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Aircraft Review : Flight Design CTLS Project by VSkyLabs

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VSL CTLS_Header.jpg


Aircraft Review : Flight Design CTLS Project by VSkyLabs


This is the next new project released by VSkyLabs and it is a high-wing, tricycle, two seat light sport/ultralight aircraft and part of the Flight Design CT series family of Germany. But to note first the VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed and 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, all updates to the aircraft are free but changes can come infrequently if sometimes slowly.


Basically small ultralights or light sport aircraft are aviation's version of Buzz lightyear's set of wings on your back, the fuselage is there just to carry the wings and put an engine in front of you and in the case of the CTLS that is a Rotax 912ULS (Carburated, 100 rated BHP @ 5800 RPM) engine with a Propeller gear reduction of 2.43:1, the rest is a pure plastic body.


VSL CTLS_Head 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 2.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 3.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 4.jpg


At first glance the tiddler CTLS feel like one of those packaged toys that you get where you click in the wings, click in the elevator, click on the three wheels and finally put the propeller on the nose to create an aircraft, only in full size. The design is very, very simple with an plastic or composite molded fuselage with the wings and appendages fastened together.... or a pure ultralight design. The look and feel is a bit like a large fish, bulging nose, wide centre to a flappy tail.


VSL CTLS_Head 5 LG.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 6.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 7.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 8.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 9.jpg


VSkyLabs detail is very good as their modeling usually is. Plastic composites always come across as plain in simulators, and there are shades of that aspect here, but the modeling's tight lines and curves does eliminate a good part of those areas and making it interesting. Appendages and aerodynamic surfaces are thick, even clunky but perfectly designed here. Tri-cycle gear is all aerodynamic covers and not much in assemblies, but again they are well done. Glass is very realistic and nicely reflective, the doors can't be opened in flight like a lot of these light designs, but the huge panorama windows compensate for that, and again they have been well created. The fixed pitch Neuform CR3-65-47-101.6, 3 blade, composite propeller has also been really well rendered.


VSL CTLS_Head 11.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 10.jpg


Open the quite thick side door and there is the well designed instrument console and to the right the highlight of the aircraft with two very modern design sport seats. Both seats are insanely well created in detail, with the hard shell with the rubber body hugging insert is excellent work, the full detail can be observed by just admiring the sheer detail of the six point harness and straps. Note the nice rubber seals around the doors for quality work.


VSL CTLS_Head 12.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 13.jpg

VSL CTLS_Head 14.jpgVSL CTLS_Head 15.jpg


Rear shelves have areas for bits and pieces with a rubber string restrainers, both wells are well done here but don't expect to get any sized bag in here.


Looking forward the CTLS comes with two instrument panel configurations. One is the standard, basic analog CT VFR + night pack panel (Left) and the other the enhanced panel, which is including the addition of a notebook-based glass PFD (Primary Flight Display) along with a Dynon style AP74 and HS34 avionics package (right). In the review I will use the avionics package version. To change the panel then press the glass PFD (Primary Flight Display) and it changes over to the analog dials.


VSL CTLS_Panel 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Panel 2.jpg


The only difference instrument wise is that the top two instruments in the Airspeed and Altimeter are replaced with an electronic version, lower two instruments are the Artificial Horizon and the Vertical Speed instruments are both represented in either configuration. The overall panel design is very nice, as for the raised chrome nuts that hold the metal panels with the instruments in place is all expertly done with skill, realism 101.


VSL CTLS_Panel 3 LG.jpg


The glass arrangement is simple but highly effective for an aircraft of this class, and it feels right up to date. Centre panel has the default Laminar Research GNS 530 but enclosed in a custom housing, pop-out is standard GNS 530. Lower is the GTX-327 transponder. Right panel is top a large RPM dial and alternator warning light, lower are four engine dials that cover CHT (Cylinder Head Temperature), Voltmeter, Oil Temperature and Oil Pressure and right is a Quartz Hobbs meter. Lower are fifteen circuit breakers, and all are active (to note when starting from cold all breakers are out or off, so you have to click in to use). We will look at the Dynon AP74 and HS34 panels in flight.


VSL CTLS_Panel 4.jpgVSL CTLS_Panel 5.jpg


Centre forward console has the lighting and avionics switchgear top (6 Switches). PS Engineering PM3000 4-Place headset Intercom. Below is the ELT panel.

The red lever to the left is the fuel valve (cutoff) that covers the start-key when in the lower position. Main Battery and Generator switches are set right, and we will look at the flaps in a moment. 


