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andyb

Negative Review - CTLS Comparison to Tencam

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I've been a CTLSi owner for almost 3 years, having moved from 15 years of flying a Cirrus SR20 and SR22.  I've maintained my membership in the Cirrus owners' group, which has a very active forum and is an overall excellent organization.  Recently someone asked me to update my experience in moving from the Cirrus to the CTLSi, and I wrote a fairly lengthy review, which has been overall positive for me. 

A person responded, who apparently owned a CTLS for two years, then moved to the Tencam 2008, and ultimately to a Cirrus.  He was extremely negative on the CTLS, both in the absolute, as well as in comparison to the Tencam.  While people's bias in favor of the airplanes they own (or owned) isn't unusual in my observation, this one was seemed pretty unobjective and over the top.  While I don't generally get into these debates, I feel a compulsion to address some of the things that were mentioned, as many that I'm aware of aren't factual or are misleading.  However, there were some things that were brought up that I just don't have an experience about, whether the comments were legitimate comments, or whether they were incorrect.  I'd be interested in any input on this from this group.  Here are some of the things that were said:

-Due to the CT's wing being composite and "very stiff," it makes the CT much more susceptible to turbulence than the aluminum winged Tencam.

-The Tencam is overall more stable in cruise flight than the CT.

-The Dynon autopilot is much less robust than what's on the Tencam, and that the Tencam's actuators are twice the size of the Dynon and that the pins are prone to shearing.

-The Tencam is better in crosswind landings, and that there have been many instances of the CT's flipping on landing.

-The Tencam is "built way better" than the CT.

-The Garmin 3x is superior to the Dynon.

-One question I have, although it wasn't brought up, is about the payload with constant fuel (i.e.25 gallons) on the CT versus Tencam, when the Tencam is equipped with the BRS.

There were other criticisms as well, although on those I feel like I'm in a pretty good position to address them.  But, I would appreciate it if any of you have information on this, as I'd like to write a hopefully measured, objective response.

Thanks much,

Andy

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i have no direct experience with Tecnams and have heard generally good things about them, and others on this forum are more knowledgeable than me, but I will make a few points.

I'm calling BS on the idea that composite wings means more turbulence sensitivity.  Stiffness is an engineered result of many factors, including materials, but also geometry.  If the Tecnam is less susceptible to turbulence it is because of overall design tradeoffs, not simply material choice.  Other design tradeoffs are fatigue life, for which aluminum has a definite limit, unlike composite; weight; flexibility of form; and of course wing loading.

Same goes for "better in crosswind landings".  If so, there are tradeoffs.  And I did a lot of searches of the NTSB database before buying my CTSW, and almost all the flips I saw for the CT had to do with hitting something, or "pilot error" landing mishaps.  At least, not more than the others I searched.

I have the less sophisticated Dynon D100 and D120 (compared to the Skyviews or Garmin 3x), and love them.  Cheaper, and so far very reliable.

One article I read prior to purchasing my CT is below.  It compares not against the 2008, but the Sierra (and Evektor).  Still, the conclusion is that the overall preference was the CT, FWIW.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/flight-test-fly-off-evektor-sportstar-flight-design-ct-tecnam-sierra-sporting-heroes-200294/

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Having worked on tecnams, I dispute them being "built way better", if you are referring to build quality. I would say the two are on par, minus electrical (flight design's isn't good, but I haven't dug enough into tecnams to compare). Don't have enough experience to comment on engineering design. I really don't think this reviewer is qualified to make any statement like this without defining their metrics better.

 

Stability: definitely heard a lot in tecnam's favor on this for stability.

As a result of stability though, they are not as maneuverable, if you want such an airplane. Stability strongly correlates with decreased maneuverability, and in many cases are directly opposed to each other. I like the maneuverability personally, and I'm saying that having flown 172's, 182's, 210's, piper warriors, Mooneys, sportcruiser, piper tomawhawk, things like that.

Turbulence is most affected by wingspan and wing area. I highly, highly doubt that tecnam's aircraft use flexible enough wings to make any real difference here. If they did, you'll be replacing your wings far sooner than you would in any flight design due to fatigue.

 

Autopilot: Are you SURE this is a dynon autopilot? TruTrak systems have been in CTs for a long time. Not sure if they switched to dynons in the later models. If you don't control the autopilot from the EFIS, it's not a dynon unit!

 

Landing: Tecnams have the advantage here for ease of landing. I know of no flight design that has flipped over on a runway that wasn't pilot caused. Nor any other model for that matter. But for all that said, easier landings may lead to lower flip instances, so I'll give a cautious nod to tecnam on this.

Additional counterpoint though: I know, on older tecnams at least, the gear was more fragile. Flight design did a big move forward when they switched to the composite gear, they were better able to withstand drop testing a hell of a lot better than the old SWs. Don't have a good way to compare Flight Design to Tecnam on this point.

 

Garmin vs dynon: unknown, haven't compared them. But, Garmin probably IS superior, there really isn't a manufacturer that does it better in the certified world either. However: I HATE them for how proprietary they like to be. Garmin does a lot of vendor lock in crap.

There's not a lot of alternative protocols out there that aren't cost prohibitive to implement. ARINC 429 is extremely powerful, but also $$$$$$$$$$$$. There is the GAMA subset for ARINC 429 that you can download the documentation for, but I think it still requires licensing. NMEA is pretty much use for low end equipment, but it's very limited in what it can do. Garmin has the Aviation Format, but it also is a closed standard just like ARINC 429.

