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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedSportsman TC: turbo + carbon = lighter & faster
By Dana Heimos
 

The Glasair Sportsman TurboCarbon improves over the original version with weight-saving carbo
and a turbonormalized engine. Photo by Mariano Rosales

How do you improve on an aircraft design popularized by builders and owners who swear by its rugged characteristics, high utility, good performance, and solid reliability?

First, replace all of the components previously made out of fiberglass—fuselage, cowling, doors, and interior panels—with carbon fiber; then, stick a turbo-normalized engine under the cowling.

Glasair Aviation announced the newest member of its composite piston-engine aircraft family, the Sportsman TC, or TurboCarbon, to enthusiastic crowds at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010.

And with those changes, of course it’s improved—considerably.

Complete with carbon fiber components from the cowling to the tail, it has been turning the heads of many who have walked past its spot on Celebration Way.

“The average person who walks by the Sportsman TC usually says, ‘Well that’s a pretty little airplane,’” said Ted Setzer, manager of Glasair development.

“But once they get closer and look at the performance numbers, they really can’t believe its capabilities.”

The use of carbon fiber components in the Sportsman TC has resulted in a 40-pound weight reduction, but the plane actually received a 150-pound bump in gross weight due to a few structural changes.

“We did three things with the new design: We increased the strength of the steel safety cage, wings, and fuselage,” Setzer said.

“The use of carbon fiber and the engineering changes have resulted in an additional 190 pounds of useful load.”

The total useful load comes in at a copious 1,200 pounds, enough to carry four passengers and a week’s supply of food and camping gear, Setzer noted.

Pilots in high-terrain, mountainous regions will appreciate the Sportsman TC’s 180-hp turbo-normalized Lycoming IO-360 engine. Capable of making sea-level power to 20,000 feet MSL, the turbo-normalizing improves climb and cruise all the way up to its critical altitude.

“I fly to Alaska and around the Arctic Circle periodically for trade shows, and the Sportsman TC has been a fantastic airplane not only in terms of cruise speed, but also its point-to-point capabilities,” Setzer said. “It has the ability to land on glacier rivers and gravel bars, and can lift off in about 350 feet. Just going out and exploring in this plane makes you feel like aviation’s version of Lewis and Clark.”

The Sportsman TC has a wide performance envelope with a slow (50 mph) stall speed at full flaps, to a max cruise speed of 190 mph at 85 percent power. It’s available as a trike and taildragger, and it can be fitted with amphibious floats, as well as 31-inch bush wheels.

Setzer said the response to the Sportsman TC at AirVenture 2010 has been phenomenal.

“Our customers are happy to see us moving forward innovatively as a company,” he said. “And attendees at this year’s event seem to be in a buying mood.

“We’ve sold several Sportsman TCs already and have had a bundle of people who are on the edge buying one.”

To check out Glasair’s new Sportsman TC, visit its display at Booth 253-254 along Celebration Way near AeroShell Square.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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