MVP Aero's Amphib
Historyís most successful entrepreneurs are often said to be people who invent things people didnít know they wanted. MVP Aero apparently figures thereís a burning interest for a combination flying fishing boat, RV and light sport aircraft and thatís exactly what they introduced at AirVenture on Sunday afternoon, the day ahead of official opening day.
Basically, the MVP is a flying boat that cleverly transforms itself via folding panels, wings and other dual-purpose structures into an all-purpose recreational vehicle. Itís powered by a Rotax 912 and has typical LSA performance, plus some interesting features like thrusters to assist with docking, something thatís always a challenge for amphib pilots.
Is this thing for real? I have to give MVP props for creativity and boldness. Weíve never seen anything quite like this in aircraft design, much less in the light sport segment. But its success assumes several things that Iím not certain are true. Developer Darrell Lynd told us he has owned several light sports, including amphibs, and has a taste for fishing, backcountry flying and camping. But are there enough potential like-minded buyers out there that have the same interests and who are willing and able to spend $189,000 for an airplane to scratch the itch? Frankly, I doubt it. At the press conference, they were already suggesting volume in the hundreds and if LSA has proven anything, itís that the market just wonít support that kind of volume. Multiple dozens Iíd believe. (See a video on the MVP here.)
Interestingly, there were a few folks from Icon hovering around the MVP announcement on Sunday, as well they should. The MVP goes right at the Icon A5, which pitches itself as the glam rock star of LSAs with claims of hundreds of orders on the books. Theyíve been plugging away since 2008 yet thereís still no production airplane. Maybe my hard crust of cynicism is showing here, but Iím not feeling the magic for amphibs selling in the thousands simply because landing on the water is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Ultimately, my guess is both the Icon and the MVP are going to be just two more examples of nice-looking LSAs with unique features that sell some copies but are unlikely to make a dent in the universe. Iíd love to be proven wrong. In either case, both companies need to bring it. The world tires of all talk and no airplanes.
One thing the company should do is focus its marketing and explanation on what this thing is and what it can do. The press conference was so poorly presented that I noticed people were walking out before the company got to the specifics. In the digital age, tolerance for window dressing has sunk to about zero. If youíre explaining new products to journalists, get rapidly to the point and make it succinct and compelling. Nobody has time to sit through an endless drone.
Sad news from my home airport, Venice, Florida, where a pilot put an Archer on the beach after an engine failure. The pilot and passenger were unhurt, but one person on the beach was killed and another seriously injured.
I donít know the particulars, so I canít second guess the pilot. But Iíve flown over and along those beaches so many times that Iím always looking closely to see where I could put the Cub if the engine ever quit. Sometimes the beaches are deserted, sometimes not.
Itís worth a reminder that if a beach landing is the only choice, but the beach is populated, we owe it to anyone on that beach to take the water instead. Water touchdowns are imminently survivable and insurance companies can replace airplanes. They canít replace people.