April 23, 2009
Among the new products introduced at this week's show is the Arion Aircraft Lightning LS-1, a sleek little S-LSA airplane derived from an earlier kit model. Pete Krotje and Nick Otterback, co-owners of the Tennessee company, said they first developed the airplane as a kit, and their goal was to build something fast and fun to fly, with great looks and snappy but docile handling qualities. They've delivered about 82 kits since 2006 and 42 are flying, so they decided to go ahead and develop an LSA version that they could sell ready to fly. The LSA model is about 20 knots slower than the kit version, to meet LSA standards, but otherwise is much the same. The base price is $93,900 and goes up to about $120,000 with all the options and a glass panel.
The LS-1 climb rates exceed 1200 fpm, and cruise performance is 120 knots at the normal 2850 rpm on the Jabiru 3300 engine, with fuel burn about 5 gph, according to the company. The company embarked on a rigorous testing program to find ways to slow down the Experimental Lightning to LSA standards. Extra wing area was added to bring wing loading and stall speeds into compliance with the applicable standards. Vacuum infusion, RTM molding techniques and other advanced composite techniques are utilized to create a sturdy airplane while keeping the weight down. Except for the Australian Jabiru engine, all components of the LS-1 are manufactured in the U.S., the company says.