Europa builder's log
Sacramento, CA USA
This is what the beginning of the project will look like (although I will be building the mono-wheel version - the tri-gear version is shown):
picture courtesy of Europa Aircraft factory website at: www.europa-aircraft.com
The finished product should look very similar to this beautiful machine:
picture courtesy of Europa Aircraft factory website at: www.europa-aircraft.com
A bit of history: The reason I chose the Europa, after quite a bit of consideration and research, was based on criteria that I have written down over several years. I created a list of items that I did and did not want in a personal aircraft with a possible 20 plus years of service I plan for. Among the most important features I was looking for was either folding or detachable wings (so I can keep my toys at home), stability, speed, durability, ease of maintenance, and above all...it must be an experimental so I can use recent technology for the aircraft and instrumentation.
After looking at several very good designs and kits, I kept coming back to the Europa web page where I was always intrigued by what was displayed. I also subscribed to the Europa builder forum just to see what was being said about the kits and what were some of the main areas of discussion. For the most part, there have been relatively few "major" gripes and a good amount if international support, camaraderie and good humor. I have read most of the "glossy magazine" articles about the three Europa renditions and every article has something good to say about factory support and continual design updating...which is really what it takes to make a product succeed.
My choice was made by weighing the pros and cons, and for me the Europa has the highest number of pros
|Removable wings - in the much proven glider manner|
|Composite construction -I was not really comfortable with my ability to work with traditional aluminum panels and rivets|
|Alternative engines - I will be going with the Rotax 914, a 1.2 liter turbo-charged four cylinder boxer with air cooled cylinders, liquid cooled heads (like a Porsche 911) making a healthy 115 HP at take off and 100 HP for cruise|
|Very sleek aircraft - also taken from the glider world|
|Fast - cruise speeds of 100 MpH to nearly 200 MpH|
|Long range - possible 1000+ miles at economy cruise setting with long range fuel tank on board|
|Durability - composite construction, high G test strength, military proven engine (Rotax)|
|Low fuel consumption - at economy cruise, possible 50 MpGal (about what I get with my VW diesel at half the speed)|
|Decent useful load - depending on build, a possible 550 to 650 lbs|
|Good baggage room - enough space for a folding bicycle and camping gear|
|Only 2 seats|
|A little narrow at the shoulders - 44" (45" with a new mod) but the door ledge is a little awkward|
So you can see, I really couldn't come up with much to complain about.
Plans for the Aircraft:
I am already designing the instrument panel in my head and also graphically with help of the www.epanelbuilder.com web site.
After talking with a pilot I met in Minnesota, I checked into, then researched and talked with the designer of EFIS/One, a fully electronic instrument suite. This is an incredible package, integrating all of the standard flight instrumentation with the newest technology into a single display.
picture courtesy of Blue Mountain Avionics web site at: www.bluemountainavionics.com
If you don't know about this package, go to their website (listed just above) and click on "guided tour". It is a truly amazing piece of engineering. I will also order the autopilot servo kit so the EFIS/One can control the aircraft directly.
To supplement EFIS/One I will install small (2.25") pitot-static airspeed and altimeter in case of total electrical failure. I have not decided if I will add a mini VSI, but this is what it would look like:
pictures courtesy of Aircraft Spruce web site at: www.aircraftspruce.com
To support EFIS/One I am planning on a UPSAT Apollo SL30 Nav/Com which interacts very well and the Garmin GTX327 transponder.
I will also carry my JRC JHP-520 hand-held nav/com (purchased from www.chiefaircraft.com ) incase of electrical failure.
Electrical: For electrical distribution and protection, I will probably go with a special order EXP 2V power tray from Control Vision ( http://www.controlvision.com/pages/avionics_purchase.htm ) and mount the switches remote from the tray. This has provision for a small second battery for back up, but I need to keep it lite...
I am planning on making my own antennas, from the kit by RST Engineering ( www.rst-engr.com )
I will also install strobe/nav/position lights (probably aeroflash units from the ACS catalog) and pursue an IFR certification.
Interior: At this point I am planning for as light an aircraft as possible. For starters I will only paint the interior with speckle paint, and forego any interior treatment such as head-liner, leather or fabric side panels and even carpet. I may splurge and get some aviation temper-foam, sheepskin seat cushions from http://www.theproperaircraft.com/cat3.html , but the price seems a little steep...but if I don't have any other expense except speckle paint...
Engine: Rotax 914 turbo http://www.kodiakbs.com/4intro.htm with external high output alternator and no vacuum pump
Propeller: I will probably go with the Rospeller 3 blade with the scimitar shape and the electronic constant speed prop control http://www.rospeller-aero.com/ . A very good article about the Rospeller on a Europa is here: http://www.crixbinfield.freeserve.co.uk/Mods/rospeller.htm Trading email with Peter at Rospeller with standard questions of features and lead times. Good news, Rospeller are working on a full feather option possibly avaliable late Summer 2003.
