Factory trike awaits FAA approval

Quicksilver completes Sport 2S testing

December 16, 2013

The Quicksilver Sport 2S. Photo by James Lawrence, courtesy of Quicksilver Aeronautics (digitally altered by AOPA to remove background.)

Test pilot (and Quicksilver Aeronautics sales manager) Todd Ellefson logged more than 100 hours, pushing Quicksilver’s Sport 2S through stalls, into spins, and high-speed dives accelerating past VNE. The company’s Dec. 16 announcement that testing for an FAA audit of the two-seat trike as a factory-built light sport included a don’t-try-this-at-home disclaimer, with Ellefson noting that extreme speed and maneuvering is “expressly prohibited” in normal operation.

“We worked the thing over pretty good,” Ellefson said in a telephone interview. The tests were conducted under the supervision of Streamline Design, an engineering firm hired to assist Quicksilver with special light sport aircraft (SLSA) certification. “It made it through with flying colors.”

The Sport 2S, a five-year-old update of the Sport, a mainstay of Quicksilver’s popular kit-built lineup, is the first of two aircraft the company plans to produce as factory-finished aircraft. The company announced in April that the GT 500 will also be submitted for SLSA approval. The retail price of the GT 500 remains to be set, while the factory-built Sport 2S retails for $39,995, including features that are optional on the kit version such as disc brakes and a carbon fiber prop.

Ellefson said FAA officials are expected to visit the Temecula, Calif., factory very soon, and the company hopes to get the go-ahead to begin production very soon after that—perhaps before Christmas. An FAA spokesman said that the audit team will arrive, and is expected to conclude the audit, during the week of Dec. 22 through 28, though the FAA would not speculate on how long it will take to complete the analysis and make a decision on the requested airworthiness certificate.

“We put the airplane through some hard maneuvers and some really hard landings,” said Severin Kempf of Streamline Design, in a news release. “Everything went as planned. It was particularly interesting to watch this aircraft in a spin.”

The GT 500 was the first aircraft certified in the little-used Primary Category in 1993, and more recently has been marketed for surveillance and law enforcement operations. The company, under new ownership since 2012, has sold more than 15,000 kits since the 1970s.