The Ikarus takes off in SA

The Ikarus C42 not only has ­superior safety ­features and low operation costs – R180 per flying hour – but is also relatively easy to fly, and can take off and land on a rugby field. Glenneis Erasmus asks Dave Stock, CEO of the Test ­Flying Academy of SA, about this ­phenomenal two-seater aircraft.
Issue date 18 May 2007

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The Ikarus C42 is causing a revolution in the SA light aircraft market. Nine are already flying in SA, three are currently on their way here and another five have been ordered since the introduction of this popular light German aircraft into the SA market two years ago.

Advanced safety

The Ikarus C42 is the only aircraft in its class in SA that has British Civil Aviation Regulation Section S Certification. This is the main reason why Dave Stock, a test pilot for military aircraft and CEO of the Test Flying Academy of SA, has decided to become involved in the ­marketing of this plane in this country.
This certification has of the most stringent requirements in the world and includes structural standards, flying quality standards, performance standards, stability and control standards, as well as quality assurance standards. Standards not only prescribe the structural testing that must be performed, but also the material used in construction and the type of test pilots that must be used to carry out the developmental test flying to ensure that the aircraft handling is according to requirements. The plane can also be fitted with a built-in parachute that shoots out with a rocket in case of an emergency. There is an activation lever inside the plane which, when pulled down, would open the parachute.

Convenience and versatility

The C42, which has an empty weight of 260kg, is also relatively easy to fly. Dave believes it is currently the best-handling light aircraft in the world. Various ­licensing options are also available – the lowest level, which would be more than sufficient for the C42, is the microlight licensing. This involves 20 hours of training with licences being valid for two years. According to Dave, licensing is not very expensive, especially if you have your own aircraft.

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The plane comes with pneumatic shock absorbers allowing it to take off and land on rough terrain – from dirt roads to grass surfaces. “The plane, which has a maximum landing and take-off weight of 520kg, can land and take off on an area the size of a rugby field if necessary, but under normal conditions requires around 100m for take-offs,” Dave says. The C42 can also land on water when fitted with floats. The airframe is of aircraft-grade aluminium with a composite cabin and fuselage shell. The high-strenght UV ­resistant Mylar/Polyester laminate covers all of the flying surfaces. Storage of the Ikarus is quite simple. The wings of the C42 can be folded back so the plane can be stored in a single garage larger than about 6,25m.
Operation and maintenance costs Operation costs for the C42 are extremely low. The plane only uses 12 to 15 litres of petrol per hour depending on flight conditions, at somewhere between R80 and R100 an hour in comparison with the more traditional Cessna 152, which uses between R250 and R300 of fuel per hour.

The C42 also makes use of ordinary ­­­­­­95-unleaded petrol, whereas many light aircraft operate on special ­aviation fuel. It comes standard with a 65-litre tank allowing the plane to run for about four hours before needing to be refuelled. Adding another tank to the plane would double flying time and would allow a range of around 1 400km.
Maintenance, which entails an oil, filter and spark plug change every 100 hours of flying, is also relatively cheap at around R480. Maintenance can be done legally by the owner on his farm. ­Compare this with servicing a ­Cessna 152, which costs on average around R7 000 every 100 hours and must be done by an aircraft maintenance engineer.

The engine of the C42 needs a major overhaul after 1 500 flying hours – roughly 12 to 15 years if the plane is used for 100 hours per year. A running cost of R180/hour includes fuel costs, engine replacement at 1 500 hours, all services at 100-hour ­intervals, plus airframe maintenance. The C42 costs around R466 000 for the 80hp model and R491 000 for the 100hp model (amounts exclude VAT). The amount is tax deductible as it’s a farm implement.

Contact Mark Shaw on 082 809 7900 or e-mail [email protected]; visit the Test Flying Academy of SA website |fw