EV-97 Team Eurostar
EV-97 EuroStar, aka SportStar, has
been manufactured for more than six years in the Czech Republic and
has been used as a trainer in Europe without a single service
bulletin or airworthiness directive issued, according to U.S.
importer James Peeler of North Carolina.
In a form familiar to GA pilots, SportStar is built using
conventional riveted-aluminium construction… essentially a Cessna,
Mooney, or Piper. Some compare the SportStar to the Cherokee series.
But Evektor Aerotechnik, the Czech company behind the SportStar, has
The wings have been designed with little dihedral, no taper, and no
washout other than that which comes from the large upturned
fibreglass wing tips. Construction is different by virtue of epoxy
bonding in addition to riveting. While more time consuming, Evektor
officials believe this method ensures a longer lasting aircraft.
SportStar's firewall is made of galvanized steel (as opposed to
aluminium) that should provide greater safety and strength with a
modest increase in weight. The fuselage is of semi-monocoque
structure. Wings are metal, with fibreglass wing tips. The entire
tail is also of all metal construction.
Most aircraft these days are composite even if their fuselages and
wings use no fibreglass. SportStar is no different, with cowlings
made of Kevlar, carbon fibre, and Fiberglas. Another place where
composite is used is the landing gear. The main gear is said to have
withstood "enormous deflection during (European certification) drop
tests," according to Evektor officials.
The upper half of the engine cowl can be removed quickly using nine
Dzus fasteners. Like most Cessnas and Pipers, an inspection port
allows access to the dipstick and oil fill point.
SportStar comes with flaps and trim. I found the latter quite
powerful, enough so that your first adjustments to it may have you
over controlling. The trim lever is located between the seats.
The flap lever is just forward of the trim and this provides for
some control conflict. However, each has a different tactile feel.
Evektor chose split flaps for SportStar. These older, less
aerodynamic but simpler devices are usually good at producing drag
but don't add any lift, even at lower settings. Conversely, they
hide the hinge on the upper surface, which improves upper surface
Entry to and exit from SportStar is made easy by a forward-hinged
bubble canopy. You enter from the rear of the wing as with most
low-wing aircraft. Dual gas pistons should prevent blow-open damage
and the canopy mates up to a rear section that makes for a spacious
The canopy latches to the rear of the pilot's head and I noticed
little air leaking around the seal. While I'm of average height, I
had enough extra headroom to suggest tall pilots won't have to
The cockpit is noticeably wider than a familiar benchmark, the
Cessna 150. It measures nearly 40 inches, but seems slightly larger
as you can rest part of your arm on the interior structure of the
Instrumentation and electrical switches are positioned so that
either occupant can read and access them. Map pockets with elastic
are provided on both sides and you are allowed 33 pounds of baggage
aft of the seats.
Rudder pedals feel firm on the ground, though they seem somewhat
lighter in the air. Hydraulic toe brakes are available on the left
side only but come standard with differential actuation. Their
operation is typical with toe action working the brakes and pedal
bases turning the nose wheel and rudder.
Surprisingly agile on the ground, SportStar can manage a full 360°
turn in 25 feet or less, less than its wingspan. The design also
reveals a good deal of prop clearance and stands fairly tall on its
landing gear, giving me the feeling that off-field landings
shouldn't get too exciting.
Before takeoff and once aloft, most pilots will find the view
massive. Of course, you have the usual downward obstruction of the
wing, but checking for traffic before takeoff is a breeze and, in
flight, you have an enormous field of view.
LAUNCH AND LAND
In crosswinds, SportStar does not exhibit a strong tendency to
weathercock. I was fortunate and had favourable winds on the day I
flew SportStar. Heat and humidity conspired to extend takeoff roll,
nonetheless I believe the aircraft can depart the ground quite a bit
faster than the 630 feet cited by the factory.
Rotation in the SportStar comes at 45 mph indicated, lower than most
GA planes. I was able to climb comfortably at 55-60 mph, which
produced just under an indicated 1,000 fpm.
Flaps are easily operated by a handbrake-type lever. You can set the
surfaces to 15°, 30°, and 50°, which gives great versatility to
handle different fields into which you might fly. "I have landed
with a passenger on an 800-foot grass strip and had room to spare,"
A wide control range allows you to perform very efficient slips to a
landing. Given SportStar's good slips and deep flaps, you can
approach at speeds barely above 40 mph and remain in good control.
