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CTSW, what to look out for during inspection? plus other questions


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After some more research, I decided that pursuing a used CTSW is worth looking into. 
When inspecting a prospective CTSW, are there any model specific things to look out for? 

I read on here to look out for early model landing gear problems?  the gear can be weak/cracked? how does this look? how to spot this?
How to check for "over pitched" rotax engine casing problems? (smiley face?) any photos available of the damage to look out for? 

How about damage history?  if a CTSW had damage history, being flipped over on landing, then repaired by a repair facility, then flown for 10 years, what to look out for when looking at it? 
How does damage history affect aircraft value?  
Are there any long term negative effects to CarbonFiber/Fiberglass repair? assuming it was repaired correctly?   does repair add unwanted weight? 

Next, the proverbial "low time" aircraft...   
Lets say a 14 year old CTSW has 200 hours on it?   multiple owners?  is this just a bad lemon?   no one seems to want to fly it?   what to check on an airplane like this to make sure that its not going to turn into a nightmare after purchase? 

Equipment level,
Is there any advantage of a "bare bones" CTSW vs a Loaded one?  I would imagine weight goes up with options, a full glass panel is nice (especially an engine management system), brakes, optional seats etc etc...  I do admit a nice glass panel is attractive...  auto pilot worth having? 

Any ideas and input is welcome!

Thank you!

Easy Flyer

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I should add that I do understand the value of a good pre-purchase inspection, and intend on hiring a local shop to do one for me, or having someone travel with me to take a look at prospective aircraft. 

However, before doing that, I would conduct my own inspection of the aircraft, to determine if the aircraft is worth making an offer on, and I would like to feel reasonably comfortable at being able to form an educated opinion on an airplane, then moving onto the purchase/pre-purchase inspection part of it.  
I don't want to waste thousands of dollars travelling to go see an airplane, hiring a shop and or inspection, only to walk away empty handed. 
Due to the rarity of FD aircraft in Canada, and engine shops with Rotax experience, I believe I will be heavily relying on my own inspection and opinion of an aircraft.

I have looked at several other aircraft already (I've been looking for about 1/2 a year now), and none have even been worth putting in an offer. 
This has been deeply disappointing, and a big reason why I decided to look at factory built aircraft.... but I am not deterred.

On a related note, during a test-flight, what to look out for?  specifically on a CTSW and in general? 

Easy Flyer

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I scoffed a bit about the autopilot when I first discovered the CT. Now I absolutely love it. It’s nice to be able to do inflight planning using ForeFlight on very long cross country trips.

I made it back from Seattle to NY in a day and a half, and this just wouldn’t have been possible if I were hand flying the entire time. 

Damage history, if properly fixed is usually a landing gear replacement or firewall repair after a hard landing. Mine had that in thenlogbook and it hasn’t been an issue for me or the previous owner. 

Take a look at how high off the ground each Wong is to see if a gear leg is bent. I measure this with my forehead. (Super precise, I know.)

take into account when the next hose replacement will be, and plan $3000 or so for that. It’s needed every 5 years. 

If also want to know where it had it’s maintenance done. Lockwood or Flight Design USA or Roger Lee? If so, you know it’s a good airplane. 

I actually prefer the round dial cockpit, but that’s a preference thing. 

The CTsw is such a great value, you can’t go too wrong. Have fun and let us know when you’ve picked one up!


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I just went through this a few months ago when I bought a 2007 SW. Start with the logbooks. Ask if you can make copies of the logbooks so you can study them. I did it with my cell phone, it took less than 30 minutes. If you are a long way away ask if the owner will do it and email you or post it to dropbox or equivalent. Take your time and study the logbooks, where has the airplane been, who worked on it, were all the service bulletins done, how many hours was it flown each year, were there any major repairs, if it had 100 hour inspections was it used for instruction or rental, are logbook entries detailed or just what was required, and so on. 

You can look up Service Documents for the airframe here:


and for the engine here:


The SW will have the 912 ULS

As mentioned, look for the 5 year hose replacement, also the parachute needs repacked every 6 years and the rocket every 12 years could be a couple grand when done together, the gearbox needs removed and inspected periodically 800 hours I think, there should be a few entries for carb synchronization and probably a carb overhaul or two,  and the gearbox torque should have been checked a few times and oil tank cleaned every year or so, more frequently if 100LL was used. If they used 100LL oil changes should be more frequent, as is cleaning the oil tank. 

Watch this video and then part two when it is done, best 90 minutes you can spend to learn a little about Rotax 4 stroke engines. 

