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FAA: Zenith CH 650 Officially Meets 51% Rule

National Kit Evaluation Team Completes On-Site Evaluation, OK's The Airplane

A five-person FAA National Kit Evaluation Team (NKET) recently concluded a two day visit to Zenith Aircraft Company in Mexico, Missouri. In a letter dated June 24, 2011, Terry Allen, manager of the FAA Production and Airworthiness Division, stated that the Evaluation Team determined that the kit will "allow an amateur builder to meet the major portion requirement of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts, § 21.191(g)," known as the "51-percent" requirement to register the aircraft as Amateur-Built - Experimental.

The FAA Production and Airworthiness Division (AIR-200) will have the Zenith kit added to the List of Amateur-Built Aircraft Kits located on the FAA website.

Amateur builders can use the resulting FAA checklists to determine exactly how much commercial / professional builder assistance may be used in the construction of their projects without violating the "51-percent" requirement. "While we never doubted that the CH 650 kit meets the intent of the major portion [51% rule] requirement, it's useful to have it officially recognized as such," stated Zenith president Sebastien Heintz. "We provide a significantly higher level of completion with the CH 650 kit compared to many kits on the market."

Zenith Aircraft Company uses CNC routers to cut both small and large parts, drilling thousands of pilot holes, and the standard airframe kit is supplied to builders with factory-built wing spars, welded components such as control system parts and welded aluminum fuel tanks (located in the wings), and is supplied with all hardware needed to complete the airframe.

The CH 650 is a second generation light sport aircraft, developed specifically for Sport Pilots. It is the latest model in the Zodiac line of aircraft from aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, first introduced in 1984. This newest model offers new and updated features including modern new styling with a larger cabin area with more width and head room, improved ventilation and visibility, and a new canopy latch system. The aircraft is built entirely of 6061-T6 sheet aluminum, fastened together with blind ("Pop"-type) rivets, and can be powered by a wide choice of engines, including the new UL Power engines, Jabiru 3300, Continental O-200, Rotax, as well as auto conversions such as Corvair and Viking Honda. The aircraft can be configured with tricycle gear (standard) or as a tail dragger, and many options are available from the factory.

The CH 650 is available as an easy-to-build kit, drawing upon Zenith's decades of experience in the kit industry. State-of-the-art CNC fabrication equipment provides a complete kit that can be assembled (by first time builders) with only basic tools and skills. The CH 650 airframe requires less than 500 hours to build from the complete factory-supplied kit, that includes many CNC pre-cut and pre-drilled skins and components, and includes detailed drawings (blueprints) and photo assembly manuals. Available step-by-step assembly videos are also available on DVD.

Earlier this year, the FAA re-evaluated the Zodiac CH 601 XL B kit changes and confirmed that the upgraded CH 601 XL B is eligible in meeting the "51% rule."  A comprehensive upgrade kit was offered by Zenith Aircraft Co. to builders and owners of the popular Zodiac CH 601 XL in December 2009. The new CH 650 includes the features of the upgrade kit as standard equipment.

Zenith Aircraft Company supplies complete kits and component "buy-as-you-build" component kits to builders. The aircraft can also be scratch-built from blueprints alone. Monthly workshops are held at its modern factory in Missouri to allow prospective builders to gain hands-on kit building experience and to offer demo flights in the aircraft. 

FMI: www.zenith.aero

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