Another light sport aircraft—this one the tricycle-gear Merlin priced at $149,950 by Glasair Aviation located in Arlington, Washington, northeast of Seattle—has been certified by the FAA.
The certification marks the kitplane company’s first entry into factory-produced aircraft. It will not be sold as a kit. The all-composite aircraft is claimed to have a 45-knot stall speed, a 104-knot cruise speed (the light sport category allows up to a 120 knots), and a useful load of 530 pounds. It carries 24 gallons of fuel, leaving a payload of 386 pounds when fully fueled.
Deliveries are set to begin late this year. The company claims the aircraft will fly at a maximum speed of 120 knots at sea level. The aircraft first flew in April 2015.
The aircraft has a wingspan of 32 feet and a cabin width of 47 inches, carries 50 pounds of baggage, and is nine feet high at the tail. It has a Rotax 912iS engine and Dynon’s Skyview Touch glass-panel avionics. Glasair plans to offer an optional BRS airframe parachute system.
Options announced last year include a second Skyview Touch screen and an autopilot.
Glasair Aviation is a subsidiary of the Jilin Hanxing Group of Jilin City, China, located 600 miles northeast of Beijing and 155 miles from North Korea.
Glasair becomes the 140th light sport aircraft model certified, but that’s not the whole story. Eighteen of those are not available due to suspending operations, lacking a U.S. importer, or taking the aircraft out of production, leaving 122. Forty-one were made in the United States, according to a list on bydanjohnson.com, which tracks the light sport industry. When the light sport movement started a decade ago there were predictions that a shakeout would occur leaving five or six companies. That never occurred.
A light sport aircraft can be flown by pilots using only a driver’s license if they have never failed an FAA medical, and is limited to two seats, a fixed-pitch propeller, and a cruise speed of 120 knots true airspeed.