Personally, I like the glass cockpit and the autopilot. Back in the day, that kind of capability would have cost you more than a used airplane was worth. You could certainly expect to pay less for something with steam gauges, or something that has been sitting outside a long time, or something with sketchy records, or high time, or indication it has been sitting idle a long time. You can PM me if you have specific questions.  

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I understand that the early SW's had the same tail as the 2K. Not complaining about either but crosswind capability is lots better with the later tail, I think it changed in 2005. Also the later build all had the heavy duty undercarriage but is easy to upgrade on an early model. 

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Hi all. 

Can I jump on this thread, rather than start my own (which would have very similar questions!)?

I'm very close to purchasing a 2006 CTSW, It's a nice spec, D180 panel etc. 

How do I identify the latter tail? (Is it the full width trim tab?)

On this particular CT the lower fin (the bit below the tail) has a strange "bumpy" finish, rather like magnified orange peel. Is this common or an indicator of a repair?

Also the instrument panel is rounded at the top - from the pictures I've seen I was expecting a more square 3 panel arrangement. Is this just an earlier layout?



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Thank you very much for the thorough replies, much appreciated!

I have several possible CT's on the horizon, all are quite far away, but if possible, I will try to find an owner close by (south-western ontario) to take a look and get familiar with the CTSW.

A few more questions:
I always hear to be wary of low time airplanes, I've been told to "stay away" but no one has really ever said as to "why"  what could be the problems? what to look out for? 
Two SW's I'm interested in are very low time, there is no question or investigation required to know that they sat for years at a time....  so now what?  are they junk?  (if a car sat that long it would be literally a pile of rusted scrap with a long list of expensive issues, but a car is planned to fail [planned obsolescence] and ironically far more complicated than these planes) 
One aircraft for example 200hrs on the logs in 14 years and 3 owners... 
Another 300+hrs but literally no flights for a decade and is currently not airworthy....   
Yet another 800hrs in 13 years (at least it was used) it also has pretty serious damage history (flipped over pretty hard, apparently properly repaired) 
Assuming all were hangered, are they worth pursuing?  

It is also entirely possible the owner/sellers are on this forum and may be reading this post, and I'm ok with this, I am a complete newbie when it comes to aircraft ownership and I am working with a limited budget/resources.  I can't afford to buy an airplane and have it tied up due to unforeseen issues (something like this could take me years to resolve) 
I want to learn, I want to own my own little airplane to enjoy it for many years to come, and I hope the CTSW is the way to do this :)

How about actual maintenance and work done itself, 
Is owner maintenance ok?  (In Canada, even the annual inspection can be done by the owner) or is it far better to see (in the logs) an actual shop doing the work? 

Mikey70, thank you very much for posting the video links, I watched both, time very well spent, and I will be digging into the service documents soon.

KentWien, good info about looking at the landing gear when I see the airplanes in person.  The $3k for the hose replacement, is that including labor? or is this parts only? I have been wrenching on machines for decades and I believe I would be competent enough to do the work myself (and willing to ask for help or guidance) 

Even, more questions:
What were the major differences between the 2005 and 2006 CTSW?  I understand these were transitional years, there were some changes to the rotax engine, the dash and perhaps tail? 
What is this landing gear upgrade on the later models?  how to spot the upgraded gear? and what year did this occur? 
Last, but not least, I've read on here that there were some braking issues with the early ('05? '06?) model years?  something regarding the original brakes being too weak? or fading too quickly? 

Is it insane to ask so many questions all at once? 

Easy Flyer

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Your typical non Rotax airplane engine tends to rust internally when they sit idle for long periods of time. The Rotax engine does not have steel cylinders, so no rust in the cylinders. The oil vent is in the oil tank, so you have a oil barrier for moisture in the crankcase. In my opinion you will not have the issues with a Rotax engine that has sat like you will with a Lycoming or Continental.

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I think you pretty much nailed it on the head Tom, I am very pro-Rotax for that very reason, plus it seems to be a fairly modern engine (relatively speaking, also a familiar design as I've been into motorcycling/small engines for decades, and have an engineering background) 

I have been fortunate enough to take a very close look at several engines, 0290, 0320, 912uls and 914.  
The 0290 & 0320 I got to borescope, compression test, poke and prod for a long while and I can see lots of potential for corrosion and what leaded fuel does to cylinder heads, pistons and valves.  I would LOVE to get to poke and prod a Rotax, but from the above posted seminars and other online resources it seems they are naturally more corrosion resistant due to their metallurgy alone (if nothing else) 

Easy Flyer


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You may want to consider the Rotax 15 year TBO. There are two contradictory Letters from the FAA on the subject, because Flight Design defers to Rotax manuals on these time limiting issues. That was my take away on the subject. Hopefully I am wrong.

