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Aircraft Review : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs


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VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Header.jpg

 

Aircraft Review : Aeroprakt A22-LS Project by vSkyLabs

 

Well it makes a change from very light helicopters. vSkyLabs are back again with another of their Project 'Test-Pilot' series, and this time it is another Very Light Aircraft (VLA) in the Ukrainian built two-seat, high-wing, tricycle landing gear ultralight aircraft, called the Aeroprakt A-22, also known as the A-22 Foxbat, and in the US as the Valor. The small aircraft is manufactured by Aeroprakt in the Ukraine, and is expertly designed by Yuri Yakovlev. The A-22 first flew in taking its maiden flight on 21 October 1996, and a German-certified version entered production in 1999. The Aeroprakt A-22 is supplied either as "ready-to-fly" factory built aircraft, or as a kit consisting of 152 pieces. The kit can be built in about 500 man-hours, and currently over 2000 examples of the A-22 have been built or assembled.

 

The vSkylab philosophy is in that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Second is that the aircraft is designed around the powerful, native X-Plane 11 'Experimental Flight Model' environment, so that means in the Menu/General "Use the experimental flight model" tickbox has to be selected on.

 

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The space-frame design is highly evident here, as the fuselage panels are fitted around and are not part of the airframe, centre panels are metal (and strangely not composite except for the engine cowling, wing fillets and wheel spats), and the fabric covered wing and flying surfaces.

 

vSkyLab's modeling is always very good, and the detail here is excellent in the clever construction methods used for frame strength and lightness. Don't expect that grungy wear and rust sort of detail from vSkyLab's as that is not their angle of design, but the clean and out of the box design certainly is. The A-22 has a 3-bladed Aeroprakt ground-adjustable propeller, 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in) diameter that looks powerful and air grippy.

 

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There is a lot of perspex glazing, on both sides including the convex doors, rear panels and very large rear window, and the amount of glazing gives the aircraft a very open and light feel. Note the excellent rear window and rivet detail. The perspex is absolutely perfect here with the fine glazing markings showing real world realism. curvature, depth and reflection is about perfect as well....  impressive.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Detail 4.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Detail 5.jpg

 

The flying surfaces fabric feel is very good, and you want to run your hands over the undulated surfaces, but it is not actually a fabric in a sense but more a heavy plastic film, but the realism is very good. The A-22 uses flaperons in the place of ailerons and flaps, giving the Foxbat a stall speed of around 52 km/h (32 mph) with the flaperons fully down. Note the three stage flaps 0º-10º-20º.

 

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Undercarriage is a standard tri-cycle arrangement, but note the neat small tail-wheel (above) in case you over-rotate or get the loading balance wrong. Gear detail is very, very basic but neatly done, with nice mudflaps set on the rear. Nose gear is covered in a metal shroud that supports the hub and tyre, clever...

 

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...  but I was seriously not impressed by the unconnected front gear-wheel when turned, very average?

 

Both front doors can be opened by clicking a hot-spot lower (all vSkyLab aircraft only have hot-spot zones, and no menus). The doors open up and wide.

 

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There are only two seats in the A22, but both are beautifully done, in a leather outer bolstering and a fabric inner design, seatbelts look natural and flexible, hence realistic.

 

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You are very aware of the twin frames inside. One is the main full box frame, then the attached tube piping supports, it is all expertly done and original. The control cables are highly visible running through the rear section of the aircraft. Above you centre is the flap lever and the two fuel tank selector levers are situated up high on each side of the main frame...

 

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...  centre lower is the storage area for two "Remove Before Flight" pins, one is yoke lock pin, and the other is a disarm for the Parachute Recovery System, in the rear area (right), the red pull handle is set at your right elbow.

 

Instrument Panel

The main instrument panel is very nicely done, but quite basic in instruments and avionics.

 

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There is a lower centre panel with two dials and the aircraft's switchgear. Then a centre console with a very large throttle, another large brake handle, Choke lever, Control Throttle Friction lever and Parking Brake valve lever. 

