“We thank Cessna for getting people all excited about a high-wing, all-metal, Continental O-200-powered LSA,” exclaimed John Degonia, sales director for AMD, seller of the Zodiac CH-601. The Wichita giant has confirmed LSA enthusiasm with more than 700 Skycatcher orders, but it will be two years before the first deliveries. This delay is helping AMD take orders for their new Patriot 150. *** “It’s a two seat, 46-inch wide 172,” added John. The proven design formula gives Georgia-based AMD a high and low wing to address both market interests. CH-601 designer Chris Heintz “put his own spin on it,” said Degonia, “making it a shorter takeoff and landing design, and beefing it up to handle the O-200 Continental engine.” AMD is also planning an amphib version as “half our inquiries ask about floats,” said John. Patriot is priced at $89,900 for a day/night VFR version with a radio and avionics airplane for about $97,000.
Eastman Aviation (formerly AMD)Eastman, GA 31023 - USA
|Empty weight||580 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,100 pounds|
|Wing area||122 square feet|
|Wing loading||9.0 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||520 pounds|
|Payload (with full fuel)||400 pounds|
|Cabin Interior||41 inches at shoulder|
|Fuel Capacity||20 gallons|
|Baggage area||40 pounds, cabin shelf|
|Kit type||Construction kit|
|Build time||350 to 400 hours|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power||80 hp at 5,800 rpm|
|Power loading||13.8 pounds/hp|
|Max Speed||95 mph|
|Cruise speed||80 mph|
|Stall Speed||30 mph|
|Never exceed speed||110 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,200 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||90 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||150 feet|
|Range (powered)||400 miles - 5 hours|
|Fuel Consumption||about 4.0 gph|
|Standard Features||80-hp Rotax 912, with electric starter, stainless steel exhaust, radiator, and 3-blade Warp Drive prop; dual 10-gallon fuel wing tanks (20 galoms total); wide, dual doors; independent hydraulic brakes; mechanical flaps; 16-inch tundra tires, removable wings (also see options); complete engine instrument package (Rotax); fully enclosed cabin; in-flight trim; sturdy single piece landing gear construction; steerable nosewheel; all-metal wings, tail, and fuselage; seat belts with shoulder harness.|
|Options||100-hp Rotax 912S (as tested) and several other engine sizes and brands; additional fuel tanks (40 gallons total); electric trim; folding wings; amphibious or straight floats; cockpit-widening "bubble" doors (add six inches of effective cabin space and more visibility); navigation and strobe lights; cabin heat (with Rotax engine); additional instruments.|
|Construction||All-metal airframe, wing, and tail; many skins predrilled; factory-riveted wing spars and lower cabin frame sides; fiberglass fairing. Kit components made in the USA; sold by U.S.-owned company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Short takeoff and landing (STOL) design uses fixed slats to achieve excellent performance. Highly functional aircraft; can operate easily from short, unimproved strips. More than 20 years of field experience with more than 700 CH 701's flying.
Cons - If you're looking for sleek or pretty, the CH 701 isn't your bird. Not fast enough for regular, long cross-country flights. Available only in kit form at present (though cost is therefore lower). Builder remains the "manufacturer" indefinitely.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Flaps, trim, electric start, differential brakes are all standard on the CH 701. Fuel (20 gallons standard) contained in the wings, away from occupants. Engine access through easily removed cowling. Generous useful load allows adding optional equipment without losing utility.
Cons - Flap handle proved challenging for me to deploy to the last notch (though this may have been a fact of the new, test aircraft). Trim control located only on left half of stick. Flap position must be checked via lever position or visual; no indicator (though builder could add it if desired).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - With "bubble" doors, the CH 701 is adequately roomy for all but the largest occupants. Baggage space in hat rack position. Very easy entry through wide doors; good for larger or less flexible occupants. Shoulder belts standard. Doors secure well. Reach to panel is good.
Cons - Cabin is modestly wide compared to many LSA (though "bubble" doors add effective width). Center joystick tended to hit right-seat occupant in flight (though I was deflecting more than most normal inputs). Interior is rather Spartan unless builder elaborates.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Strong, differential brakes aid ground handling. Gear and structure can handle fairly rough terrain. Skylight adds good upward visibility for traffic checking prior to takeoff. Landing gear easily able to handle fairly rough terrain. Good ground clearance.
Cons - Lateral visibility is less open than in the bubble canopy CH 601. Test aircraft had brakes only on the left; going dual will add some cost and weight. No other ground handling negatives.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Takeoff is very rapid and requires a very short distance, perhaps the model's top attribute; ground roll is only 100 feet and rotation starts almost immediately, thanks partly to leading edge slats. Approach speeds can be very slow with practice, good for the shortest field landings.
