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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Interview SKYWALK . Mr Arne Wehrlin .

Dear Arne, 

I hope you are doing well in those difficult times! 
As all pilots in the world are staying home, I thought that I could ask designers a few questions about their products in order to keep the pilots home give them hope and to inform them about Skywalk product expectations. 

1- Ziad:  How’s Skywalk managing this crisis? Is the team working from home? Will this situation affect the production of the development and construction of the new gliders? 

Arne: Hi as nearly the world market is shut down, it is clear that it is a very difficult situation for all in our market. We have a lot of people working from home and we have normal daily work with a few people. We offered pilots to check their wings now during the shutdown and we are receiving quite a lot. So our workshop has plenty of work. Still, some markets sell as they reopened like china or have some have no shutdown. Therefore we consequently started direct shipments from our Thailand production.
Customer service and warehouse are running with a lower capacity due to less turn over but we are able to react fast if the situation will change to better sales.
From the R&D, for sure the most difficult situation is that our designers and test-pilots are blocked in Austria Tirol, but we hope that they are allowed to fly in the near future.

2- Ziad: One of my favorite gliders was the CAYENNE5 XS. Many pilots around the world loved the nimble, direct, precise brake and overall feel of that glider. Actually, the TEQUILA4, CAYENNE5, CHILI4, and the X-ALPS, all had this little SPICE that gives you the exact thermal feel, even the excellent low B TEQUILA 4. With the T5, this SPICE feel was substituted for overall comfort and more accessibility. My question comes to the new crop of gliders. Will the CAYENNE 6 inherit that magical feel and brake control of the CAYENNE5? 

Arne: Generally I think besides the T5 where the target was to have a LOW B with fewer movements, I think you know that the ARAK has the SPICE and the comfort together. So we made a great step into comfort and spicy taste in the new wings. And this was also the goal that we reached for CAYENNE 6. We are very satisfied with the direct and intuitive handling of this wing.

3- Ziad: Did SKYWALK try to see the difference between the CAYENNE 5 and CAYENNE 6 in moving flying side by side? If yes what are the differences that pilots will expect? 

Arne: The CAYENNE 6 will have good comfort for the pilot to get easily all the performance together with spicy handling. It is easier to fly fast with this wing, as it is stable and has a great pitch control with very light and efficient C Steering. It is again a very good climber and pitch stability give an extraordinary performance during turbulence. Steering pressure allows comfortable long flights. Besides these things, we will use a new material which is extremely strong and extremely robust. The TX-Light material. It was developed exclusively for our kite brand FLYSURFER and it is kind of bulletproof. It has an innovative triple Rip-Stop which makes it very strong against wear and tear even though it is only 33g.
When you glide with a C5 besides a C6 you will see the performance difference and if you turn flat or steep you will climb very good. But the efficiency you can reach flying with a C6 is the main difference to CAYENNE5.
You know: the X-ALPS4 wing was recognized as the best glider during the last X-ALPS. Even pilots flying competitor wings stated this and the C6 is based on this X-ALPS4 knowledge..…. So we love the C6, and we expect pilots will feel the same :-). They can be curious.

4-Ziad: When pilots will expect a light version of the C6? SPICE2? 

Arne: At the moment, our goal is to finish in these difficult times the homologation of C6, as DHV is not able to fly these days. Even though our designers cannot fly. So it's not easy to predict now when a SPICE 2 is coming. The CAYENNE 6 is quite light but when we have it finished, then its easier to tell when the new SPICE is coming. These days, it's not possible to predict seriously.

5- Ziad: IMHO, the CHILI4 still has super close overall performance as the best B’s of the moment, but with a pleasurable handling and nimble brake feel. Where could you place the CHILI 5 in that matter? And will it possible to add more gliding power and climbing ability? Can you please comment on the CHILI5 expectations?  Will it be a Cumeo2 also

Arne: You are right the same as CAYENNE 5 is still a great performing wing the CHILI 4 is still also at the top of the performance. So thanks to our R&D Team, they are really making such high-performance wings. If I would have some wishes then it is an optimized movement of the wing during turbulent conditions. This should be a little less, even though in our philosophy we like some movements of the wings. We like that the air starts to be visible with our wings. Our wings are not hiding too much of the conditions the pilot is flying in. So the pilot knows whats going on. We want that the pilot can read the air with our wings in a comfortable save way. No surprises about what is happening. But also comfort to fly relaxed on long flights. So this is the goal and all this is resulting in our new wings like ARAK, X-ALPS 4, CAYENNE6 and then CHILI5.  So our goal to reach is clear and we see with ARAK and X-ALPS 4 that this is the right way to go for Skywalk. Besides the feeling the pitch stability and connected with this the performance in turbulent conditions will still be the part to improve step by step. And our wings will climb very efficiently, this is part of our DNA.  

