MELBOURNE, Fla. (January 14, 2013) — What soars like an eagle, has a 36- or 49-foot wingspan and burns less fuel than a motorcycle? It’s the newest aircraft calling Melbourne International Airport home. The Phoenix S-LSA (Special-Light Sport Aircraft) Gilder is manufactured in Czech Republic, tailored to new-owner specifications on the Space Coast and distributed through Phoenix Air USA at the airport.
“This is a uniquely versatile aircraft. Not only does the Phoenix allow for incredibly efficient and affordable flying, on top of that, you can go soaring,” said Jim Lee, owner Phoenix Air USA. “I would say it’s the wave of the future.”
The Phoenix offers the benefits of motorized flight with little compromise to the soaring experience. Its advanced aerodynamic design, adjustable wing span and feathering prop allow for reduced drag and greater lift, making the Phoenix an extremely efficient glider.
Recently, Lee and his wife flew a Phoenix to Maryland from MLB, a distance of more than 700 miles, and burned just 20 gallons of unleaded fuel.
Rand Vollmer, a Tampa-area retired U.S. Army colonel and active light sport aircraft enthusiast, purchased a Phoenix motoglider in 2012 and quickly became enamored with its versatility and handling.
"It’s a beautiful aircraft,” he said. “There’s really nothing quite like it.”
Priced between $149,000 and $172,000, the Phoenix is available exclusively through Phoenix Air USA at Melbourne International Airport, where Lee has operated his business in two leased hangars since 2007. The in-demand aircraft already is backordered by more than a dozen, Lee said.
“It is very positive for another innovative product in a growing niche aviation market to be distributed from right here at our airport,” said Richard Ennis, executive director. “Phoenix Air USA is a great example of the airport’s continued growth as a major aviation manufacturing hub that is reshaping the Space Coast economy.”
The completed Phoenix aircraft, which are built and test flown in the Czech Republic, are shipped then shipped to the United States. The latest aircraft shipment arrived at the airport January 10.
Upon arrival, they are trucked to Sebastian Communications in Merritt Island where an avionics package chosen by the buyer is installed. Sales and final delivery to customers take place at Phoenix Air USA’s hangars at Melbourne International Airport, where a total of 12 aircraft have been delivered in less than two years.
Currently, motorgliders are a part of a small but rapidly growing niche in recreational aviation called Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). This, combined with the growing demand for the Phoenix, makes for a promising future for Phoenix Air USA.
“Although powered gliders have been in existence for 80 years, many were poorly designed and unreliable,” Lee said. “Now the market for smaller, lighter recreational aircraft has opened up with the creation of LSA designation by the FAA in 2004. The industry has grown rapidly with 123 different LSA products now available.”
About Melbourne International Airport
Melbourne International Airport serves east Central Florida, including Brevard and Indian River counties, and is responsible for generating more than $1 billion per year in economic activity. It is among the nation’s fastest-growing aviation manufacturing and maintenance hubs, and is the closest international airport to Port Canaveral, one of the world’s busiest cruise ports. Led by Executive Director Richard A. Ennis and Melbourne Airport Authority Board Chairman Harry Goode, the airport operates three runways, a 200,000-square-foot terminal and offers multiple FBOs. Melbourne International Airport is home to more than 75 tenant businesses including
Northrop Grumman, General Electric, Rockwell Collins, LiveTV, Embraer and Harris Corp. The airport currently serves Delta Air Lines and its affiliates, US Airways and Baer Air.