Arion LS-1 Lightning

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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rgstubbsjr
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Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby rgstubbsjr » Sat Sep 26, 2015 4:08 pm

Best

Plane

EVER!

I went down to Shelbyville to test fly an LS-1 Lightning.
That plane is a revelation. This is the best Light Sport plane I have flown to date, and I've flown most of the top names.
Nick is a super nice guy, and an even better pilot. I had a terrific time, and we bored some serious holes in the sky.
It's fast, stable, and a joy to fly.
I'll add pictures and details when I get back from my road trip.

BrianL99
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby BrianL99 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:55 am

rgstubbsjr wrote:Best

Plane

EVER!

I went down to Shelbyville to test fly an LS-1 Lightning.
That plane is a revelation. This is the best Light Sport plane I have flown to date, and I've flown most of the top names.
Nick is a super nice guy, and an even better pilot. I had a terrific time, and we bored some serious holes in the sky.
It's fast, stable, and a joy to fly.
I'll add pictures and details when I get back from my road trip.


I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but ...

I loved the Arion and wanted to buy one. It's by far the fastest LSA out there, Nick is a very good guy and they have a very supportive owner's group.

Most every S-LSA Lightning ever sold was on the market and I couldn't find a single one that didn't have a damage history.

Jack Tyler
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby Jack Tyler » Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:05 pm

Brian's point is easily explained in the lead paragraph of the Arion review done by Aviation Consumer.

"Arion Lightning LS-1: Not for the Masses
The 120-HP Jabiru-powered LS-1 cruises at the LSA max 120 knots, is surprisingly nimble, demanding and rewarding of a good hand on the stick.

How about this for a challenging design concept? Start with a two-seat speedster with fighter-like handling, slow it down to meet the LSA 120-knot speed limit without excising any of the structure necessary for the stresses of the higher speed, then jump through the ASTM hoops to turn it into a production machine. That is exactly what Arion Aircraft did with its Lightning LS-1, an LSA that is finger-on-the trigger responsive in flight and among the fastest LSAs out there. The Lightning is one of the few LSAs that is not intended to be used as a primary trainer. “Although a very few buyers have learned to fly in their Lightnings, we did not design it for flight training,” explained Arion’s Nick Otterbach, one of the lead designers of the airplane."

So what we are getting from RG's comments is both one pilot's opinion of the aircraft and also some insight about the pilot.

The Arion review - a fair & accurate one IMO - can be found in the AC's March 2013 issue. And keep in mind: An AC subscription instantly opens up all the prior AC issues of product & aircraft reviews for reading, going back many years. If you're 'on the hunt' for expensive gear or an aircraft and like independent sources of info when shopping, the subscription strikes me as a bargain.
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

rgstubbsjr
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby rgstubbsjr » Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:37 pm

The plane was NOT designed to be a trainer. It is NOT designed for ham-handed student pilots or ham-handed pilots. period.
Most recorded damage is caused by landings. That being said, If you have even a modicum of ability to manage energy and airspeed, landings are a non-event.

The plane handles like a dream, all through it's extensive flight envelope.
It flies totally hands off when trimmed properly, but you can yank and bank it like a P-51 and not worry about the wings coming off.
It doesn't fall off to either side in a stall, and will recover by itself just by letting go of the stick and I felt comfortable with the nose almost vertical and bringing in down with full power. Total control in all axis.

More when I get home.

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designrs
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby designrs » Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:16 pm

I'm very interested in this discussion. The Lightning has caught my attention on several occasions, including seeing the display plane fly at Sebring at the LSA expo... It was impressive, even from the ground. As a new pilot, my personal preference was to buy an aircraft with greater production numbers, Rotax power, durability, and with manners that would forgive many of my mistakes as I built experience... thus my SportCruiser.

Now, having gained some experience, the third-class medical petition looking rather unattractive, and craving a bit more performance, perhaps the Lightning is an interesting proposition. It's certainly a very good performing aircraft for a certain type of pilot. What motor are they running these days?

More info most welcomed!

SportPilot
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby SportPilot » Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:30 pm

.......
Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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designrs
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby designrs » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:48 pm

SportPilot wrote:Personally, I don't think an increase of 5 or 10 knots airspeed is worth the upgrade. If I owned an LSA that I liked, was easy to fly, met my mission, and cruised at 110 knots, I would be happy.


Thinking that perhaps it wouldn't just be another few knots, but an aircraft that is easily capable of performing to the limits of the LSA rules ALL the time... e.g. 120 knots and a high rate of climb in real-world conditions... with substantial structural capability beyond most LSA's

I am craving more performance and would love to see 1,300 feet per minute climb, at gross on very hot Summer days. I want 120 knots cruise ALL the time, and I want to be able to climb above a scattered layer at altitude ASAP.

Nomore767
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby Nomore767 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:31 pm

designrs wrote:
SportPilot wrote:Personally, I don't think an increase of 5 or 10 knots airspeed is worth the upgrade. If I owned an LSA that I liked, was easy to fly, met my mission, and cruised at 110 knots, I would be happy.


Thinking that perhaps it wouldn't just be another few knots, but an aircraft that is easily capable of performing to the limits of the LSA rules ALL the time... e.g. 120 knots and a high rate of climb in real-world conditions... with substantial structural capability beyond most LSA's

I am craving more performance and would love to see 1,300 feet per minute climb, at gross on very hot Summer days. I want 120 knots cruise ALL the time, and I want to be able to climb above a scattered layer at altitude ASAP.


Sounds like you're close to outgrowing the light sport 'mission'.