 

I am highly critical about the review being "objective", especially since they settled on a Cirrus. Their mission, to me, is very different than what they thought they were looking for initially, and so I believe they are being overly critical, especially since some items you listed are subjective in nature (stability), or haven't had the chance to appreciate other qualities (maneuverability). Cirrus are very heavy (harder for turbulence to affect) and designed to be as cushy as possible. A Cirrus is a Cadillac, a CT is a Miata. I'm curious how he would feel about a Cirrus vs an Extra 300.

The thing I find about Cirrus pilots, is the airplane spoils them. And I don't actually mean that negatively no matter how that sounds. It's that they found the airplane that fits their mission. It fits their mission so well, that there really isn't another airplane that they like. That's what I mean by spoils. These are people who want to get to their destination as comfortable and fast as possible, two things a Cirrus does well.

There are people who went from a Cirrus to other airplanes as well and said it's the best choice they ever made. Be it expense, or be it that they were looking for a different experience, this all still comes down to the mission, which will dramatically change how you view things.

So all that said, I say that's fine, people can dislike the CTs. Nothing wrong with that. I just am a little bothered by this supposedly objective view when some of it is based on subjective ideas.

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Remember this is just one guy's personal opinion and not any scientific analysis between the two. 

 

Just like Chevy and Ford's. You may like one, but not the other, but they both get you there.

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I got my ticket in a P92 Echo Super, which was an older version of the P2008.  It's a great little airplane, but it's not perfect...

Tecnam Pros vs CT:

1) Stable - It's true, it doesn't bounce around as much.  However, I never got the opportunity to fly in the Tecnam in significant turbulence.

2) Easy to land - It's like landing a 172, very easy.

3)  Control harmony is better in the Tecnam, IMO.

 

Tecnam Cons vs. CT:

1) Less "sporty".  Maneuverability  is not as good.

2) Slower.  P92 cruised about 105kt, and could be pushed up to 112kt or so.  My CT with non-tundra wheels easily cruises 120kt, can cruise 125kt+ if I accept the fuel burn.

3) Heavier.  At 1320lb weight, the Tecnam had about 540lb load, my CT at the same weight has 585lb.  New models of both are less than 500lb.

4) Space.  The CT has a bigger cockpit, and the baggage capacity is higher.

Items that are a wash:

1) Build quality.  One is metal and the other is composite, so they are just different, but overall quality is similar.

2) Range.  The CT can go farther *technically* by 100-150nm or so, but both are capable of bladder-busting legs so practical range is similar.

 

They are both great airplanes with excellent operational histories, so arguing over which is best is nothing more than a "Ford vs. Chevy" argument.  The CT *is* harder to land, and that might turn folks off if they don't put the time in to really learn the airplane.

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A poor mechanic blames his tools. That said, every plane that I have been associated with has it's own characteristics and all were always bad mouthed in some form or another by opinionated people who were not skilled enough to know while at the same time were praised by others. So it goes!!

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As an update, I decided not to get into a controversial back-and-forth on the Cirrus web site, so I've just let it go.

As a point of information, the Tecnam with BRS and Garmin now comes in at 900-905 pounds.  It sounds like a terrific plane, but with me (200 pounds) and a passenger (180 pounds), I could legally carry about 5 gallons of fuel, so with VFR reserves could legally fly about 30 minutes, theoretically.

I realize than on the Tecnam, and the CT for that matter, the planes apparently have the capacity to perform adequately at over 1320 pounds.

Andy

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IMO, I’ve found the CTSW, CTLS and Remos to be squirrelly, as LSA’s go. I’ve enjoyed the handling qualities of the Sky Arrow, RV-12, and most of all the Sling2. I found the latter three handle more like the certified planes I’ve flown and owned. 

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3 hours ago, SlingPilot said:

IMO, I’ve found the CTSW, CTLS and Remos to be squirrelly, as LSA’s go. I’ve enjoyed the handling qualities of the Sky Arrow, RV-12, and most of all the Sling2. I found the latter three handle more like the certified planes I’ve flown and owned. 

That's fair.  I enjoy my CTSW for its squirrelly qualities.  Its not like it doesn't trim out and cruise from A to B for hours on end hands off.  The difference is when I maneuver I have far more maneuverability and for me that's both fun and useful.

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The CT (SW at least) doesn't really like to fly completely "hands off".  It has to be really calm air for you to be able to do that (without cheating with the AP!).  The Tecnam I flew was more stable, it was easier to fly hands off.  I assume a lot of that is in how the control surfaces are (or aren't) damped to resist deflecting forces and how well they return after a disruption. 

I don't mind the CT's handling qualities, since I'm very used to them, and I can always use the AP if I want the airplane to fly itself.  But my first flight in the CT was an eye opener, and to the novice it feels like it needs a more moment-to-moment attention than some other airplanes.  And the pilot needs better rudder control, too.  However, I believe the reward is that when getting into something else, it will feel easier by comparison.  The CT makes very good light airplane pilots.    

 

 

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1 hour ago, FlyingMonkey said:

The CT (SW at least) doesn't really like to fly completely "hands off". 

I do well flying hands off without the AP even in turbulence.  3-axis SW Trimming is an artform.    

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