Unlike many of the speedy Light Sport Aircraft candidates I've
flown, I experienced little difficulty keeping the ball centred.
Though you get used to the slipperier models, any flying machine
that makes control easy is one fast learned and long appreciated.
One reason why the ball holds steady without much effort is the low
rudder input needed.
I estimated roll rates at a bit more than three seconds for the
45°-to-45° roll reversal test. This places SportStar in the
middle-to-faster category. Ailerons retained most of their authority
down to stall. Pitch control is also stable and not overly
On the whole, SportStar stick forces are reasonably light, though
about middle of the road for this class of aircraft. Though the
rudders felt a bit stiff on the ground, this feeling seemed to
disappear in the air. Harmony between stick and rudder was very
good, among the best experiences I've had in light aircraft.
LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT SPEEDS
SportStar speeds are reasonably inside the limits allowed under
FAA's proposed Light Sport Aircraft rule, currently a max of 115
knots or 132 mph.
"At gross, SportStar burned 4 gph flying to Oshkosh from North
Carolina at 100 knots (115 mph) average speed," Peeler reports.
Going north from his southern home base, he had 425 pounds of
occupants on board, plus their baggage. Coming back he says he only
burned 3.5 gph at the same 100-knot average, but with 100 pounds
In my evaluation flying, sink rate measured a little over 600 fpm,
which should translate to a glide angle of close to 10:1. These
numbers are comparable to many GA designs.
When performing longitudinal stability checks, I found SportStar
responded conventionally to power changes, that is, she lowers the
nose on power reduction and raises it on powering up.
In turns, SportStar will tend to stay where you establish bank with
the joystick, that is, it is dynamically neutral in roll. This
accounts for its light handling, but could cause some instability in
high bank angles. Get experience with the machine before trying very
steep turns and remember Evektor does not recommend aerobatics.
SportStar shows little adverse yaw tendency despite its responsive
controls, a nice treat I didn't expect. This seems even more
surprising as I could not tell any differential in the surface;
usually, designers have ailerons go down further than they go up.
According to Evektor officials, the SportStar has been thoroughly
spin tested. Stalls with no power came below 40 mph indicated,
though instrument error was not determined. With power, the stall
dropped into the low 30s and became rather indistinct.
READY FOR YOU?
According to some proponents, the SportStar is the Czech Republic's
most successful and popular light aircraft. Nearly 200 examples have
taken to the air since its introduction in 1997.
OK, let's say you're taken with the SportStar and its impressive
package of performance, handling, capabilities, and $60,000 price
tag. How do you know FAA will finally finish the Sport Pilot/Light
Sport Aircraft rule? If it never happens will you be wasting your
While one of the major promises of Light Sport Aircraft is fully
built flying machines, Evektor also offers SportStar as a kit. Nigel
Beale, an old friend and the British importer of the design, says
that someone with previous building experience might only require
500-600 hours to complete the SportStar.
Peeler reports SportStar is available as a kit for $25,000. That
includes basic instruments, motor mount, differential brakes,
finished interior, all parts and pieces pre-drilled and with nothing
else needed but engine and engine accessories. A 51%-qualified
fast-build kit with wings and tail section assembled sells for
You have a choice of engines, including 912 Rotax, 912S Rotax,
Jabiru 2200, and possibly a BMW engine currently being tested.
Install a Rotax 912S and you'll spend about $37,000, plus your
investment of 600 hours.
General aviation pilots should pay attention to the SportStar. It
has been designed and built by a crew experienced in conventional
design. As is the case with many eastern European light aircraft
builders, an entire team of engineers participated in the design and
testing of the SportStar. Once employed by a large aircraft
producer, Let Aircraft Company, Evektor put no less than a dozen
engineers on the task of creating SportStar.
Offering low operational costs, excellent cabin comfort,
conventional and well balanced controls, with performance suited
almost perfectly to the proposed Light Sport Aircraft category, some
pilots may find true happiness with a SportStar.
80 hp Rotax 912.
Vzlu 2300, two-bladed wooden,
9.84 sq m
rate of climb
landing distance, ground roll
limiting and recommended speeds
design manoeuvring speed (Va)
never exceed speed (Vne)
stall, power off (Vsl)
landing approach speed
All specifications are based on manufacturer's