A made-in-the-U.S. light sport aircraft (LSA) that has many of the design and technology features of the European models that still dominate the sector took its first flight in Peyton, Colo., last week. The mockup of the Nexaer LS-1 turned heads at EAA AirVenture a couple of years ago with its swooping fuselage and big glass area. Although it will be restricted to 120 knots like other LSAs, the all-composite LS-1 looks like it could go faster and might go head-to-head with the sporty designs that have landed in the U.S. from offshore (mainly Eastern Europe) since the category was approved two years ago. "Today we took a small step, but we're celebrating a great accomplishment," said CEO Paul Klahn.
It was a small step, too. The aircraft flew only a few feet off the ground, directly above the runway, for its first departure from terra firma. Klahn said that as soon as they've assessed the flight characteristics, the full test program will begin, with ASTM (consensus standard) compliance slated for about a year from now. The Nexaer is unique in that it will be offered with five engine options -- Jabiru 2200 or 3300, Rotax 912, Continental O-200 or Lycoming O-235 -- that range from 80 hp to 120 hp.