TL Ultralights Australia - Newsletter 9 December 2002

TL-Ultralights Trip December 2002.

It seems the only time we can get to the Czech Republic is in the middle of winter. And this year proved to be no exception.

Phil from Canberra, Bill H from Wollongong and myself departed a 30 plus Australian summer for the wilds of winter Europe that, thankfully, was only down to about minus 5 degrees Celsius (23F) this year, instead of last years minus 18 (0F).

We flew, this year, by Lauda Air from Sydney to Vienna and then on to Prague with a regional airline. The flight with Lauda was enjoyable and the service first class (even though unfortunately we weren't in first class). I would recommend Lauda's Boeing 777 class aircraft to anyone heading to Europe as the old 747's that Qantas use seem to be much louder inside the cabin and the 777's fly along much quieter - you can actually hear the movie!!

We arrived at our usual haunt, the Pension Uno, and meet up with Barbora from TL-Ultralight who had again arranged our accommodation and entertainment in the Czech Republic. After a 40-hour trip from Australia to Europe, it's sure good to finally arrive at your destination, have a nice meal and have a good sleep. The next day saw us at the TL-Ultralight factory nice and early for factory tours and several meetings - we have lots to report from this visit. But where do I start ????


Both Phil from Canberra and Bill H are both Sting owners and it was good to show Bill around the factory for the first time so he could see how his aircraft was manufactured. We visited all the areas several times at different stages of construction for a thorough overview of the process and, even though this was my 5th or 6th visit, I still managed to see and learn new things.
Showing Bill around the TL-Ultralight factory. Here a Sting and a Star are starting fit-out.
We have several modifications to the aircraft resulting from our first 1000 hours with the Australian fleet and the following detail some of these.

Michael showing Bill the differences between
the Sting wing and the Star wing shown here.

Wing Inspection Covers
We have had two small Perspex wing inspection covers come loose in flight. These covers are held onto the underneath of the wing with silicone. I don't know how, but they have fallen off two aircraft and we now secure them with both the silicone and a vinyl sticker. This is not a critical safety issue as the aircraft flight performance is unchanged after the loss, I flew my aircraft 6000kms with one missing and I couldn't tell the difference, but they are there for a reason and the sticker now secures them firmly in place. 

Simple but effective - the new sticker to hold the wing inspection plate in position

Gas Struts on the Canopy 
The gas struts for the canopy in my aircraft were losing their efficiency after about 9 months, and over 300 flying hours, and the canopy was starting to open slower and not going to the full extent of the struts travel. I asked around and had the struts re-gassed. I also found out that my struts were installed upside-down. Apparently, there is a right and a wrong way to install gas struts. The struts in our aircraft are supplied with the rams to the top and the body to the bottom. This allows the seals to dry out and gas to escape from the strut. If installed the other way, with the body to the top and the ram to the bottom, the seal is bathed in oil and there is less chance that the gas will escape. Given the average strut usage on our aircraft, if installed correctly, the struts should last the lifetime of the aircraft. If you have a Sting or a Star then I recommend that you invert your struts around so that the body of the strut is to the top. It only takes about 2 minutes to do both sides.

Fuel Drain
Spring loaded fuel tank drains are now supplied as standard from the factory. They are fitted with the Curtis type and as the fuel in the aircraft is stored in the belly there is only one fill point and one drain point, making fuel management dead easy.

Another Sting customer takes delivery in Australia

Heavier Roll Bar 
A wear and tear item in our demonstrator aircraft is the light lip around the canopy which is like a draft seal. Because it is light, it is easily bent when some of the heavier guys get in and out of the aircraft and don't take the care they should. From now onwards, all Australian and New Zealand aircraft will have another layer of carbon around this area to strengthen the lip and stop clumsy people from bending it over. It's from use in our local conditions that we can go back to the factory with our suggestions and feedback from owners and continually improve and develop the aircraft features.

Dash in Carbon

A popular request from our customers is to have the center section of the dash, where the throttle and trim is located, made from Carbon to match the main dashboard. After some pushing from our customers, TL-Ultralight is now able to offer the center section in Carbon Fibre as an option for 2003 orders.

Headset Holders
Headset Holders are now supplied as a standard item in the aircraft and are fitted during manufacture - again another small but noticeable improvement.