07/26/02 Placed an order for a Europa XS mono-wheel with quick build stage one and long range tank at EAA AirVenture 2002 in Oshkosh. WI. Good show discounts and was able to discuss other options with the crew. I was offered a demo flight in the Europa motor-glider that was at the show but was unable to make the schedule work...hopefully some other time.
09/10/02 Placed an order (and deposit) for a Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS/One. I placed the order and deposit to lock in the US$ 9600 price since on October 1 the price was going up to US$ 12800 I listed a March 2003 delivery date at which time I will order the autopilot servos. Once the plane does its first flight, I will order the chart subscription...all charts and approach plates for the US, Mexico and Caribbean on a new DVD every 28 days!
12/07/02 Call from John Hurst at Europa USA to let me know that my kit and several others are due into Savannah GA on December 18. John was not expecting Savannah as the delivery point and has to make arrangements for rail transportation to Central Florida, where the kits will be loaded on a truck for the drive to Southern California. John is expecting to get the kits on the road to SoCal in early January...he is driving the truck himself!
01/18/03 Flight on Southwest Airlines this morning from Sacramento to Ontario (in the Los Angeles basin) to meet a builder from Edmonton Alberta to transfer 3 kits from the truck John drove to another truck for final delivery. Ralph Petersen (one of the West Coast sales agents for Europa - Kim Prout is the other) picked me up at Ontario and brought me over to Kim's shop for this sight:
All three kits were transferred then the trip continued North to Sacramento. The drive took the rest of the day so we unloaded my kit the next morning and the other two kits continued on their way. The kit in it's new home, on furniture dollies for easy movement, the wings are still in the boxes leaning against the workbench and the poly main fuel tank next to the tail:
01/19/03 At this point, all I am able to do is an inventory of parts delivered on this trip. The stage 1 kit with accelerated flying surfaces has been delayed until about mid-February due to supplier issues (the factory in the Czech Republic that does the glassing of the flying surfaces was included in the buildings caught in flooding). Not much we can do regarding force majeure except be patient. John Hurst has kindly sent one of his shop copies of the build manual so I can at least start reading.
01/24/03 Placed an order for an antenna builder's kit from RST Engineering http://www.rst-engr.com/ . I will be making my own antennas for Nav/Com and Transponder. I may even build a passive GPS antenna even though the EFIS/One comes with an active antenna
02/01/03 Since the stage 1 kit parts are delayed, I wanted to get both cars back in the garage, so I hung the fuselage halves from the rafters. Not too hard, I think the whole thing weighs about 85 pounds. The two fuselage halves are visible hanging in the center (it may look like a canoe, but it is the bottom half of the fuselage), the cockpit module standing on its nose on the floor to the right and the two wing cartons leaning on the workbench far right.
02/12/03 Ordered a copy of the Aero Electric Resource book and CD-ROM form the Aero Electric Connection http://www.aeroelectric.com/ . It looks that I am going to have to have dual electrical systems to power all of the devices I am planning on and this resource book is an invaluable source of reference material and good ideas.
The primary (imbedded) alternator (20 AMPS at 5500 RPM) will be used for powering the: 1) dual electronic ignition, 2) primary Battery Contactor, 3) Avionics: EFIS/One; SL-30 nav com; transponder; prop control 4) primary Fuel Pump, 5) Trim servos, 6) Taxi Light.
The secondary (B&C Specialty SD-20 http://www.bandcspecialty.com/sd20desc.html ) alternator will be used for: 1) secondary battery contactor, 2) auxiliary -boost- Fuel Pump, 3) Auto Pilot servos, 4) Nav/Position lights, 5) Strobes, 6) Landing light, 7) Fiber-light instrument and placard lighting, 8) heated Pitot tube - if any, 9) aux power outlet (cigarette lighter type outlet) to keep the batteries charged on my back-up radio and instruments or portable CD player.
Speaking of back-up instruments, I have not firmly decided how to approach this. Above I mention using panel mounted pitot-static instruments (for about $500), but there is no provision for an Attitude Indicator since I am not going to have a vacuum source or a turn coordinator. I have been searching the internet for electric AIs, preferably 2.25", there seems to be very few and are very expensive. Several of the instrumentation postings have not had a very high opinion of the small turn coordinators either. Considering this, I am thinking of either a Garmin 196 unit (around $1000 http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap196/ ) which has GPS based back up instrumentation, but still no attitude indicator, or the PC Flight Systems PC-EFIS http://www.pcflightsystems.com/pcefis.html which has just about everything including an attitude indicator, engine monitoring capability and moving map but will be about $2500 with the software, Compaq iPAQ and GPS sleeve or add-on.
Garmin 196: PC-EFIS: PC-EFIS engine page: