In the US Light Sport Aircraft marketplace, how does a manufacturer differentiate an airplane from more than 100 competing models? Given the market dominance of the high-revving Rotax 900-series four-strokes in LSA, one sure way to stand out from the crowd is to build your plane with an air-cooled, direct-drive, traditional aircraft engine.
At the 2011 US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, Renegade Light Sport was showing its Falcon 2.0 with the long-awaited Lycoming "233 Series" engine, which claims a dry weight of 211 pounds and takeoff power of 115 HP @ 2,800 RPM.
After a conspicuous introduction at Oshkosh in 2008 featuring electronic ignition and throttle-body fuel injection, the new engine languished, all but disappearing from the Lycoming website for apparent lack of a committed OEM development partner.
Renegade Light Sport has stepped into that role. Christopher "Doc" Bailey, owner and president, says the base weight of the aircraft he showed us at Sebring was kept light enough to allow the use of what he calls "a real aircraft engine."
In this interview with ANN's Tom Patton, when asked why he chose to break from the Rotax crowd, Bailey explained, "Well, we listened to our clients. The guys with the gray hair who have a little aviation experience...are used to Lycoming/Continental.
When you tell a gentleman he wants to take off with 5,900 RPM, he gets a little twitchy! The guys have a good comfort level with the name, 'Lycoming.' When you can cruise at 2,200 RPM and do 120 knots, they like that. It's just something that they're very comfortable with."