SAM Aircraft Gains Canadian Approval, Seeks Funding for Production

 - July 31, 2013, 8:15 AM
The SAM LS features a quick-release canopy and spin-resistant design. (Photo: Matt Thurber)

Although the company still needs capital to begin full-scale production, Canadian light plane manufacturer SAM Aircraft has reason to celebrate this week at EAA AirVenture 2013. Transport Canada granted approval earlier this month of the SAM LS light sport aircraft in the Advanced Ultralight class.

“We worked very hard to be sure that everything was done in conformance with both the [American] LSA and Transport Canada rules and quality standards,” said SAM Aircraft president Thierry Zibi. “We are happy to see that the SAM LS flies to our expectations.”

The decidedly retro, tandem-seat aircraft–which resembles something of a shorter, squatter Nanchang CJ-6–carries a lower maximum gross weight in Canadian service, 1,232 pounds versus 1,320 pounds as a U.S.-approved LSA. Otherwise, the aircraft are identical, according to the manufacturer. “Our objective was to reproduce the golden age of flying,” said Zibi. The LSA can be flown with the canopy on or off. Canopy removal takes about two minutes, by removing hinge pins and lifting it off the fuselage. With the canopy off, the LS is naturally more noisy in the cockpit and it flies about 10 mph slower, he said.

The SAM LS has a max cruise of 125 mph and 120 mph normal cruise. Stall speed with flaps is 42 mph, and rate of climb 900 fpm. Range is 450 miles, and only 350 feet is needed for takeoff. The cabin width is 26 inches and can fit fairly large people.

Kits begin at $29,000 (U.S. or Canadian, the exchange rate is almost even), without firewall-forward components or engine. The S-LSA variant available at an introductory price of $131,800 equipped with a 10-inch Dynon SkyView panel. In an unusual, but increasingly popular, approach, SAM Aircraft has also established a “crowdsource” funding option on Indiegogo.com to gain capital to begin production.

Available as a kit-built experimental light sport aircraft (E-LSA) or factory-built S-LSA, the SAM LS may be configured as a short-wing (25.2 feet) cross-country aircraft, or with a longer wingspan (31.8 feet) for shorter takeoff and landing distances or a medium wing (28.5 feet) for normal performance. A buyer could own two sets of wings, for example, and swap them out depending on the type of flying planned, Zibi said. Swapping wings takes about two hours. The SAM LS is all metal and the symmetrical wing has been tested to an ultimate load of plus and minus 7.9 g. “It didn’t break,” Zibi said.

The ubiquitous 100-hp Rotax 912S piston engine powers all SAM LS models. The propeller is a ground-adjustable two-blade Sensenich model. Empty weight is 830 pounds. Baggage can be carried in two compartments, one in the front and one behind the rear seat.

Zibi said that spin testing was done on the SAM LS, but it is very hard to get into a spin and basically ends up in a spiral. “We tried to make all the mistakes that a young pilot would,” including cross controls, and so on, “but it doesn’t spin.”