Where are the fast high wing LSA kits?

Discussion in 'Aircraft Design / Aerodynamics / New Technology' started by KevinThorp, Nov 4, 2008.

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  1. Nov 4, 2008 #1

    KevinThorp

    KevinThorp

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    If you want a (relatively) fast low wing LSA kit you have many choices: Zenith CH-650, Vans RV-12, Rans S-19, Sonex/Waiex, etc. these have cruise speeds of 120-138 mph.

    But if you want to build a high wing aircraft it looks like you're limited to a 95 mph cruise - 25-40 mph slower than the aircraft listed above. Instead they're designed for STOL performance.

    STOL capability and bush flying are great if that's what you're looking for, but where are the relatively fast high wing LSA kits? Cessna's new 162 is high wing, and so is Flight Design's CT (the #1 selling factory-built LSA). Both of those have cruise speeds > 120 mph.

    High wing aircraft have a number of advantages: Better downward visibility, more room & baggage space, easier ingress/egress, cooler in the summer, simple gravity-fed fuel system.

    I'm not saying high wing aircraft are better than low wing, each have advantages. But why the big void in the marketplace? Do we have to accept a low cruise speed if we want to build a high wing aircraft?
     
  2. Nov 4, 2008 #2

    smenkhare

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    the high wing glasairs are pretty speedy but i don't know if the meet the LSA requirements.

    If you're in the US remember that LSA's have a maximum (legal) speed of 120kts.
     
  3. Nov 5, 2008 #3

    KevinThorp

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    The Glastar (now called the Sportsman) is a great design but it's too heavy & fast to be an LSA. Also, the kit is $50k, not including engine or instruments.

    Yes, LSAs are limited to 120 kts, but all the high wing kits I can find cruise at only 85-90 kts.
     
  4. Nov 5, 2008 #4

    djschwartz

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    It pretty much comes down to the interaction between the spar carry through and the shape of the human body. If you want the best cruise speed you really want a cantilever wing. Yes, it's true that if properly faired the added drag of struts isn't that great; but, if you can do without them so much the better. If you're going to have a cantilever wing then you need a substantial spar carry through. In a low wing design this relatively massive structure fits conveniently beneath the pilot's butt. In a high wind design, especially a two seat side-by-side, it would either go through his head or just in front of his face. Neither is a very desirable solution. Cessna did manage to make four seat cantilever high wing designs work by putting the spar carry through behind the front seat occupant's heads; but, this would not work well in a two seater. So the result is, designers who want cruise speed choose low wings to get a convenient cantilever structure with the lowest drag and designers going for STOL go for high wings with struts for lower weight.
     
  5. Nov 5, 2008 #5

    bmcj

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    What about the midwing designs. Doesn't RANS have a cantilever midwing LSA?

    Bruce :)
     
  6. Nov 5, 2008 #6

    PTAirco

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    But if visibility is one of you requirements, midwings are pretty awful, the worst of both worlds.
     
  7. Nov 5, 2008 #7

    djschwartz

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    As the proud owner and pilot of a mid wing design (see my avatar) I can tell you that outside of the aerobatic arena a midwing is pretty much the worst of both worlds. The occupant (or occupants) are squeezed between the main and rear spar carry throughs. The carry through is in the same inconvenient location whether it is a cantilever or strut braced wing. And if it is strut braced the struts will have a shallow angle and thus not give the strength to weight advantage you'd get with a high wing. Even in the aerobatic arena many of the newest and hottest ships are low wing.

    Dave
     
  8. Nov 5, 2008 #8

    rtfm

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    Hi,
    At the end of the day, it all boils down to sex. Low wings have it in dollops. High wings are for grand-dads. :gig:

    And having said that, I know it isn't true - but I couldn't resist the temptation.

    Duncan
     
  9. Nov 5, 2008 #9

    KevinThorp

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    The Flight Design CTLS claims a 133 mph cruise, the Remos GX 130 mph, The Cessna Skycatcher 136 mph.

    These are the top-selling factory-built LSAs in the US. Why have kit plane designers decided nobody wants a fast high wing LSA?
     
