The Rolladen-Schneider LS8 is a Standard and 18 metre class single-seat glider developed by Rolladen-Schneider and in series production since 1995. Currently it is manufactured by DG Flugzeugbau.
By the mid-to–late eighties the LS4 had lost its leading position in the Standard Class to new arrivals, in particular the excellent Discus from Schempp-Hirth. The LS7, in spite of its advanced design, did not recapture the lead and, with flagging sales, Rolladen-Schneider went back to the drawing board.
Designer Wolf Lemke was skeptical of the usefulness of developing a new airfoil. There was no guarantee that the large effort and investment required would bring any palpable gains, as the LS7, ASW 24 and DG-600 had clearly shown. The tools available at the time were simply not up to the task of reliably predicting the performance in everyday conditions of the newer laminar profiles then emerging from the research labs.
The 15 meter Class LS6 was however achieving surprisingly good results flying with locked flaps in the non-FAI sanctioned Sports Class in the United States. Following this lead, Rolladen-Schneider modified an LS6-c by removing the flap handle, resetting the wing at a slightly higher angle of incidence and adding winglets. This experimental prototype outperformed state-of-the-art standard class sailplanes both in side-by-side flight tests and in contests including the German Championships at Neustadt-Glewe.
The LS8 that finally emerged in 1994 had a few improvements over the prototype, the most significant being the redesigned ailerons and the lighter and aerodynamically cleaner wing made possible by deleting the flap system.
LS8's scored second, fourth and fifth in the 1995 World Gliding Championships at Omarama, New Zealand, first, second and third in the 1997 World Gliding Championships at St Auban, France, six out of the first ten positions in the 1999 World Gliding Championships in Bayreuth, Germany, the first three places in the 2001 Women's World Gliding Championships in Lithuania and, more recently, first (and nine out of the first ten places) in the 2005 Women's World Gliding Championships in Klix, Germany. In 2006 World Gliding Championships at Eskilstulna, Sweden, LS8 took the first and third places. LS8 was the winner of 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007 European Gliding Championship. Many regard it as the best all-round standard class glider.Commercially the LS8 was very successful, due to its competition potential and to the gentle and easy flight characteristics that make it suitable for club and leisure flying. Primarily to cater to the latter market, versions with longer wings and a ‘turbo’ or sustainer version were developed. A total of 491 examples of all subtypes had been manufactured by December 2005.
Despite the commercial success of the LS8 the company producing it failed to prosper and after a slightly acrimonious court battle the LS8 and other Rolladen-Schneider aircraft passed to DG (DG Flugzeugbau) where the LS8 with some alterations to the mainwheel, the Turbo version etc. is still in current series production with slightly different model designations from the originals.