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Dreaming about buying a lighting, all the numbers look impressive, 150kn cruise on a jabi 6 , anyone with any experience can tell me if these figures are true

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A guy called Dennis Borchart from South Aust. used to be an agent for Lightning aircraft. He has owned a couple of beautiful examples over the years and would be seen at a lot of fly-ins. I believe he no longer has the agency . He would definately be the "go to" person to speak to, sadly I can't help you with any contact details. I'm sure others on here from SA would be able to help locate him.

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The performance numbers did look good and I came close to buying one some years ago before I woke up to a lot of the differences between a traditional fast GA turing aircraft and a Recreational Aircraft with this type of performance, but with the sort of experiences you meet with Lancair and Cirrus type aircraft.

 

There's plenty of detail you can research out there to make an informed decision on whether you will be a match for this aircraft; it's certainly a beautiful aircraft to look at.

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It's dioxin day today, I've just finished reading through FIVE FEET of USEPA documents to get to the bottom of the politics and tighening of regulations, so no time now, but you can start searching on the NTSB database and googling.

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I also had an interest in the Lightning. It ticks all the right boxes, but after Turboplanner’s post I did a Goolgle search. 150 build according to wikipedia.

 

Found 6 accidents on the ASN website; 2 Jab engine failures, 1 ULPower failure after electic bus short, 2 landing and 1 take-off accidents.

 

Wonder how many accidents are not on the website?

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I also had an interest in the Lightning. It ticks all the right boxes, but after Turboplanner’s post I did a Goolgle search. 150 build according to wikipedia.

 

Found 6 accidents on the ASN website; 2 Jab engine failures, 1 ULPower failure after electic bus short, 2 landing and 1 take-off accidents.

 

Wonder how many accidents are not on the website?

Those stats don’t seem that bad , 180kns vne, tested to 9 g, the airframe seems solid.

  • Agree 1

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I had a good look over them at the last 2 Oshkoshes and they look like a very good quality kit that can be built into a very good quality aircraft.

 

I also spoke extensively with the designer Nick Otterback who is a super nice guy.

 

Steve Biele in Adelaide has one with a Jab3300 in it and I believe that he is very happy with it.

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A very nice looking aircraft. I visited Dennis at his Kingston base some years ago. Unfortunately it was well out side the limits of my pocket at the time....................and still is.

 

642889444_LightningAircraft07(Copy).thumb.jpg.af0e364925f665eeef2776a9bf383d8a.jpg Apart from wishing I could a ford a Lightning, I also wish I was still as slim as back then.

1828855797_LightningAircraft01(Copy).thumb.jpg.108bb603d482a6b5726bdd311ad48272.jpg

1696073931_LightningAircraft03(Copy).thumb.jpg.31ff865c8c4d4054e0700606b8614fed.jpg

522707806_LightningAircraft05(Copy).thumb.jpg.3d592de6f7fcc611dce55d1a597b1c80.jpg

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the newer lightnings have an increased tail and reinforced landing gear

 

if you follow AM composites on FB you can see them building the kits

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I've only seen one - Try lifting the nose wheel off the ground - the local one is on it's 3rd or 4th nose leg (prop etc)

I have no idea if they are all the same, just appears wrong undercarriage set up to me?

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I am very tempted to purchase a Lightning XS with IO320 (or MAYBE the Jabiru), and I am looking for more input from any owners or folks that have flown them. Performance, controllability, reliability, and build time are all important to me. Cost is usually a factor, but these are very close (see below).

 

Some of my observations on this so far are: The lightning is a better looking airplane outside and inside (just opiniion), and it appears to be solid and very fast to build (comparatively). From the build manual (online from flylightning.net), required techniques, and the relatively small number of airframe parts in the kit, it appears that this kit can actually be built within (or close to) the manufacturers stated build time. IF not for this, I would be more inclined to go to a Vans RV-7 or RV-9 series for the piece of mind associated with a much much larger company and the plethora of RV support.. But It seems with RV's, most folks take at least 2x the manufacturers stated time, if even that fast (especially if building the dreaded slider canopy). I went to Arion this March and got a test ride in the O-320 powered demo plane, and saw a couple in progress. ( I didn't fly the Jabiru powered version--- heck, i have never even seen/heard a Jabiru run.) I did NOT get to land the demo, but it was a joy to fly (responsive, but not twitchy, ok stall recovery, etc.). I did a spreadsheet (as best as I could) to compare cost of a Lightning XS/O320 and a quickbuild RV-9A/O32 (the standard lightning kit is at least as far along as a Vans quickbuild, so this is a reasonable comparison). Apples to apples, comparably equipped airplanes looked to be within about $!000 of each other (i.e. too close to call).

 

I am a little perplexed about performance. This is hard to compare from manufacturer claims since you need to factor in whether the listed speed is IAS, CAS, TAS (at what altitude), and CS vs. fixed pitch props (and also solo or gross weight for climb, not to mention the conservatism of the manufacturer numbers. Gross weights and power are about the same, wing load significantly higher on the lightning. Allowing for differences in basis (as noted above), I can't say there is much difference, but it appears that stated numbers favor the RVs a little in most categories.

