Flight Design lowers glass cockpit price

Light sport industry discusses IFR rules

January 10, 2011

Flight Design has lowered the price on an avionics package that comes with two 10-inch Dynon Skyview screens with synthetic vision and a Garmin big-screen 696 GPS. The package includes traffic information service (TIS) via a Garmin GTX 330 Mode S transponder, and is now offered at $12,075 installed, down several thousand dollars from the previous price.

The Skyview synthetic vision system debuted a year ago at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. That show takes place this year Jan. 20 through 23. Synthetic vision provides a digital picture of the runway and taxiways as well as terrain on the display for pilots experiencing low visibility.

The company is quick to point out that it doesn’t want its airplanes used for flight in actual instrument weather. While the sport pilot certificate does not permit a pilot to file an IFR flight plan, the aircraft itself can be used by pilots with more advanced certificates under an IFR flight plan. There is a caveat, however; the aircraft must not enter actual instrument conditions.

A few manufacturers already offer IFR-capable aircraft to flight schools wanting to offer instrument flight training. The IFR subcommittee of the ASTM will meet before the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., to continue discussions of the types of IFR weather that LSA aircraft can enter. Other manufacturers who wanted to offer IFR-capable aircraft have delayed doing so, waiting for the determination of ASTM standards. ASTM is the organization setting industry standards for light sport aircraft with FAA oversight.

The light sport movement appears highly successful as a way of producing aircraft without multimillion-dollar certification costs. There appears now to be a movement to approve a fully certified Part 23 aircraft with fewer restrictions, referred to in industry discussions as “Part 23 Lite.” It is hoped the new rules might be discussed by industry groups and placed in effect as early as 2015; the movement is significant because it shows the self-regulation of the light sport industry, albeit with FAA oversight, has for the most part been successful, said light sport expert Dan Johnson of bydanjohnson.com and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | AOPA Pilot Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.