Ultralights - the new
The Spanish built Esqual
For decades, the design of
certified light aircraft remained somewhere around the World War Two era;
sheets of aluminium riveted onto aluminium structure and drag which would
do a holly bush justice. The problem has been with the way new aircraft
are certified, which is a long and terribly expensive process which has
discouraged new ideas for a whole generation. In order to qualify for
certification the requirements were so exacting that it was virtually
impossible to design a modern aircraft. The revolution in kit built
aircraft and advances in carbon fibre technology has changed all that. The
requirements are much more lenient with experimental aircraft allowing
huge advances in technology and performance albeit with a slight increase
in demand for pilot skill.
Toxo - a 'mini Glasair FT' again from Spain
The European weight
restriction of 450 Kilos for VLAs (ULMs) has allowed a whole new and
exciting range of real high performance aircraft that make many certified
two seat aircraft look a bit silly and definitely not at all 'sexy'.
DynAero Banbi ULM from France
The weight restrictions
have of course affected the levels of interior trim and equipment, which
for the most part are rather basic. Fuel range can be a bit compromised
when flying to up and baggage has to be kept to a very minimum but this is
a small price to pay for a new series of aircraft which are very
economical to run and maintain which need a more simple form of medical
examination and training. Some aircraft appear to be a bit flimsy but
extensive use in flight training establishments has shown that they
generally stand up very well.
It is almost certain that
within a few years, most private pilots will following this path and many
two seat certified aircraft will be consigned to museums!