French company Lisa Airplanes made its first appearance at EAA AirVenture this year, displaying its Akoya luxury light sport aircraft production prototype for an American audience.
Company officials said they expect to start deliveries of the aircraft, which is equipped with retractable landing gear, skis, and hydrofoils, in Europe in 2013 under a permit to fly, with CS-LSA certification expected shortly thereafter; U.S. deliveries are expected to follow in 2014. Customers who order during EAA AirVenture can take advantage of a show special that includes free shipping to the United States, a reduction of the deposit from $10,000 to $5,000, and a $20,000 reduction in price.
Under the show special, customers can purchase the aircraft for a fixed price based on today’s exchange rate of $370,000 instead of the normal price of $390,000, said U.S. Marketing Manager Vanessa Troillard; the price of the aircraft includes training, a three-year warranty, three-year maintenance, and more.
The Akoya uses hydrofoils, or what the company calls “Seafoils,” to lift the aircraft above the surface on takeoff from water, and allows it to cruise with less drag than a conventional amphibian with floats or a hull. Lisa Airplanes said the hydrofoils are almost aerodynamically neutral in flight, and lighter than traditional floats; the result is a fuel burn of about 3 gallons per hour at 103 knots and a useful load of 550 pounds. Top speed will be 135 knots in Europe and 120 knots in the United States, per light sport aircraft speed restrictions.
The company markets Akoya as a method of traveling in comfort directly to one’s destination, through the use of the three landing options: retractable landing gear in a tailwheel configuration, integrated skis, and the hydrofoils. The wings fold manually for storage; for an additional $7,000 and an extra 18 pounds, customers can opt for electric wing folding.
The tail-mounted 100-horsepower Rotax engine gives the aircraft a high thrust line, but Lisa Airplanes chief pilot Hervé Paul-Guers assured members of the media that a correction tab on the horizontal stabilizer and the placement of the propeller close to the center of gravity prevents pitching and porpoising. He said the water rudder is fixed on the main rudder, and the airplane takes off without the typical step for seaplanes.
Troillard said the company is setting up a dealer network in the United States and expects to have about half a dozen services stateside.