US start-up MVP Aero has frozen the design of its ”triphibian” light sport aircraft (LSA) and says it plans to fly the first prototype – dubbed the most versatile plane (MVP) because of its capacity to land on water, land and snow/ice – within 18 months.

A full-scale mock-up of the two-seat MVP was unveiled at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last July. The company has since taken the aircraft on a worldwide demonstration tour to garner customer feedback on the design, build up its orderbook and attract investment to help bring the high-wing, single-engined type to market.

“We have been in Asia since November and have just returned from China,” says MVP Aero president Darrell Lynds. “The response to the aircraft has been overwhelming. We are getting so many ideas on how the model can be adapted for different roles, so it has widespread appeal.”

The privately owned company is now establishing a dedicated engineering department to implement many of these ideas into the aircraft’s design.

The MVP will be powered by a Rotax 912/914 series piston engine, although provision has been made for larger engines to be incorporated into the initial design, should the company wish to grow the aircraft.

Built from carbon and glass fibre, the MVP has a targeted useful load of around 205kg (450lb). It will feature foldable wings, sliding windows that can be opened during flight, an emergency airframe parachute system and a unique deck-like platform that pilots can use to cast for fish, pitch a tent or erect a hammock – for example.

The aircraft will be manufactured in the USA by Washington-based Glasair Aviation – which is also building the prototype – and Fibercraft of Florida. MVP Aero has also signed an agreement with Zhuhai-based Hanxing General Aviation to produce the aircraft for the Chinese market, when demand is strong enough.

“The MVP has caught the imagination of so many people here,” says Lynds. “Now the airspace is beginning to open up we expect to capture a large share of the recreational aircraft market.”

MVP Aero is keen to stress that it will not be overzealous about future production rates.

“We don’t want to become overextended,” says Lynds. “Our plan is to deliver only a few aircraft a month, [increasing] to dozens a month when the market requires.”

The aircraft is targeted at existing pilots and also at customers who have not flown before. “We want to open up a whole new market with this aircraft,” Lynds says.

He appreciates the MVP’s $189,000 price tag could prove prohibitive for some buyers, so the company is planning to establish a cluster of shared ownership programmes to “significantly” lower the barrier to entry. “We are setting up that part of the business plan now,” says Lynds.

Source: Flight International