Over the mountains, a mere seventy minute flight away from Sydney (in a single engined Archer), stands a small company called Brumby. Family owned and operated, they've been making light, all metal aircraft for years and years. Some time ago, I flew their sporty little low wing and deemed it the aircraft I would buy should I ever purchase a two-seater; it's an elegant, sleek, bubble-canopied little bird, perfect for a gal who still likes to see rivets in her aircraft.
Two weeks ago, I received a call inviting me to come and fly their brand new aircraft - the Brumby 610 Evolution. I hopped in SFR and flew over the mountains to see whether the new machine was anything as swanky as its low wing sister.
Truth be told, the Evolution is not as good-looking - being a high wing, and packaged as a trainer, it lacks the streamlined, sporty cut of the low wing. It was, however, more delightful to fly - sturdier, more robust and certainly very forgiving. Fitted with a Rotax 912 - but with a Lycoming option in the works - it is aimed squarely at the training market. With an 18 lph fuel burn, 7 hour flight endurance and 110 knot cruise, it's a pretty fine option when compared to a 152, no matter which way you do the maths.
After some steep turns, we went in for a few circuits. Paul handed it over to me to land, and it was, once again, extremely well behaved. It felt a good deal sturdier than anything else I have flown in this category, and certainly the closest thing to a GA trainer.
Paul then showed me around the factory, detailing each part and explaining why the aircraft is so sturdy (due to its aluminium build, solid rivets and steel sprung main legs). With struts the same size as the 182s and a rudder like a barn door, it certainly cuts a GA figure. Phil came on board with some safety stats, informing me Brumby had hired an independent test pilot who spun the aircraft 56 times, testing the fore, mid and aft COG positions.
Overall, Brumby seem very satisfied with the Evolution. The hardest task ahead is changing the ancient mindset of schools and operators with regards to using LSAs. Their genius in providing a Lycoming option will hopefully bear fruit. After all, in a tough market like today's, with GA doing it hardest of all, it's reassuring to know there are options for students to learn to fly without having to earn in excess of 100K. Especially for those of us sick of flying the ancient asthmatic aircraft the majority of schools have online in Australia.