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An all-new GA four-seater

German manufacturer Flight Design has hit another high to follow the success of its two-seat CTSW light sport aircraft (LSA) series. The company has now flagged its entry into the basic four-seat category with the launch of a four-seat, fixed-gear challenger that US manufacturers will need to take seriously if Diamond’s market success is any measure.

Flight Design has already achieved strong successes in the LSA market where it claims clear market leadership with more than twice as many deliveries as its next LSA competitor. Over 1,700 of its CT series of LSAs are now flying in 39 countries.

The manufacturers now plan to bring the same winning combination of design technology, efficient manufacturing and strong marketing and customer support to the certified aircraft market with the C4.

The CT series surprised pilots some years ago with its fighter-like control responses, easy handling, internal space and remarkably high cruise speed for the power available, and although the C4 is a completely different aircraft its looks are similar and likely to deliver a similar pilot-pleasing product, and to follow the same philosophies.

The no-strut low drag high wing design looks a lot like a scaled-up version of the CT models from which it was develped. C4 initial design specifications, to be validated during the development process, are impressive.

Advanced all-carbon fibre construction enables a useful load of 1,320 pounds (599 kg) or 50% of maximum take-off weight of 1197 kg; max cruise speed is projected at 160 knots (184 mph) at 6,000 feet AMSL. The C4’s fuel tanks will hold 265 litres, providing a range of 1,200 nm with “a conventional avgas powerplant” at 65% power and up to 1,700 nm with the planned “optional diesel engine” using more globally available Jet A fuel.

Flight Design hasn’t yet identified either powerplant but is a cinch to do so at Oshkosh where it will be displaying a full mockup, and the betting favours Lycoming’s popular 180 hp (134 kW) IO-360 for petrol customers and alternatively Thielert’s Centurion 2.0 turbocharged diesel of 155 hp (116 kW).

A full-aircraft parachute system will be standard equipment. Avionics including autopilot may include the Garmin G1000 or the Dynon SkyView suite. Expected maximum cruise speed is 160 KTAS with the Lycoming engine and 145 kt (269 km/h) with the Thielert powerplant, although the latter would provide 1,700 nm range.

Initial certification will be under European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules this year and Flight Design expects it will gain US FAA certification through EASA certification reciprocity.

First deliveries are forecast for 2013, at a price of 220,000 Euros, and the C4 logged 30 orders in the four-day Aero event at Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany in mid-April.

At Oshkosh Flight Design will also be busy taking special C4 “Early Bird” orders which provide customers a delivery position in the first 100 serial-produced aircraft plus a $10,000 discount from the list price. Depositing US $7,000 secures a C4 “Early Bird” order with deposits being accepted at EAA AirVenture or online.

“We are offering a very well-equipped C4, complete with a modern glass avionics suite and standard airframe parachute recovery system at a not-to-exceed price of US $250,000 for the American market,” said John Doman, Director of Business Development, Global Sales & Marketing for Flight Design. First deliveries are planned for early 2013. Flight Design has also established a not-to-exceed price of €220.000 for Europe and the rest of the world outside the U.S.,” added Doman.

Also to be announced at Oshkosh are Flight Design’s initial C4 component supplier partners.

Another plus to the new design comes in cockpit dimensions. C4’s very large cabin features a total of three entry doors — including one on the left that hinges aft creating a spacious opening — plus an external baggage door. Cabin width is 52 inches in front and 47 inches for rear seat occupants with plenty of headroom and storage. “We have had computerized passenger figures taller than 6 feet 7 inches fit easily in the back seat of our concept cabin,” observed Doman.

“We want to offer the market a modern technology, price-efficient aircraft that performs well, is comfortable for longer flights, and which operates with less fuel expense,” explained Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design. “Our ongoing customer surveying shows us that price tops the demand list from customers and we believe our prices can result in sales volumes of 200 to 500 aircraft per year.”

Flight Design plans to certify the C4 to several international standards including FAA certification in the United States.

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About The Author

Paul Phelan flew for over 50 years in private, charter, corporate and regional aviation, worked in senior management roles with a major regional airline, and retains his license. In parallel he has been writing for Australian and international aviation journals for well over 20 years on all aspects of aviation including aircraft evaluation, flying, industry affairs, infrastructure, manufacture, regulatory affairs, safety, technologies and training.

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