Vulcanair officials made good on their promise of six months ago to deliver a “rugged” FAA-certified trainer that could battle the venerable Cessna Skyhawk and Piper Archer—for about $100,000 less. On Dec. 20, the FAA awarded a utility category type certificate to the Italian aircraft—a four-place, high-wing, entry-level Cessna 172 look-alike that tops both of the competitors’ performance numbers and substantially undercuts their prices.
The model has the familiar look of a 172, with wing struts, fixed tricycle landing gear, and a wrap-around rear window. However, the welded steel tube and aluminum-constructed airframe originally designed by Italian aviation pioneers Luigi and Giovanni Pascale takes the concept a step further by providing a welcome third door for rear-seat passengers in addition to doors for the pilot and co-pilot. The EASA-certified aircraft has been operating in Europe for some time, according to company officials.
Michael McMann, the company’s sales and marketing vice president, noted during the model’s 2017 EAA AirVenture introduction that the Vulcanair’s 900-feet-per-minute climb bested a C172R at sea level by more than 100 feet per minute. Cruise is 130 knots on 75 percent power at 6,000 feet, or about 10 knots faster than a 172R, he said. Additional performance figures include a maximum takeoff weight of 2,546 pounds with 50 gallons of fuel; and an empty weight of 1,627 pounds. Range at 10,000 feet and 45 percent power is said to be 591 nautical miles, with a 45-minute reserve. Accounting for a 50-foot obstacle, the takeoff distance is 1,608 feet; landing is 1,575 feet; and service ceiling is 14,700 feet.
McMann described the aircraft as stout enough to take the punishment of unpaved European landing strips, which could bode well for the training environment. He said it costs more for pilots in Europe to operate from asphalt strips because of regulations associated with those types of airports, and he emphasized that the V1.0’s construction ensured a “strong protective cabin and a lightweight” structure. The model is “one of the easiest aircraft in the market to maintain and repair,” he said.
An IFR Garmin G500 Primary Flight Display/Multi-Function Display and JPI JDM-930 engine monitor also earned “a lot of positive feedback” at AirVenture. However, McMann reiterated that the star attraction was the aircraft’s sub-$260,000 price with a full Garmin panel, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In and Out capability, plus Jeppesen charts, and the digital engine display.
McMann said the U.S. market demanded a product to “fill the need for an aircraft at the V1.0 price.” He said “one would need to consider 10-year-old options” to find similarly equipped aircraft with comparable features under the $260,000 price tag. Of those, he speculated that most would require “an imminent engine overhaul.”
Remo De Feo, the firm’s CEO and co-founder, earlier told AOPA that the aircraft was “in line with Vulcanair's design philosophy” of providing “durability, safety, and exceptional value.” He added that the V1.0 “does not want to stall” and is “very easy to fly,” especially for new pilots. He emphasized that the aircraft was affordable, capable, and stable in flight.
In a Dec. 26 announcement following the FAA approval process, Chris Benaiges, the CEO of U.S. distributor Ameravia, wrote that the “rugged aircraft” could “stand up to decades of wear by new students dealing with coarse and uneven airfield terrain.”
The glass-cockpit, high-wing single was originally announced for the U.S. market in 2014 at Germany’s Aero Friedrichshafen, with deliveries initially set for 2015. The company noted that it “acquired more than 60 V1.0 orders in 2017” and will start deliveries “before Sun ‘n Fun 2018” which begins in Lakeland, Florida, on April 10, 2018.