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Europa XS Trigear - any experiences or alternatives?

Having realised that a certified type within my budget would be both very old and in dire need of cash injection, I’ve decided to look at permit aircraft. By chance, I have also started doing what I never though I’d do: flying a C152 from a 400M farm strip. It turns out this type of flying is great fun, though I am aware of the lower utility value compared to proper airports etc…

My intended mission for the next 2-3 years is VFR touring around UK and northern Europe, with 1 passenger.

There is of course a huge range of non certified types available, and my budget is around 45K. I do not expect 4 seats and I’m open to both Rotax or traditional engines, but all the newer types are Rotax it seems.

I briefly looked at Jodels, specifically the D120 as these are commonly for sale in the UK. However, sitting in one quickly showed that it was not going to be comfortable for long legs, given that it was designed 70 years ago for 60kg Frenchmen. The larger D150 and D1050 are fine in terms of space and comfort but not really what I’m after.

RVs are out of my budget. I have zero interest in anything with weird handling characteristics or ones that trade safety for speed (Glasair, Lancair). I am also avoiding “left field” types which aren’t popular, since if a type is unpopular it’s usually for a reason and parts and support/community will be lacking.

There are a plethora of Rotax powered two seaters on the market, but a lot of them are really quite expensive (Sting, VL3, Pipistrel etc..). Sure, they’re new and fast and have parachutes etc… but for the price of these aircraft I would not want the limitations imposed on non certified types in Europe.

The one which keeps coming up is the Europa. The bottom of the market for an old tatty one with an 80hp Rotax is about 20K and this goes up to 50K for a Rotax 914 powered XS version with nice avionics. I’d be looking at an XS Trigear version, not a monowheel.

Yesterday I sat in an XS model and found that it was really comfortable, with actually a lot of room between the passengers. The seats are quite narrow and against the sides of the cockpit, but the overall cockpit width is surprisingly good. I’m 6’0 and even with extra seat padding there was a really good amount of legroom. No problems there. I’ll arrange a flight in one soon to see what it’s like, since that part is obviously quite important… So far I really like the cabin and comfort, and the performance (speed, range) are ideal for my needs right now. Being able to drop into small grass strips is a nice bonus for UK touring.

Given the performance, they do seem to be almost suspiciously cheap. Is there a reason for this that current owners don’t like to talk about? I assume it’s because the design isn’t the most recent (mid 90s) and they are all kit built with filling and fibreglass work required, so they are all slightly different. Is that why or does anyone know of something else? Perhaps I’m making a mistake by comparing the price to newer factory built designs?

Likewise, if anyone can think of a design that I’m overlooking then do let me know.

A related question: My understanding is that Rotax engines prefer Mogas to Avgas. At your home base it’s fine to fill up some jerry cans from the local petrol station, but when touring or going to proper airports which only sell Avgas or Jet-A, what do Rotax owners do? Do they really get a jerry can out of the back of the plane and get a lift to the local petrol station? I’m not concerned about the cost difference, just practicality.

United Kingdom

One thing I forgot to ask about in my OP:

Many of these non certified types have very few hours for their age. Many of them average 50hrs at most per year, with some of the for sale ads indicating only a few hours on top of the original test flying over the space of a few years. Is this just due to the type of people that usually own them, or are these types somehow not suitable for regular use? Perhaps they have a virtually 0% dispatch rate during the winter? Of course, they are not used for training so this will keep hours down. Any insight would be great.