Engine Mods
There is an important engine modification to all the 4 stroke Rotax engines which has been developed by the TL-Ultralight Company as the result of a Sting catching on fire in Spain when the carburetor fell off a running engine. Normally the carburetors are mounted in a rubber boot and held secure with a clamp. On the 100hp engines, there is also a spring to connect the carb to the engine in a sort of half baked way of holding it all together. As the rubber boot wears, there is a chance that it can split and allow the carburetor to fall away from the engine, it can also happen if you over tighten the clamp which holds the carburetor in place. This has the potential to allow the fuel from the carb to ignite and cause an engine fire, as was the case with the Sting aircraft in Spain.

TL have developed a new bracket which eliminates the possibility of the carb falling off and all aircraft in Australia are being retrofitted with this feature. All new aircraft are supplied with this fitting as standard. TL has also supplied their brackets to Rotax for evaluation and it may even end up as a Rotax standard part in the near future.

The Carb on a standard engine, held in place only with a spring and the clamp on the rubber boot
The modified mounting bracket viewed from the rear showing the rubber dampener which security locks the carb to the manifold.
The new carb support brackets, made from Stainless they have a rubber mount to secure the carb to the engine
The modified mounting bracket viewed from the front, the fitting of these brackets takes only 30 minutes.

Crack In Rear Canopy Joining Seam
You may have noticed (on the aircraft in Australia anyway) that a small hairline crack seems to develop around the rear of the canopy. This seems to happen only minutes after the aircraft are rolled from the containers and left in our hot sun. It's caused from the lexan rear windshield expanding at a different rate to the fuselage and some small cracks develop in the paint across the seam where the two different materials meet. Whilst the crack is only small (hairline) I was worried about water getting in behind the paint and causing damage so I looked for a cheap and simple solution. For my aircraft, I purchased a AU$5 roll of vinyl pin striping material which I laid down across the seam where the canopy and the fuselage meet. It covers the crack and looks quite good too.

New Nav Lights

A few interesting developments are underway in the dark corners of the TL-Ultralight factory. One we can talk about is integrated navigation, strobe and landing lights in the wing tips. While I quite like the standard Wheelan Strobe assembly, they are, I guess, out in the air stream and creating drag. They are also very susceptible to hanger damage as they are mounted on the ends of the wings. The new lighting package will include a large lexan cover and the lights will be mounted internally in the wing tip. I don't have any ideas on the cost but will post this information on the site as soon as it is known.

Canopy Clip
We have just made a clip for holding the canopy open about 200mm. It is light, simple to use and is constructed from a small piece of aluminum and thin cord. I use this when I park the plane in the sun.

There are occasions where you don't want to leave the aircraft parked with the canopy open due to the possibility of the canopy catching the wind and acting like a sail to make the aircraft roll away or simply causing damage to the canopy itself. If you close the canopy fully then those Australian 35 degree days cook everything inside the aircraft and make it extremely hot for the next flight. Our simple canopy holder lifts the rear of the canopy about 200 mm, providing protection for the aircraft and at the same time allowing air flow through the aircraft to keep it cooler.

Our simple but effective canopy lock..... Cost ?? About $1.00

Sting for Glider Towing

The Sting will shortly be available with an approved glider tow hook for towing 15 and 18 meter gliders. This will make the aircraft attractive as a trainer and tug to a number of gliding clubs worldwide. To the right is a picture of the Company Sting at Delta Air Base in the companies home town, of note is the smaller wheels which they use. In Australia we prefer the larger aluminium wheels which may suit our rough dirt strips better than the 'speed wheels' shown here.

On a Lighter Note

Phil from Canberra always seems to find something new and interesting to see on our trips abroad. During our conversations with Jirka, Phil picked up on a small comment about an Ultralight Helicopter.

Phil is a big kid at heart and firmly believes in the saying "He who dies with the most toys wins" so when he heard of this new toy, he just had to see it. Jirka agreed to take us to his hangar and show us this incredible machine. He gave a flight demonstration and the smile on Phil's face was enormous. Words such as "I have to get me one of those!" were heard from the white dust as Phil was covered in the snow blown up from the downdrafts of the rotors. If Phil could afford it then I can imagine he would be extending his quickly growing aircraft fleet. Phil has a short video of the demonstration flight that we will try to get digitized for you all to see. I don't know how much it will show, given that Phil was covered in snow for most of the event, but we will see how it turns out.