 

The twin yokes are huge and square, and big for the size of the aircraft...  but thankfully can be hidden via touch-spots at the rear.

 

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The instrument panel is dominated by a very large heading compass top centre. There are four main flight instruments, with the Airspeed top left, Altimeter top right, Artificial Horizon (with built in rate of turn) lower left and Vertical Speed (V/S) lower right.

 

A set of four dials centre panel cover, RPM, CHT (Cylinder Head Temp), Oil Pressure and finally Oil Temperature. , Cockpit heater and Carburettor push-pull knobs are very far left and right is the standard GNS 430 GPS and below is a Garmin GTX327 Transponder. Basic right...

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Instrument Panel 11.jpg

 

Notable is a VSI-AP-1 LSA Grade autopilot system. It is located on the very left of the panel, and is activated by pressing (hot-spot) on the top of the Heading Compass. This autopilot is very basic, there are four buttons to go up, down, left or right and one button to hold the ALT-Altitude...  Simples! there is also a power switch on the lower panel that is needed to activate the unit.

 

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The centre console is also quite basic, with top the twin fuel gauges (40kg per tank). Below are six switches that cover (LtoR) Landing Light, Nav (navigation) Lights, Strobe Lights, AVNCS (Avionics), Auto-Pilot and INST. (Instrument) Lights.

 

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Around the red bands are the two IGN-A and IGN-B really busses, a set of well done fuses, and lower the main key (power) and Starter, and left is an hourly Hobbs meter.

 

The twin bar rudder pedals are really well done and are quite clever in operation when you look at the idea.

 

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Two VR (Virtual Reality) features are both accessed again by hot-spots. One is the AviTab (Avitab Tablet plugin is required) on the left Yoke, accessed by touching the iPad set right of the passenger seat, and a clipboard checklist, sitting on the top of the instrument panel, as noted there are no menus in this aircraft nor a Weight or Balance sheet.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Instrument Panel 15.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Instrument Panel 16.jpg

 

There is a very nice female pilot, that is very nicely animated to the yoke and even with footwork movement on the rudder pedals. The control rods to the flaps are also animated and visible rear.

 

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Flying the A-22 Foxbat

For any student or wanna be pilot, this A-22 is perfect. Everything is quite simple here, the instrument layouts, the controls, but more importantly is the feel factor on the way you fly this aircraft. If you want to learn to fly, and want to know what the "Seat of your pants" flying is all about then the Foxbat is perfect. So the A-22 is all about the flying and the basics.

 

The A-22 is powered by a Rotax 912ULS 4-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine, 73.5 kW (98.6 hp), not much power, but not a lot of grunt is required either in this lightweight frame of a machine, plus the deep 3-bladed propeller is very grippy...  If you want to know what the LS stands for in A-22LS...   it is for the "Light-Sport" version for the American market with a higher gross weight of 600 kg (1,323 lb), the standard weight is 450 kg (992 lb).

 

The Rotax starts easily and settles down to a clatter idle, so I check all the control movements, left/right, back/forward and the rudder left/right...  everything feels light and easy to move, and you are very aware of the aerodynamic surfaces moving around you.

 

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I am flying with both doors open, you feel more free and have more space for controlling the aircraft in this configuration, than blocking yourself into the tiny space with the doors closed...  I'll fly this way anytime if I can, certainly any VLA. The A-22 does not hunt or want to move if you let off the brakes, but just a little throttle will get it moving forwards...    lovely.

 

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Taxiing is easy as are the excellent sounds. vSkyLab's have used these Rotax sounds before, so they are not new to your ears...  but still very good. There is no need to use a full runway length at PACV-Merle K Smith in Cordova Alaska, I'm not a Boeing 737, but a tiddler aircraft that needs only a very short runway to get airborne.

 

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Brakes are nice and you only need a movement of the throttle to jump the A-22 off the line and get the aircraft swiftly moving...

