The sturdy Liberty XL2 two-seat light aircraft has the appearance of sports or trainer design not unlike many others. However, an alternative lower fuselage panel also displayed at Stand C706 provides a clue to a different role that the aircraft can perform.
Removing the standard panel and replacing it with an alternative one-piece item enables a FLIR (forward looking infrared) sensor to be mounted. The alternative panel could be produced from Kevlar to protect the pilot, fuel tank and sensor from bullets fired from the ground.
Derived from the Europa kitplane designed in the UK and sold in large numbers, the XL2 is assembled in Melbourne, Florida, by Liberty using metal wings produced in Romania married to locally produced composite fuselages.
The aircraft is powered by a 125-hp Continental IOF-240B and is the first to be certificated with the Power Link Fadec (full authority digital engine-control) system, which simplifies the pilot’s task and makes for operating economies. For crews tasked with operating the FLIR, the FADEC would help to reduce workload, but advanced aerodynamic design also makes the aircraft safe and easy to fly.
While the training and sport aircraft market in the Gulf region is expected to grow, interest in the use of light aircraft for surveillance and patrol roles could boost the appeal of the Liberty XL2 adapted for covert operations.