VSL CTLS_Flap 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Panel 6.jpgVSL CTLS_Panel 8.jpgVSL CTLS_Panel 9.jpg


Centre console has left the stabilator (stabiliser) trim wheel, then the choke lever... right are the throttle lever and the brake lever, rear is the brake stop switch. Rear console between the seats are both the Rudder and Aileron trim wheels, and the BRS Ballistic Chute handle.


Flap selections are interesting, there are five selections with Zero as the main position...


VSL CTLS_Panel 7.jpg


dropping flaps are positions 15º, 30º (not shown) and full flap set at 40º...


VSL CTLS_Flap 15.jpgVSL CTLS_Flap 15_2.jpgVSL CTLS_Flap 40_1.jpgVSL CTLS_Flap 40_2.jpgVSL CTLS_Flap -6_1.jpgVSL CTLS_Flap -6_2.jpg


....  the interesting one is a setting in the negative at - 6º or the flap is set upwards, we shall see how this works in flight.


There is the feature of a Avitab screen, stuck on the right side window and it is free and available here: AviTab: VR-compatible tablet  and a Navigraph account is also required for active charts.

This is a nice installation that can be hidden via pressing the suction cup, a lot of these 3d tablets are too large and hard to see around while flying, and if real you would bang your bonce on it if you moved your head around, but this one is about perfect in size and functionality. Window blinds are nice, and the left hand one has the checklist applied on the surface, very nice. The frame mounted compass is nice as well


VSL CTLS_Avitab 1.jpgVSL CTLS_blinds.jpgVSL CTLS_Fuel gauge 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Fuel gauge 2.jpg


If you are aware then you will be wondering in "Where are the fuel gauges?" There are two left and right, both visual and are both set up in the wing roots, top up the tanks to see the volume of 17 US Gal (65 litres) in each wing. Note the "Carbon Monoxide Detector", but personally what could you do if it went into "Danger", jump out? The whole internal cabin comes in this motley composite texture, it looks good... but you feel it is more like your kitchen bench top than a quality internal aircraft design.


As with most of these tiddler aircraft the instrumentation and controls are fairly basic in use and layout, but you get a great balance here.


Flying the CTLS

Is the CTLS difficult to start? no not really. Lots of circuit breakers to click in, main power BAT (another breaker really) Choke to "On", Throttle to 10% and that big red fuel cutoff lever to up...  which exposes the start key and to note the avionics have to be switched off to save power. Then a twist of the key a few times and the Rotex purrs into life. One thing you expect is what you don't get is...  movement?


VSL CTLS_Start 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Start 2.jpg


These Rotexs shake violently, so you need that visual feel, so I grabbed and installed "Headshake" by SimCoders to add in the shake effect, again I wanted more shake even when set with the plugin's full 100% settings, but some movement was better than nothing and gave you at least some vibration. But before you bombard me with emails on instead in using XPRealistic Pro, I will note I won't use the FlyWithLua plugin as it creates too many conflicts with my system.


Another note is that the Experimental Flight Model checkbox on the X-Plane/General menu page has to be selected for this aircraft, a restart is required.


Put the Choke in after about 30sec, but keep the revs up until the aircraft's vitals are showing normal, then turn on and set up the avionics. But before you can leave you have to arm the BRS emergency ballistic chute system by removing the pin, it is stored in the left lower pocket.


VSL CTLS_Start 3.jpgVSL CTLS_Start 4.jpg


Two things to note, you can adjust your horizon pitch target in the Artificial Horizion and set one and it sets in the glass version as well, secondly is that to set the Baro you can to switch over to the analog version to adjust to inHG or use the "Value" knob on the on the glass version via the right side Dynon HS34 panel for hPa.


VSL CTLS_Start 6.jpgVSL CTLS_Start 7.jpg


When warmed up and the throttle at idle you are ready to go, brake safety off and off goes the park brake, the braking has three settings, park and off, but also the standard X-Plane 50% braking action.


VSL CTLS_Start 5 LG.jpg


Sounds are FMOD, and very good, but not highly dynamic in rotation and direction but more than enough for this type of aircraft. Tuning the stabiliser trim needed careful setting to be exact, if not the whale stabiliser will flutter badly, line it up correctly and it will calm it down.


VSL CTLS_taxi 1.jpgVSL CTLS_taxi 2.jpg


VSL CTLS_taxi 3 LG.jpg


Taxiing is very nice with just a slight throttle to get you moving, yes the aircraft needs fine control to taxi, but it is a very short small aircraft and all of these types require that control, ditto going too fast, and if you do there is the feeling you will lose control and flip the aircraft.


