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Ultralights - the new revolution

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!