Many new things have been going on with the C4 program recently and we thought it would be an appropriate time to bring you up to speed. As most of you know, The Flight Design C4, the new advanced four-place GA aircraft, achieved its first flight on April 9th 2015 at Kamenz airfield (EDCM) in Kamenz, Germany. The successful test flight was performed by Damian Hischier an FAA and EASA approved test pilot living in Switzerland.
The flight lasted one hour and the C4 was tested for basic handling, longitudinal trim, spiral stability in 20 and 30 degree banks, approach to stall and practice go–arounds. The primary engine operating parameters were also confirmed. The test flight was performed in a special test area at an altitude of 5500 Ft. MSL.
The process for flights by a non-certified aircraft in Europe is different than in the U.S. The plane is issued a “Permit to Fly” under a process involving EASA and the local CAA, in this case the German LBA. In meetings with EASA managers the basic design is reviewed, the load tests and aerodynamic calculations are verified and the flight-conditions for the test plan are approved.
Prior to the first flight, the C4 passed numerous ground tests including control stiffness tests, a ground vibration test from an independent engineering firm and a powerplant installation audit by a Continental Motors engineering representative.
The Continental IO-360AF FAA Type Certified
Continental Motors announced in early 2015 that the IO-360-AF (alternative fuel) engine model received type certification from the FAA. The 6-cylinder IO-360-AF is certified for standard 100LL as well as unleaded 91UL avgas, which is widely available in Europe. The IO-360-AF is the first in its class to be certified for alternative fuels benefitting certain markets where 100LL avgas is very expensive.
Beyond the alternative fuel advantage, the IO-360 series has an excellent reputation for reliability, long life and smooth operation. It is the lightest of all Continental’s six-cylinder aircraft power plants making it a perfect solution for the new Flight Design C4. The IO-360-AF engine family offers a maximum power output of 195 horsepower at 2800 RPM, a 2200 hour Time Between Overhaul (TBO) and is backed by Continental’s industry leading warranty and service support. Flight Design will use the IO-360-AF engine de-rated to 180 horsepower as required for the C4, producing power at a reduced 2550 RPM, resulting in quieter operation.
C4 Conforming Design Work Continues
Design work continues by the staff of Flight Design engineering to complete the design of the conforming C4 with the expectation to achieve EASA certification in mid-2016. A conforming model of an aircraft is one that is used to show compliance to EASA or the FAA. Expert consultants from Germany and the USA have been participating in the design review process to optimize the C4 design for performance, stability and control. Work on production specification molds has begun at Flight Design’s facility using an in-house 5-axis CAM machining center. Going directly from CAD design to CAM machining is the most up-to-date method to ensure high fidelity of the final parts to the drawings. The result are parts that achieve better fit and conformity which can reduce airframe weight and cost through a reduction in composite fillers as a part of airframe finish.
C4 Production Facilities Expand
In addition to the facilities in Kamenz Germany and Kherson Ukraine, Flight Design has partnered with Taiwan based GSEO to help create AeroJones Aviation in Xiamen, China. AeroJones will be building complete CTLS and C4 aircraft from their facility there. Flight Design has shipped complete mold sets and has been training AeroJones staff composite construction techniques. Parent GSEO has been working in Xiamen since 1992 and has significant experience with commercial production and quality control. Aircraft produced in Xiamen will be delivered to customers in China and the Asian pacific region.
In late March 2015, Flight Design was pleased to announce that a second full-scale production facility for the CTLS series has completed a full manufacturing evaluation before starting serial production of the popular LSA for the Asia region.
Flight Design GmbH CEO Matthias Betsch, Director Christian Wenger, and Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny went to Xiamen, China to witness the completion of the first conforming CTLS by AeroJones. The German and American team toured the AeroJones facility in Xiamen, located directly across the sea from Taiwan.
At AeroJones, all materials are identical to those used by Flight Design production facilities in Europe. AeroJones demonstrated it is a fully competent manufacturer of the LSA airplane with all manufacturing processes except for heat treating and plating done in house. All welding, laser and high-pressure water cutting is done in house at AeroJones.
AeroJones parent company GSEO, although a Taiwanese company, has worked in China for 20 years building high-tech optical products. GSEO President Jones Chen brought his personal experience and his passion for aviation into AeroJones.
In cooperation with the province of Jiangsu, AeroJones is breaking ground on a 250,000 square foot, brand-new production facility based in the city of Changzhou. AeroJones will produce airframes for the Light-Sport CTLS as well as Flight Design’s certified four-seat C4.
Test Pilot Damian Hischier Damian did the certification flight testing for the EASA certified version of the CTLS and is a graduate of the National Test Pilot School (NPTS) located at Mojave, CA. USA. Damian is an accomplished engineer, project manager and test pilot. He has experience with experimental and certification flight tests on Part 25, Part 23, LSA and Experimental aircraft. He holds an EASA Category 1 Flight Test Rating, an EASA Class 1 Medical (FAA equivalent) is a current ATPL, has flown 102 aircraft types. In addition he is a Bachelor of Information Sciences and Software Engineering and has provided technical expertise related to flight test and aircraft operational issues in support of design development activities. In addition to Flight Test duties for Flight Design GmbH., Damian works with other light aviation companies including, Stemme and Aquila.
Thank you for your continued interest in the C4. With the first flight of the C4 proof-of-concept, we are excited to be able to stay in communication with all interested C4 customers. We will continue to print new information about the program as it becomes available.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Flight Design Team