VSL CTLS_takeoff 0.jpgVSL CTLS_takeoff 1.jpg


Power up but gradually and even just over 4000 revs is enough however VSkyLabs say 4800 rpm, but that feels too much for me, max I would do would be 4500 rpm...  and almost straight away the nose wheel wants to lift, so for the first few hundred yards you need to keep the stick pressure forward...


VSL CTLS_takeoff 2.jpgVSL CTLS_takeoff 4.jpg


...   VSkyLabs note you can takeoff with the flaps set at 15º for a short almost handglider of a cliff-face lift off, but even the 0º setting will have you off the ground in a very short time at around 60 knts (official 54 knts) so you don't need to do that.


VSL CTLS_takeoff 5.jpgVSL CTLS_takeoff 6.jpg


Climb-out is around 500ft per minute and official max climb is 960 ft/min. Finding the right power position is critical, as too much power will rise the aircraft more and making it harder to trim. Trimming is tricky, even hard to get right because if you use keys (like I do) to trim, you have to hold them down to move the trim wheels, just clicking will not change the trim. So holding hard can make you go too far past your trim position, or the other way in in being too low... you work it out, but finding that sweet spot is kinda hard but doable.


VSL CTLS_takeoff 7.jpgVSL CTLS_takeoff 8.jpg


Once sorted you do have the option of using the flaps now in the -6º position to balance the aircraft better and gain more speed, again it is best to sort this out and manually trim it out before using the autopilot. But the aircraft never seems happy, with constant slight climbs and drops and sometimes as much as 300fpm either way no matter how much you try to flatten out the curve via the stick or manual trim, the CTLS is nice to fly and even very realistic, but not over time and distance a smooth experience.


VSL CTLS_takeoff 9.jpgVSL CTLS_takeoff 10.jpg


The Dynon Avionics autopilot system is very basic, but quite innovative for an aircraft of this category. The AP74 panel has the main engage selector, HDG (Heading), TRK (Track), NAV (Navigation GPS) and (hold) ALT (Altitude), the value knob does not work but is noted as Multi-Purpose)




Left of the glass display is the Dynon HS34 panel that knobs adjusts top Value (Baro), Heading (middle) and Course (Lower) all push to sync. Other selections include NAV-SRC (NAV or GPS), BRG-SRC  (just resets pointer). Like with the manual trim the aircraft's Dynon AP struggles also to keep the climbs and drops under control even in 5 knt wind conditions.


It is a good little system that will take all on all the flying work from you, and with a 850 nautical mile range a requirement, top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph; 124 knts) but you cruise around 112 knts.


Big huge side windows give you a helicopter panorama view...


VSL CTLS_Flying 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 2.jpg


...  and the particle effects are effective on the tinny exhaust. There are no liveries except for the default N5623X


VR (Virtual Reality) is a big feature here with designated zones for interaction and is fully operational with the use of mouse manipulators or VR touch controllers.


Any manoeuvring for the CTLS has to be under 100 knts, and aerobatics are for the insane... The AP won't let you descend even if you disconnect the ALT button, so the only way to lose height is to disconnect the AP completely and then manually adjust the trim. You can come down quite quickly if you want to but be aware of that nose pitch...


VSL CTLS_Flying 3.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 4.jpg


...  you also can turn on a dime, so short approaches are easy to do, but running off the little speed you use anyway can be quite hard.


VSL CTLS_Flying 5.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 6.jpg


The problem is if you lift the nose to slow the aircraft it will then easily gain height, working the throttle helps, but even that action is not always totally effective, dropping the flaps is... but you still have to be well under 80 knts (15º) to do so, so be aware to get your speed down ready for an approach, 35º is 63 knts.


VSL CTLS_Flying 7.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 8.jpg


You will need to have a few practise landings to find that perfect zone of speed and lift, too fast and you pitch the nose too far down, too slow and of course you lose height, so you tend to favour the former and safety. But the tiddler is very responsive to inputs, even to a point a bit nervous...


VSL CTLS_Flying 9 LG.jpg


....  so flying skills are everything here. Final approach is 55 knts and down to 48 knts in flare, and 42 knts is stall, you can land in -6º flap but add on a few more (2-3) knts to the approach speeds.


VSL CTLS_Flying 10.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 11.jpg


Once those wheels contact then active steering control is everything to keep the CTLS straight until the speed rubs off, if not you will end upside down in the grass. So your first circuit in the CTLS will be a bit of a shocker, but after a few takeoffs and landings you will find your groove and understand the aircraft's limitations.


VSL CTLS_Flying 12.jpg


Avitab is very handy (with a Navigraph account) to find your way around airports, then time to put the tiddly machine home to bed, but remember, that before shutting the engine down to switch off the avionics!


