So is the Europa Monowheel suitable for mountain strip flying ?
For pilots who are doing local mountain flying exclusively, the ideal category of aircraft is probably a high wing "low and slow" microlight or LSA. I will not mention any type as there are so many. They carry little load with limited comfort with cruise speed figures similar to the Europa's, but in kilometers per hour instead of knots!
Now if you want to travel economically at 135-140 kts with two on board in comfort plus a lot of bags and still be able to use those short rough mountain strips, there is no other choice than the Europa Monowheel. Of course you have to be aware of the limitations of the aircraft as mentioned here and live with them. You will have to fly light and will not be able do all you would with a 180 HP Super Cub. No other aircraft does all what the Europa does !
Read the full article in the Europa Flyer issue 92. The Europa Flyer magazine
Copyright Rémi Guerner, The Europa Club.
Operating from altiports and altisurfaces requires specific training. The special characteristics of those airstrips surrounded by high terrain, the effect of wind and thermal activity in mountainous environment require techniques that the flatlands pilot has to learn. Going around once you are in short final is usually not an option: you are committed to land. Most strips are not only short, they are narrow and surrounded by ditches, fences, trees, cliffs and/or embankments. If you cannot stop before the end of the runway or if you loose directional control during the landing or take off run, you are pretty sure to hit something hard. Precision is compulsory and there is very little margin for error. It is critical to restrict operations to strips and conditions which are compatible with the characteristics of your aircraft and your own capability. Once you have mastered the technique, regular practice is a must to maintain proficiency .
Getting the mountain rating is required to use mountain strips in Europe. Training is available from most French Aero Clubs located in mountainous areas. Since April 8, 2018, the French mountain rating is superceded by the Part FCL European regulation. The text can be downloaded from the EASA website. The relevant part is FCL 815.
I got my private pilot license before my driver's license. That was half a century ago !
Ratings: night, mountain, glider, glider towing, seaplane. The only one I am really using now is the mountain rating, which allows the use of the mountain strips in the Alps, Massif Central and Pyrennees.
All my flying was done in Aero Club aircraft until I buy a Robin DR380 four seater in 1991. I sold it in 2001 when I purchased my Europa. Surprisingly those two aircraft carry the same serial number: 395.
My flying is mostly cross country (France and occasionally contiguous countries), sight seeing and mountain landings.
I now (Nov. 2017) have 3400 hours total, including 1400 in the Europa.
I was an aeronautical engineer and the major part of my career was in the aerospace industry.
I was allowed to do my own maintenance on my type certificated Robin and based on that experience, I was granted an EASA Part 66 aircraft mechanic license by the authorities. But I do not need that license to perform my own maintenance on the Europa.
Since we are retired, my wife and I live in the Bordeaux area, which is located in the south west of France, not far from the Atlantic coast. Our Europa is based at LFCS were we share a new hangar with two other aircraft. We also have a house at walking distance of the airfield of Gap (LFNA) in the sunny South Alps. We commute back and forth between our two homes using the Europa. My wife does not like flying, but she accepts to come with me if the destination is attractive enough and the weather excellent. She also appreciate flying as a convenient means of transportation between our two locations, as two hours and a quarter flying easily beat seven hours driving !
Years ago, our son also was infected by the flying bug and became a fighter pilot.
My Europa is an XS monowheel, kit number 395, first flew in 2000. It was almost new when I purchased it in 2001. The builder had experienced a lot of trouble with the 914 engine, and following a forced landing, he was afraid of flying it. There were a lot of work to be done on the aircraft to make it reliable enough and that included the replacement of the engine with a 912 ULS in 2005. Then I installed an Airmaster constant speed propeller in 2006. Others features include long range tank, speed kit and many mods of my own design.
Avionics now include a Garmin G5 EFIS, 8.33 com radio, mode S and a TruTrak autopilot.
The aircraft has 1460 hours total now (Nov. 2017)