|2010 PiperSport Light Sport Aircraft - N422PS (sn P1001010)
Photo taken Nov. 05, 2010
Charlotte County Airport - Punta Gorda, FL - USA (PGD / KPGD)
|Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
The CZAW SportCruiser is a two seat, single engine, tricycle undercarriage, fixed-wing aircraft that was introduced in 2006 by Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW), now named Czech Sport Aircraft. The aircraft is now often called the CSA SportCruiser.
In January 2010, the SportCruiser was added to the Piper Aircraft line as the PiperSport under a licencing agreement with Czech Sport Aircraft. This arrangement was terminated one year later in January 2011.
The aircraft is of all aluminum construction with a low wing configuration. It can be fitted with either a 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912ULS or a 120 hp (89 kW) Jabiru 3300 engine. Approved propellers include: Woodcomp SR3000 2 and 3 blade, Woodcomp Classic 3 blade and Sensenich 2 blade with nickel leading edge.
The SportCruiser was optionally available with a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute, auto pilot and Dynon or TruTrak EFIS.
The aircraft is capable of cruise at 133 mph (115 knots or 215 km/h) with a range of 630 statute miles (1020 km). No wind, standard day gross weight takeoff is achieved in 106 metres (350 ft) and landing in 123 metres (400 ft).
The SportCruiser is designed to fit into the ultralight or microlight category in several countries as well as the USA's Light-sport Aircraft category. Between 2006 and 2010 it was available either as a kit, or as a fully built production model. The SportCruiser is accepted as a US FAA LSA, FAA homebuilt kit and accepted as home-built kit in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.K.
Production and sales
The SportCruiser has proved to be a popular aircraft amongst homebuilders in several countries. At April 2011, 70 examples were registered with the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority.
On 21 January 2010 Piper Aircraft announced that they had licensed a derivative of the SportCruiser and will market it as the PiperSport. Piper CEO Kevin Gould said: "The PiperSport is an amazing entry-level aircraft that will bring new customers into Piper and lead the way for those customers to step up into more sophisticated and higher performance aircraft within our line over time."
The PiperSport is a minimally modified version of the existing SportCruiser and will continue to be manufactured by Czech Sport Aircraft, with Piper's manufacturing operation playing no part in the construction, although Piper will distribute parts. The changes to the aircraft are stronger nosegear, a Ballistic Recovery Systems parachute and leather interior both as standard equipment, a cockpit sunshade and modified pitch controls, plus a custom paint scheme. Previously the Sport Cruiser was available as a completed aircraft or a kit, but Piper will offer it only as a completed aircraft, sold as a Special Light-sport aircraft in the USA. It will be distributed by the Piper dealer network worldwide. Deliveries under the Piper name commenced with the initial customer receiving their aircraft on 13 April 2010 at Sun 'n Fun. The aircraft is offered in three different trim and avionics configurations, with higher end models offering the Dynon D100 glass cockpit and autopilot. All models will be equipped with the Rotax 912S powerplant of 100 hp (75 kW).
Piper indicated that they carried out extensive test flying on the SportCruiser before agreeing to add it to their line and that the aircraft's slow sales in the past were related to marketing issues and not any deficiencies with the aircraft design. Piper planned to market the aircraft to flight schools as well as private owners.
In analyzing the Piper decision to distribute the SportCrusier, instead of design its own LSA, AvWeb analyst Paul Bertorelli said:
“ I heard a little kvetching about the Piper decision, to the effect of asking why they're going with the Sport Cruiser instead of developing their own airplane. To me, the answer is obvious: It makes no business sense for Piper to develop and build its own LSA. In the Piper Cub days, they were everyman's airplane company—as Cessna is now—but they're not that today. Piper is a niche manufacturer which has sustained itself with a small volume of a relatively broad model line. So it makes sense for them to buy an existing design out of the still-glutted LSA market. Whether the Sport Cruiser is the right choice remains to be seen.”
On 12 January 2011, after selling a total of 45 aircraft, Piper announced that the PiperSport would be discontinued. Piper CEO Geoffrey Berger stated:
“ After a year working with Czech Sport Aircraft, Piper determined that it is in our company’s best long-term interests to discontinue the business relationship which distributed a Light Sport Aircraft manufactured by the Czech company and distributed under Piper’s brand by a separate distributor network. Clearly, the company has a different business perspective and approach to the market than Czech Sport Aircraft. ”
After the Piper announcement the PiperSport importer and dealer network indicated that the aircraft would be continued to be imported under a new name. Importer U.S. Sport Aircraft CEO Don Ayres stated that said his company was engaged in "business as usual...aircraft will continue to be sold and supported".
The aviation press has reacted with skepticism as to Piper's explanation for terminating its arrangements with CSA. AvWeb editor Paul Bertorelli said, "In my view, we are not getting the full story on its decision to exit the LSA segment. In a tersely worded statement a week before the show, Piper said it was terminating its relationship with the Czech supplier of its PiperSport LSA, citing "differences in business philosophies." That phrase is code speak for a significant behind-the-scenes blowup. In my opinion, either Piper concluded the margins on LSAs weren't worth the trouble and it would rather focus on jets or its Czech supplier was doing something it didn't like. Or both."
Czech Sport Aircraft reacted to the ending of the Piper deal by indicating that business would continue though the same distributor and dealer network and that the name of the aircraft would be changed back to Sport Cruiser. The company did indicate that the disagreement with Piper involved the geographical focus that Piper had put on marketing in the USA to the detriment of the rest of the world. The company indicated that it will continue to develop the aircraft and planned revisions to the spinner, canopy, elevator, ailerons and wingtips in the immediate future.
Version built 2006-10 and 2011-present by Czech Sport Aircraft, available as a kit or completed aircraft and equipped with 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912ULS or 120 hp (89 kW) Jabiru 3300 engine.
Version built 2010-2011 by Czech Sport Aircraft and marketed by Piper Aircraft, available only as a completed aircraft and equipped with 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912ULS engine. Discontinued in January 2011.
Pricing and Performance Specifications (PiperSport)
(Data from 2011 PiperSport Brochure)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 1,320 lbs (600 kg)
Maximum Ramp Weight: 1,320 lbs (600 kg)
Standard Equipped Weight: 852 lbs (387 kg)
Standard Useful Load: 469 lbs (213 kg)
Wing Span: 28.9 ft (8.8 m)
Length: 21.3 ft (6.5 m)
Height: 7.8 ft (2.4 m)
Usable: US 30 gallons (113 liters)
Maximum Cruise Power: 120 ktas (222 km/h)
Range with 45 Minute Reserve
600 nm (1,110 km)
14,378 ft (4,382 m)
FAA regulations limit sport pilots to 10,000 ft (3,048 m) MSL.
Ground Roll: 328 ft (100 m)
Total over 50 ft Obstacle: 820 ft (249.9 m)
Ground Roll: 180 ft (54.9 m)
Total over 50 ft Obstacle: 591 ft (180.1 m)
Standard Equipment (StandardEquippedListPrice:$139,900)
Rotax 912 ULS
Avgas or Mogas
TBO: 2,000 hours
Woodcomp Klassic 170/3/R
Flight Display: Dynon D100
GPS: Aera 510
Transponder: GTX 328
Intercom: PS Eng PM3000
Autopilot: Dynon AP74/HS34
Additional Standard Equipment
BRS LSA Softpack Parachute
Garmin 696 GPS – $3,600
Garmin GTX 330 Transponder – $1,100
Includes leather seats, vinyl trim and side panels and wall to wall carpeting. Interior color matched to exterior styling.
Choice of schemes: red and white with black trim or white and silver with blue trim.