  10. Nov 5, 2008 #10

    KevinThorp

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    Another high-wing grand-dad plane: ;)

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Nov 5, 2008 #11

    gschuld

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    The Tailwind model below is an older tube and fabric design. The stated empty and gross are 850 and 1500 respectively. Red Hamilton (in the yellow shirt) has mannaged to reach a 223mph average speed in one of the Sport Air Races last year. This was with a good bit of hot rodding involved, but he managed to beat out a few race prepped RVs. I have heard that a Tailwind can be built to around 750 empty if a fairly light engine is choosen and it is kept clean. The wing would need a bit of a stretch if you wanted to make a clean stall down to the 51mph at the full 1320 gross. It could very likely be done if you were interested enough. If nothing else, it shows that a high wing CAN be pretty fast compared to similar powered low wing planes.
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Nov 5, 2008 #12

    djschwartz

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    Not to take away too much from Steve Wittman, he was a real pioneer; but, the tailwind gets much of its speed from a combination of small size and high wing loading. The cockpit is very cramped compared to an RV6 or 7 and the stall speed much higher. Given those differences, it says a lot about the greater efficiency of the newer designs that it takes a hotrodded Tailwind to beat out the RV.

    I agree that high wing vs low wing alone is not the difference. The newer designs benefit from advances in technology and aerodynamic knowledge in many areas. It is certainly possible to make high wing airplanes with very respectable cruise speed as it is also possible to make low wing airplanes with very respectable STOL capability. It just seems that designers trying to make money from selling kits are making a decision to focus on one or the other market and choosing a configuration that offers the best possible performance and marketability for the market they've chosen.
     
  13. Nov 6, 2008 #13

    MalcolmW

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    Hello, Kevin Thorp;

    have you looked at the Pipistrel kits? They do have several variations on the same basic design but they do claim a fairly high speed (within LSA limitations).

    Their price list for kits is: Sinus Virus and Taurus Motorgliders by Pipistrel And, oh yes, they are high-wing aircraft. This is the aircraft that did quite well in the 2007 & 2008 CAFE competition, particularly in the speed department.

    It is a composite aircraft (carbon fiber?) with a slippery design. I believe that its origin is derived from a motor glider, but with an 80 hp Rotax can achieve LSA speed limit.

    As for the Flight Design CT series, the CTsw is the fastest version, due to being significantly lighter in weight than the CTLS version.

    I hope this helps.

    MalcolmW
     
  14. Nov 6, 2008 #14

    KevinThorp

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    No I didn't know about the Pipistrel kits. Their Virus SW has very impressive performance on 80 HP. But $75k-82k for a kit is out of my price range, even if it includes the engine.

    I posted the original question partly for myself, but also to try to understand why none of the major players in the kit plane business offer a (relatively) fast high wing plane.

    I'm sure it's difficult to gage what the kit plane market wants, but the #1 and #2 best selling factory-built LSAs are fast (130-136 mph) high wing designs. Seems like that would get their attention.
     
  15. Nov 7, 2008 #15

    bmcj

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    Am I wrong, or does it cease to qualify as an LSA once its top speed exceeds a certain number?

    Bruce :)
     
  16. Nov 7, 2008 #16

    Sprucemoose

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    The Tailwind is too fast to be a LSA, but how about the Buttercup? This was Steve Wittman's design that preceded the Tailwind. 130 mph cruise on 100 HP. It's a plans built design so cost is low(er) but there are some fabricated assemblies available.

    LuceAir ~ The Homebuilt Rag & Tube Aircraft Experts
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  17. Nov 7, 2008 #17

    KevinThorp

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    You are correct - and that number is 120 kts (138 mph) full power, at sea level.
     
  18. Nov 7, 2008 #18

    MalcolmW

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    Well, Kevin, you didn't specify all the parameters of your request... which maybe should have said, "Where are the fast CHEAP high wing LSA kits?"

    Tell you the truth, I haven't seen any really cheap fast kit aircraft. Maybe you should take a look at the 'Patriot' which uses a 115hp Subaru engine (140hp available - more money, though). It should achieve the 120kt limit in level flight. See the Patriot at: American Patriot Aircraft :: Home

    Their basic kit is less than $30K, so engine and avionics would probably push it close to $50K. Is that more like your price range?

    All the best,

    MalcolmW
     
  19. Nov 7, 2008 #19

    KevinThorp

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    Sorry - I should have specified a price range.

    I guess there's no such thing as a cheap aircraft. "Affordable" might be a better term, but that depends on the person writing the check. Affordable to me would be $20-25k for the kit, less engine & instruments. That's about the price of the low-wing kit planes I mentioned in my initial post.

    That Patriot is an interesting looking aircraft. Thanks. I'll try to find out a little more about it.
     
  20. Nov 8, 2008 #20

    Kmccune

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    BUSHCADDY* Fly

    With the Jab 3300 it cruises at 115 and has a Vne of 130
    And it is also available in kit form, just not plans form... thats my idea of affordable :^)

    Kevin
     

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