- Business questions (how does it work?)
- Airplane questions (why the Bristell?)
Today I want to talk about the 2nd question. Why the Bristell?
|The Bristell by BRM Aero|
There are close to 100 manufacturers of Light Sport Aircraft in the world who collectively make over 120 different models. To say there is choice in this market is a huge understatement. We also quickly remembered there are two kinds of pilots out there: High Wing Pilots and Low Wing Pilots. One argument was that non-pilots (our primary market) did not have a preference, while the other was that current or former pilots would prefer one over the other and that older pilots might find it easier to enter and exit a high-wing plane. So, we more or less decided to offer one primary low wing option and one primary high wing.
Well, which high and which low? We did what any 21st century start-up would do: Research and create a spreadsheet. We created a list of factors to determine which was the best choice for us and our customers. Here are some:
- Ramp appeal: The plane had to have some sex appeal to assist in marketing to a younger generation
- Staying power: We had to trust the manufacturer would be around for the long-term. We need solid support for our airplanes.
- US-based service centers. We needed nation-wide service ability, with parts in stock or easily available domestically. An owner's plane CAN'T be out of service for months waiting on a part.
- All-metal construction: A heated argument, but metal is easier to repair for most shops and AMTs.
- Rotax power: We felt the Rotax engine provided the best power/weight ratio and TBO combination. It is also efficient and readily available and repairable.
- Solid construction: LSA construction quality varies greatly. We wanted a mature design that was rugged enough to be used by new pilots.
- Performance: We wanted to see numbers on the high side of the LSA envelope. This includes full fuel payload and maximum range.
- Glass: The plane had to appeal to a generation raised on video games and iPads. Avionics are key.
- Comfort. We wanted something that would as comfortable and roomy as a sports car to appeal to a market not used to cramped aircraft interiors.
After much debate, many conversations with dealers, distributors, manufacturers and designers, after factory visits and spreadsheet updates, we found a few of each style of airplane that competed for the top spot.
On the low-wing end of things, we kept coming back to the lineup of airplanes that came out of the Czech republic bearing names like PiperSport, SportCruiser and Bristell. A lovely series of comfortable roomy aircraft with excellent visibility, they met most of our requirements. Of all of them, the Bristell is the most recent design. The aircraft manufacturer is BRM Aero, run by noted designer Milan Bristela. We fell in love with the plane and the people involved with it on both sides of the Atlantic. And we knew that between the Bristell and the similar SportCruiser/PiperSport, we had a ready supply in the USA. (The guys at US Sport Aircraft, the importer of the SportCruiser are pretty cool too!)
We are not experts in LSA design and construction, although we consulted with those folks. We are not professional aircraft reviewers, although we read all we could. But when you added up all the factors that were important to us, and we felt were important to our customers and success as a business, the Bristell rose to the top. It may not be the best LSA ever, but, for now, it is best for us. And we have an excellent relationship with the people Bristell USA LP, the importer for the US market, a relationship that will pay BIG dividends for our customers. You will be hearing more about the people and those dividends in an upcoming blog.
až příště ("Until next time" in Czech)