They are a very good engine and super efficient.

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Easy Flier,   Just my opinion but a car sitting for years outside would be a different proposition to one sitting inside a garage, also carbon fibre doesn't rust.

Damage history may well be ok if repaired properly and documented.

These aircraft are fairly easy to work on and so owner maintenance should be ok if you know what you are doing.

I would be more interested reading the logs about details of work done more so than who did what. Eg. a shop that puts down a one liner "carried out annual service" means little other than that they are either lazy or didn't do the work properly or didn't know what they were doing or didn't even have the manuals. An owner that puts all the details down has probably actually done the work and also cares about it.

The later tail has the vertical fin starts further forward so is longer and is also fatter so directs more air over the rudder. The rudder is the same.

The instrument panel was standard as two panel and had optional three panel.

Some of the earlier engines had a crankcase cracking problem especially if the prop was out of balance or overpitched.

The gear legs fit the mounting sockets but the heavy duty legs are thicker down from the mounting point.

Brakes may be not all that bad either way but the earlier wheels were not as good.


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My hose replacement parts not including carbs was $750 from CPS. Roger can do a complete carb rebuild for $400. 

I’ve  had the machine for a little over two years and have put 200 hours on her. She now shows over 800 with very tiny problems so far. The build quality is amazing. 

I love my 2007! 

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I have read about the 15 year TBO for the rotax engine, it seems continental and lycoming also have similar time limits (depending on which agency you ask) however after that time period expires, the engines can continue on condition.  I have not come across a single instance of someone overhauling these engines only due to years.  
But having said that, time is a factor, and as mentioned before with the car sitting in garage or outside example time can affect certain components (rubber/synthetic materials for example) and replacing such parts or overhauling carbs is a good idea.

There is a lot of good wisdom and a consensus among owners that a detailed log is preferable to a one liner.  I do watch for this in the logs.  I have seen owners put in fairly detailed descriptions of what was done, and I have seen some horrible gaps in the logs.  One RV6 owner had a 6 year gap in the technical log, but the journey log had some mention of annual inspections done.  That particular airplane was about the worst example of owner negligence I have ever seen.... engine way over TBO, technically operated "on condition" .... no condition inspection of any kind was ever done... for years...... the airplane had a long list of negligence items.... no elt checks, no magneto checks, no oil/filter analysis, no oil screen checks, no bore-scopes done, panel replacement with no weight-and-balance done, non functional strobes.... and it was occasionally flown, with photos of passengers carried..... they claimed "I am a safe pilot"  truly delusional.......  scary stuff.....  needless to say I walked away.....   disappointing too as I would love to find a good RV6.

ct9000, thank you for the tail changes description.  I looked at some photos of '05 and '06 CTSW's and I can now clearly see the tail updates, its subtle at first, but clear when you know what you're looking for.  
This crank case cracking problem I've read on here about, is this something that is a fatal flaw?  ie could cause catastrophic engine failure in flight if its not caught?  or is it more of a nuisance oil weeping problem?  if one saw this, does the engine need immediate overhaul/replacement? 

Buckaroo, what are some of the problems your '07 CTSW have after 800 hrs?  one of the Planes I'm looking at is right around the same hour mark.

Thank you all for the info!  Please keep it coming!

Easy Flyer

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I have a very slight oil weeping situation on the right rear valve cover. I changed the gasket but it still gets a little wet on the bottom of the cover. Roger said some do this and it’s almost to be expected. Had to replace a leaky gascolator. Had a frozen magnetic inspection torx bolt. Got it out and replaced with new design bolt head one at $60. Had an air intake small hose crack at the carb fitting causing high EGT readings. Tom or Roger diagnosed that. Had a rumble engine at mid rpm turned out to be dirt in the idle jet again diagnosed by this great forum. Couldn’t figure out how to mount the very thick monster tires and forum members advised me to C Clamp the crap out of them to squeeze them to fit on wheel. Had a poor start situation even tho she’d turn over and Roger told me to get a new battery which cured that. 

Thats about it! 

You will want flying techniques best provided by members of this forum! The bird is simple to fly but can be tricky to fly right! 

Mask me questions any time! 

Enjoy this fine airplane you won’t regret choosing the FD!


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