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Flight Design CT(SW) Future in Canada? & Other questions


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I have been searching for a low maintenance economical yet fun to fly aircraft and came across the CTSW.  The SW seems to tick most of the mission profile boxes for me, and has a few features I had not thought about before but find would be most welcome.
My mission profile is:
Fun local and cross country flying for myself, and possibly an occasional passenger  (check)
Can carry two full sized adults comfortably for at least short flights (check)
Economical to fly (I like the idea of Rotax 912 engines)  (check)
Low maintenance (check)
Possibility of mild aerobatics (nope)
Short field, grass field capability (check)
Runs on mogas (check)
BRS system (bonus!)
Composite construction (bonus!)
Relatively affordable (although at the very max end of the scale for me)
Nice panels (bonus!)

and the list goes on.

Now for my questions.
What future does the CTSW (or any CT really) have in Canada? 
The reason I ask is, AFAIK they are all registered as Advanced Ultralights, which is a unique certification in Canada, and with out getting too deep into it, if Flight Design goes under (like they almost did in 2016?) all Canadian CT aircraft will lose their flying privileges?  effectively becoming very expensive paper weights to be parted out or exported elsewhere?  This has me very concerned....

I just learned of this strange limitation a few days ago, and am in the early stages of looking at a few CTSW airplanes (there are two I am planning on going to see in the new year) but this has halted me dead in my tracks....  I was originally looking at Amateur built aircraft (known as experimentals in the USA or "homebuilts") but having looked at 5 different RV's (4's and 6's) their build quality and condition has left much to be desired, which brought be to factory build aircraft...

To any Canadian CT owners, are you concerned with the long term viability of these aircraft in Canada? 
Or is this not a concern to most, as they would just buy, own for a few years and sell? 

Now this is not a Flight Design issue, any advanced ultralight in Canada can face this future, and the Transport Canada list of approved ultra light aircraft has several manufacturers listed which no longer are issuing certificates and are out of business, is the Advanced Ultralight category even worth looking into?  or should I stick with Amateur built aircraft? 

Any thoughts and ideas welcome!

Easy Flyer



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Most of us are in the US and are ignorant of Canadian regulations.  Are you saying that the Advanced Ultralight category in Canada has a provision that states that an aircraft cannot be flown if factory support is not available?  That's bizarre.  What about the Cessna 162?  Since Textron/Cessna has essentially ceased support for that airplane, can it still be flown in Canada?  What about other airplanes?  If Cirrus goes Tango Uniform, can you no longer fly a SR22 in Canada?

The good news is FD is under new, apparently more competent management, and seems to be mostly out of the woods financially.  If they can get the C4 project back on track, they will be future proofing themselves from changes in regulations like LSA rules changes and BasicMed here in the US.  Also, FD USA is essentially a separate company from FD Europe, so even if the primary German company goes under, there will probably still be some level of factory support from FD USA.  In fact, even when the main FD Europe operation was effectively shuttered, FD USA continued to provide excellent support and parts sales.

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This is something that I came across in my research into the Advanced Ultralight category in Canada (after coming across the CTSW and really liking the aircraft on paper)
AULA has a unique position in Canada, that comes with some advantages and limitations.
(AULA = Advanced Ultra-Light Aircraft)

Any AULA in Canada does not have a certificate of airworthiness, it operates under a owner & factory relationship where all the maintenance (including annual inspection) is done according to factory specification and timing, but is performed by and is the responsibility of the owner (the owner can hire a shop to do the work, but the owner is ultimately responsible for the maintenance and keeping the aircraft conforming with manufacturer design and specification)

The owner cannot change or modify the aircraft with out written approval from the factory/manufacturer, and the manufacturer has to approve the modification and register with Transport Canada.

The manufacturer also registers the current owner of the aircraft and maintains communication with the owner over the lifetime of the aircraft, regarding any updates, mandatory actions (like an air directive AD for certified aircraft, and is mandatory) and any other issues that may arise with the particular aircraft design and how they're resolved.
Now you can see where this is headed. 

If a AULA manufacturer goes Tango Uniform, they are no longer maintaining their end of the relationship, and the subsequent aircraft cannot fulfill its registry requirements (being maintained to factory specifications and updated,  Mandatory Actions (AD's) issued as needed etc) hence it loses its  registration in Canada, and cannot be flown legally.

There is the possibility of re-registering the aircraft as a Basic Ultralight (if the aircraft is on the list of eligible basic ultra-light aircraft in Canada), and even then you lose the ability to carry any passengers, must wear a helmet (not kidding) lose max gross weight rating (its down to 1200lbs max) the aircraft cannot be used for training/hire, cannot fly in controlled airspace and a few other things.......

So the advantages of an AULA:
Aircraft can be factory built, is mandatory to be maintained to factory specifications and has an equivalent of AD's as needed, and all of its maintenance including annual inspections are performed and are the responsibility of the owner.
No Night flight, can carry only one passenger, cannot be flown in Class-A airspace, and the big one, if the factory goes Tango Alpha, wham! expensive paper-weight!

