TL Ultralights Australia - Newsletter 3

Welcome to Newsletter No. 3, What a trip !!! - we have just returned from the Czech Republic where I accompanied two customers to check the first Sting orders coming off the production line.

On the 18th of December customers Phil Allen, Joe Mikus, accompanied by Joe's wife Lynette, and myself departed a pleasant 34 degree Brisbane summer's day for the wilds of the Czech Republic during winter. Our TL Ultralights contact Barbora had told us to expect a chilly minimum of only about -5 degrees but we were off to a bad start when we hopped of the jet in Prague to a chilling minus 11. If that wasn't enough, we made it down to minus 15.5 during our 8 day trip !!.
A lot of you guys in the northern parts of the US are probably saying what a bunch of wimps, but when you're not used to this weather it's bloody cold !!, especially when we flew into + 42 on the day of our return. We have lots to report and I invite you to read on.......

Click on the small thumbnail image to view an enlarged version of the image

Cold ?? Phil enjoying a break in the weather at an airfield just outside Hradek Králové. Unfortunately the flying today had to be cancelled by the 300mm or so of fresh snow covering the runways.
Just to prove we weren't lying........ Minus 15.0 on the gauge at 8.22 in the morning.
Having some fun in the snow, Sting 2001 world tour logo accompanied us wherever we went. Day 1.
Our first port of call in our Czech trip was to the propeller manufacturer. Woodcomp's company director Jiri Holoubek explains the workings of the new constant speed props which we are using on the Sting and Star aircraft. The automatically in-flight adjustable propellers assist in giving the aircraft it's exceptional performance.
Finished propellers for our first aircraft orders in the packaging room. The Woodcomp company is a recent combination of established manufacturers Kremin and Sport Prop. This new company employs 30 people and produces around 250 props per month for customers worldwide.
A close up of the blade for our Sting Aircraft, the prop has a wooden core with Carbon Fibre covering, we have a special plastic/rubber insert into the leading edges of the blades to help protect then from damage by bugs and stones on the rough dirt strips which cover Australia.
The hub unit of the in-flight adjustable propeller features a large electric motor which drives the blades, adjusting the angles for optimum performance for the aircraft. The blades are set-up by the factory using a laser which projects the blade angle to the wall where a gauge shows the actual blade angle in relation to the hub - accurate stuff.
A propeller during assembly and setup, the quality control for the manufacture of props is a real eye opener, they are much more than a carved piece of wood with a bit of varnish, each is made by hand and crafted by tradesman, Woodcomp not only produces in flight adjustable props for the Sting but also fixed pitch props, wooden props, full carbon props and props for paragliders.
This is aircraft No 1, our Australian demonstrator, nearing completion. With a team of around 30 people working on the project it is amazing how quickly progress is made. TL Ultralight have a well oiled production sequence and the plane seems to grow before your eyes as new parts are added by the minute.
A rear view showing the fitting and adjustment of the rudder and elevator parts. Before delivery each aircraft is run-in and test flown for at least 2 hours so all the bugs are ironed out by experienced factory pilots. This is one serious aircraft and can cover exceptional distances in a short amount of time.
The sanding room where the fuselages are joined together and cleaned up prior to panting. On the left is Phil's Sting and on the right is another customer's Star aircraft. Joe's Sting is just out of shot.
The staff at TL Ultralight are real craftsmen. Here one of the workers is fitting air vents to the canopy and fitting the canopy support brackets. The canopy opens forwards on gas lift struts and closes with three locks. This canopy is tinted but they also have available clear canopies.
Again attention to detail and quality of finish. This is the dash support structure which is also made from Carbon fibre. It has a highly polished finish and would match any formula 1 car for appearance. The dash is made of three parts and can be fully customised to any customer's requirements.
The business end of the Sting !! It is sleek and aggressive. All of our first three Sting orders have been fitted with Rotax 912S engines and the Woodcomp in-flight automatically adjustable propellers.
Close-up of the engine bay before fitting of the cabin heating system. The engine package is well thought out and from the experience of about 140 aircraft before ours the package is fully sorted, no engine problems or electrical worries etc...
Close-up of the engine fitting. From this shot to completion of the engine installation took only about 2 hours. Still to be fitted are the exhaust pipes, radiators, cowls and prop. Notice how small the battery looks in the top right corner. I had reservations whether it would have enough kick to start the engine in cold conditions but it started a Star in minus 10 without any difficulty.
This shot shows one of the luggage compartments which go behind the seats. It is possible to install one behind the pilot and passenger seats and another smaller compartment in the turtle deck immediately behind the pilot and passenger's heads. Also note the wings in position ready to be fully inserted into the fuselage. The time needed to attach both wings, elevator and rudder is less than 15 minutes !!
To add scale to the photo Phil stands behind one of the luggage compartments. These compartments are big, and we estimated they are about 65 liters capacity, but they are approved to carry 8 kg's each as they may upset the CofG range if loaded up with more equipment.
Undercarriage is good and strong !! The main gear is carbon fibre sprung spars and the front gear is made from chrome moly tubing with a metal spring suspension. The front wheel is directly connected to the steering pedals and is not castoring design.
Close up of the wheel, tyres and hydraulic disk brakes before fitting of the wheel spats. The rims are cast aluminium.
Underneath of the aircraft showing the antennae for the AM/FM CD player and the transponder aerial. The VHF aerial was fitted later that day to the top of the fuselage between the canopy and tail.
Wings in position for test assembly and adjustment. Even before final detailing of this aircraft the high standard of finish is evident in the reflection of the wings upper surface. One word describes this manufacturer...... Quality.
This is a must have accessory. TL Ultralight can get phone covers custom made which feature clouds, sky and the Sting in flight. Needless to say we ordered three to suit our phones.
Phil on our return to Brisbane. After about 40 hours travelling it was a relief to finally be home and on the ground... although Phil had another 2 hour flight to Canberra. Lynette and Joe stayed over in the Czech Republic to chase up family and do a bit of skiing before returning home mid January. The Coffee and donut never tasted so good.... All we needed now was a shower and another 69 sleeps before our aircraft turn up in Australia.

Well that's a quick summary of our week long adventure to the Czech Republic, we would have liked to get a bit more time test flying the aircraft but you cant control the weather and the short time spent doing circuits will be invaluable when we finally get airborne into Australian skies shortly. Both Phil, Joe and myself are now eagerly counting 'sleeps' as we countdown for the delivery of our first shipment of 3 aircraft due for arrival by boat in March 2002.

The comments from our customers when they alighted from the aircraft for the first time after circuits was..... as I expected.... Utter disbelief and joy; the aircraft meet and exceeded their expectations which was comforting for me as they had both purchased an aircraft they had never seen before just on my recommendation.

Thankfully the ear to ear smiles are still on their faces and there will be more to report in a couple of months. As always if you have any more questions please feel free to contact me by phone or email and if your interested in a trip to the Czech Republic to do a tour of the facility before ordering please let me know and I will assist with your arrangements, it looks like we will be over within two months with a tour of customers from the USA, until next time.... safe flying.

Michael Coates - December 2001.

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