Gross Weight Boost for E/AB Zenith CH 750

Zenith CH 750.

Zenith Aircraft Company has announced a design gross weight increase for the STOL CH 750 kit aircraft. The aircraft design gross weight has been increased from 1320 pounds to 1440 pounds, an increase of 120 pounds. The increase adds significantly to the load carrying capability of the Light Sport utility aircraft first introduced at AirVenture in July 2008. The weight increase applies without airframe modifications to all aircraft built to drawings Edition 2 (drawings dated July 20, 2010), and operated as Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft. STOL CH 750 aircraft registered as (factory-built) SLSA and/or operated by Sport Pilots are not affected, as the weight limit per FAA rules for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) remains 1320 pounds. Continue reading "Gross Weight Boost for E/AB Zenith CH 750"

Zenair Introduces Fastbuild Floats

For more than six months, Zenair has been delivering the popular 1150- and 1450-pound kits and factory assembled floats. The company is now offering a pre-drilled fastbuild float kit and welcoming aircraft dealers and maintenance shops to finish them for customers.

Shipping assembled floats is expensive in crating but also in shipping costs. When customers are able to purchase locally assembled floats, these costs are significantly lower. Additionally, a local assembly shop can customize the floats and assist in mounting them. Continue reading "Zenair Introduces Fastbuild Floats"

Zenith Hosts Summer and Fall Gatherings

The 2009 Open Hangar Day at Zenith.

Zenith Aircraft Company Fly In to Summer Builder Fly-In Gathering is scheduled for Saturday, June 26, 2010, at the Zenith factory located at Mexico Memorial Airport (KMYJ) in Mexico, Missouri. Aviation enthusiasts, especially builders and owners of Zenith kit planes, are invited to drive or fly in for the day.

This will be a fun, informal gathering of Zenith builders, fliers, and aviation enthusiasts. A workshop and lunch are planned.  The gathering is an excellent opportunity for owners and builders of Zenith Aircraft planes to meet with each other and to tour the Zenith Aircraft facilities. Continue reading "Zenith Hosts Summer and Fall Gatherings"

Zenith CH 750 Kit Passes NKET Evaluation

Here's where you start: Zenith's CH 750 kit components.

Zenith Aircraft Company is reporting that its CH 750 kit aircraft has cleared evaluation by the newly formed NKET (National Kit Evaluation Team) as compliant with Experimental/Amateur-Built rules. That is, the kit, which was introduced after the moratorium on kit evaluations was placed in early 2008, has been evaluated and leaves the "major portion" of work still to be done by the builder. Continue reading "Zenith CH 750 Kit Passes NKET Evaluation"

Zodiac CH 650 Surprise Introduction

Drafting behind the more widely publicized STOL CH 750, Zenith Aircraft’s second debut at AirVenture was the new Zodiac CH 650. Available as a kit, plans-built plane or factory-built SLSA by AMD, the CH 650 is based on the Zodiac CH 601 XL model. Developed in response to builder feedback, the 650 has a larger cabin than the 601.

A major improvement is the larger canopy with increased headroom. Staff engineer Caleb Gebhardt noted, “We changed the latching system so it’s simpler and easier to build. The lighter canopy is easier to control in windy conditions, and when you’re sitting on the ramp, it won’t pop up on you.” The 601 XL latch is in the canopy frame, and the studs are on the fuselage. On the new system, the latch is built into the fuselage so you keep the heavy pieces of the system on the fuselage; the studs are built into the framework. It also offers rollover protection in the canopy system using vertical tubes.

Gebhardt adds, “The 650 is a combination of the XLs in different markets: the European XL, the AMD factory-built plane and the kit-built XL. We took what we liked best about all three and put them into one aircraft. We think it’s a major improvement.”

Well, what about the 601 XL you’ve completed (or are still completing)? No worries. Gebhardt told us, “We worked hard to make sure that the major portions that we changed were retrofittable for the XL. The rudder has been swept back for greater efficiency and a cleaner look. We changed a lot of little things to make it easier to build that aren’t necessarily obvious. They’ll reduce build time, and will remove confusion in reading the plans or looking at parts. It’s more streamlined and more clear.”

The CH 650’s takeoff roll and landing distance are booked at 500 feet, with a 1000 fpm climb. Using a 110-hp Jabiru 3300 as an example engine choice, max cruise at 75% power is 138 mph, with a stall speed of 44 mph with flaps, and 51 mph without. With an empty weight of 695 pounds and a gross weight of 1320 pounds, the 650 allows a useful load of 625 pounds; fuel capacity is 24 gallons. Of course, your personal engine choice and the resulting performance figures may vary.

The introductory rudder kit (tools not included) runs $375, a good way to get the feel of Zodiac construction before you commit to the kit. The detailed blueprints and manual, including the serial number, are available for $495 if you want to build from scratch or examine the design and construction prior to building a kit. The airframe kit is $14,275, and the finishing kit (including spring gear, wheels with brakes, canopy, seat belts and more) is an additional $4225. If you prefer to pay as you build, separate component kits are available from the factory.

Want a fly-away factory-built 650? You can buy the American-made factory-assembled and certified Zodiac CH 650 LS Light Sport Aircraft from AMD. An IFR certified model is also available; check with AMD for pricing. The IFR-equipped CH650 LSi on display, with a 100-hp Continental O-200 engine, featured a show special price of $114,900.

First Corvair-Powered 701 at Sun 'n Fun! Well... Almost

A funny thing happened on the way to Sun 'n Fun this year. Pilot Gus Warren and the first Corvair-powered Zenith CH 701 were eagerly anticipated to publicly debut early this week, and sure enough, there was Gus walking around the flight line on Wednesday. The 701? Well, Gus tells it best...

"We were just cruising along, everything normal, and I started hearing this occasional noise like someone flicking the cylinder fins with a fingernail. Every now and then, tink, tink, tink. After 20 seconds or so, it became constant, and I had a 300-rpm power loss. So I decided to find a place to land. Funny thing was that even with the power loss, the Corvair continued to run smooth. The EGTs stayed normal, but I did notice a slight CHT rise," says Gus.

Land he did, in a small cow pasture that was conveniently located right under the 701. If there's any question about the short approach and landing capability of the 701 on unimproved surfaces, this episode should erase any doubts. The pilot and aircraft rolled out smoothly and taxied to the fence under partial power and the watchful gaze of a few witnesses. Reportedly, all any of them had to say about the forced landing was "Moo."

After a few phone calls, a flatbed trailer arrived and the 701's wings were quickly removed for the ride back to the hangar in Edgewater. I asked Gus what he thought the cause might be, and he gave it some thought. "At this point, I really don't have any idea. It felt like extreme detonation, but just on one cylinder. I really didn't have the time to look into it when we got the 701 back to the hangar, 'cause I needed to get back here. But I'll get right on it when I get back to Edgewater," he said. "I'm pretty curious myself."

Nobody looks forward to a forced landing in a new (or even old) airplane, but sometimes an event such as this reminds us that it's good to always be ready for the unexpected where any kind of aviation is concerned.

Good job, Gus!