 

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...    you are very quickly aware of the very strong asymmetrical thrust that pushes you left almost off the line, and it takes a lot of control to keep the aircraft aligned straight as you increase the power. At 65 knts you are flying, the A-22 will just leave the ground and want to fly...

 

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....  as you get the lift you are already dancing on the controls to keep the machine straight and level, that wide rudder position is going to transfer the angle into the air into something odd, so you have to play to get the aircraft up, wings level and the nose pointing straight ahead...   it sounds hard, but it is not really any effort at all, just skill and being a pilot in control.... the little Rotax powered machine is a lot of fun if now noisy.

 

Whoa! the bugger really wants to climb out, the official rate of climb is 5 m/s (980 ft/min), but to be sensible then a 500fpm to 700fpm climb is about right, so almost instantly you are adjusting the trim to bring the nose down, even if you set it as per neutral as required for takeoff. If I don't control this quickly, I will easily climb stall out as your speed goes through the floor. A note that a more forward set trim on takeoff will dial out a lot of that severe climb-out, but you will use a lot more runway in taking off as well, there is that sweet-spot to find and use between the two settings.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Flying 11.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Flying 12.jpg

 

It all sounds a bit dramatic, but it isn't really, the Foxbat is very easily controlled and basically a lot of fun to fly...

 

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... the A-22 responds very well in every area, control feel, trim and with any adjustments you make...  you feel very comfortable and even safe in here, even though you can look straight down at the ground swirling past below you, very open...  very fun.

 

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Settling the aircraft is very easy, without even using the autopilot, once trimmed the Foxbat will fly like this all day, just skimming along and feeling the breeze. The fastest speed is 170 km/h (110 mph, 92 kn) and the Cruise speed is around 160 km/h (99 mph, 86 kn). The range is an amazing 1,100 km (680 mi, 590 nmi) with a maximum fuel load, but you are not going to go very high as the Service ceiling is set at 4,000 m (13,000 ft). In reality this is a 5,000ft to 6,000ft maximum altitude flying aircraft, I think only rarely would you go higher than that.

 

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You do rest your feet with the rudder slightly to the right...  there is no rudder trim and so you have to manually adjust the direction heading with your feet, but it all comes very natural, almost normal to do so. You don't do serious aerobatics in aircraft like this, twisting, heavy stalls can get you easily into trouble, it's just not the A-22 thing to do.

 

The VSI-AP-1 autopilot is very simple to use. (but make sure it is switched off on the ground before flying). When at the correct position even while still climbing, just switch on the system via the switch on the lower panel. When at your correct altitude just hit the ALT button to level off at that height, then to turn, just hit the left or right button and hold it down to the correct turn angle you want...

 

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...  to straighten up, just hit the opposite button until you are central again...  just too easy, if you want to go up or down then use the UP or DN buttons, again hit ALT to reset at your correct altitude.

 

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Skimming...

 

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...   is the best thing, flying at 500 ft and just skimming the treetops. The Rotax purring (if a little of a sort of rattle purr), and the sound reflects upwards from the open door, perfect.

 

From this low 500 ft altitude PACV-Merle K Smith's runway 09 is very wide angled and challenging.

 

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Slowing to flap speeds (around 65 knts), and the torque on the nose is pulling you left, and the tail is going all the way out there to the right, you need to find the balance of the pulling of the thrust sidewards to the wind pushing the tail out the other way, so a lot of rudder and yoke control is required to keep you direction correct...   "Flying by the seat of your pants", you feel the airframe and your need to control the fragile machine correctly, it is flying in it's truest sense, love it!

 

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I adjust the speed slightly faster to 75 knts to get the right descent angle to the runway, I have sort of got the direction angle sorted, the A-22 is more now aligned to the runway.

 

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You always feel the high pull of the lift in these VLA's, they float more like with a huge parachute canopy than a hard wing... 

 

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...  it creates an uplift as well, all of a suddenly I am in a worse crab as I approach the field's boundaries... whoa!

 

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Again dancing on the pedals and swiftly manoeuvring the yoke I get my line back, speed is now dropped through 60 knts and get slowly down to 50 knts for the right descent to the runway...

