Lisa Airplanes rises, falls, rises again
Creative use of carbon fiber helped make Lisa Airplanes' Akoya LSA a possibility, and with some fresh financing, it's now on its way to becoming reality.
Things were looking up when CompositesWorld attended the EAA AirVenture event at Oshkosh in 2012. There was no shortage of cool, new or updated general aviation aircraft ready to enter production, the coolest perhaps being the Akoya light sport aircraft (LSA) from Lisa Airplanes (Le Bourget du Lac, France). The Lisa booth was swamped with eager and interested potential buyers. Akoya is a composite amphibian with tail-mounted engine, equipped with retractable landing gear, carbon fiber hydrofoils and retractable skis, which give it limitless access to a huge range of destinations, in all seasons. Folding wings make it possible to easily trailer or stow the aircraft. Its fuel-efficient design, and a potential, environmentally friendly solar electric or hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system, had the show buzzing.
Benoît Senellart, vice president of development, explained to CW at the Oshkosh show that carbon made the hydrofoil design possible, and allowed a smooth, aerodynamic fuselage compared to other less-aerodynamic amphibious planes that employ a “stepped” boat-like hull for water landings. This helps the aircraft’s very low fuel burn. A proof-of-concept Akoya first flew in 2007.
Thus, it was disappointing to read the following, issued on August 16, 2012: “Following the American market’s great welcome for the Akoya, and in order to achieve its financial plan, the Commercial Court of Chambery has accepted the request from Lisa Airplane’s founders to place the company in receivership.” The company, founded in 2004, had been historically financed by private funds, and it was finalizing a new fundraising round at the time of the Oshkosh show when the commitments fell through. The receivership situation did not affect customer deposits, and with time, “A new investor was found in early 2013, which ensures a great future for us,” says Vanessa Troillard, Lisa Airplanes’ marketing manager. “We got back to work during the spring of 2013 with the same team and at the same location in France.” Troillard says Lisa Airplanes is now focusing on completing the plane’s flight test program to gain certification and begin customer deliveries as soon as possible.