An (Almost) All-American LSA

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A Texas company claims to be the first U.S. aircraft manufacturer to certify an airplane under the new Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) category. The Thorpedo, a Jabiru-powered version of the certified Thorp T211 made by IndUS Aviation, of Dallas, received its FAA certificate June 8. Base price is $85,000. A handful of imported planes, mostly from Europe, have earned S-LSA status but IndUS says its plane is the first "designed in America and manufactured in America." The plane was designed by American Jim Thorp in the 1940s but some might split hairs about the Thorpedo's nationality. According to the company Web site, the aircraft's components are made in Bangalore, India, and assembled in Dallas. The Web site said the two-country manufacturing process is part of the company's plan to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs while at the same time creating a general aviation industry and market in India, which currently has only about 400 GA aircraft. "This creates a new, wide-open, two-way street for interactive global collaboration," the Web site reads. Heritage issues aside, company owner and President Ram Pattisapu said the airplane has already found a market in the LSA category. Pattisapu said there's an order backlog and late-summer delivery slots are now being filled. The main difference between the certified airplane and the S-LSA version is the engine. The certified model uses a Continental 0-200 while the S-LSA plane has a six-cylinder Jabiru, which produces slightly more horsepower but is lighter than the Continental, according to Pattisapu. A version of the plane with an 85-horsepower four-cylinder Jabiru, called the Sky Skooter, is expected to get FAA approval soon and base price is $80,000.