Other aircraft, Cirrus, anything outside of the Advanced ultralight category has a Canadian Certificate of Airworthiness, and even with out manufacturer support, can be maintained and updated as needed (as regulation & compliance at this point is the responsibility of Transport Canada?) 


I'm not sure I should go and see these CTSW's for sale, as I may fall in love and be even more torn than I am now...


Easy Flyer


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1 hour ago, EasyFlyer said:


If a AULA manufacturer goes Tango Uniform, they are no longer maintaining their end of the relationship, and the subsequent aircraft cannot fulfill its registry requirements (being maintained to factory specifications and updated,  Mandatory Actions (AD's) issued as needed etc) hence it loses its  registration in Canada, and cannot be flown legally.

Can't the owner simply continue flying the airplane, based on previously published guidance from the manufacturer (maintenance manuals, service bulletins, equipment authorizations, etc), as long as the owner doesn't change anything or install new equipment not previously approved?

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I am not an expert on this, I'm just reading the Transport Canada site and COPA guides on this,
But, it appears that in the event of a AULA manufacturer seizing operations, the factory end of things, parts supply and future Mandatory Actions (Air Directives) would no longer be available (and possible future issues with the design would not be addressed by the manufacturer), and since Transport Canada has nothing to do with this part of the AULA air worthiness and would not be able or willing to step in, the abandoned AULA would no longer fit into this rigid AULA classification, and loses its registration, and legal ability to fly. 

So the issue is with future support (factory, not after-market parts, and AD's) from the manufacturer being absent, not with the owner's ability to continue maintaining as per manual (up until no more factory parts are available, since aftermarket substitutes are only allowed as a modification,  sort of like STC's? and you need factory approval to do this) 

Its a strange area of the AULA category, and seems overly rigid/vague?, just like the part that states that the "owner/person" is the one that must sign-off on annual inspections and maintenance performed, what happens if the aircraft is a multiple owner aircraft?   or if a company/entity owns the aircraft, who legally signs off then?  
It seems the AULA category was specifically designed for a specific set of requirements, specific aircraft, and off-loaded some of the Transport Canada responsibility onto the manufacturer and owner, thus allowing greater freedom in some areas, and added some limitations as well. 

Again, I am no expert, I'm researching this part of Canadian air regulations.
I am just a pilot trying to get back into flying after a decade away, and I'm hoping to find a good easy to maintain and fun aircraft to own.  
Originally I was drawn in to the AULA category due to being able to do all the work on the aircraft myself, (like an experimental/home-built) yet still owning a factory-built, high quality well designed aircraft.

Maybe in the future, some of these things will change, but who knows...  Transport Canada has plenty of warnings regarding all these issues on their site, they state to make sure you know that you know what you're getting into with an AULA or BULA (make sure they fit your mission etc)

I don't have the time to build my own aircraft (maybe when I retire, but thats a long ways away) so buying something now is my best option. 
After having looked at several home-built aircraft, I have been turned off those aircraft (maybe things will improve in the spring as hopefully quality aircraft come onto the market?)

I have looked into the Pipistrel Virus, which does have the option of being amateur built (the only one for sale I see is $195k), and avoids the whole AULA set of limitations, but as stated above, I don't have the time to build or the resources to buy a new/used Virus (a new CTLS is $250k here, plus the whole AULA thing),
I'm looking for a "previously-enjoyed" aircraft that I can afford and fly now and for the foreseeable future.

So again, not sure what to do....
Any Canadian CT owners care to chime in with their perspectives? 


Easy Flyer

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I'm quite new to this side of aircraft ownership (research phase) having only rented 172's in the past. 
It seems, that this whole AULA thing is the elephant in the room in Canada? 

Or am I being overly cautious?  
It would just suck if I spent a large chunk of money on an plane, love the thing, then years down the road to have the factory close down and I'm stuck parting the thing out or exporting it? 

Or am I seeing the whole thing wrong? 

Easy Flyer

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I am reading my info directly from Transport Canada's web site, 

Direct from their site:


A number of owners of advanced ultra-light aeroplanes have found themselves seriously disadvantaged when the manufacturer ceased to exist. These owners often face the cancellation of the Certificates of Registration for their aircraft because the aircraft can no longer meet the requirements of an advanced ultra-light aeroplane. Such aircraft may be eligible to be a basic ultra-light aeroplane; that option may not serve the owner’s needs, especially if the initial selection of an advanced ultra-light aeroplane was made to provide advantages not offered only by basic ultra-light aeroplanes.

Potential buyers of advanced ultra-light aeroplanes must remember that not only are they relying on the aeroplane itself, but also they are relying heavily on the support that only the manufacturer can provide to them.

Advanced Ultra-Light Aeroplane - Owners' and Operators' Responsibilities

I'm just trying to wrap my head around all this, and decide if a CT is worth pursuing in Canada.
I very much like the CTSW on paper, and it seems to be a great aircraft, I have two that I'm interested in, both are a distance from me and I want to be sure that one is for me before making the trip.