I've seen a few Lightnings up close and I would say the airplane is more about performance than capability, as in…I feel the need for speed, rather than carrying a load (of people, bags etc) Nothing wrong with that.

Last one I saw was badly damaged after the 88 year old owner started up and it went straight into the side of a hangar.

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designrs
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby designrs » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:48 pm

Yeah. There are 19 NTSB reports on the Lightning. Most are landing phase pilot error / unfamiliar / completely avoidable incidents. As with any make and model of plane, we don't know how many incidents go unreported.

I guess my questions are:
1) Is being a competient and very current LSA pilot enough for the Lighting? Or should the pilot really have high-performance experience?
2) How suitable it the aircraft for long distances "going places"?

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MrMorden
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby MrMorden » Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:49 pm

I love the Lightning, just remember there is no free lunch.

The Jabiru 3300 engine has had some spotty reliability history, though they make good power. They run hot enough that many running them cannot taxi or sit idling more than ten minutes or so on a hot day before they start getting overheated.

Also, standard fuel in a Lightning is 22 gallons. The Jabiru burns more gas than a Rotax 912, so if you run it at those big performance numbers you are going to be cutting your range down quite a bit. A friend of mine in his "fast cruise" mode with a Jab-powered plane burns about 6.5-7gph. A slightly slower 912-powered plane with similar fuel capacity might actually get longer distances faster because of skipping a fuel stop...

The 3300 also weighs about 50lb more than a 912ULS. It makes more power, but that is a lot of extra weight when you are up against a hard 1320lb limit.

None of this would stop me from buying a Lightning; like I said, I think they are awesome. But all LSA are constrained to the same performance numbers (I can cruise at 120kt if desired, but usually don't), so really handling and "feel" are going to be the big differences. A few knots here or there will not significantly change the ownership experience, IMO. Do a long trip flight plan at 115kt and again at 120kt. The time difference is essentially a rounding error...

We all have our favorite models and our reasons for loving them. Viva la difference!
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

BrianL99
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby BrianL99 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:09 pm

SportPilot wrote:Personally, I don't think an increase of 5 or 10 knots airspeed is worth the upgrade. If I owned an LSA that I liked, was easy to fly, met my mission, and cruised at 110 knots, I would be happy.



From what I've been told, the Lightning will do closer to 140 knots.

The Jabiru engine in the lightning is redlined, well below its capability or so I've heard.

Nomore767
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby Nomore767 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:17 pm

designrs wrote:Yeah. There are 19 NTSB reports on the Lightning. Most are landing phase pilot error / unfamiliar / completely avoidable incidents. As with any make and model of plane, we don't know how many incidents go unreported.

I guess my questions are:
1) Is being a competient and very current LSA pilot enough for the Lighting? Or should the pilot really have high-performance experience?
2) How suitable it the aircraft for long distances "going places"?


Why not fly out to Shelbville TN (just south of Nashville) and get a demo flight? They can answer all your questions and you can crunch the real world numbers to see how it fits your mission.

Maybe you could buy an SLSA demo plane?

rgstubbsjr
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby rgstubbsjr » Sun Sep 27, 2015 5:59 pm

I was doing well over 121 knots TAS. I won't say how much over. :-)
The plane is a couple inches narrower than a Tecnam P-92, but the seats on the plane I flew fit like my Lotus Europa. Back and legs supported perfectly. Very comfortable. I could do hours in the plane.
You fly it with your finger tips. It's that responsive, but there is no extreme sensitivity in any axis, unlike a few of LSAs I've flown lately. It feels like it's on rails.
I saw no indication of the Jabiru being heat sensitive. At one point we were climbing at max capability and the engine showed no overheating. I did some checking. Most of the in flight heating problems were in homebuilt aircraft and the Jabiru 2200 engine.
There are a couple of trade offs. The Lightning is a little heavier than some LSAs, so useful load is down a couple\few pounds.
You absolutely need some "type" training in this airplane. Probably 5 hours for the average pilot.
A quick check of my log book shows I've flown 17 different types in the last 2 years. The Lightning goes to the top of my list.

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designrs
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby designrs » Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:14 pm

Thanks for the write-up. What kind of climb rates were you seeing?
How was ground steering and braking setup?
Impressions on the landing gear, lightly constructed or robust to take reasonable impact?
If you've ever flown the PiperSport or SpirtCruiser how would you compare pitch sensitivity?

Nomore767
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Re: Arion LS-1 Lightning

Postby Nomore767 » Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:17 pm

Looking at the company website the LS-1 is advertised at 850lbs empty. That's 470lbs useful load. For me at 205lbs and full fuel (40gals x 6lbs=240lbs) that's 445lbs so I could go solo full fuel with 25lbs of bags. That's assuming 850lbs is the real empty weight, add BRS and other options and the weight goes up. Still, solo I could fly for hours burning 5.5 gph in the Jabiru.

As is typical with heavier LSAs there is a penalty of you take another person. If I flew with a more slender 185lb guy that's 390lbs of the 470 useful. So I could carry about 13.5 gals of fuel which allowing say 4.5 for conservative 45 mins (I'd personally use 5.5 for an hour) that leaves 9 gals to cruise, not much. Under 2 hours and no bags at all.

As with other heavier LSAs with empty weights in the 850-875 region (Skycatcher, Tecnam p2008 for example) there are big trade-offs in 'missions'. Unless you're skinny light-weights, not typical in the LSA market, you just can't do 2 people, decent fuel and decent bags. You have to compromise.

If you always fly alone then you can fill up with bags and fuel. Carry another person and start compromising on fuel load, big time.

Its a fantastic looking plane though!
Last edited by Nomore767 on Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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