The Skyranger was created in Toulouse, the capital of the French aviation industry by Phillippe Prevot and BestOff engineering. Phillippe was well known as an innovator in flexwing microlight design, moving to fixedwing he designed the first Skyranger in 1991, with first flights of the prototype in 1992.
The design brief was to produce a high performance fixedwing aircraft of conventional layout which would conform to the Microlight category definition, with good creature comforts, whilst doing so with the simplest possible construction, in order to create a machine with good affordability, whilst being suited to amateur construction, and offering ongoing ease of maintenance.
During the design and development phase, Phillippe partnered with with one of the most respected aeronautical colleges – ENSICA, under the direction of Jean Poulain. This partnership enabled detailed professional studies to be made of structural elements and optimisation of flight performance.
Initially the production was in France, where the first 200 kits were manufactured between 1993 and 1998. Following this, manufacture of the main structure was subcontracted to Aeros in Kiev – Ukraine. At the same time the design was reviewed and updated with several improvements. Aeros is a well respected company primarily known for their Hang glider production, where they are class leaders with several world championship wins to their credit. Formed during the decline of the Former Soviet Union, most of the staff are highly trained aviation engineers, formerly working in the Antonov aircraft factory in Kiev.
Since then over a further 1350 Skyranger series aircraft have been produced, and 350 Nynja’s (at mid 2022) bring total production to over 1800. The Skyranger proving extremely popular in Europe, USA, South America, Australia, and many other parts of the globe.
The UK connection is provided by Flylight Airsports Ltd, who recognised the potential market for the Skyranger in the UK. In partnership with BestOff, Flylight put the Skyranger through the tough UK certification system, and several changes and improvements were incorporated during the process. The first kits were delivered to UK customers in 2003. The Skyranger was extremely well received in the UK, rapidly becoming a best seller, and now has the prestige of being the most numerous fixedwing microlight type on the UK register.
The first variant in the UK was the Skyranger ‘classic’, initially certified with the Rotax 912 80hp engine option. The range of approved engines was then expanded to include the 65hp Rotax 582 two stroke, 85hp jabiru2200, and the 100hp Rotax 912ULS.
This was followed by the introduction of the Skyranger Swift model. The Swift shares the same fuselage design with the Skyranger classic, but features a shorter wingspan. This takes advantage of the 80hp and above engine options, and delivers higher cruise speeds. At the same time as the introduction of the Swift, several other improvements were introduced to the range, including the more durable Xlam covering option, and upgraded interior options.
Then came the Skyranger Nynja. The Nynja shares the same wing frame with the Swift, but features a redesigned fuselage structure, with full composite panels to form the exterior, giving enhanced aesthetics, reducing drag and increasing the performance. As befits the top of the range machine it also has several other enhancements as standard equipment.
After this the Swift was re visited, to incorporate some of the features and development work learned with the Nynja project. Renamed Swift 2, it is distinguished from the earlier model with a new vertical tail shape, doors, instrument panel, exhaust system and undercarriage shared with the Nynja. The cowlings have been face-lifted too. The result was a lighter structure, enhanced visibility and better looks, whilst retaining its unbeatable low entry price.
in 2021 the Swift 3 was introduced with further refinements and commonality with Nynja details.
The Swift 3 and Nynja now form the current range with standard engine options rationalised to the Rotax 912UL (80hp) and 912ULS (100hp).
The traditional microlight category is now being changed in many countries and replaced with a 600kg microlight or light sport category. New for 2022 is approval of Nynja and Swift 3 in 600kg max takeoff weight specification. most of the basic structure is common to the traditional microlight versions, with small detail changes for the higher weight. the most obvious visual change is a new main landing gear system replacing the two ‘half springs’ with a one piece landing gear main spring of 7075T6 aluminium, working in a double cantilever spring action. Empty weights are a little higher, but payloads have risen impressively, with more than 300kg payload available according to specification and options, offering fabulous utility potential.