Glasair Aviation’s new Merlin LSA had its first flight this week, launching the in-air test phase for the composite light-sport airplane. The flight departed from Arlington, Washington, on Tuesday and lasted for 57 minutes. Following ground tests including engine run-up, high-speed taxi, and ground roll liftoff, test pilot Grant Smith conducted the flight to evaluate engine reliability, flight control characteristics and standard maneuvers.
The Merlin was introduced at last year’s Sun ‘n Fun and is expected to be on display at this month’s show. It’s a high-wing tricycle-gear airplane powered by a Rotax 912iS engine and will have an optional ballistic parachute. Glasair said last fall it’s designing the aircraft with a comfortable cockpit along with durability for the flight training market, with an estimated price of $139,000. Tuesday’s first test flight was a milestone for the new model as well as for Glasair, which has specialized in aircraft kits since its start 35 years ago. This will be its first certified airplane. “The Merlin LSA fits perfectly into our product line,” said Ted Setzer, the company’s development manager.