You can see next year's news today at the Rans Designs exhibit at Sun `n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. The new kitplane S-20 Raven, a bush plane, will be offered as a factory-built light sport aircraft by the end of the year. A new prototype must be built for testing, but FAA approval could come as early as the fall.
The Raven is happiest in the back country, and gets there at an honest 98 knots. Once there, it doesn't need a prepared runway, as company owner Randy Schlitter recently demonstrated on an unimproved gravel road near his factory in Hays, Kansas. That's not something the more skittish and speedy S-19 Venterra wants to do. The light sport Venterra delivers a cruise speed of 115 knots, has a nosewheel, and wants only smooth runways, please.
When factory built the S-20 Raven will cost $125,000. The speedier, more luxurious S-19 Venterra will cost $165,000. Schlitter discovered nearly all his customers were asking for every available option on the Venterra, and that it always went out the door at about that price. He decided to make all the options, like leather seats, standard.
Both aircraft have the 100 hp Rotax 912 ULS engine. Both land short, with the tailwheel Raven easily beating the Venterra by landing in less than 200 feet. The specifications say both take in excess of 300 feet, but Schlitter easily demonstrates 100 to 200-foot landings. The Venterra has been offered for seven years, while the Raven flew only two years ago.