Summer 2019 Update

This project has been likened to watching a house being built, where the walls and roof go up comparatively quickly, then there seems to be a long period where little progress is discernible as the internal work takes place.

We have largely completed the first part, which in our case is building the major components, such as the fuselage, wings, horizontal stabilizer and tail fin together with the flying controls and lift enhancement surfaces such as flaperons, elevator, rudder and leading-edge slats. We are now getting to grips with the internals such as the seating, control surface linkages, fuel system etc.

Our next major milestones are rigging the airframe where the wings and tail assemblies are fitted to the fuselage and the installation of the engine.

Over the first year, the initial surge of volunteers has distilled down into two groups, the Tuesday/Thursday group of Geoff Marshall, Brian Jupp, together with assists from Kevin Kirwan, Mike Matthews and John Michie and the Wednesday/Friday group of Alan Lovejoy, Derick Roswick, together with assistance from Graham Stevens. This has proven consistent with the reduction of effort needed with the completion of the larger items, with our attention turning to the more specialised internal systems.

The Aerobility lead has passed from Stuart Rowbottom, who has left to work at Shawbury to our closet professional engineer and CFI Mike Owen (C.Eng.) who gladly accepted the roll after the careful application of thumb screws!

The airworthiness of kit build aircraft has to be proven to the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) who has the delegated responsibility. As part of the airworthiness proof, the build is inspected by a LAA inspector at key stages. We have had two such inspections the first just before the Farnborough Air Show where only a number of small issues needed attention and the second was in mid-February of this year which was a little more challenging/painful.

It is remarkable that no matter how diligent you follow the build description and drawing pack, you often find you need to make engineering judgments which may or may not be passed by the inspector. This inspection resulted in a number of parts being condemned and replacement parts having to be re-ordered from the manufacturer. These included, on the port wing, the inboard rib, the trailing edge skin together with, on the horizontal stabilizer, the central elevator mount. We also needed to remanufacture the port wing root top skin from all very painful for those concerned.

In the background we have been working up the schemes to allow disabled flyers to easily fly the aeroplane, and we welcome suggestions. We will go into this aspect in more detail in the next update, describing our current thinking so you will be better placed to comment. It needs to be borne in mind however that we can only accommodate a limited number of suggestions as they need to be consistent with this aircraft, other users and the LAA has to be convinced of any modifications airworthiness.

A good flavour of our thinking can be seen in a similar modification shown in YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLsykhTL7j8&t=10s .

We have just spent a day with our LAA inspector (Jonathan Porter) at his hanger on Sleap airfield. Very useful as we could see what the next stages of our project will look like and how the rigged aircraft is looking. We also witnessed the first start-up of the 912iS Rotax engine, which is the same model we are getting.

As ever all the team have been working hard, in particular Geoff on the fuel system and Alan recently adding the nose wheel to the aircraft (see pic.)

Our presence at AeroExpo at Wycombe Air Park last month helped the project in two ways by a) some benefactors sponsoring specific aircraft components and b) some very generous financial donations, all of which we are extremely grateful for.

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Laura Neaves