Rotax Two-Stroke To Make LSAs Affordable?

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Another development that may lead to lower prices for those new to sport flying is the recent announcement from Rotax that its two-stroke 65-hp R-582 engine has met ASTM standards. The two-stroke is commonly used in smaller aircraft such as ultralights, trikes, and powered parachutes. Up till now, those aircraft had to install a heavier four-stroke engine to qualify for LSA certification, because no certified two-stroke was available. "I'm excited that they finally did this," LSA advocate Dan Johnson told AVweb yesterday. "It could mean more lower-priced sport aircraft entering the market." There are also other implications to the new development. Of the 36 LSAs that are certified so far, only six are made in the U.S.A., Johnson said. European models had an advantage because they'd been designed to fit under rules similar to LSA for years. In the U.S., the wide range of aircraft flown under ultralight rules -- or sometimes, just beyond those rules -- were smaller and lighter. "The powered parachutes and trikes that have been LSA certified did it with four-stroke engines because that's all that was available, but they'll get better performance with a two-stroke," Johnson said. Those lighter aircraft, if LSA certified, could sell in the $40K and under range, more accessible to many than the current models, most of which are $80K and up. Johnson added that the Rotax engines could become more familiar to mechanics if the rumors prove true that Cessna will go with a Rotax choice for its LSA model, to be unveiled at EAA AirVenture next month. "When you look at all the options available, a Rotax really would be the best choice," he said. "So we'll find out at Oshkosh."