Dan Johnson tests the A32 Vixxen

Light aviation’s guru blogger Dan Johnson grabbed the opportunity to test fly the newest FAA LSA-approved aircraft, the Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen.

Click the photo above or here to see the article and accompanying video: Dan flies the A32

You can read more – much much more – about all manner of light sport, recreational and ultralight aircraft on Dan’s blog: ByDanJohnson.

Measuring the LSA market

Rotax 912 ULS engineI found an interesting article in General Aviation News about the growth of the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) market, both in the USA and worldwide. Click HERE to read the article.

Written by Dan Johnson (see his aviation blog at ByDanJohnson.com) it concludes that Rotax is by far the world’s biggest aviation engine manufacturer, with well over 50,000 four-stroke and over 120,000 two-stroke aircraft engines delivered to date. As a result, their annual engine sales can be used as a barometer for the recreational/LSA market as a whole, as other manufacturers like Lycoming and Continental are not really players in this market.

Dan makes some interesting remarks around the different proportions of LSA versus GA registrations in the USA in comparison with the rest of the world. In the USA, the GA-LSA ratio is 80-20, while in the rest of the world the ratio is reversed: 20-80 in favour of LSAs. He comments that this is probably because GA is relatively cheap in the USA and perceived to be very expensive elsewhere. (Tell me about it!). Although USA is the biggest single LSA market, nearly twice as many LSAs are actually sold outside the USA.

Other influencing factors in the USA may be that many aircraft service centres are unfamiliar with Rotax engines and some don’t even have access to the metric tools needed on the engine. Contrast that with Europe – and even Australia – where the Rotax is now a familiar engine.

More single seat ultralights

aerolite_103_7The second single seat ultralight Rob writes about is the Aerolite 103 – so named after the Part 103 regulations in the USA under which it’s built and flown. In Germany it’s known as the Aerolite 120, reflecting the maximum empty weight allowed in Europe.

This aircraft is a more traditional ultralight than the Sirocco NG (see an earlier post) in that it’s constructed from aluminium tube and dacron fabric covering. It uses a range of 2-stroke engines with electric and maybe 4-stroke propulsion in the pipeline. Favourite engine is the Hirth F33, a 28hp 2-stroke with electric start. With this engine, the aircraft sells in the USA ready to fly for under US$17,000, making it a very affordable way to get in the air. Main options include a ballistic rescue system, wheel spats and lift strut fairings. A range of dacron colours and patterns are available.

The Aerolite 103 will carry 140 kgs including 20 litres of fuel. Cruise is a gentle 50 knots maximum, take off and landing are in the 30-50 metres range.

There’s more information about this amazing little aircraft on byDanJohnson – a major USA website/blog covering a vast range of light sport and ultralight aircraft. His posts are quite frequent, particularly at this time of the year, with not only Aero Friedrichshafen but also Sun ‘n Fun in Florida. So have a look now while the Aerolite post is current.

What a pity CASA and RA-Aus do not permit these beautiful and relatively inexpensive factory built aircraft to be registered in Australia.