United Kingdom

The range of non certified aircraft is huge. Both factory built and flown as orphans, kit planes, and those built from plans. The Europa IMO is an exceptionally well designed kit aircraft so if buying one ready built you need to find out about the builder and whether you have confidence in their abilities. The LAA helps there.
In France non certified aircraft and experimentals have to go through a series of checks like in the UK, these are carried out by a section of the DGAC called OSAC. All permit aircraft have advantages and limitations eg day vfr only in many European countries. In some the limitations can be reduced, eg Night VFR through extra tests and equipment.
No good for a 6 footer but I adored flying the tiny Menestral with a friend. It was one of those aircraft you could just pull out of the hangarbwith one hand and just go flying. It’s Limbach engine would have us cruising along at 175km/ph on about 10 litres of avgas or mogas.
For the less vertically challenged Piel have a super range of designs. The Super Emeraud based on a similar design to that on which the Cap 10 îs built is also a great aircraft to fly. As I say there are many out there. If built carefully and passed all the tests, they can be a great way to get many hours of flying in without great expense. I would tend to agree the Cessna 150/152 have gone up in price, a lot, but last time I looked there were several beautiful C140s at not a great deal of money. Then there are Austers, Taylorcraft and even Luscombes, not fast, but not a lot of money and not high maintenance .
Just some thougts.


I own 2 permit aircraft at the moment, and wouldn’t want to own one if I could avoid it. The real magic for a private owner-operator is an aircraft already on the N-reg and get access to a hangar where you can work comfortably. If you can develop a relationship with an IA, or Part 66 guy then you can work away. Permit aircraft still need lots of maintenance. My Cub needs as many man-hours per year, as say, a Grumman AA5. An Alpi Pioneer 300 will need as much maintenance as a 172. The difference each year between a:

1) permit at say £600 quid for a renewal inc LAA fee’s
2) an A&P/IA to inspect your work on N reg at say £600-£1000
3) basic certified ARC/Annual at £2500

is very little… The saving on the inspection side is £19 per hour if you fly 100hrs a year. If you leave your permit aircraft into a workshop, they do not have a special hourly rate just because it’s on a permit. So in reality you see very few permit aircraft in full-service workshops, thus the implication is the owners have the skills and talent to maintain them themselves. If you have the skills and talent to balance carbs on a Rotax 912, then you are likely to be well able to do most of the owner maintenance tasks on a certified aircraft. You could argue the parts are cheaper, that is sometimes true, but there is no permit aircraft rate at LAS/Adams when you want a Battery, Rivets, Oil, Filters etc. The non-certified EarthX battery I need for my Cub is the same price as the Concorde I need for our 172.

There are lots of certified aircraft that will do all you want, cost less than 45k and not eat you alive. Max Conrad flew the Atlantic in a Tri-Pacer I could buy for half the budget. How far do you need to go…

Buying, Selling, Flying
EISG, Ireland

Many thanks for the input. To be clear, I’m not looking at permit aircraft to save Mx costs, and I know that certified doesn’t have to be as expensive as the permit crowd likes to make out. However, I do not want to own a 60 or 70 year old certified type, and any certified aircraft for ~£45k is going to be old and will be a gamble at best. I don’t need to tell anyone how crazy prices are right now for desirable types (8000 warrior 2 for 150k!?).

I intend on doing maintenance myself anyway. I work in engineering and have rebuilt cars and engines, and have experience working on aircraft up to King Air level so owner maintenance is intended regardless of what I buy. However, the local farm strips are fine with maintenance in the hangars, my local airport (Shoreham) is not.

If my budget was around £150K I could get a decent touring machine on N reg, but given current prices even that would be a stretch. Bottom line: I don’t want to own an old aeroplane. I decided this quickly after looking at old Jodels.

Last Edited by IO390 at 30 Jul 21:58
United Kingdom

IO390 wrote:

I do not want to own a 60 or 70 year old certified type, and any certified aircraft for ~£45k is going to be old and will be a gamble at best.

I’d far sooner take a gamble on something that was made in a factory and had accumulated millions of fleet hours, than something persons unknown to me built in their garage after work. If you read about the development and engineering at Cessna, Piper and Beech at that time, you would want to own a piece of their efforts. No kit plane designer could ever emulate their testing, engineering and model improvement. I buy aeroplanes every week, sometimes 2 or 3 in a week and I never consider it a gamble. The outcome is never in doubt.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EISG, Ireland

Sure, but you’re buying aeroplanes to sell, not to live with for potentially years. Presumably you have your maintenance setup well established. And for your business it surely is far less risky to flip known certified spamcans rather than highly variable homebuilts. OTOH, I don’t see that as a problem as I’m happy to wait and turn down anything that doesn’t fit the bill.

