The Light Sport world is getting a new air conditioner making use of technology trickled down from the space program. It was developed by an aggressive young company that is already supplying micro-cooling components and systems to NASA, the military and experimental aircraft builders.
Air Management Technology, Inc. (AMT) of Englewood, CO, is the creator of FlyCool, a lightweight, all-electric, vapor cycle air conditioning system that is capable of 9500 Btu per hour and moving 350 cubic feet of air per minute—about the same as in a mid-sized automobile.
AMT told us that they expect final approval for installation of FlyCool in the Flight Design CTLS and the Sport Cruiser before this issue reaches readers.
The system uses hermetically sealed, brushless DC motor/compressors similar to those used to spot cool components in satellites, and which have very low EMI output so they do not interfere with avionics. There are two versions of the FlyCool: a permanent installation and a modular unit that can be removed during cool weather months.
Both versions mount in the baggage compartment. AMT reports that the unit will drop the cabin temperature 20 degrees in six minutes.
Weight of the system is 25 pounds for the modular unit and 22 pounds for the permanent installation. FlyCool requires a 28-volt power supply and draws 36 amps, which runs up against a shortcoming of the Rotax engine powering most LSAs—it only has a 14-volt alternator. That means that a 28-volt, belt-driven Plane Power alternator, producing up to 150 amps, has to be installed as a second alternator in the airplane, adding 12 pounds to the system. The second alternator requires less than 1 HP to operate. Some beef-up of the baggage compartment floor is required, so the full weight of an LSA system is just under 50 pounds. The modular unit is 20 x 10.4 x 12 inches in size.
Because the compressor is not driven by the engine, as is the case with other air conditioning systems, there is no requirement to shut it off during takeoff, there are no lines through the firewall and the system does not have to be bled down for engine maintenance.
As AMT is a supplier to the military and NASA, it is AS9100 compliant. AS9100 is the standardized quality management system for the aerospace industry and requires sophisticated tracking of materials and quality assurance. All components of the FlyCool are aviation grade and are circuit breaker protected.
AMT has worked closely with U.S. Aviation Group in Denton, TX, in getting the Flight Design approval. U.S. Aviation will be an installation and service center, as will Lockwood Aviation in Sebring, FL.
Prices are $14,750 for the installed unit in the CTLS and $12,900 for the modular unit in the Sport Cruiser.
Fifty pounds of added weight to an LSA is a big deal, in our opinion, turning most of the airplanes into single-place machines. We’re curious to see how that affects demand.
However, we are impressed by the technology and capability of FlyCool and can’t help but think that a healthy percentage of Part 23 airplanes have 28-volt electrical systems, so wouldn’t need the weight of a second alternator and wouldn’t need a baggage floor beef up.
A 30-pound, all-electric air conditioning system (with a few pounds for duct work), would not be a big weight gain for piston singles and twins. We can’t help but think that Cirrus, Cessna, Piper and Beech will be taking a hard look at offering FlyCool units in their airplanes.