Cons - Landings have a slight challenge that demands a little practice; you must keep the nose up once lifted or the CH 701 merely resumes flying. Sink rate after power retarded is quite high (1,000 fpm); this is a useful design feature allowing STOL landings, but you have to anticipate.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Aileron forces were very pleasant and responsive. Efficient rudder control surface, a full flying design (but see "Cons"). Pitch forces were light without being sensitive, a good combination. Control forces at very low airspeeds permitted by wing/slat design were reasonable.
Cons - Control harmony hard to check in test aircraft as rudders were still tightly adjusted; tended to stick slightly (though possibly only on this aircraft). Wing can fly so slowly that controls necessarily become more sluggish due to low airflow.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Terrific takeoff performance, better than all but the very lightest ultralights. Climb very strong at 1,000+ fpm at gross. Very capable airplane for low-and-slow flying over landable terrain; extremely slow speeds (in the 30s) with practice and caution.
Cons - Rather high idle thrust sink rate (1,000 fpm); neither glide is very long (though this is considered a deliberate design feature for a STOL airplane). Cruise speed of 80 mph won't carry you too far. Fuel at 20 gallons standard is four hours or less (though sufficient for most operations).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Mild stalls at most angles and speeds (though see "Cons"). Longitudinal and lateral stability appeared very normal in all tests. Response to power input/decrease from trim flight was positive and predictable with few oscillations.
Cons - Stalls with the 100-hp CH 701 (as tested) can be done aggressively enough to cause a sharper break (though recovery remains quick and simple). Adverse yaw was quite significant, something to be remembered at very low speeds the CH 701 can achieve.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Longtime, well-proven supplier (est. 1992) gets excellent comments from customers for technical support and customer service. Can be flown by Sport Pilot certificate holder. Can get airborne with good basic equipment for about $35,000 (and 400 hours of your labor), far less than many light sport aircraft.
Cons - Not a Special- or Experimenta light-sport aircraft (yet), so Amateur-built rules mean builder always remains the "manufacturer," with attendant legal responsibility. Build time is 350 to 400 hours (though factory support can ease the burden). Even $35,000 is more than some ultralight kits (though with 4-stroke engines, it will be closer).
Every Light Sport & Ultralight Flying magazine reader has probably heard of off-road vehicles. How about an “off-airport” flying machine? You may not have used the term but you probably know one of the candidates: Zenith Aircraft’s highly functional CH 701. No one calls the CH 701 the most handsome aircraft in the fleet. That title may be better reserved for sleek carbon fiber jobs. But as a practical aircraft appealing to ultralight enthusiasts, the Chris Heintz design with a 20-year history is head of its class. While the design has not changed much in those two decades, the kit has changed quite a bit to make the builder’s effort easier. The designs of engineer Chris Heintz have been around a long time, beginning with his early Zipper ultralight-like aircraft. A prolific and versatile creator, his aircraft models have put nearly 3,000 builders in the air. The low-wing CH 601 series is the most popular at better than 60% of all Zenith models followed by more than 700 CH 701’s now flying around the world.
Bad as in-flight break-up accidents are, many opinions often blur the big picture. Last spring NTSB recommended FAA “ground the fleet,” so to say. FAA chose further study. When additional CH-601s became involved, media and organizations jumped on the bandwagon. Let’s review. *** The focus is on the CH-601XL, of which about 1,500 kits have been sold since its introduction in 1984. Approximately half are complete and flying, said Zenith boss, Sebastien Heintz. *** Of the airplanes that broke up two were fully-built SLSA. One was built by Czech Aircraft Works; the other by AMD. The rest are owner-built kits… essentially one-off airplanes. Comparing one to a factory-built airplane is apples and oranges. *** Some allege Zenith and AMD have ignored the problem, but lots of detailed info on Zenith’s website suggests otherwise. Sebastien buttressed this saying, “We believe our effort is an example of an industry doing the right thing.
Consider the Zenair / Zenith / AMD family of enterprises… Following family patriarch, Canadian Chris Heintz (the designer) are Missouri-based son Sebastien Heintz (the kit supplier) and Georgia-based son Mathieu Heintz (the aircraft producer). Another sibling, Michael Heintz acts as a dealer in California. The Heintzes also have a family of aircraft models. *** Zenith Aircraft Company supplies kits for the 2-seat CH-650 and CH-750 plus the 4-seat CH-801. AMD supplies fully built versions of the 650 and 750 plus the Part 23-certified Alarus. In 2008 the family companies upgraded their top sellers: CH-601 and CH-701. Of these the CH-750 LS is the newest Special LSA on our list. *** Though it visually looks like the CH 701, the 750 LS stands two inches taller and is 11 inches longer with a 2-foot 9-inch greater wingspan, bumping wing area to 144 square feet from 122 on the CH 701.