 

Bugger!   It does it again...   this time ballooning, yawing and drifting to the right as well.

 

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I am very aware of my approach, I don't want to land too fast, or I'll bounce myself off the runway, so slow and easy is the key, I touch the runway at 40 kts...  Stall speed is a very low 55 km/h (34 mph, 30 kn), but you are very aware in easily not stalling the Foxbat.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Flying 39.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Flying 40.jpg

 

I'm smiling broadly, I'm straight and pointing the right way while simultaneously while not also bouncing this ultra-light machine all around the runway, skill and lots of fun in one package.  The roll out is very short, but braking needs careful control to take take the speed off cleanly.

 

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Once back on the apron, I wonder on how to stop the engine? No mixture lever here? It is done by switching off the power, via the IGN-A and IGN-B switches...  humm that was fun...  lots of it!

 

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Lighting

Lighting is very, very basic. One switch lights up the instruments, and it has no adjustment, there is no overhead (dome) light either and a moveable spotlight would certainly be very handy in here?. Externally is also very basic, Only the red and green navigation lights and a white blobby Strobe light on the top of the tail, another even larger blobby light is your single landing light, nose left.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Lighting 1.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Lighting 2.jpg

 

Liveries

There are five liveries provided, All-Yellow (Default), All-Blue, Bare-Metal, Black-Sporty-22 and Blue-Yellow.

 

VSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Livery Blue.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Livery Yellow.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Livery Bare.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Livery Black.jpgVSL Aeroprakt A22-LS_Livery Blue_Yellow.jpg

 

Summary

If you have purchased or tasted before any of vSkyLabs project aircraft, then you probably know what you will get here. Great modeling, great detailing and an extraordinary flight model. They are great projects, but to note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Updates maybe infrequent if sometimes at all.

 

Overall though most vSkyLabs aircraft are all mostly basic, but they are fully detailed to the extreme. There are also no menus or static objects or extensive features as the focus is fully on the dynamics and flying performance. The A-22 requires the experimental setting, but delivers a very credible if brilliant flying "seat of your pants" performance.

Only interactions are with the few interaction zones that; open the doors, move the throttle and console levers, show an autopilot and clipboard. There is also AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available.

 

There are only a lot of the basics in the lighting and options, but you won't care when flying low over the trees with your doors open to the roar outside, great for learner beginners on how to fly with the very basics, and a lot of sheer fun for the experts, so another hit from vSkyLabs that really delivers...  recommended.

 

Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs

___________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the Aeroprakt A22-LS Project is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Aeroprakt A22-LS Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot'

Price is US$27.50

 

Project Main Features:

  • VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane's cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring 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 A22-LS is featuring the standard, basic analog cockpit suitable for VFR + night flying. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an optional experimental LSA-grade autopilot.
  • Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included).
  • STMA Auto Updater 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 and professional support: VSKYLABS is offering continuous professional support from aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support.
  • The project is under constant maintenance and development.

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended 
Current and Review version: 1.0 (April 29th 2021)
 
The AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft.
 
Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com.
 
Aircraft download is 174 Mb, and unpacked then installed 251 Mb
 
Documents
  • VSKYLABS Aeroprakt A22-LS POH.pdf
 
Designed by VSKYLABS

_____________________

 

Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton

12th May 2021

Copyright©2021: X-Plane Reviews

 

(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) All Rights Reserved

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for a very detailed review of the Aeroprakt A-22 LS. You write that although the stated service ceiling is 13,000 ft., "In reality, this is a 5000-6000 ft. maximum flying aircraft." Could you please explain your reasoning. I fly in the western U.S. and frequently fly @ 8-10,000 ft. MSL since field elevations are often @ 4-6000 ft. and mountain passes may require 8,000+ ft. MSL for safety. So I'd like to understand the reasons for your statement about maximum of 5000-6000 ft.

 

I look forward to your response.

 

Arty Trost

Sandy, Oregon

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