LH Aviation is gearing up for first deliveries this October of one of the quirkiest-looking light aircraft in the flying display at this year's show.
Do not be deceived by its back-to-front appearance. The all-carbon, two-pilot, piston single-pusher LH-10 may have the ability to turn heads, but it is also a simple-to-fly, highly fuel efficient and practical aircraft for a variety of roles, from territorial surveillance to pilot training to leisure flying, according to the Paris-based company's sales manager Jean-Charles Devynck.
This is reflected in the LH-10's 38-strong orderbook that includes private customers in France and the UK - where the aircraft made its air show debut at Farnborough last year - a government operator in an unnamed African country and a buyer in Iran, where LH Aviation has a distributor.
"We wanted to change the mentality of flying," says Devynck of design of the Rotax 912-powered aircraft, that began life in 2004. Single-pusher concepts have always had a problem with the location of the engine and aerodynamics, he says. But LH Aviation has resolved this with a "tandem", dual-control cockpit where the second pilot sits behind the first - fighter aircraft style - and the powerplant is behind the pilots, connected to the four-blade Helix propeller by a carbonfibre driveshaft.
"The carbon driveshaft is more resistant and the aerodynamic design makes it extremely efficient to operate," says Devynck. "With no engine at the front, there is nothing to compromise the shape of the aircraft."
The LH-10 sells for between €90,000 ($120,000) and €120,000, depending on on-board equipment, and Devynck says government delegations are among the visitors to LH Aviation's display this week. "One of its benefits is that countries that do not have the budget or pilots to fly complex aircraft can operate the LH-10 efficiently and easily," he says. The aircraft can fly 1,480km (800nm) - the equivalent of Paris to Rome - with two pilots in 3.5h.
LH Aviation has built three examples of the LH-10 at its factory at Melun Villaroche airport, south-east of the French capital. But from October, Devynck says the company will then have 50 employees and will produce two a month.
The company plans to break into the North American market and will launch its attempt with a presence at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh next year. "Eventually we would hope to open a factory there," says Devynck.
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Source: Flight Daily News