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Thanks Ian, I’ll take you up on that offer. I’d like to get as many ideas as possible before heading over to the US in July to attend the builder assist program. I’ll pm you with my contact details.

 

The aircraft will be the company test airframe and then demonstrator in Australia for our 200hp turboprop engine that we have under development.

 

Dave

 

 

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Guest langted

Thanks Ian -- I would be using 95% paved runways and the rest always pretty good mowed grass for occasional fly-in gatherings. Sounds like its not an issue.

 

 

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An acquaintance Ex HummelBird builder.

 

Has now got a "Lightning", Never to be seen again. Has a fishing mate, As a partner in the new venture. He's now a full VH pilot.

 

spacesailor

 

 

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Guest langted

Well after further review, I just started the process to buy a lightning XS kit. With respect to any concern over propensity for lightnings to be damaged in accidents, a previous post notes that the NTSB in the US has an accessible online database that details all the reported general aviation damage accidents. Using data from the NTSB, the FAA compiled a report in 2014 (called a "Continued Operational Safety (COS) Report") that summarizes (only) light sport accidents in the US from 2004 to 2014 from all manufacturers (I imagine a lot of forum members have seen this). With respect to the Arion Lightning LSA, its accident rate was not the lowest, but slightly lower than the average (which is good, considering its performance). However, the since the report only includes factory assembled LSAs, it does not include amateur built LSAs or experimentals in either the reported accidents statistics or the number flying. So I made a similar tabulation for the lightning using the NTSB database for all lightnings in the same period, LSAs and the rest (most are E-LSA). The result was essentially the same, i.e. still a little less than the average accident rate of the factory built LSAs from all manufacturers. The accident reports included damage incidents from before the lightning tail improvement, so if extracted from the data, that might make matters even better. (Note that this was just my personal review, not error checked...my engineering disclaimer). In the end, I was satisfied. With respect to landing difficulty, this seems to not be big deal, but it is a performance oriented airplane with higher than typical wing loading. As to shorter fields, one guy I contacted in Indiana (who has serial number 12 and loves it) reportedly flies from a 610 meter grass strip with 25 meter trees right at each end, and the original tail. This isn't a STOL strip, but a lot tighter than I will need. So, after test flying it, in my book, the lightning performance and handling is excellent, price reasonable, looks great, build time is minimal, and its safety record is on par with others. A lot of positives there, and good enough for me.

 

 

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I’m now looking forward to meeting up with recflying member langted in the US in a couple of weeks. He will be joining me in Shelbyville at the Lightning builder assist shop to check out the build process for the Lightning.

 

The main participant in the build of my Aircraft will be an Adelaide University Aerospace Engineering student. My company Turbine Aeronautics is sponsoring her to participate in the build in order to get some practical experience to complement her theoretical experience. Once the airframe is back in Adelaide, we also have additional students from Adelaide Uni and UniSA who will undertake work experience with us to design the firewall forward package for our turboprop engine installation and to finish the build of the aircraft.

 

This is going to be a fascinating project for all concerned.

 

Dave

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hi Flyvulcan - I think you may misunderstand the thrust of my comment - I have developed what I relive to be a well founded scepticism when it comes to ANY sport aircraft manufacturers performance claims for their product. I know there are those that publish conservative claims for their aircraft but they are very much in the minority (could be the Lightning is one of these).Adding Power; Of course putting a bigger engine/more hp out front will tend to reduce ground role & increase climb rate and max cruise speeds. If this be what you want & can afford, go for it! For myself, I enjoy flying for the sake of it, I am occasionally envious of the trip time achievable by something small with a big engine but then remind myself I had twice the time in the air, for half the (ULP) fuel burn and probably 1/3 or less of the acquisition cost.

 

Regarding comments made by owners of aircraft -

 

  • Very few owners are going to tell you about their aircraft's "short comings" Face it, we have a huge financial/time and emotional investment in our pride & joy, the last thing we are going to do is highlight its failure to perform as per the manufacturers claims.
     
