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XPONENTIAL Innovation Preview -- www.allthingsunmanned.com

Tue, Jul 18, 2006

Sky Arrow Lets Pilots Fly with Their Hands

Disabled Pilot Option Offers A New Option

One of the great things about the new LSA program is the acceleration of new and innovative technologies to make flying more accessible for pilots. Sky Arrow, manufactured by Iniziative Industriali Italiane (3I) of Italy, has come up with an option on their aircraft that now allows disabled sport pilots to operate the aircraft's rudder using the left hand, instead of their legs. 

The Sky Arrow's cockpit is configured very much like a jet fighter with the side joystick controller on the right, and the throttle on the left of the narrow, but comfortable cockpit. The brake levers are controlled by the right hand, as are the electric rudder and elevator trim. The rudder pedals come with stirrups so that the pilot's legs can be stabilized, if necessary. 

To convert the Sky Arrow into a disabled pilot model, a T-shaped handle is inserted into a collar adjacent to the throttle and can be rotated like a horizontal ship's wheel on a boat. With the throttle lever properly tightened by the friction lock, it is quite intuitive to turn the rudder as appropriate for full 3-axis control.

Removing the T-handle converts the Sky Arrow back to its standard configuration and takes approximately 2.4 seconds to complete. Once removed, the hand-rudder mechanism is virtually invisible to the pilot.

While there have been numerous modifications to factory aircraft to allow disabled pilots to fly, these have usually been complicated, unwieldy, and expensive affairs. The only other option has been ultralights and powered parachutes whose operation usually doesn't require legwork.

Sky Arrow's founder, Dr. Fuori Lauri, who himself lost the use of his legs as an Italian combat pilot during WWII, was the driving force in developing this option.

The disabled-pilot optional control is also available on Sky Arrow's slightly heavier Part 23-certified aircraft for flight in day and night VFR. The disabled pilot option adds approximately $6000 more to the cost of either airplane -- which ranges from $66,700 for the most basic LSA type to $115,000 for a tricked-out Part 23 model.

FMI: www.skyarrowusa.com

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