ZODIAC CH 601 Series Kit Plane




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Zodiac CH 601 Kit Construction
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Building the ZODIAC CH 601 Kit

The ZODIAC aircraft is built of stressed-skin semi-monocoque all-metal construction, just like today’s factory-built planes, but adapted specifically for the kit builder. Sheet-metal construction is outstandingly the most widely used aircraft building method around the world, and has proven itself as the ideal aircraft material since the early pioneering days of aviation.

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The ZODIAC airframe kit is complete

Unlike most other all-metal kit aircraft, the ZODIAC kit is made for the first-time builder, and is easy and quick to build, requiring no special skills, tools or jigs to assemble in a small workshop, such as a single car garage. Zenair has been perfecting all-metal construction for homebuilders since 1974, giving it unparalleled experience in providing complete kits for first-time builders, and renowned customer support to every builder.

"You have a great kit... I'm buying more than just a box full of parts. I'm particularly pleased with this project because, from talking to other builders, I'll be flying while they're still building. I'm not a mechanic, I'm a pilot. I couldn't imagine better support from the factory - it is a pleasure working with you."
Kit builder S.B.

Building the ZODIAC... one section at the time.Sturdy and low-fatigue aluminum alloys make the ZODIAC airframe very rugged and corrosion resistant. The modern 6061-T6 aluminum-silicon alloy used in the ZODIAC construction is durable and corrosion resistant, ideal for even the harshest environment, and very easy to repair and maintain. The owner of a ZODIAC is assured of a long airframe life, with minimum required maintenance, as metal is not adversely affected by ultra-violet (UV) light and temperature changes like fabrics, Dacron or composites (it’s thus feasible to tie-down the aircraft outdoors, minimizing costs).

Made for the first-time kit builder, the ZODIAC may be built from plans-only, or from partial or complete kits. Building a ZODIAC from scratch (rather than a kit) necessitates more time, skills, and tools, requiring about 1,500 hours to build.

Side view of the ZODIAC
Click here for a detailed schematic of the tail control system

All the ZODIAC CH 601 models draw on Zenith Aircraft’s vast design and manufacturing experience. The simple stressed-skin semi-monocoque construction uses single curvature sheet-metal skins riveted to internal structural members.

"They go together predominantly with aircraft-grade pull-stem rivets, which together with the simplicity of the design make for kits that can actually be assembled in a few hundred hours."
          Kitplanes magazine (01/04)

Avex blind rivetingThe sheet-metal skins, main wing spar, structural ribs, longerons, stiffeners and bulkheads are fastened together with Zenith’s proven riveting method using blind (or pulled) rivets, which are as easy to set as ‘pop’ rivets, requiring only a simple hand rivet puller. The corrosion-resistant rivets provide a permanent structural bond and tight low-profile dome finish, formed by the custom riveter head. The rivet stem becomes locked in after being set to provide a water-tight seal. The 1/8-inch and 5/32-inch blind rivets used are very sturdy and durable fasteners, and may be used over a wide grip area. The blind rivets are much easier and quicker to set than bucked rivets, and don’t require the use of a noisy pneumatic rivet hammer or counter-sunk rivet holes.

"There is nothing that looks faster than pop-riveted aluminum.  From race cars to airplanes, the blind rivet is the fastener of choice for joining sheet metal."

Make magazine, volume 05, February 2006, "Holes, Rivets, and Bent Metal"

Many flat surface skins are pre-drilled at the factory with a drilling machine, and are pre-formed and cut, ready for assembly.

ZODIAC CH 601 Fuselage Assembly

"Attention to small details ensures that the ZODIAC can be easily completed within the 400 hours claimed for the homebuilt kit version. For instance, the ribs are not only shaped, but the lightening holes are made, beveled and smoothed to a finished state. Look at other kit manufacturers for this attention to detail. The builders of some of the 700 flying Zenair planes I’ve had a chance to interview tell me the company time estimates are valid and the support is unsurpassed."
     — The Recreational Flyer

Following is detailed information on the construction of the ZODIAC kit aircraft, with many photos of actual assemblies. Click here to follow through the construction steps to build a ZODIAC.

ZODIAC Construction: 1 of 5 | Next


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Zenith Aircraft Company: 2014-03-19