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Grelly
28-11-11, 11:29 AM
Hi Guys,

I've been a member here for about five minutes, and already I have questions.

1. Is there a definitive list (or near thing) of 3-axis microlights that are allowed to fly in the UK?

2. Are there different sorts of "allowed" (e.g. permit, certificated, de-regulated, etc)?

3. Having heard the occassional horror story about 2-stroke engines over heating and stopping, I have a deep suspicion of them. And yet so many microlights seem to use them. Am I over reacting?

Thanks for any answers,

Grelly

Roger Mole
28-11-11, 12:31 PM
Hi Grelly, if you visit the BMAA forum here (http://forums.bmaa.org/), you'll see in the lower section that there is a list of aircraft specific sections and that's a pretty good starting point as it covers current aircraft of all types that are administered by both the BMAA and LAA. You'll note that it's not very long and for the most part you can blame the definitive document known as BCAR Section S that goes right back to the 1980s. In a typically British way it defined precisely what a microlight is (as far as we in Britain are concerned) and has never been modified in any substance ever since. As a result it has been the main factor responsible for stifling the development and design of new models that can be used in the UK. It's why you see things changing and evolving in microlight terms outside the UK but remaining essentially static here and when you add in the swingeing costs of getting new models through the process to prove that they conform to Section S, which only companies with the deepest pockets and a dogged, eccentric determination can negotiate and you have the final element of the jig-saw that tells you why the UK market is the way it is.

Don't worry about two-strokes as this is a hoary old chestnut that mainly non-mechanical people who know nothing about engines put about to newcomers like yourself in order to show off their basically non-existent knowledge. They are cheaper and easier to maintain than four-strokes but are more expensive to run and also have higher emissions (you have got to be a total green nerd to worry about such things however, given the tiny number of hours the average microlight runs per annum compared to all other types of vehicular pollution but unbelievably, there are such people around I'm led to understand). Also, the only ones that you can get hold of are of lower power than the 4-strokes and therefore are only found on mostly older, lower performance aircraft. But if you compare say, a 582 to a 912 Quantum flexwing, the saving in purchase outlay buys you an awful lot of 2-stroke go juice that the 582 powered machine consumes more quickly than its much more expensive 912 counterpart, with the main penalty really being only a lower rate of climb, and an average owner may never end up paying anything near the difference in initial purchase cost in fuel.

Sorry I haven't got any more time for now but there are a few bits for you to grapple with anyway. Good luck!

Grelly
28-11-11, 13:03 PM
Some good info. Thanks Roger.

MadamBreakneck
28-11-11, 13:05 PM
Hi Grelly,
welcome to the zoo. I agree in principle with Roger's comments about 2-stroke power. For most microlight purposes they're fine. I was recently reminded that the first microlight to fly from UK to Australia was powered by a small two-stroke - a Rotax 447. The important thing about flying a microlight withany engine type is to learn and practice what to do when it has a hissy fit during flight (you'll be taught that for your licence, you'll be tested on it in your skills test, and you're strongly advised to practice it every so often when you're qualified). The benefit of all microlights is that they are capable of landing slowly and in a short distance, so an engine failure needn't be a disaster.

As to Roger's comments on BCAR section S, which is the certification requirement for microlights in the UK that don't meet the foot-launched or sub115kg rules, it has changed (quite a lot) over the years. Every time 'the industry' has lobbied for heavier and faster aircraft to be called microlight, the CAA has quietly insisted on stricter and stricter rules being put in it. The sad thing is that these rules must be applied to any new aircraft design, so if somebody decided to introduce a new aircraft a bit like Roger's AX3 it would have to meet the new stricter requirements and probably wouldn't look or fly like an AX3. Fortunately, there is small but a thriving market in restoring older aircraft to almost new condition so we can continue flying them under the older, simpler rules.

