Back in June 2011, the magnificent aircraft that is the CSA SportCruiser was featured as the cover story of the very first edition of Australian SportPilot Magazine. We’ve decided to revisit the SportCruiser and see if it still manages to hold up its strong reputation in the LSA category.

The SportCruiser, introduced in 2006 by CZAW (now Czech Sport Aircraft), has had an interesting history. With a 114L fuel capacity and a range of 1,014km, the aircraft was marketed as a “tremendously efficient machine”. The manufacturing and marketing of the aircraft however, has not necessarily been quite as efficient. In 2009 CZAW was declared bankrupt by the Regional Court in Brno, Czech Republic. The successor company entered the market the same year as Czech Sport Aircraft (CSA). Following this, in 2010, the company’s SportCruiser was picked up by Piper Aircraft, with the aircraft to be sold as the PiperSport under a licensing agreement between the two companies. The agreement was for CSA to maintain production of the aircraft while Piper would market it worldwide and supply parts to customers. However in January 2011, the licensing agreement was ended, with Piper citing management differences. Distributors then formed a dealer association to ensure the continued sales of the SportCruiser and support of both the SportCruiser and PiperSport.

Back in 2011, writing for the very first edition of SportPilot, Kreisha Ballantyne was fortunate enough to fly down to Jaspers Brush, inside Nowra airspace, to take flight in a SportCruiser with demonstrator Dave Bennett. Noting how “the aircraft behaved beautifully,” Kreisha was buzzing post-flight and exclaimed that the aircraft “as well as being a looker, is a lot of fun to fly. Its docile characteristics make it an ideal trainer, its visibility is a huge advantage in busy areas and its short field capabilities make it great for bush strips.” Kreisha also noted that “the aircraft is pitched perfectly at flying schools and private owners alike.” This rings true today, with the SportCruiser still highly regarded by flying schools due to their reliability, safety and economy. CSA agrees, claiming that they are “very happy to be working with the world’s leading flight schools.”

To this day, the SportCruiser is highly regarded in the aviation industry. In 2016 it was the best-selling aircraft in the Special Light Sport Aircraft category in the USA. Since reclaiming ownership of their own aircraft as the SportCruiser, CSA has done a fantastic job of evolving the aircraft and keeping it in line as a much-loved option for aviation enthusiasts.

As a double-seat, all-metal aircraft, arranged as a low-wing monoplane with cantilevered wings and conventional empennage, today’s SportCruisers are marketed by the company as a “solid, safe and reliable machine, well-suited for years of intense use.” Featuring a 100 HP (73.5kW) Rotax 912 ULS engine, the aircraft boasts a 93kn cruise speed at 3,000 ft and 75% power.

Both the interior and exterior of today’s SportCruiser are extremely appealing to the eye, with the aircraft boasting a spacious 1.17m (46in) wide cockpit which provides utmost comfort and a highly ergonomic seating arrangement. Today’s models, fitted with two sleek SkyView SV-HDX1100 touch screens and a SkyView SV-GPS-2020 built-in GPS system, bring the cockpit to life and make any pilot feel right at home. However, these aircraft are not just appealing visually, they are also appealing in their performance with a maximum speed of 120kn, a climb rate of 825ft/min and an endurance of 5 hours, 25 minutes. With adjustable pedals and 4-point seatbelts fitted to both sleek, comfortable seats – as well as an optional BPRS system – safety is paramount in today’s SportCruiser, highlighting one of the many reasons they remain popular to this day.

Given the overall efficiency, performance, and appearance of the SportCruiser, it isn’t hard to see why this aircraft has maintained its popularity. The SportCruiser is a fantastic and beautiful piece of machinery, and despite a chequered history, it is in a league of its own within the LSA category. This aircraft truly is a terrific model that has kept up with the times, and it shows, with CSA maintaining a significant market share in the LSA category. We here at SportPilot are excited to see how the SportCruiser will be performing another 10 years down the track.