Designer Chris Heintz announced that he will be introducing his newest design at the EAA Sun'n Fun fly-in convention this spring (Lakeland, Florida, April 19-25).
The new design, called the STOL CH 801, is an all-metal four-seat utility kit aircraft based on the successful two-seat STOL CH 701 design developed by Heintz in the mid eighties. Since its introduction in 1986, more than 400 short take-off and landing STOL CH 701 aircraft have been successfully flown around the world, many being used for light utility purposes.
The larger STOL CH 801 has been developed to expand the utility of the 701 model by increasing the useful load from 500 lbs. (225 kg) to over 1000 lbs. (450 kg.) while retaining the original design's short and rough field capability. While the two designs share many similarities in appearance, they actually do not share any airframe parts due to the significantly larger size of the STOL CH 801.
Designer Chris Heintz, a veteran aeronautical engineer, explained: "The STOL CH 701 has proven itself to be a truly outstanding light bushplane with over 300 of them operating outside of North America, being used for countless light utility purposes, mainly being used strictly in off-airport operations. However, as a two-seater it has limited uses, and I've had constant requests for a larger version of the 701 - an all-metal four-seater that was as simple to build and maintain as the 701 and that offered the same short and rough field capability."
Heintz pointed out that there are no plans of discontinuing the smaller STOL CH 701 design, and that the STOL CH 801 is simply a new product being added to his line of successful designs: "While we've seen several four-seat utility kit planes introduced over the past few years, these designs are not based on a proven platform and appear to be fairly complex to build while also being cost-prohibitive for many mission applications. Bush pilots want and need an aircraft that they can depend on and sport pilots want to maximize the utility of their aircraft: Rather than just flying to buy the proverbial $100 hamburger, the STOL CH 801 offers the payload and short-field capability that few aircraft can offer, at a price that's very competitive. The 801 is a SUV [sport utility vehicle] among other kit planes. While being an ideal recreational aircraft for those wanting 4-seats, it also has the capability of a serious bushplane."
Development of the STOL CH 801 actually began in 1988 when Chris Heintz started design of the four-seat aircraft for an offshore customer, but a prototype was never completed when the customer postponed the order due to the lack of a suitable powerplant for the design at the time (conventional aircraft engines were deemed unsuitable by the customer due to cost and spare parts availability). The prototype is powered with a 180-hp Subaru automotive conversion from CrossFlow Aero Corporation.
"In response to demand, I've developed the STOL CH 801 with auto-conversions in mind. Operators in remote parts of the world want an engine that will take automotive fuel and they want spare parts availability. Additionally, many modern automotive conversions minimize the engine cost while maximizing performance thanks to lighter engine weights," stated Heintz. "With 180 hp, we achieve the performance you'd expect to find with a similar-size aircraft using 250-hp - that means an aircraft that's more affordable to own and operate" With Zenair's production facilities devoted to the production of the type-certificated design, including the ZENITH CH 2000, the prototype STOL CH 801 is being built by Flypass Ltd. in Guelph, Ontario. Headed by Art Mitchell, a veteran missionary pilot, Flypass began construction of the prototype STOL CH 801 in the fall of 1997 under the design supervision of Chris Heintz. Flypass Ltd. is the central Canada representative for Zenair kit aircraft designs. It operates a flight school using Zenair aircraft, and houses a builder assistance center at its facilities at the Guelph airport in Guelph, Ontario.
Zenith Aircraft Company will begin tooling for manufacturing complete kits for the STOL CH 801 in April 1998 at its Mexico, Missouri factory, with first kit deliveries expected by summer.
With form following function, the STOL CH 801 looks like the workhorse it is designed to be. Not designed to be just another "pretty" aircraft, the STOL CH 801 was developed to provide maximum short-field performance while being easy to build and maintain.
Design Features of the STOL CH 801:
- All-metal semi-monocoque construction, utilizing proven "Zenair easy-build technology," including extensive use of Textron Avdel blind rivets;
- Fixed leading-edge wing slats;
- Full-length flaperons (combined ailerons and flaps);
- "Above-Cab" wing design for superior visibility;
- All-flying rudder for increased responsiveness at slow flight and superior cross-wind capability;
- Rugged landing gear for rough-field capability;
- Tricycle gear configuration for improved ground handling and visibility;
- Short wing span to allow operation in areas with obstacles;
- "Open Design" to allow for a wide choice of engine installations;
- Overall design and construction simplicity for field-maintainability, including easy-remove cowls for quick access to the engine.
Heintz stated that he had a number of orders already in hand for the new design from foreign buyers, and that Zenair's international dealers had also placed options on additional units. Cost for the complete airframe kit (less engine and instruments) is expected to be well below $20,000 and deliveries are scheduled to commence by summer.
In other news, Heintz stated he is continuing development of the Gemini CH 620 twin-engine kit aircraft design, and is experimenting with a modified wing for increased cruise performance and is refining design aspects on the concept aircraft introduced in 1996: "The concept prototype proved the design to be very viable, and interest in the design has been higher than expected," Heintz said. "However, the prototype has shown areas where the design can be improved and I don't want to release the design for production until we've experimented with a few more ideas." Heintz stated that the kit for the personal twin-engine aircraft would probably not be available until 1998.