|Flight Design is showing this interior mockup of its developmental four-seat C4 model here at AirVenture. It marks the U.S. debut for the display.
By Mark Phelps
Progress continues on an all-new four-place aircraft from Flight Design, the C4, and the interior mockup of the C4 is making its U.S. debut here at AirVenture 2012 at the Flight Design booth.
Flight Design's John Doman said the proof of concept airframe is expected to fly "early next year" with European certification expected about a year later. First deliveries are tentatively planned for 2014.
Flight Design tapped Continental's 360AF (alternative fuel) engine, but is waiting on a final avionics selection. "We're letting certain factors evolve," Doman said, "and we hope to decide in the near future - but not today."
Flight Design has orders for 65 C4s and offers an "early bird" discount for new orders.
Doman called the airplane "a breakthrough in performance and size at a great price.
"Think of it as comparable to a Cessna 182 at a 172 price."
John Gilmore, national sales manager for Flight Design USA, talked about new dealers and expanded flight school activity.
Flight Design USA has added two new dealers in Florida, and added a trio of other flight schools to its roster of CT series-equipped fleets.
Gilmore said Americana Aviation, in the Miami area of Florida, will cover the southern end of the Sunshine State; Sport Aviation Florida, based at the famed Spruce Creek Fly-In community near Daytona Beach, is the designated dealer for the northern portion.
Other additions include North Coast Air in Santa Rosa, California; Southwestern Aviation in Benson, Arizona; and Hampton Airfield in Northampton, New Hampshire. All signed on as Flight Design Pilot Centers.
Doman also discussed plans to branch out to new market segments, including law enforcement.
The company equipped a CT model with hard points for cameras and calls it the CTLE (for "law enforcement"). Doman cited shrinking municipal budgets that resulted in the grounding of some law enforcement helicopters. He noted a CTLE could cost a fraction of the cost of a helicopter and with modern camera technology its surveillance capability would match many police units' needs.
Flight Design CEO Matthias Betsch noted that today it would be less expensive to operate a CTLE with a live pilot and a tactical officer than an unmanned version - but that the company is not ruling out one version in the future.
Betsch went on to provide a summary world view of Flight Design. He said the last 12 to 18 months have seen big changes in the level of integration among aviation authorities. "They are no longer nearly as isolated, and that creates a new unified world market. Also, one dealer reports that eight of the last 10 aircraft he sold went to new pilots."
Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, sits on the Joint Steering Committee for the rewrite of FAR Part 23 certification.
He said progress is going well. He added, surprisingly to some, that motivation to simplify and modernize the certification process is being led by the FAA rather than by the industry.
"The goal is to decrease cost of the certification process for aircraft and components] by half; and increase safety by a factor of two," Peghiny said. While reducing certification costs might seem like it ought to have the opposite effect, Peghiny said that making certification easier would enable the introduction of many new safety-related technologies that are not easily approved under the current onerous rules.