Even an OK Grumman is at the top of my budget with little more than a Narco radio, Mode S and unrestored 1980s interior.

An old certified aircraft within my budget will have totally outdated avionics, will likely be in poor general condition and tatty. Unless I’m missing something?

United Kingdom

Funny to see WilliamF suggesting exactly what I am doing (N-reg)

The “ground situation convenience” (which is key to enjoying flying) hangs #1 on the availability of a hangar one can work in. #2 is who will work on it… on a Permit you can do it yourself, on a CofA it is a lot easier to find an FAA A&P than a freelance EASA66 (which is why the vast majority of CofA planes in Europe are maintained by companies, despite the Part-ML concessions). In the UK, a Permit must be G-reg since the others are all basically banned from long term parking.

For someone new to the game, an N-reg would be more steps, due to the dual papers requirement (which is in both EASA FCL and in the UK ANO). Although not that much more work. UK PPL + 61.75 + BFR = FAA PPL. UK IR + foreign pilot IR exam (need to go to the US for the exam) = FAA IR. Only the UK medical would be needed.

If you want uptime and for going places, rather than something to tinker with / get away from the wife then buying something in good condition is the key, and generally that means buying something above average recent. Especially for someone new to the game.

Bear in mind that if you land at say the Scilly Isles and the thing doesn’t start, you will need lots of hair – because you will tear out most of it trying to work out the logistics of how to get that situation sorted. And post-accident, most cases in places like that get scrapped by the insurer.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think we are missing the point. The OP wants
the ability to fly in and out of short strips where there is the chance of hangarage and no airfield politics so that he can work on the aircraft himself of which he is quite capable and enthusiastic about.
He does not want a tatty old spam can, which in the certified world is all he can get for his budget. So it doesn’t really matter what register the aircraft is on, from that point of view it is not suitable.
In the uncertified world, I get the impression that the performance of Jodels would be enough, however they are for the most part, shall we say not very comfortable and a little basic in terms of interior (an old Austin A40 comes to mind) and lacking in the instrument department. In defence of many of my friends, who have just built, or are still building Jodels they can and do design them around themselves. I was quite impressed by one friend’s recently built D19 with luxurious leather seating and a panel including an IPAD pro and yet at the same time maintaining a certain Jean Delamontez vibe.
The same can be said for a Piel Sapphir I saw recently. Gorgeous machine.
But getting back to the requirements of the OP,
RVs might be good, but too expensive. So the only kit built I can think of that on the face of it fits the bill would be the MCR 01. I think one recently was for sale on Planecheck for around that sort of budget.


gallois wrote:

So the only kit built I can think of that on the face of it fits the bill would be the MCR 01. I think one recently was for sale on Planecheck for around that sort of budget.

I sold my Alpi 300 to a guy who had an MCR01. He was a senior Lufthansa guy, who worked at the Bremen base. He was delighted to be rid of it when it went off the runway on him. The guys who sold it to him, also capable guys in that space, were also over the moon to be rid of it. Ultimately it went to Eastern Europe, got fixed up and was back on Planecheck. There are lots of certified aeroplanes that can fly in and out of ridiculously short strips and are easy to maintain.

IO390 wrote:

Sure, but you’re buying aeroplanes to sell, not to live with for potentially years.

Myself and my business partner both operate/buy/improve long term aeroplanes that are not for sale.

IO390 wrote:

tatty. Unless I’m missing something?

Tatty is exactly what I would buy if I was keeping it. Tatty paint and interior are easy and cheap to fix, takes less than 1 month.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EISG, Ireland
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