ZODIAC CH 601 Series Kit Plane




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The ZODIAC CH 601 series is designed to provide attractive performance using efficient and lightweight new-generation aircraft engines, like the Rotax 912.  By most measures of efficiency (ie. mph/hp, miles per gallon, payload/hp, etc.), the designs that make up the ZODIAC CH 601 series are some of the most efficient light aircraft on the market today.

The thick high-lift wing gives the ZODIAC its excellent short take-off and climb performance without the need for a lot power: Installing a big engine in an existing aircraft is the easiest way to improve performance with most designs (with enough power anything will take-off in a short distance or go fast!), but this requires a lot of fuel for acceptable endurance, and is an expensive, heavy, and inefficient way to obtain performance, and does not provide good slow flight or payload due to the heavier engine weight and fuel load requirement.  The ZODIAC CH 601 UL and HD's high-lift wing design is optimized for approx. 115 mph, while the tapered ZODIAC CH 601 HDS wing is optimized for 135 mph.  Additional power will not yield a significant increase in these speeds. The new ZODIAC XL was designed with a thinner wing profile to allow for higher speeds and larger engine installations.

While all aircraft are designed within certain power and engine weight guidelines, Chris Heintz does not design his aircraft "around" a particular engine - to maximize the customer's choice of installed powerplant.  Recommended power is 65 to 100 horsepower, up to 265 lbs. installed weight, for the ZODIAC CH 601 UL and ZODIAC CH 601 HD models, and 80 to 100 hp for the ZODIAC CH 601 HDS.  The ZODIAC XL was developed to allow for larger engine installations: up to 125 hp / up to 300 lbs. installed weight.

Designer Heintz highly recommends the Rotax 912 series engines for the earlier ZODIAC CH 601 models: 
"If you were to design an engine specifically for the ZODIAC CH 601,  you would probably end up with an engine much like the Rotax 912.  The 912 provides great reliability, and it's very efficient and smooth-running.  The power-to-weight ratio is good, and Rotax engines are supported worldwide, something that's important to customers around the world," Heintz stated. "While the initial purchase price is significant, the price actually compares very favorably with other engines when factoring in the low operating costs and long life of the engine - many owners are easily exceeding the published TBO."

At Zenith Aircraft Company our specialty is airframes and not engines. The standard recommended engine for the ZODIAC CH 601 series kit aircraft is the Rotax 912 series - an 80-100 hp aircraft engine manufactured by Bomardier. We can supply our customers with complete firewall-forward kits for this engine, including the propeller, engine mount, and all other firewall-forward accessories. Click here for details.

Rotax 912 Installation Tips & Techniques Rotax 912 Installation Tips & Techniques instructional DVD from HomeBuiltHELP.com
The Rotax 912 Competition?.... "The 912 Competition" is a video presentation (on DVD, from HomeBuiltHELP.com) from the vendors of engines for experimental aircraft (80-120 hp).

(Note that some of the engines presented may not be suitable for the Zodiac CH 601 airframe).

Typically, customers purchase the kit without the engine, and only purchase the powerplant when needed (once the basic airframe is completed). Unless a builder in mechanically inclined to work on engines, we highly recommend the standard Rotax 912 installation over other custom installations.

For most customers, Zenith Aircraft recommends the standard 80-hp Rotax 912, while the 100-hp Rotax 912S will benefit owners operating at higher altitudes.

Rotax 912S Installation on the Zodiac airframe     Rotax 912S Installation on the Zodiac airframe

Related Information:

Alternative Engines (ZODIAC CH 601 HD / UL / HDS):

Regarding alternative engines for the ZODIAC CH 601, designer Chris Heintz stated: "I've designed the ZODIAC to be suitable for different engine types - 65 to 100 hp, up to 265 pounds installed.  Dozens of different engine types have been custom-installed in the ZODIAC.  The new ZODIAC XL model further increases customers' choices for suitable powerplants."

But Heintz cautions that most custom engine installations require a lot of work and often "troubleshooting" to properly install, and frequently don't provide the expected performance and reliability. Designed as a lightweight recreational sport aircraft, top speed of the earlier ZODIAC models is limited by their high-lift wing design, and more power will not yield significant top speed gains.

Also, an inexpensive engine may cost you less to purchase initially, but may not provide the proven reliability and performance you expect, and may need to be replaced a lot sooner than expected.

Zenith Aircraft Co. stocks engine mounts and accessories for some other engine types (including Continental, Subaru, and VW) but does not provide support for such installations.

Alternative engines will affect performance, specifications and flight characteristics of the aircraft. Also, the weight and balance of the aircraft may be adversely affected by different engines, and the original fuel system may not be adequate or suitable for some engines and installations. Most alternative engines will require a custom engine mount and cowl. Zenith Aircraft Company does not manufacture or directly support engines nor their installations.

Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) and Sport Pilot:

While some ZODIAC CH 601 models should meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft, as defined in the FAA's Sport Pilot category, Zenith Aircraft Company cannot guarantee that the aircraft, as constructed by the builder, will meet the definition. Due to the gross weight and stall speed limitations of the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft category, it is recommended that the aircraft be kept "as light as possible" if planning to operate the aircraft in this category. Larger and heavier engines and other installed equipment will limit the useful load of the aircraft, and may disqualify the aircraft from meeting the defined category limits.


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Zenith Aircraft Company
Mexico Memorial Airport, PO Box 650
Mexico, Missouri, 65265-0650 USA.
Tel: 573-581-9000 (Mon - Fri, 8-5 Central),
Fax: 573-581-0011
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Zenith Aircraft Company: 2011-10-04