The Allegro 2000 is no Johnny-come lately, except in the U.S.
Certified by the FAA in May as a Special-Light Sport Aircraft, the Allegro 2000 has been flying for about 12 years and can be found in 16 countries. So far, about 1,200 have been delivered.
Built by Fantasy Air in Pisek, Czech Republic, you can buy the aircraft ready to fly, fully certified, or as a kit under the E-LSA (Experimental LSA) covenants, perhaps saving as much as $7,000 by building it yourself.
U.S distributor is Fantasy Air USA in North Carolina, but I met with the Brendan O’Reardon, demonstration pilot, and Paul Baribault of Southeast Sport Aircraft (SSA), in Sebastian, Fla., which is the dealer for the airplane in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
A preflight orientation was in order:
GAN: Paul, give us a description of the aircraft.
Baribault: The Allegro 2000 is a two-place, fixed-gear, high-wing, single-engine trainer or touring aircraft. The wings, tail and struts are metal, whereas the fuselage is composite. They’re manufactured in the Czech Republic, test flown and then disassembled for shipment to the U.S.
GAN: What are the engine choices?
Baribault: Either the Rotax 912, 80 horsepower, the 912S at 100 horsepower or the Jabiru 2200, also at 80 horsepower. We recommend the 912 for the Allegro 2000 and the 912S for the 2000F, which is the float version using Lotus inflatable floats.
Baribault: It’s a Czech-made, three-blade, all-composite Woodcomp propeller.
GAN: Switching to the kit model for a moment, do you have a “quick-build” program and how long would it realistically take to build one of these?
Baribault: We’re somewhat space limited at Sebastian right now as concerns a quick build program because of last year’s hurricanes, but we’re working on that. A realistic number of man hours for somebody with no building experience might be around 190-250 hours. But frankly, it’s more of an assembly than a building project. The majority of the airframe is finished. The wings are riveted, as are the struts, rudder and elevators. The landing gear is preassembled, the center section of the fuselage is already welded using factory jigs and tooling. All structural parts, such as the wing, elevator and main undercarriage attach fittings, are already installed on the fuselage. What the builder is left with is assembly and installment of steering components, as well as the front gear leg, cabin glass and lamination of the wing tips and elevator tips.
GAN: What don’t you get with the kit?
Baribault: The usual. The engine, engine mount, propeller, flight and engine instruments, avionics, seat belts, paint, upholstery, lights and so on.
GAN: Price of the kit?
Baribault: $22,500 versus $54,500 for the RTF version and $59,275 for the float version. Plus shipping, which I think runs about $1,800. Included with the RTF Allegro is a free Gleim Sport Pilot Kit which includes a brief case, E6B computer, log book and relevant FARs.
GAN: Give us some idea of the payload/range numbers.
Baribault: Full fuel is 14.5 gallons unless you opt for auxiliary tanks, which give you an additional 12 gallons in the wings. But with standard tanks, you can take two people and some baggage about 350 miles at 112 mph because fuel consumption is about three and a half gallons per hour. But I think anybody would be ready to stretch their legs after three hours!
GAN: If we ordered an Allegro today, what’s the lead time?
Baribault: Well, it varies, but right now I’d say a little under three months.
Briefing completed, O’Reardon and I headed for the airplane. The first impressions of the Allegro 2000 are those of elegance — even delicacy — right down to the saucy T-tail perched on top of the vertical fin. The sweeping curves are a delight to look at, but make no mistake, this is a sturdy bird with “G” loadings of plus four and minus two.
The walkaround was fairly perfunctory except for one item. Before checking the engine oil, it is necessary to pull the propeller backwards a few times (make sure the mags are off!) to introduce oil into the reservoir for an accurate reading.
The cockpit has several notable features, beginning with the side-by-side bucket seats which are not track-mounted but suspended in a sling configuration by a clever arrangement of straps.
Fore and aft adjustments are made by shortening or extending the straps to accommodate leg length to the rudder pedals. Not as easy as lifting a lever and sliding the seat, but it works and it’s comfortable.
Next, if you can’t find the push-pull throttle, right or left, look down and you’ll find it mounted on the sidewall next to your knee. The control stick is center-mounted between the pilots with an extension handle available for flight instruction. Finally we come to the caliper hand brakes, attached to the control stick and with a locking pin to set the parking brake. Squeezing the caliper applies equal hydraulic braking to both disc brakes. This means no differential braking, but the aircraft taxies and turns so easily using the rudder pedals I had no difficulty whatsoever maneuvering the aircraft.
Not only is the cockpit both wide and comfortable, but the side windows can be hinged upwards to let the breezes flow while taxiing or removed entirely for aerial photography. The rear wall of the baggage compartment can be removed to accommodate skis or fishing poles without creating a weight and balance problem with two people in the front seat.
With the 1,500 hr TBO 912 engine warming up, we headed for the runway, enjoying superb visibility in every direction. Even the roof above the cockpit is plexiglass so that in a turn you can look right through the wing for traffic. Wings, by the way, are removable for trailering or garage storage.
As I ran the engine up to 4,000 rpm for a mag check, I noticed the temperature gauges were in Centigrade. But hey, in the green is in the green. “We’ll be changing them over to Fahrenheit soon,” O’Reardon assured me.
Setting the electric flaps for takeoff was another new experience. There are three flap selection push buttons on the center console just in front of the control stick with an indicator on the panel reflecting flap position. If the indicator reads “1″ it means flaps are extended 10°, “2″ means 45° and “O” means flaps are retracted. Just to be sure, two green lights illuminate when the flaps are locked in position.
With full throttle, off we went, breaking ground in a few hundred feet and, climbing through the hot and humid Florida air at close to 1,000 fpm, leveling off at 5,000 feet.
What’s impressive about the Allegro is the control response. Thanks to push rod assist on the ailerons and elevators, reaction to inputs is immediate. Conversely, it trims out nicely for hands-off flying. However, this is definitely a rudder airplane as concerns coordinated turns, as I soon found out. But after several banks in both directions I began to get the hang of it again, centering the ball after so many years of flying high performance aircraft where little or no rudder is required.
Setting up 75% power, the IAS steadied on about 100 mph, which equated to the advertised 112 mph TAS cruise speed.
Since we didn’t have the instructor bar installed on the control stick, I asked O’Reardon to demonstrate a stall. “Clean or full flaps? he asked. “Both, if we survive the first one,” I answered. After clearing the area, he slowed the Allegro by pulling off the power while explaining the aural stall warning was temporarily inoperative. With a slight buffet we stalled straight ahead, with no wing drop, at 40 mph with full flaps, and later, 45 mph clean.
Nothing much further to do but enjoy the scenery on our way back for a landing. “Try using about 70 to 75 mph in the pattern so we meld with other traffic,” advised O’Reardon. “Full flaps on final and slow it up to about 60, then 50 over the numbers.” All too easy as we kissed the runway, decelerating rapidly and not using brakes until we came to the first turnoff.
Folks, this is a fun airplane. Inexpensive to buy or build, safe, well-constructed, simple, good looking, economical to operate and a joy to fly. Treat yourself to a ride.
For more information: 772-388-3680, 919-775-2224.