Aircraft We Service
As their name implies, “singles” have only one piston engine, usually mounted at the nose of the airplane using a propeller to drive the airplane. When the engine is mounted at the back, it’s called a pusher. These aircraft comprise nearly 68 percent of the GA fleet. Pilots who are certificated (licensed) to fly these airplanes will have a single-engine land rating (SEL).
These range in size from small seven-person jets like the Learjet 35A to the Boeing business jet that is based upon the 737 airliner. Most, however, seat about nine people and operate over distances of a few hundred to 1,500 miles.
Far from being a luxury, today’s corporate jet ferries tens of thousands of replacement parts, customers, and mid-level employees for companies of all sizes. All save time and money by using America’s General Aviation (GA) business fleet to avoid airlines delays and their congested hub-based route systems. Turbojet (jet) aircraft comprise 4 percent of the GA fleet.
After World War II, the industry began to make widespread use of a design that put the two main landing gear a bit further back on the aircraft under the wing, with a steerable nosewheel in the front. The result resembles the arrangement one would see on a child’s tricycle, hence the term “tricycle gear.” These airplanes sit level on the ground and are easier to operate than a taildragger.
Amphibians are like floatplanes, except they also feature retractable wheels for operating from paved runways or grass strips.
Helicopters were first conceived by Leonardo da Vinci. Today, they perform a wide range of lifesaving roles, as well as roles in filmmaking, police work, and agriculture. Helicopters couple their engines to an overhead rotor that serves as the helicopter’s rotating wing. This allows them to take off, hover, and land vertically. Rotorcraft, including gyroplanes, make up roughly 3 percent of the GA fleet.
These aircraft combine the vertical takeoff, hover, and landing capabilities of a helicopter with the forward speed of a turboprop. Their engines and propellers tilt up to form the rotors for vertical flight and tilt forward to create propulsion for fast forward flight.
Light Sport Aircraft
There is an ever-growing crop of light-sport aircraft (LSA) emerging within the U. S. aviation marketplace. Many of these aircraft have been flying in Europe and elsewhere in the world for years but are now making their debuts in America.
These airplanes have two or more piston engines using propellers to drive the airplane. They offer more speed and performance than most singles, cost more to buy and operate, require advanced training and a special FAA rating to fly, and offer the redundancy of a second engine. They comprise 8 percent of the GA fleet. Pilots who are certificated (licensed) to fly these planes will have a multiengine land rating (MEL).
These airplanes use a gas turbine (jet) engine, coupled through a transmission, to drive the blades of a conventional propeller. They combine the reliability of a jet engine with the short takeoff and landing performance of a propeller-driven airplane.
Many have two engines. Yet, because of the incredible reliability of today’s turbine engines, a growing number use only one turboprop engine mounted on the nose. Turboprops comprise about 3 percent of the GA fleet.
Floatplanes or Seaplanes
These airplanes either have floats instead of wheeled-landing gear or their hull is shaped like that of a boat, allowing them to take off from water or land on water. These are a common sight in Alaska and in wilderness areas where fishermen or sportsmen want to reach remote lakes. Pilots who are certificated to fly these airplanes will have a single- or multiengine seaplane rating (SES or MES).
Biplanes have two main wings. This type of airplane was very common before World War II and continues to be popular today among stunt and agricultural pilots. The vast majority of biplanes are also taildraggers. They make excellent aerobatic airplanes and can be seen at picturesque grass airstrips throughout America.
Kitbuilts or Homebuilts
The Wright Brothers’ original airplanes were all homebuilts, meaning that they were built at home by aviation enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. Today, under strict Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and stringent FAA inspections, many thousands of airplanes, gliders, helicopters, and other experimental flying machines are built by individuals in their basements and garages all across America. Most are built or assembled from factory-made kits using FAA-approved designs. Some can be very sophisticated.