VSL CTLS_Flying 13.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 14.jpg


The BRS emergency ballistic chute system works very well, you get thrown around a lot at first, but then gradually descend to the terra firma.


VSL CTLS_Flying 15.jpgVSL CTLS_Flying 16.jpg



Instrument lighting is basic, but adjustable. In fact it is quite good with the limitations. Glass and analog are nice to use and there is one overhead light that is not really very bright, but illuminates the glareshield nicely....


VSL CTLS_Lighting 1.jpgVSL CTLS_Lighting 2.jpgVSL CTLS_Lighting 3.jpgVSL CTLS_Lighting 4.jpg


External is average with non-refined lighting (landing light is very blobby) and this light can then only be switched on and off via the panel switch and not by a key input, which I have set on me throttle system.



You sort of know what sort of aircraft project that comes with a VSkyLabs release. They are well if even extremely well done models with a lot of clever ideas. What you don't have are detailed menus and lots of active features, but this CTLS from Flight Design has more features than most with both glass and analog instrument panels and with the glass version there comes also a very nice if basic Dynon AP74 and HS34 autopilot system.


They are clever and extremely dynamic flying aircraft, but I found the CTLS a bit nervous with the trimming and the up and down constant adjustment while in the air, and in both manual and auto trimming selections. It is certainly an aircraft to fine-tune into to get out the maximum rewards that it can deliver, but to note the aircraft is built to Sport/Ultralight rules and is just a step away from being just an upmarket handglider.


You do also get great responsive service from VSkyLabs as part of the project, but remember the purchase deal just that, access to a project and not a fully designed and completed aircraft, but to me with only a few refinements needed the CTLS overall feels pretty well completed here.


So overall this is another great little VSkyLab project, clever, different and challenging... it is all that and more.


X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project is now available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS Project


Price is US$27.50


Project Highlights:
  • VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane 11.30+ cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring a superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics.
  • Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage.
  • Engineered and designed as a default X-Plane aircraft (Like all VSKYLABS projects). The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator.
  • Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots:  The VSL CTLS is featuring the standard, basic CT VFR + night pack panel. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an enhanced panel, which is including the addition of a notebook-based glass PFD along with a Dynon style AP74 and HS34 (these are incorporated with simplified, yet functional features).
  • Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included).
  • STMA Autoupdater plugin is included - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap).
  • Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: Professional discussions which results in incorporating users feedback into the on-going scheduled development plan. Real-pilots inputs (as well as sim-pilots feedback) are always welcome, and in practice sets the the VSKYLABS projects within solid, professional margins over time.
  • The project is under constant maintenance and development - updates are free.



X-Plane 11.30+
Windows, Mac or Linux
2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended - 8Gb+ VRAM for VR
Current and Review version: 1.0 (Aug 8th 2019)

Installation and documents:

Download for the Flight Design CTLS Project is 189.20 Mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 265.30 mb.


Download of the"Headshake" by SimCoders effect plugin is highly recommended with this aircraft, Navigraph account also recommended



Manual included


  • VSKYLABS Flight Design CTLS POH


vSkyLabs Aerospace Simulations also has a full extensive website on all projects for updates and information including aircraft manuals available here:


www vSkyLabs.com


All VskyLabs projects are also available for purchase from the source developer here:






Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton
15th August 2019
Copyright©2019: X-PlaneReviews
(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.31 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft)

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : Headshake by SimCoders - Free : Navigraph Charts - Subscription

Scenery or Aircraft

KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00


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9 hours ago, olderndirt said:

Curious about the two "no step" areas in front of the rudder pedals?


It is actully a floor panel, that looks like a small storage bin, but there is no warning around it, but it could be weak.

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  • 3 months later...

 I built and fly a Van’s RV-12 with a Rotax 912 ULS and a Dynon Skyview with autopilot. I have just a few small details of possible interest. First, the Rotax is started with choke on and the throttle completely closed. Opening the throttle disables the choke. It is also only rough at idle if you leave the choke on (because the mixture is too rich), and you should never go over 2,400 RPM until the oil reaches 120 F. It is normally a very smooth engine. It does have two carbs and if they are out of balance, you might get a little vibration at idle. Carb balancing is pretty simple to do, though, so even that is not much of a problem.


The autopilot is not rudimentary; it offers VS select, altitude pre-select, CWS, and pretty much everything else commonly found in GA autopilots. It’s also very affordable - the Skyview has the autopilot logic built in by default - the only additional cost is two autopilot servos, each costing only $750. That makes what would be a $20,000+ autopilot in any other certificated airplane only $1,500. 


See YouTube channel RV12Pilot for more.

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  • 7 months later...

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