By Garth Calitz
Last week I was invited to visit Eagles Creek airfield to meet with Warren Massey of VL3 Aviation to have a look at the VL3 Evolution, all I can say is “What an Aircraft” Its sleek looks just scream speed while its cabin is spacious and comfortable.
One will be forgiven for a feeling of Déjà vu invoked by the VL3 Evolution it is the latest version of the very popular “Flamingo” formally imported and distributed by Wings n Tracks based in Brits in the Northwest province.
The aircraft is produced by JMB Aircraft and was designed by Vanessa Air and was produced by Aveko in the past. Fifteen years ago, in 2007, the Guisset brothers Jean-Marie and Jean-Baptiste were dealers in France and Belgium for Aveko. Driven by a passion for flying that started when they were only fourteen years old, the brothers were successful enough that at one point they could claim to have sold more than 85% of the aircraft produced by Aveko.
Five years later, in 2012, the Guisset brothers acquired Aveko. Shortly after, they started to upgrade the aircraft, pushing the aircraft to fly faster and more comfortably. Three years later in 2015, JMB began fully producing the fuselage and wings, work that had previously been subcontracted. Today, JMB Aircraft is in full production at their Chocen, Czech Republic facility.
The VL3 Evolution boasts a Full Carbon composite design with Kevlar reinforced cockpit area. Retractable Undercarriage, Constant Speed Propeller, Garmin G3X with Synthetic vision, Garmin Autopilot, Electric Flaps, Ballistic parachute, Leather interior, Berringer brakes, Garmin Pitot with Angle of Attack indicator (AOC) plus stall warning, Cabin heating, landing lights and 120/140-litre fuel tanks to name a few of the standard features.
The VL3 is certified and tested in collaboration with the Czech Aerospace Institute and was successfully tested to ultimate loads of up to +15Gs and -8Gs. The VL3 is free of flutter until 240kts TAS the VNE is however limited to 184kts IAS. It boasts a climb rate of 2000ft/min and a sea level cruise of 160 knots CAS.
To increase your safety the VL3 can be equipped with a TCAS (Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance). If other aircraft are in your vicinity you will receive a visual and audio alert to your EFIS and headset. An ELT ( Emergency locator transmitter) may also be installed in case of an emergency landing to enable SAR services to quickly locate you.
All VL3 aircraft are equipped with full autopilot. If you lose control of the aircraft upon accidentally entering a cloud, you can activate the levelling function and the aircraft will automatically level out. The Angle of Attack indicator will give you a warning if you approach the critical angle of attack before stalling but if the aircraft does stall the VL3 is equipped with stall strips located on the leading edge close to the fuselage, to improve the controllability.
The parachute system is designed to protect occupants in the event of an emergency by lowering the aircraft to the ground safely after deployment. In the event of an in-flight emergency, pulling the red handle deploys a solid-fuel rocket out a hatch that covers the compartment where the parachute is stored. As the rocket carries the parachute rearward from the front of the aircraft, the embedded aircraft harness straps release from the fuselage.
The cabin area features clean lines and a minimalist, contemporary design. The combination of carbon and kevlar fibres, which are extremely tough, provide safety to the crew in case of an emergency landing. Each instrument panel is made to measure for the customer, according to the specifications of their personalized aircraft. The instruments are mounted on a laser-cut plate with surface inscriptions created by serigraphy.
The VL3 Evolution is available in two options in South Africa, the 100HP Rotax 912, with either Carburettors or Fuel Injection. His option boasts a useful load of 290kg and its peak performance is at around 8000ft. The 142HP Rotax 915 option has a slightly lower useful load of 240kg but boasts speeds of 200kts at 18000ft with its fuel-injected turbocharged Powerplant.
The Vl3 is bound to find a market in South Africa for the discerning aviator that wants to get around comfortably and quickly for more information and to organise a teat flight please go to https://vl3aviation.co.za/