     
  • Most owners do not have the calibrated equipment with which to test their aircraft performance, so they base their observations on "indicated" at the time with little reference to temperature, altitude, attitude, fuel flow, load, etc etc - not saying they are wrong, just biased.
     
     

Thanks Skippy, I agree with your sentiments and comments. There is not always a level of impartiality when reporting performance and handling characteristic. I will make sure that when I report on my aircraft that the data has been verified in the appropriate form.

 

Here are some photos from Arions Facebook page from Day 1 of our build. I missed Day 1 but will be raring to go at 8am tomorrow morning.

 

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Anyway, moving on to Day 2 of the builder assist program, we installed the tailplane, mounted the hinges on the tailplane surfaces, completed the mounting of the chromolly frame that support the wing spar stubs, prepared 2 x NACA ducts, glassed the tailplane and wing root fairings, mounted the main wings including setting the angle of incidence, setting the correct sweep and ensured all was square. At the end of the day, we flipped the aircraft over in order to work on it upside down tomorrow.

 

Photos as follows:

 

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Day 3 of the build. Flaps and ailerons were installed; aileron bellcrank inspection covers fabricated and installed; landing gear fittings attached; nose gear brackets primed:

 

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Day 4 of the build is now completed. Tasks undertaken included cutting leading edge for landing lights, preparing landing light inserts, installing inserts; fabrication and installation of horizontal stab inspection panels; final installation of NACA ducts in forward fuselage for air vents; final mounting of left wing flaps and aileron; glassing of wing/tailplane root fairings and installation of main gear legs into fuselage mounts.

 

It is a full on day starting at 8am and winding up at 5pm. The pace is steady and the guidance and support of Arion owner, Nick Otterback is excellent. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and really knows how to put his aircraft together.

 

Photos as follows:

 

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Day 5 and the first week of the build is finished. Today, we mounted the rudder pedals; fabricated the aileron and elevator pushrods; fabricated a number of brackets; assembled the wheels and assembled the nose gear fork.

 

Photos as follows:

 

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Guest langted

It's amazing how fast this aircraft goes together! I was very happy with the building environment, although sorry I was only able to be there on day one and wasn't able to connect with Dave. Can't wait for mine to start. Of course Nick just had to capture my "bald spot" while I there.....

 

 

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It's amazing how fast this aircraft goes together! I was very happy with the building environment, although sorry I was only able to be there on day one and wasn't able to connect with Dave. Can't wait for mine to start. Of course Nick just had to capture my "bald spot" while I there.....

Ted, It’s a pity I missed meeting up with you there. Thanks for the hand on the first day. Having finished the first week, I can thoroughly recommend the builder assist program. To get it from kit to finished (firewall aft and without panel) in 2 weeks is a great attraction of this process. Well worth the cost I’m my opinion.

 

Given that my aircraft will have some differences from the standard XS (i.e. mass balanced elevators, higher Vne etc), if we can get the Turbine engine developed as planned, our Lightning version will be released as the XST model. Word had gotten around that a Turbine version of the Lightning was under construction in Nicks hangar. Visitors were popping in and the phone was running hot with enquiries.

 

We selected our paint scheme which was pretty exciting. It’ll be going into the paint shop the week after next. We also chatted with the interior fabricator about the interior and will be deciding that next week also. He was installing a really nice dark interior into a Lightning on Friday, but I quite like the light grey interior that has gone into Arions new demonstrator aircraft that is nearly finished.

 

Standby for week 2 of the build.

 

Dave

 

 

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Is an ejector seat available for the new temporary Australian model with the turbo so we can parachute to safety when our 250 mph LSA decides that our VNE has exceeded our IQ ?

 

 

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Guest langted
Is an ejector seat available for the new temporary Australian model with the turbo so we can parachute to safety when our 250 mph LSA decides that our VNE has exceeded our IQ ?