At Oshkosh, FAA held a meeting to announce their LSA Assessment Project. The agency that gave birth to Light-Sport Aircraft in the summer of 2004 is now embarking on a fact-finding tour they say will judge the “health of the industry,” part of their “aviation safety oversight.” Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? However, officials also stated clearly and repeatedly, “What this assessment and evaluation is not is an individual Light-Sport manufacturer’s compliance audit.” *** Indeed, Terry Chasteen, the new head LSA man in the Small Aircraft Directorate characterized the day-long visits by two teams of two inspectors as benign. He’ll be joined by Tom Gunnarson, former president of LAMA now with the LSA office. The visits started this week at Tecnam’s U.S. quarters; AMD, Aircraft Manufacturing and Design; Fantasy Air USA / LSA America; and P&M Aviation USA.
The U.S. economy is hardly crashing, but while slipping backwards in late 2007 and early 2008, it has been on a bumpy plateau. This unevenness causes trouble for many businesses. Even giant coffee seller, Starbucks, is rejiggering their business model to adjust for folks balking at $4 coffee while their stock portfolio lurches up and down. Light-Sport Aircraft sales also reflect that lack of consumer confidence. *** Figures for the first two months of 2008 show slightly more than 40 aircraft registrations per month. In 2007, the industry averaged 47 aircraft registrations per month. Of course, this 15% decrease also comes while many northern states have endured awful winter flying weather, partially explaining why sales are off the beat. Despite a cloudy overcast some bright spots emerge. *** CZAW‘s SportCruiser led the pack with more than 17% growth during January and February. AMD is close behind with 14% growth, and CubCrafters continues their climb with 7.5% growth.
|Empty weight||770 pounds 1|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wing area||132 square feet|
|Wing loading||9.9 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||550 pounds 1|
|Payload (with full fuel)||370 pounds 1|
|Cabin Interior||44 inches wide|
|Fuel Capacity||30 gallons|
|Baggage area||40 pounds|
|Notes:||1 Empty weight, useful load, and payload are for the basic VFR Zodiac 601 XL model.|
|Standard engine||Continental 0-200|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||124 mph|
|Stall Speed (Flaps)||44 mph|
|Never exceed speed||161 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,000 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||450 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||670 feet|
|Range (powered)||6 hours, 780 miles (no reserve)|
|Fuel Consumption||5.0 gph|
|Notes:||2-blade Sensenich propeller.|
Max demonstrated crosswind component: 23 mph.
The strongest interest in readyto- fly special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) to date has come from pilots operating Cessna, Piper, Mooney, and other general aviation (GA) aircraft. It is estimated that more than 100,000 currently certificated pilots are looking at their prospects for maintaining an up-to-date second- or third-class FAA medical and considering the LSA option. Many are concluding that LSA are worthy airplanes and recognize that downsizing to an LSA two-seater can meet their flying goals, a fact that has driven a good share of LSA sales thus far. Thousands of those pilots have private or higher certificates with instrument ratings. They’re accustomed to having a full panel and want one even if flying in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) isn’t in their plans. In fact, flashy dual-screen plus electronic information and navigation panel layouts have proven quite popular in many S-LSA, even though they add tens of thousands of dollars in cost.
For years BRS Parachutes sold emergency systems to ultralight pilots. Then along came Cirrus Design, who installed the CAPS (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System) on their SR-20 and SR-22 models as standard equipment. It was a bold and unproven tactic, but today, the SR-22 is the best selling general aviation aircraft in the world. Did the parachute help that success? “Absolutely,” says Cirrus president, Alan Klapmeier. Light-Sport Aircraft producers commonly offer parachute systems: Flight Design CT uses a BRS 1350 HS as standard equipment; TL’s StingSport comes with Galaxy. *** Now Aircraft Manufacturing and Development (AMD) has added the BRS to a long list of available safety features: Amsafe seat belt airbags, lightning protection (on the IFR certified CH-601 XLi model), Tetra foam seat cushions (to absorb “G” loads on hard touchdowns), and a FAR 33 certified aircraft engine, the Continental 0-200.
The newest Special Light-Sport Aircraft to win approval will help the industry close out a spectacular year. In 2005, starting only by mid-April, 23 designs have won their airworthiness certificate under the ASTM Consensus Standards. For the year, #23 goes to Aircraft Manufacturing and Development of Eastman, Georgia. The AMD Zodiac CH 601 XL is powered by the Continental engine and all of it is built in the USA. American A&P mechanics are very familiar with the O-200 engine, which assures availability of service across the country. Since the southeastern U.S. company also builds the FAA Part 23 certified Alarus four seater, they are assembling the 601 to that high standard (such process meets the ASTM standards). The all-metal design flies conventionally and has won praise for its handling and performance. The CH 601 is one of several designs by Chris Heintz, father of Mathieu Heintz, president of AMD.