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06/14/07 - ZODIAC CH601 XL TO UNDERGO ADDITIONAL STRUCTURAL LOAD TESTING
In response to three fatal accidents in the past two years involving the ZODIAC CH 601XL, designer Chris Heintz has elected to do additional structural load testing on the design. Zenith Aircraft Co. president Sebastien Heintz explained the decision. “While we firmly believe that the Zodiac CH601XL is an excellent design, and that it will prove itself as such over time, we want to do everything we can to ease public concerns about our aircraft as well as the LSA category.”
In this light, designer Chris Heintz has decided to undertake yet another set of structural load tests on a production airframe, and to have these tests independently verified. By taking this initiative, we hope to provide additional confidence for Zodiac owners and pilots, as well as in the flying community at large, regarding the design integrity of our aircraft and the LSA standards.”
A letter on this subject from designer Chris Heintz is posted on the Zenithair website (see www.zenithair.com/news and click on “Letter from Chris Heintz.”)
Sebastien Heintz estimated that more than 1,200 Zodiac 601s are flying today, with some 3,000 kits and partial kits shipped to date. He added that the company’s demonstrator, N9601Z, has been flying for six years, with more than 1,800 demo flights logged. “That airplane’s like a basketball; it’s up and down constantly. As part of scheduled maintenance, we constantly check it for signs of fatigue or stress, and to date we have seen no such indications. That’s one of the benefits of all-metal construction; it’ll show fatigue or stress before a part reaches a critical failure point..”
The Zodiac XL design is aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz’s latest design, based on the original Zodiac CH 601 first introduced in 1984. The Zodiac XL is available in kit form from Zenith Aircraft Co. or as a factory-assembled S-LSA from Aircraft Manufacturing and Development Co. (AMD). It can also be scratch-built from drawings and manuals (blueprints).