by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2019 Issue
In the 12 months between EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-ins at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, there is a great deal of work and preparation that goes on behind the scenes that most attendees are not aware of, and do not fully appreciate. Work on new aircraft designs, technology and programs with a considerable amount of time and money invested in research and development. Success of all products and services depend on their uniqueness, practicality, cost and competition, and whether or not they are filling a void that needs filling.
One aircraft that caught my attention this year was the “Sling TSi” – a modern, fast and economical four-place aircraft, equipped with a turbo-injected Rotax 915 iS FADEC (full authority digital engine control) engine, gullwing doors, a robust landing gear, a large cabin and luggage area, has fully-adjustable leather seats, a glass cockpit, and a glass canopy providing excellent visibility. The aircraft is manufactured by the Airplane Factory in Torrance, California.
The Sling TSi Kit has all of the style, economy and practical utility of the Sling 4, but with more speed! And it’s available as a Quickbuild Kit (FAA audited 51% kit) or build-assist program through Midwest Sky Sports in Caro, Michigan or Sling Central in NormaTn, Oklahoma.
The Sling TSi features an all-new highspeed wing design – optimized for the power and weight of the aircraft. The leading edge of the wing is flush-riveted for low drag. The forward fuselage and empennage are also flush-riveted. The landing gear is airfoiled with low-drag wheel pants incorporated, and there is a new cowling design.
The interior, seating, ventilation and heating systems are improved for passenger comfort and luxury.
Designed by pilots for pilots, the Sling TSi features a selection of Garmin avionics, including a 10.6-inch G3X Touch EFIS, backup G5 Electronic Flight Display, GTR 200 Com Radio, Garmin Autopilot, GTX 45R Transponder with ADS-B In/Out, and GMA 245R Bluetooth Audio Panel.
When I learned that the Sling TSi was flying non-stop from Torrance, California (KTOA) to Oshkosh, Wisconsin (KOSH) – a distance of 1,512 nm – that’s when the aircraft really got my attention. The aircraft departed at 7:00 a.m. PDT on July 19, 2019 and landed in Oshkosh before 7:00 pm CDT (under 10 hours).
The manufacturer made this flight to expand the ceiling of the aircraft and to demonstrate its maximum range and cruise speeds. Normal cruise is 155 KTAS at 9,500 feet. The turbocharged FADEC engine allows the aircraft to climb into the 20,000 feet-plus flight levels.
The aircraft flew to Oshkosh with standard fuel tanks (45 gallons) plus long-range wing tip tanks (an additional 22 gallons total), plus internal portable tanks (20 gallons) for a total fuel capacity of 87 gallons, burning 7-8 gph of MOGAS. The Sling TSi has a total operating cost of around $60/hr.
I compared this with our 1976 Cessna 182 Skylane that has a total fuel capacity of 80 gallons with 75 gallons usable, burns twice the fuel using 100LL, and has a slower cruise speed. But our C182 has a larger cabin and greater hauling capability. Remember, too, that the additional fuel tanks on the Sling TSi were unique to the test aircraft, so the standard Sling TSi cannot fly non-stop for 10 hours. It all boils down to your particular mission, as to which aircraft is best suited for you!
One of the pilots onboard the non-stop flight was Wayne Toddun, a person who first became a customer, and is now CO and CEO of the Airplane Factory because he believes in the Sling. His business partner, Jean d’Assonville, who flew the Sling around the world in 2011, was the other pilot onboard. I had the pleasure to meet and interview Wayne at AirVenture and learn more about the Sling TSi and their record-setting flight.
“We were at 27,000 feet for a relatively short period of time,” Wayne said. “It was really mostly a ceiling test to see how high we could get. We had a small headwind at 27,000 feet, but a tailwind at 17,500 feet, so it made sense to do most of the flight at that altitude.”
Since this was a test flight of sorts, we asked Wayne if he and Jean were wearing parachutes. His reply: “No, but we (the aircraft) had a whole-plane ballistic parachute.” The Magnum 901 Ballistic Parachute Recovery System is optional equipment, as is dual Garmin G3X Touch EFIS, and a GTN650 IFR Navigator.
The aircraft costs $164,062 for a factory-assisted quick-build kit with engine, avionics, and constant-speed propeller. The factory can complete the aircraft for another $80,000 or so.
For additional information, contact Wayne Toddum at 310-406-5498 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to the Sling TSi, the Airplane Factory manufactures the Sling LSA, Sling 2 Kit and Sling 4 Kit (https://www.airplanefactory.com). The company is also involved in professional flight training through the Sling Pilot Academy (www.slingpilotacademy.com).