So... you're saying our IQ is well over 200?

 

 

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Hopefully everyone involved is smart enough not to push the safety envelope to the point where this occurs :

 

"DURING an air race in South Africa. An airplane was descending toward a turn point in a valley when the pilot of a following airplane saw what appeared to be paper scattering behind it. An instant later, a shattered wing separated from the fuselage, falling to earth a hundred yards from the main wreckage. The airplane was a Czech-built Aveko VL-3 Sprint, an NTCA (non-type-certificated aircraft) that bills itself as the WORLDS' FASTEST ULTRALIGHT."

 

Stay Alive - by flying an aircraft which can safely fly at the speed you require. Certified planes are usually dive tested to about 1.2 x VNE. Is 240 Kts nose down in a Lightning XS wise ?

 

 

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Is an ejector seat available for the new temporary Australian model with the turbo so we can parachute to safety when our 250 mph LSA decides that our VNE has exceeded our IQ ?

The Arion Lightning is not an Ultralight, it’s an experimental aircraft. It was released as a LSA to meet that market but the latest XS model has a significantly higher mtow and Vne than the LSA version.The Vne is currently set at 180 knots with no balancing of the controls and the aircraft has been dive tested accordingly in that configuration to over 220 knots. The designer has indicated that with mass balancing of the controls, the aircraft is both structurally and aerodynamically capable of a 200 knot Vne, and likely probably more. An aeroelastic analysis of the structure was part of the design process to evaluate the flutter scenario.

 

We would like the extra 20 knots on the Vne so that we can cruise at 180 knots and give us margin for turbulence and stuff ups. For someone with my low IQ, a round 3 miles a minute in still air is almost within my faculties to work with...

 

We are not doing this irresponsibly; we are working with the designer to ensure that safety levels are maintained at a high standard. It’s my backside that will be flying this aircraft and with well over 10,000 flight hours and many years as a Safety Manager for Flight Operations under my belt, I understand the considerations that go into this risk management matrix.

 

If you have any specific concerns, please feel free to pm me. I always welcome constructive dialogue and if you have any concerns that are validated through investigation, I will be most grateful that you spoke up and potentially saved my backside.

 

Dave

 

 

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Anyway, on to Day 1 and 2 of Week 2 of the build.

 

The aircraft is now back up the right way. A temporary engine mount has been fitted to allow it to sit on its gear and complete the gear leg fairings and wheel pants. Flight control systems are being fabricated and installed; control surfaces are being installed; the canopy and widows are being assembled/installed and a myriad of small jobs are being done.

 

Photos as follows:

 

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I agree that the test pilot for an increase in VNE should have 10,000 hours. My main concern was the potential marketing of an unproven quantity to less skilled pilots who could end up beyond Va or Vno with limited options at high velocity where egress from the cockpit would be preferable to airframe failure. Hopefully you can improve upon the statistics of Lancair and similar fast E-AB through exhaustive testing and pilot training.

 

 

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Guest langted

Repeating Dave's comment, the lightning was not originally designed within LSA restrictions, but rather it was slowed down to meet LSA restrictions. (This is a good time to correct a typo in my 6-22-18 post: most existing lightnings in the US are E-AB not E-LSA). So as Dave indicated, its an incremental, rather than a big a push to the design. Personally, I'm not one to take a lot of risk and I like bigger margins. For those reasons, I am exploring using aluminum fuel tanks and a BRS parachute which are available on the lightning. I also like mechanical simplicity and less vibration for which Dave's turboprop should excel. Although this time around, my build will be too soon to take advantage of Dave's turboprop, I still hope to get advantage of any modifications that might improve Vne margin. With an expected cruise of "only" about 155knts, my build will be "OK" in that regard, but more margin is still worth a little expense. So I'm keenly interested in Dave's progress, look forward to more testing of the desgin at higher speeds, and look forward to a (hopefully) small retrofit to my airframe as a real benefit.

 

 

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