Approvals for Canada, New Zealand and the USA 
Great News!!   The Sting, Star and Condor can now be registered in Canada as an Advanced Ultralight Aircraft. The approvals are exciting news for Canada which has a large demand for aircraft which can fly long distances on limited fuel. In the US market we are still waiting for the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) approvals, once approved we will make a big push into the US through our dealer Bill Canino, we will once again be at Oshkosh in July and also Sun-N-Fun in April, our European friends can catch us on the TL-Ultralight stand in Friedrichshafen in Germany late April.

Star Plus
Sneaking around the factory I came across a Star being built from Carbon !  When pushed, Barbora advised it was a "Star Plus" for a customer who wanted a Star model built from Carbon instead of glass.

I often get asked the differences between the two models and it's really very simple. The Sting is normally made from Carbon and the Star from Fiberglass. The fuselages come from the same molds, with the only difference being some Stars come with a fully flying tail at the customers request while the rest come with the conventional split elevator. The wings are different, with the Star having a larger surface area and slightly different profile. The Star aircraft is slower, partly due to the different wing and the different engine covers which are sleeker in the Sting, whilst the Stars are not as aerodynamic.

Many people have asked "What do you sell more off ?" and so I put this question to the factory. They seem to get a 50/50 mix of orders - some customers buy Star models because there are lots of them in training schools in Europe and others buy the Sting for the extra speed and agility. I guess if you're trained in a Star and are comfortable with its performance, then it's an excellent choice. If you're after a little bit extra speed and agility however, then the Sting is the perfect choice. The Sting, being made primarily from carbon, is also more expensive, so if you're on a budget and don't mind the slower pace, then the Star may be the aircraft for you.

Australian Training Schools
The Sting and the Star are both approved with the Australian Ultralight Federation for use in training schools in Australia and provide excellent performance in this capacity. They are probably the highest performance certified Ultralight Aircraft in Australia and would be a big draw card for Ultralight Schools wanting to expand their business with a new aircraft. Contact me for more details on finance, insurance and special pricing if you want to add a Sting or Star to your flying school.

World Records
The first certificates for our FAI world record flights are starting to turn up after a several month delay.... More flights are scheduled shortly so i will keep you posted.

Presents
It seems to be becoming custom on our Christmas visits to bring a small "Australian" gift for the office staff who look after our business requirements. In 2001 we presented Barbora with a stuffed Australian Koala (not a real one of course) and some Violet Crumbles (Sweets or candy to our foreign friends) and this year proved no different in continuing the Australian theme with our delivery of a 1.5 meter Australian Didgeridoo.   The 'Didg' is a hollow wooden instrument which is played like a trumpet but it puts out a low and unusual sound. If you'd like to hear what a didgeridoo should sound like, check out this link http://www.didgeridoostore.com/soundsrhythms.html.

My far from impressive display left them bewildered at this gift and a couple of hours later Barbora had found the perfect use for the didg - she will take it home and if anyone ever breaks into her flat she will use it to "bash them over the head".  I have visions of some newspaper clippings in several months: "Wild Czech woman kills intruder with didgeridoo!". Hopefully not, but its heavy enough to do some damage.

We again left them with a couple of packets of Violet Crumbles and Maltesers and we received a SMS message a couple of hours after we departed saying that all the sweets were gone and Petra and Barbora didn't feel so good!!!!!. Neither would I if I ate 2 kilos of chocolate!!

A group photo in the snow. Back row, yours truly, Jirka - the owner of TL-Ultralight, Barbora our main contact (and chocolate addict) and Bill H. Front row kneeling is Phil from Canberra and the delightfull Petra.

New Zealand Visit 21st to 27th January
The first Sting arrives into New Zealand in the next couple of days and I will be over the pond between the 21st and 27th January 2003 to assemble and test fly the aircraft, I would look forward to meeting with anyone interested in the Sting or Star aircraft. Details of my visit and test flights (weather permitting) can be organized through our New Zealand dealer Phil Richards on 9826 4150 AH, or by dropping him an email at ridarz48@hotmail.com

We both look forward to meeting some of our New Zealand customers.

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