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Amphibious Skiplane Shifts Shape, Industry

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 12:23pm
Meaghan Ziemba, Associate Editor, PD&D

The AKOYA amphibious skiplane not only redefines the seaplane industry – it also broadens the concept of freedom in transportation and aviation.

What happened to airplanes that simply landed and took off on solid ground, and occasionally on water? ICON Aircraft first caught our attention with the debut of its ICON 5 amphibious aircraft, which is capable of landing and taking off on both land and water, while being able to cruise the seas like a jet ski at the same time.

Enter Lisa Airplanes, a French company founded in 2004 that produces and distributes upscale airplanes and associated services. With a vision that centers on mankind and its mobility, Lisa Airplanes’ team of engineers combine technology and design in a way that revolutionizes aviation and proposes a new lifestyle.

It was this vision that led the company to design AKOYA, the amphibious skiplane that not only lands and takes off of solid ground and water, but can land and take off on snow too.

A New Life for Recreational Aviation

The AKOYA features power-assisted pivoting wings. This system allows storage in the garage of a home, or on a yacht.“Erick Herzberger and Luc Bernole, two glider-flying enthusiasts, created Lisa Airplanes based on innovation, technology, and design to bring new life to recreational aviation,” explains Vanessa Troillard, U.S. project manager at Lisa Airplanes. “As the only aircraft in the world [to currently use] Seafoil technology, the AKOYA embodies a new generation of seaplanes dedicated to both sightseeing and cross-country flights, making it a unique aircraft that signals the beginning of a real revolution in light aviation.”

The new aircraft concept was designed according to the principles of great polyvalence, passive safety, comfort, and maneuverability. The engineering team has produced an optimum design after completing several computer simulations and aero-dynamic and hydrodynamic tests on the scale model.

Seafoil Technology

According to Troillard, AKOYA’s Seafoil technology is patented by Lisa Airplanes and consists of cutting edge hydrofoils that are located under the fuselage of the plane. The Seafoils allow the aircraft to operate from water, featuring a rapid, stable take-off. The Seafoil system, which consists of wing-like structures under the fuselage to provide lift, obviates the need for a hull, step, or floats because it lifts the fuselage out of the water at very low speeds. The AKOYA airplane can accelerate and take off over short distances while keeping good stability and maneuverability.

“[The Seafoils] allow the aircraft to lift off and land on the water easily, while maintaining a good flight performance,” explains Troillard. “Their main goal is to be very efficient in water, while being drag-less in the air.” Conventional seaplanes normally have floats that drag a lot, and other amphibious planes have a hull and/or step that create drag as well. The Seafoils help the AKOYA achieve higher speeds, longer ranges, and lower fuel consumption than other seaplanes and amphibious aircraft with the same power.

Multi-Access Technology

Aside from its patented Seafoil technology, Lisa Airplanes has also designed the AKOYA with its patented Multi-Access technology that enables the aircraft to land with the same agility on water, land, or snow without any prior modification of the aircraft. This unique innovation is based on a combination of the Seafoils, retractable landing gear, and Skis-in, which allows the pilot to choose to land on dry or snowy surfaces with safety and ease. With the Skis-in, no previous handling is required and AKOYA maintains its in-flight performance standards.

AKOYA is also equipped with power-assisted pivoting wings that allow the aircraft to be stored in a garage at home or on a yacht.

“Taking off near your yacht, flying to your private property, or changing direction mid-flight and visiting snowy surfaces is now possible,” says Troillard. “AKOYA brings flying lovers and water enthusiasts together, guaranteeing a real pleasure to pilots.”

The Multi-Access technology (seafoils, retractable landing gear that includes skis, and folding wings) reinvents the point-to-point concept. “Owners can take-off from almost anywhere they want, without the need to find an airport; without the need to refuel; without the need to take another means of transportation to the airport; without the need to queue; and without the need to schedule their trip,” says Troillard. She also points out how this type of technology is not exclusive to the AKOYA aircraft, but has the potential to be adapted by bigger airplanes as well.

Training & Aviation Skills

U.S. pilots interested in the AKOYA will require an SPL (Sports Pilot License), as well as a seaplane endorsement to be able to use the aircraft’s amphibious capability. This is true if they also want to operate it on the snow.

The AKOYA is classified as a VFR (Visual Flight Rules), which requires operators to use their eyes instead of instrumentation. Thus, pilots are restricted from flying into clouds and during storms.

“I’d [also] like to add that we sell the aircraft as an all-inclusive offer. That means that the training to get the license and the seaplane endorsement are included,” says Troillard. “The customization, assistance, and maintenance for three years are also included.”

Aerodynamic Design

AKOYA’s smooth and flowing lines help produce better aerodynamics for the plane. Its carbon frame is both strong and lightweight, contributing to the excellent fuel economy. The aircraft features 42-mpg fuel efficiency, giving it a 1,250 mile range at a top speed of 138 mph. With equivalent Rotax 912 100 hp engines, the AKOYA airplane consumes approximately half less fuel than its competitors.

LISA Airplanes focuses on providing low fuel consumption aircraft. AKOYA's aerodynamic shape generates less drag in flight and contributes to ensure better performance.The spacious cabin and ergonomic seats blend aesthetics and comfort for all seasons. The tinted canopy provides both the pilot and passenger a 180-degree view of the airspace around. Pilots can also feel at ease with the built-in parachute that will take the plane safely to the ground during emergency situations.

With its Seafoil, Multi-Access patented technology, and features that range from fuel efficiency to aesthetic comfort, the AKOYA not only redefines the seaplane industry – it also broadens the concept of freedom in transportation and aviation.

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