I'm genuinely interested, this would be my first aircraft, and am just doing my due diligence in trying to find out as much as I can before taking the trip and maybe the plunge!

As for the fleet size, this is Canada after all ;)  There are 15 CTSW in the registry, and a whole 2 CTLS

Easy Flyer


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Maybe consider a RV-12? These can be had EAB, E-LSA and S-LSA.

Would one of these categories get you out of the AULA classification?

If you were to go with any of the RV EAB aircraft the trick is using an experienced RV tech inspector. We have one here who is also a DAR. I don't know where you are in Canada but I know he has traveled to Canada for inspections. We all know a good pre-buy is essential for purchase of any aircraft but for EAB you need that plus someone experienced (preferably) with that or similar make/model. You already know that build quality can vary widely.

My 2 cents. Good luck.


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I just bought a new FD... naturally, especially as a business person familiar with bankruptcy, I investigated FD before I put a deposit down and waited for the plane.

First, bankruptcy cleanses companies of debt and obligations giving buyers (in this case the buyer of the FD assets -- and NOT the obligations/debt) a fresh start.  So, that is good for the Buyer of the FD brand/tooling/parts sales to the existing fleet.  One of FD's significant assets is the incredible knowledge-base of design improvements, imagine the amount of capital the previous owners spent to achieve that.  FD is an international brand, not solely relying on North American sales for scale... FD is well diversified that way. 

Second, the new German owner has a good sized, non-aero cash flowing parent behind the FD business.  That's good. 

Finally, my plane was delivered on time and the few squawks were fixed by the USA Dealer cheerfully and immediately.  I can give an A+ reference to the German/USA chain.  In sum, I took the plunge and the water is fine.  

If the SW fits your mission profile and the one thing on your list is company viability, then with all due respect half the ("viable") GA airplane makers out there are probably just about making their owners/investors a living wage.  It is a capital intensive business requiring constant investment.  Company liquidity (meaning, selling the company for a significant profit) is very difficult to achieve.  Investors aren't beating the bushes seeking GA aircraft makers.  The great China GA shopping spree (Mooney, Continental, Enstrom, Cirrus, Searey) is probably over and that was a lucky geo-cyclical happening for those lucky owner/sellers.

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Hello Easy Flyer,

I’m in the canadian ultralight ‘business’ since it started in 1983 and registered the very first Advanced Ultralight [AULA] in 1990. I wouldn’t be too concerned about a factory going belly up. Any registered AULA was first registered with a maintenance manual, ,,,,,as long as the plane ,is maintained according to that manual [ even if the mfg is gone] , the plane is still an AULA. Most of the maintenance and ADs come from the engine mfg [Rotax] ..so no problem there  as for ADs for airframe....if the Mfg don’t issue them anymore, well ,you have nothing to comply with..:easy.. But in the case of a Flight Design model, if [ever] , the Mfg goes out, there are so many of them worldwhile and specially in our south neighbourg market , there WILL BE support ..... 

An AULA is an airplane built and maintained according to the Design Standards DS10441, and as long as it it maintained according to the Mfg(s) (airframe / engine ), it all fine. BUT, many are not,,,, and are still AULA ....on paper.

In fact, some never were,,,but were declared conformed by the Mfg at the beginning. [ only a Declaration of Compliance is summitted by the Mfg....that ‘s all that Transport Canada needs to put them on the “ List of approved ...models

I’m sending you a private message......


by the way, there are 18 SW  and 3 LS....a few ‘import’ in 2018  while there are some ‘local’ available [???]


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I originally was looking at the RV series (-4 & -6 actually) but any Vans RV will be in the Amateur Built category and completely avoids the AULA category. 
I completely agree, an experienced person is necessary to help look at an aircraft, and having looked at several RV's in a row, not a single one I would even put an offer in.  I don't think I'm overly picky, but everything I've seen was either insanely overpriced (to the point where I believe the seller was trying to take advantage of a 1st time buyer) or the condition/maintenance of the aircraft left a LOT to be desired.  Maybe this is the nature of the market? 

Thank you for your input.  I do think that FD will most likely continue for quite some time, and I'm glad they found a new investor/buyer.  

Its good to get a Canadian's perspective on this, especially once that's been into the AULA for as long as you have. 
I'll reply to your message as soon as I'm done this.

Easy Flyer

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Hi EasyFlyer,

I recently imported my demo CTLS to Canada under the Advanced Ultralight Category and am the new representative for Flight Design north of the border.  I would have not done so if viability of the aircraft was an issue.  

Jacques may be right, but you do have some valid points and there are a few of us in an informal working group aiming to get clarity from Transport Canada for some of the vague issues around this category.

Note that TC doesn't update the public 'Advanced Ultralight' list.  The CTLS did not appear on the public list until relatively recently (the documents were re-submitted with Flight Design USA's help and another gentlemen pushed TC to get the list refreshed).

Enjoy the shopping process and have fun!



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