You'll find the answers to many of your questions in the BMAA technical pages [here (http://www.bmaa.org/pwpcontrol.php?pwpID=3908)] and the LAA equivalent pages [here (http://www.lightaircraftassociation.co.uk/engineering/technical_leaflets.html)], but don't let that put you off asking on here too.:studyingbrown:
Joan

VinceG
28-11-11, 14:46 PM
Hi Grelly, welcome to the forum. I can't answer your questions about 3 axis microlights because I'm a flexwing jockey.

See my blogs for help with the various aspects of the forum and using it.

Are you new to flying in general?

Grelly
28-11-11, 15:37 PM
Thanks everyone for the welcome.

Vince, Nope not a beginner. Originally a glider pilot (north weald, duxford, then Dunstable) - about 100 hours total. Then a paraglider pilot (hills and airfield) - about 100 hours there too. But i also have an American PPL. Originally, it was much cheaper to have two weeks in Florida than try and fly in this country, but costs have spiralled.

So I am considering the possibilities of flying over here. After 30 years of spam-cans, I have learned to love the newer LSA's. Which seem to be pretty close relatives of 3-axis microlights over here. I flew a C42 the other day at Redhill and quite honestly it was loads more fun than a C-150 or a warrior.

Looking at afors etc. it looks like belonging to a group is affordable (although, less so in my wife's opinion).

So, considering my options...

Grelly

goldrush
28-11-11, 17:02 PM
Welcome.
As an ex glider pilot you will find (as I and others have) that it is hard to beat the grand old lady called The Shadow.
Semi supine seating position and great visibility.. similar to a sailplane and not too bad as a "glider".
You mentioned your concerns over a 2 stroke "going deadly quiet".
Just remember it is a bit like a cable break on a winch launch.... that too goes quiet!! and most Microlights do not in general instantly "drop like a ton of bricks" any more than did earlier sailplanes, such as the Slingsby Swallow, Olympia, Skylark etc following a cable break.


(Shadow L/D 13:1 min sink engine off 450ft/min.... Swallow 25:1 min sink 150 feet/min)

In fact last year on a "rather good day" I managed over 50 miles, (solo) engine off (well on tick over to be more precise, as mine does not have electric start) before I decided to throw some 5000 feet away and drop in for a cup of tea and a sarnie at a local airfield. In fact I had a couple of climbs of over 1500- feet/min to cloudbase, which is better than I get with the engine on full chat:-)

Irishmicro
28-11-11, 17:12 PM
Don't worry about two-strokes as this is a hoary old chestnut that mainly non-mechanical people who know nothing about engines put about to newcomers like yourself in order to show off their basically non-existent knowledge. They are cheaper and easier to maintain than four-strokes but are more expensive to run and also have higher emissions (you have got to be a total green nerd to worry about such things however, given the tiny number of hours the average microlight runs per annum compared to all other types of vehicular pollution but unbelievably, there are such people around I'm led to understand). Also, the only ones that you can get hold of are of lower power than the 4-strokes and therefore are only found on mostly older, lower performance aircraft. But if you compare say, a 582 to a 912 Quantum flexwing, the saving in purchase outlay buys you an awful lot of 2-stroke go juice that the 582 powered machine consumes more quickly than its much more expensive 912 counterpart, with the main penalty really being only a lower rate of climb, and an average owner may never end up paying anything near the difference in initial purchase cost in fuel.

This just about sums up the whole 2 stroke-4 stoke Q&A's, thanks for sharing Roger :-P

Irishmicro
28-11-11, 17:18 PM
Welcome.
As an ex glider pilot you will find (as I and others have) that it is hard to beat the grand old lady called The Shadow.
Semi supine seating position and great visibility.. similar to a sailplane and not too bad as a "glider".
You mentioned your concerns over a 2 stroke "going deadly quiet".
Just remember it is a bit like a cable break on a winch launch.... that too goes quiet!! and most Microlights do not in general instantly "drop like a ton of bricks" any more than did earlier sailplanes, such as the Slingsby Swallow, Olympia, Skylark etc following a cable break.


