Flight Design plans to certify the four-place C4 under revised Part 23 standards, delaying first deliveries until 2015. A mockup of the new aircraft was on display at Sun ’n Fun.
Flight Design’s light sport aircraft are selling well, and the company was among various manufacturers reporting a rosier sales picture in late 2012 and 2013 to date. The company is meanwhile putting its first entry into the certificated aircraft market in a holding pattern.
The German aircraft maker announced an incentive deal at the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo that aims to keep sales momentum going, with special pricing and option packages similar to the sold-out “Jubilee” models offered in November, of which 25 were sold.
While the light sport aircraft industry leader is working through a $1.99 million backlog of CTLSi orders, customers who contributed to a $20 million backlog of C4 orders will have to wait another year to see the certificated four-seater that promises a 155-knot cruise, 1,200 nautical mile range, and 1,320 pounds of useful load. Company officials announced test flights will begin next year, with the goal of logging the first delivery in 2015—about a year later than planned when the new model was announced in 2011.
The company is waiting to launch the C4 pending a major revision of the Part 23 certification standards, an effort with government, industry, and AOPA participation that is billed as having potential to double safety while cutting costs in half. That, said CEO Matthias Betsch, is the key to brining the C4 to market at $250,000, the price target announced in 2011.
“We don’t think that it makes sense to bring another $400,000 airplane” to the market, Betsch said.
Betcsch said the overall market is improving steadily, and the company is ramping up production rates to meet the rising demand for the CTLSi, Flight Design’s newest LSA powered by the fuel-injected Rotax 912 iS.
“We have to increase production,” Betsch said. “That’s a nicer problem than to look where the sales come from.”
Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny said that if the Part 23 revision is significantly delayed, by federal budget cuts or other reasons, the company will explore certification of the C4 under the little-used primary category, though Part 23 remains the preferred option. Primary category imposes few limitations other than barring aircraft from Part 135 charter and other commercial operations (there is an exception for flight instruction), but Peghiny said the company believes Part 23 would have better “market acceptance,” being better known.
Flight Design’s “Americas Limited Edition” CTLSi features Dynon Avionics, and a discount of roughly $6,000 over the standard list price.