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Extra takes composite turn

Walter Extra’s airplanes have always been built around a steel frame—until now.

The new all-composite $450,000 Extra Aircraft NG, a departure from Walter Extra's steel frame design familiar to many aerobatic pilots, is unveiled at EAA AirVenture July 22. Photo by Evan Peers, Airspace Media.

The new NG model is made of all composite materials. And it’s faster than the company’s fastest LT model, and lighter and more nimble than its LX model.

“There’s no steel structure—and all the ergonomics are improved,” said Walter Extra, the German designer who created the international aerobatic aircraft manufacturing company in the 1980s and unveiled the NG at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “It’s the most comfortable cockpit I’ve ever been in.”

That comfort, he said, extends to the front passenger seat. (The pilot in command typically sits in the rear seat in Extra aircraft.)

Extra said he has been contemplating an all-composite aircraft design for five years, and he started building parts three years ago. He kept the project completely secret and stored physical parts in a separate part of the manufacturing plant.

The cockpit of the Extra NG. Photo by Dave Hirschman.

The turning point came when Extra developed a method of using composite materials to provide the same level of safety as a steel frame. Extra has applied for a patent for that method.

Extra is seeking European Union Aviation Safety Agency regulatory approval for the NG. Airplanes imported to the United States will be flown under the experimental/exhibition category.

The NG will carry a retail price of $450,000—less than the current top-of-the-line LX model.

“The NG has some manufacturing efficiencies that allow us to lower our building costs,” Extra said.

The lack of a steel structure allows more curves and a more aesthetic appearance, Extra said. There’s also more internal volume.

“It’s a really elegant design,” Extra said. “We’ll also offer a single-seat canopy—and you’ve got to see it to believe it.”

Extra is facing stiff competition from other all-composite aerobatic airplanes such as GameBird and MX. GameBird is led by Phillipp Steinbach, a former Extra employee.

At the NG unveiling, Steinbach was the first to sit inside the new Extra airplane.

“It’s quite comfortable,” he said. “Walter did a really nice job.”

The new all-composite Extra Aircraft NG is unveiled at EAA AirVenture July 22. Photo by Evan Peers, Airspace Media.
Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Aircraft

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