Cheetah XLS - Finally an Affordable LSA?
Ted and I had just started cruising the LSA Mall at Airventure when we noticed a plane we'd never seen before sitting next to a sign that said: $48,000. Naturally, we had to stop and take a look...
The aircraft turned out to be the Cheetah XLS made by a South African company called Rainbow Aircraft. The price we saw was a show special. The normal base price is $52,950 and the US distributor is Midwest Sport Aviation.
It's a simple, fabric & tube aircraft. They even have zippers in the fabric to allow for easy inspection of the structure. The cockpit is roomy (I fit in it at 6'2"), the visibility is great, and the performance numbers for the plane match up well with the rest of the LSA market. Rainbow gives you the option of a Rotax 582, Rotax 912 or Jabiru 2200. Depending on the engine you choose, you'll be looking at a 600+ mile range cruising at about 100 knots.
As good as the cruising numbers are, this is also definitely a sport aircraft. You can buy the plane as a tail- or nose-dragger, it's lightweight and simple, and the plexiglass doors look like they enjoy being open in flight. Takeoff and landing roll are very short, each less than 400 ft. There aren't many places this plane couldn't take you.
Although this is certainly a big chunk of change, the Cheetah XLS is one of the most reasonably prices LSAs we've seen. I think we all agree with Ted that aircraft prices have inflated beyond a level that most of the world can handle. Rainbow Aircraft has an S-LSA that matches the $100,000+ birds in performance for about half their price. I'm glad to see it as a new entry to the LSA market. I hope it does well because it will serve as an example to the rest of the world that aircraft can have fun and performance without the overinflated prices. Thanks Rainbow, keep up the good work!