Billed as an advanced microlight, Ian Glover's Zenair CH 601 UL has made its first flights from Tauranga and joined the microlight fraternity.

Some microlight! This is a fully blown all metal, low wing constant chord two seater touring aircraft powered by an 80hp Rotax 912.

Construction was overseen and to a large extent carried out by Bill Sample – MAANZ Secretary from the all inclusive factory-supplied kit for fellow microlight club

member Ian Glover. Just on twelve months was required from unpacking the kit to first flights for the 49% kit.

"Factory support was great," said Ian, "The on line fax query system was really useful. A good newsletter service is also available but this is somewhat expensive for New Zealand. An Internet page is also available."

Ian had basic requirements for an aircraft which would cruise at over 100 mpg IAS, go every where a B22 Bantam would go and run on the smell of an oily rag. Analyzing the choices available within the New Zealand used aircraft market, the Zodiac 601 UL stacked up favourably and a visit to Canada and the factory coupled with a check ride in July 1994 clinched the deal.

Simplified construction for the all metal airframe is the order of the day. The standard kit comes with all airframe parts and includes factory riveted wing spars plus pre-formed sheet metal parts. Cladding is in 6061 T6 corrosion resistant aluminium of .016" gauge. Any welding is also carried out in the factory. Landing gear, fuel system, fiberglass mouldings, canopy and associated hardware is supplied in the kit. A choice of tricycle or conventional gear is available.

Bill has proved the aircraft can be assembled with the minimum of hand tools. No jigs are required.

"Technology has allowed us to build a light aircraft quickly and efficiently," he told Sport Flying.

In flight it reacts as a microlight aircraft. It moves around in turbulence and the pilot must be constantly aware of any wind gradient. We are currently concluding test flying programme in accordance with the amateur built aircraft test flight schedule. So far just over 30 hours have been accumulated and the aircraft will be set for carriage of passengers upon clearance.

On walk around the most noticeable feature is the absence of a conventional aileron hinge and corresponding aileron gap. A trademark of the Zodiac range is the use of the upper skin of the aileron to form its own hinge. This must be the ultimate in aileron gap seal! Zenair claims control movement of the aileron does not affect the elasticity of the metal.

Aileron movement is stated as less than 15 degrees and in-flight deflection is considered unlikely to exceed five degrees for the three quarter length trailing edge surface. This form of aileron construction has been a feature on Zenair aircraft for 15 years. More conservative owners can request a traditional piano hinge aileron option. Elevators are mounted by conventional piano hinge and assisted with an electric trim. The large moulded canopy hinges from either side of the cockpit and in the 27 ft. wing span is reduced by folding outside the main gear to less than eight feet for small hangar storage. The aircraft is approved for on road trailerability.

A range of engines is offered for the aircraft from 65 - 115hp. Published performance with the 912 Rotax is pretty impressive and Zenair promotes the aircraft as an excellent short field performer with docile flight characteristics. A Rotax 582 can be fitted

Ian notes a steadily improving performance. The Rotax 912 is now running at 5100 rpm and the aircraft trues out at 110 mph IAS in cruise. The motor is noticeably free and indicating a cooler operating temperature. The continued use of an oil cooler through the summer will be monitored. Getting the oil up to temperature is taking some time after first start of the day.

Indications that with the gear cleaned up by the addition of a set of spats a cruise of 120mph IAS will be achieved. Fuel consumption has settled to less than 10 litres.

Fuel capacity can be augmented by using the wing lockers to provide increased range. In Ian's case the lockers are as personal requirement bins.

Bill Sample too is impressed with the performance so far explored.

"In its unladen state the CH601 is only 50 kg lighter than a B22 Bantam and similar Bantam strip performance seems attainable," he said. Ian also reflects on the lightness. "This is not something you can get away from. Those with experience in heavier metal need to be aware this is a microlight. Lack of penetration can be a problem although the cross wind capabilities are enhanced by the excellent and effective rudder response.

One further CH601UL is nearing completion at the hands of Brian Knights. This aircraft is expected to be completed in the early new year and hopefully will also be seen at Sportavex'96 in Matamata.

The pair are likely to spark off a rush for factory brochures and videos. The kit can be ordered with tricycle or conventional gear and the HD version has just been demonstrated with an open canopy option. A simple retrofit where performance and wind in the hair can be experienced. 

Reprinted from New Zealand's "Sport Flying" magazine (Fall 1995), pages 9 - 10.

ZENAIR: Quality Light Aircraft Since 1974

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