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The Czech’s (Not) in the Mail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Corinne Simons   
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:37

The recent merger between Piper and Czech Sport Aircraft has had the aviation trade media buzzing for weeks. On January 21, 2010, Piper CEO Kevin Gould announced Piper’s entrance into the world of light sport aviation (insert trumpet fanfare here).

If the Czech Sport Cruiser sounds familiar to you, then you probably know about its merits as a kit-built aircraft. If not, you’re about to find out what you’re missing. The aircraft is capable of cruising at 120 knots with a range of 600 nautical miles and a useful load of 600 lbs (465lbs at max fuel capacity). On top of that, the two-seater can handle a sustained load factor of +4 and -2, and a designated area behind the seats can accommodate up to 40 lbs. Now, granted, that will probably only hold one of your wife’s bags of shoes but, lucky for you, this light sport is equipped with two wing lockers capable of storing up to 80 lbs total. That’s 120lbs of baggage. So you won’t have to worry that your toiletry kit will over-gross the aircraft, and you also won’t have to attempt to covertly ditch the blow-dryer. In addition to those features, the Sport Cruiser also carries a fuel capacity of 30 gallons, reaches a service ceiling of 18,000 ft, features adjustable rudder pedals (for the vertically challenged like myself), and is powered by a single Rotax 912 100-horsepower engine. Oh, and did I mention the four-point harnesses that effectively make you feel like a fighter pilot? Not bad at all for an LSA.

Czech Sport Aircraft Company originally offered the plane in both a factory version and a kit version. Unfortunately for kitplane enthusiasts, Piper will now be offering the aircraft strictly in factory form. But it’s really hard to blame them; with Piper’s name behind it, the newly christened ‘PiperSport’s popularity is already rising with the amount of coverage that the Piper/Czech Sport merger has been getting in the aviation community over the past week. With the abundant articles presented by big-name organizations such as AOPA, any aviator who never knew that the SportCruiser existed probably does now.

Piper will be offering three versions of the PiperSport, each an upgrade of the last. The first version comes with basic analog gauges (airspeed, altimeter, VSI, etc), the second offers a Dynon EFIS and engine monitor and, finally, the third version adds a Dynon autopilot to the mix. All of these features are similar if not the same as those originally offered under Czech Sport Aircraft’s management. It does not appear that Piper has made any major modifications to the aircraft structurally, but Piper’s Chief Pilot Bart Jones tells Dave Hirschman of AOPA that the PiperSport, “flies like a Piper” (www.aopa.com/articles). If that statement and the specifications are any indication, I’d say the PiperSport is going to be making its way into an increasing number of hangars over the next few years.

For more information on specifications and pricing, visit www.piper.com. Standard prices start at $119,900.
To read Dave Hirschman’s article retelling his experience flying a PiperSport for the first time, visit http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2010/100121piper.html.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 February 2010 22:22