6- Ziad: Will Skywalk release a D glider for regular use? 3 liner or 2 liners in the future? We discussed in the past about those super tiny risers on the X-alp glider, and you replied that this is the only version available. Any option for more robust material in the future? 

Arne: This still stays a tricky question. At the moment it is not even clear what X-ALPS Athletes prefer in the Competition.
3-Liner and used to fly with better performance or 2 liners with less performance. So the rumor is that the 2 liners have a better gliding then 3 liners, but if you make a 2 liner very light for X-ALPS you lose a lot of performance so the X-ALPS 3 liners have sometimes even more performance then the 2 liners.
So it's still not easy to decide. We are discussing with our athletes like Paul, Simon, Tommy … what they need for X-ALPS 2021. So at the moment, I cannot tell you more about the 2/3 Liner development these days. We know that our X-ALPS 4 (3 Liner) is one of the best X-ALPS wings on the market. It's just also a kind of “fashion” flying a 2 liner. So in our eyes, 2 Liner make sense for competition but maybe not for all kind of competitions.   

7-Ziad: The X-ALPS harness with inflatable back protection is indeed a great harness. Many pilots wished for a slightly rugged version. Is it hard for Skywalk to just change the outside material for the same specs? 

Arne: I think actually the pilots who ask for a slightly rugged version do not mean exactly what you say. I think the Range X-ALPS 2 is very successful because it is light and very comfortable, safe and small packing volume and for this all it's still robust. The people who want a more robust version would also want a little bit more foam in the seat. They want to have space at the front container for a bigger rescue. They need a bigger place for some ballast, they want a tube hole for the toilet during xc flights. They want some more pockets, zippers…..So actually they expect all a bit more details. This would mean we need to work on the rescue container and so on….. So I think if we just change a bit material, then the pilots would say I expected a bit more of this or that. So in our eyes, the right strategy is to work on a Pod harness with all these features and still small packing volume and a safe PERMAIR-Protector. And this is what we are doing but this still needs time, but we are working on it. The Range X-ALPS 2 shall stay light that the pilots who want to get a light safe high-quality small packing harness, can get one from Skywalk. And these pilots would not like it heavier. So we want to keep the positioning of the products clear and do not mix all up, as, in the end, we would have nothing clear anymore.

8- Ziad: Is Skywalk considering a heavier pod harness or even a 5 kg pod harness? 

Arne: This is what we talk about but the goal is to be lighter than 5 kg for sure. I think in the question before you asked exactly for the harness which is needed in this question now. Otherwise, we would have a 1,8 kg a 2,4 kg and a 5 kg harness which makes less sense than having a 1,8kg and a 4kg harness. Because with our PERMAIR-protection the packing will still stay small. J

9- Ziad: Anything you would like to add concerning SKYWALK products? 

Arne: CAYENNE 6 is most important and we talked about it already but the Mescal 6 with the Agility System is an incredible step forward. This system allows you to change your handling when you grow from a student into an independent pilot. The wing grows with you. The system is law secured and its such a great development, that we are sure it will be a big step in the market for the future. In our flysurfer kite products, it is normal that the kiter can change the behavior of his kite, by some adjustment possibilities. So the result is the agility system in the Mescal 6.
It is a system where you can change the complete brake Geometry of the wing. You have two options, the comfort mode, and the sport mode. In the comfort mode, the brake is pulled more in the middle and in the sport mode the wing is pulled more at the outside. The wing is delivered in the comfort mode and when the pilot is more experienced he can change it by himself or the dealer can change it. He has in both modes the EN A class.
It will be interesting how this system will go on in the future.

Thanks a lot. Bye Arne

Ziad: Thank you, Arne, for taking the time to answer my questions ! Looking forward to the Cayenne 6! :-)