape and stance.

Personally, I love the quirky looks of the A22 Foxbat, which are a clear differentiator from many other more traditional high-wing LSAs. But I’m getting used to the much more streamlined looks of the A32.

Can’t wait for it to be registered and given a C of A so I can fly it….but I must.

More soon…

New Aeroprakt A32 announced

A32Aeroprakt has announced the release of a brand new aircraft in its range – the A32.

The 600 kgs gross weight LSA-compliant 2-seat A32 will be built in limited numbers alongside the popular A22LS and A22L2 ‘Foxbat’ aircraft.

Bearing a strong family resemblance to the A22, the new aircraft has been in development for over three years, with particular attention to the aerodynamics of the airframe and ergonomics in the cabin. As a result, the cabin is spacious and quiet and the aircraft will happily cruise in the 110-115 knots range, without affecting its slow speed docile handling characteristics.

Full details will soon be on the Foxbat Australia website (which is being significantly re-designed) and I’m expecting an A32 demonstrator to arrive in Australia late in June. There will be a formal launch of the new aircraft in Australia, probably at Tyabb Airport, during July.

First customer deliveries of the A32 are expected later this year. Prices have not been finalised but will probably be around A$110,000 fly-away, including registration and GST.

Click here to see a short video of the A32