(Shadow L/D 13:1 min sink engine off 450ft/min.... Swallow 25:1 min sink 150 feet/min)

In fact last year on a "rather good day" I managed over 50 miles, (solo) engine off (well on tick over to be more precise, as mine does not have electric start) before I decided to throw some 5000 feet away and drop in for a cup of tea and a sarnie at a local airfield. In fact I had a couple of climbs of over 1500- feet/min to cloudbase, which is better than I get with the engine on full chat:-)

Thats an excellent return for your pound fuel wise, brilliant.
I was lucky enough to get and see a shadow microlight recently, it was the wide body model that can be rated as the Group A time by removing the velcro strip at the back on top of the elevator. They are a brilliant looking machine but a little cramped in the back seat, even with the lower footwell.
Unfortunately it was not a flyable day, as this is a normal complaint over here so I never got up for a spin in it.
Any shadow owner really loves flying their aircraft, for cruise speed, glide ratio and outright fun it ticks all the boxes.
This would be an excellent first time 3 axis microlight and if that 2 stroke does splutter and stop the glide ratio on the shadow will leave you with loads of time to pick out a suitable filed to land in.

Irishmicro
28-11-11, 17:22 PM
The important thing about flying a microlight withany engine type is to learn and practice what to do when it has a hissy fit during flight (you'll be taught that for your licence, you'll be tested on it in your skills test, and you're strongly advised to practice it every so often when you're qualified). The benefit of all microlights is that they are capable of landing slowly and in a short distance, so an engine failure needn't be a disaster.


Hi Joan, is it ok to practice engine failures without an instructor sitting beside you?
This is something I would like to keep on top of because its not that I will never get an engine failure, but more so when I do get one I want to be on top of the emergency landings.
Some days the weather is too crap to head away to far as it could turn anytime, and on days like this you could brush up on engine failures around the airfield :plane-028:

TREV BAILEY
28-11-11, 17:46 PM
Hi Grelly, as Goldrush said if you come from gliding then the Shadow is an obvious choice, they are without a doubt the easiest three axis machine to fly and they can be soared, the streak versions less so as they wing is shorter. Joan is very very correct in suggesting frequent engine failure practice, it certainly saved my bacon when the "donkey" stopped in my shadow and believe me 13:1 is a gross underestimate for the sink rate of a Shadow engine off, more like the early twenties in my experience.
A well looked after two stroke will last probably the life of the plane, yes they burn a little more fuel than the four stroke alternative but the cost of a four stroke unit is much much more , I have had two 503 two stroke Rotax's and my son flys with a 447 Rotax, treat 'em right and use a good quality oil and they give fantastic reliability.

by the way.....welcome to the best forum around

safe landings


Trev:salute:

MadamBreakneck
29-11-11, 12:20 PM
Hi Joan, is it ok to practice engine failures without an instructor sitting beside you? etc


There is no rule which says only instructors are allowed to practice forced landings. It's an option open to any qualified pilot.

What you do need to do, though, is refresh your memory about the low flying rules, both for the descent and the climb-out afterwards. Also, don't forget that a real engine failure can occur at any time, so you need to keep your eye on your options.

You are only allowed to actually touch down if you have the land owner's permission and the exemptions from low flying rules only apply to genuine emergencies (and only if you subsequently volunteer the information about the incident to the CAA).

I'd strongly suggest talking wth a tame instructor about what you plan to do before going off and doing it. They may have some ideas about gotchas that you might not have thought about.

Hope this helps - I could actually write a whole chapter on the subject

Joan

PS. when I do PFLs for my own benefit, I often just descend no lower than what would be the start of a base leg because by that time I'll know if I've positioned myself successfully.

PPS. and don't forget to include the full set of procedures (ie. mock restart attempts, pax briefing, radio call, TIFS, etc in your descent practice)

Dave Morton
29-11-11, 20:20 PM
...... is it ok to practice engine failures without an instructor sitting beside you?

You could practise your skills over familiar territory (home airfield) initially to build up confidence then present yourself with more difficult scenarios away from home.