 

Related to nose gear damage accidents, my recollection of conversation with Nick Otterback was that the new, larger horizontal stabilizer (besides pitch stability) improves low speed control by improving tail stall margin. Previously, if the pilot allowed a balloon or held up the nose at very slow speed, the tail could stall, allowing the nose to drop and damage the nose gear. But better stability probably helps with ballooning as well, so you're better able to handle a bad situation that you are less likely to get into.. Nonetheless, landing difficulty or weak gear is the major thing I am concerned with, besides the TINY company size, but I am also curious about the Jabiru performance/reliabilitly.

 

Thanks for any comments from owners!

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I ordered an XS just last week which will be delivered to the Build Assist shop during the first week of July. I am looking forward to carrying out the build under the supervision of the experienced build assist staff. Once the airframe is essentially finished, other than fwf, it will be shipped back to Australia to receive a panel and fwf.

 

We will be putting a 200hp engine which we have under development into it. All flight controls will be mass balanced and the Vne will be increased over the current 180 ktas. The optimum cruise power for our engine will be 180hp at 10,000’ but we will be able to pull power back to 150hp without impacting sfc. Consequently, we should have a very handy cruise speed if we want it.

 

I have not flown one but have some friends who own one. They are very complimentary about its flying characteristics. One of them is a 6x Lightning builder with many hours in it. I tried his latest build on for size last week, just before ordering our kit.

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I ordered an XS just last week which will be delivered to the Build Assist shop during the first week of July. I am looking forward to carrying out the build under the supervision of the experienced build assist staff. Once the airframe is essentially finished, other than fwf, it will be shipped back to Australia to receive a panel and fwf.

We will be putting a 200hp engine which we have under development into it. All flight controls will be mass balanced and the Vne will be increased over the current 180 ktas. The optimum cruise power for our engine will be 180hp at 10,000’ but we will be able to pull power back to 150hp without impacting sfc. Consequently, we should have a very handy cruise speed if we want it.

 

I have not flown one but have some friends who own one. They are very complimentary about its flying characteristics. One of them is a 6x Lightning builder with many hours in it. I tried his latest build on for size last week, just before ordering our kit.

Wow! 200 hp sounds like a fun project! Be sure to keep us informed!

 

With respect to increasing Vne, how do you go about that? Is that something that Arion assists with, or is it a "one-off" prospect? Since Vne is based on TAS it would seem it could sneek up on you at higher altitude if you are looking at IAS even with more modest IO-320 power, so more margin would be a big plus for that as well as rapid decents.

 

Have your friends commented on landing qualities and gear robustness? I am an average (i.e. typically lousy) pilot, and am concerned over whether the lightning will demand more than my ability. (I am currently flying a Citabria 7ECA) I also heard a stray comment that landings on grass strips may not wise. Can you comment on landing qualities?

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Wow! 200 hp sounds like a fun project! Be sure to keep us informed!

With respect to increasing Vne, how do you go about that? Is that something that Arion assists with, or is it a "one-off" prospect? Since Vne is based on TAS it would seem it could sneek up on you at higher altitude if you are looking at IAS even with more modest IO-320 power, so more margin would be a big plus for that as well as rapid decents.

 

Have your friends commented on landing qualities and gear robustness? I am an average (i.e. typically lousy) pilot, and am concerned over whether the lightning will demand more than my ability. (I am currently flying a Citabria 7ECA) I also heard a stray comment that landings on grass strips may not wise. Can you comment on landing qualities?

The Vne increase has been determined through consultation with the designer. He had already developed a mass balance solution for the elevator and we will be incorporating that modification into our kit. The structural design element has been determined to be satisfactory and the aircraft has been dive tested without the mass balance fitted to beyond our target Vne (200 ktas). We want to be able to cruise at 180 ktas so the 200 ktas will give us some margin over our intended cruise speed.

 

My friend with plenty of hours on the aircraft has no concerns about the gear. The only issue he has is with gusting crosswinds. He indicated that he finds them challenging but admits that it may be his own skills rather than an issue with the aircraft. I cannot comment on grass strip capabilities.

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FlyVulcan:

 

Thanks for the info on Vne-- perhaps I could get the same modification on mine if I buy it. Probably not needed for an IO-320, but nice to have more margin. I have had RC planes come apart due to flutter and its an eye-opener. Also, thanks for the inputs on the gear and landing. Sounds like its just fine.

 

Ted

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Flyvulcan:

 

I own a Lightning hangared at Aldinga, SA, which you are more than welcome to have a look at for ideas with your build. It has the Jab 3300 engine, which seems an ideal match. The plane feels solid and the handling is as reported - light and responsive. Landing requires careful preparation and good speed control. It is very slippery and will float a long way before settling if you are too fast over the threshold. The landing gear seems rugged enough to me - I think some of the issues people have had may be due to trying to force the plane onto the runway before it was ready to settle. I flew it from Taree to Mareeba in FNQ, where it lived for a year flying around the Tablelands. I then flew it to Aldinga, where it is now, so I can attest to its cross-country capabilities. Please feel free to contact me anytime to trade info and experiences, or just to congratulate ourselves on a good choice of plane :)

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