Chip is making progress with the Merlin Lite

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jazzenjohn

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An ultralight that weighs 253.99999999 pounds is absolutely less than 254 pounds and so complies with the reg. In the real world the bigger issue is whether you will run afoul of the FAA. All the people in the FAA are pilots and they are focused on what is best for aviation in general. If someone is buzzing houses and flying over stadiums and crowds of people and making a nuisance of themselves and generating many complaining phone calls, They are concerned and something will happen especially if there is an accident. If you're the one doing it, whether you are over or under the weight limit you will likely be in trouble because your actions are ruining aviation for all other pilots. If you are a conscientious pilot that isn't flaunting the rules and isn't generating a bunch of angry phone calls then you aren't likely to ever have much contact with an FAA official. They are good people in my experience, and if treated with respect will return the favor. If you have modded your engine to have obscenely loud straight pipes and insist it is your right to fly a bunch of patterns really low over nearby neighborhoods, they are less likely to fight for your right to do that then they are to convince you that your actions are endangering the existence of the airport itself. If you don't modify your actions, they will not be your friend.
 

BTCrenshaw

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What may not be clear to everyone is the fine wording of the regulation that is often overlooked.
"Up to 30 pounds per float may be excluded by the FAA without requiring substantiation of the float's actual weight. " See the "REQUIRING SUBSTANTIATION" verbiage ? to explain. If you have a claimed ultralight plane with two floats attached and that plane weighs 454 pounds the plane COULD be legal as far as weight goes as the attached safety devices being the floats do not have a maximum weight as long at the plane itself without floats is legal.. In theory, you have to remove the floats and weigh the plane which weighs 254 pounds or less and the floats just happen to weigh 100 pounds each - because they do not have a separate weight limit. ( other than as they might affect flying qualities/speeds )
The thirty pound allowance for each of two floats comes in when you do not desire to "require substantiation" of the weight of the individual floats and the plane separately so you can weigh the whole assembled aircraft which then must not exceed 254+30+30. A Hull based Seaplane UL does not have the same flexibility as there is no way to remove the hull and weigh separately. An assembled hull based seaplane UL must weigh 254+30+10+10 or less to be legal. (ignoring parachute allowances) One other thing. As far as I know, the max speed and stall speed of ULs were never tested or required to be demonstrated by the FAA. The FAA created a formula which incorporated many variables which would determine the anticipated stall and max speeds. This formula included such things as span, wing area, single or double sided wings, strut-wire or cantilever wings, horsepower, windshield shape etc. The Kolb Firefly was famous for exploiting weaknesses in this formula such that it could exceed the max speed in reality but according to the formula it was legal. To my knowledge this formula was never adjusted to accomodate the extra weight of floats or hull ( or parachute ) so in theory the seaplane ULs could still be legal even if they could not demonstrate the minimum stall speed.
Jedi and you have made this much more understandable. Thank you both.

Todd
 

BTCrenshaw

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e. Powered Vehicles. A powered ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 when it has an empty weight of 254 pounds or more; has a fuel capacity exceeding 5 U.S. gallons; is capable of more than 55 knots airspeed at full power in level flight; and has a power-off stall speed wlich exceeds 24 knots.
Not to be anal about this but a LOT have the notion that 254 or less is legal, As stated in the regs 254# is NOT a legal 103 item. LESS than 254 is JB
I read it this way too, under 254 but have seen many reference as 254. I suppose in reality it may be how anal the FAA inspector is on the ramp. On the other hand I've also seen many posts and even statements in books and articles that say the chance of an ultralight having a ramp check is absolutely minimal unless there's strong evidence the plane is not legal or the pilot is an idiot. As we all know, it's a rare thing to win a disagreement with any government official. Not harping on the FAA inspector, but I get a lot more leeway on possible infractions when I'm nice and understanding than when I was young and a self appointed loud mouth know it all!
 

BTCrenshaw

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BTW: I think the Merlin Lite is a really neat looking airplane. Its downsides are its upsides; it is clearly an airplane. That comes with both advantages and disadvantages. But if you want an airplane and want to avoid the registration and pilot certifications, the Merlin Lite is a very cool looking option. When it gets the cowl installed, I think it will look a bit like a miniature Helio-Stallion (please try to give it a cowl that looks turbine).

The Merlin has a very nice clean airframe that I think would make an excellent candidate for an electric ultralight. Electric motors are power dense, so it will likely be able to come in below 254 pounds without the BRS using electric propulsion. Add 5 gallons of new Tesla batteries and have fun!

The downside is that it will likely be a $40,000+ ultralight airplane as an electric, and it will need an airport and hangar to operate from. But, the direct operating costs will be close to nothing.

PS - Can anyone tell me if the Badlands 103 complaint ultralight retains the wing folding option?
I think Chip mentioned that he is working on an electric version of the Merlin Lite, and yes the Badland F series (1-5) all have folding wings. Chris has his loaded with the help of a friend in the back of his dualy!

2021-02-26_14-58-51.png

The above I believe was his first design concept and test F series. I'm not sure if it's an F1, 2, 3, or 4. I know it's not an F5. He's since come up with fully dressed and outstanding looking aircraft. I love the F5 Fujita - it has a titanium frame. Yeah, not needed for sure but it would be fun to say my Badland F5 Fujita and the Lockheed SR71 are the only two aircraft in the world with almost 100% titanium frames! But to buy one (not the SR71 of course - joke) is not going to be cheap. Chris by the way is a master welder if anyone is wondering if he can weld titanium.
 

BBerson

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The manufacturer may advertise empty weight of 254. That is obviously the maximum recommended to the customer. The operator is responsible for the actual weight, not the manufacturer.
 

BTCrenshaw

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An ultralight that weighs 253.99999999 pounds is absolutely less than 254 pounds and so complies with the reg. In the real world the bigger issue is whether you will run afoul of the FAA. All the people in the FAA are pilots and they are focused on what is best for aviation in general. If someone is buzzing houses and flying over stadiums and crowds of people and making a nuisance of themselves and generating many complaining phone calls, They are concerned and something will happen especially if there is an accident. If you're the one doing it, whether you are over or under the weight limit you will likely be in trouble because your actions are ruining aviation for all other pilots. If you are a conscientious pilot that isn't flaunting the rules and isn't generating a bunch of angry phone calls then you aren't likely to ever have much contact with an FAA official. They are good people in my experience, and if treated with respect will return the favor. If you have modded your engine to have obscenely loud straight pipes and insist it is your right to fly a bunch of patterns really low over nearby neighborhoods, they are less likely to fight for your right to do that then they are to convince you that your actions are endangering the existence of the airport itself. If you don't modify your actions, they will not be your friend.
You said pretty much exactly what I said before I read your post. Just as the FAA people being friendly if you treat them (and the people near the areas you fly in) with respect, you'll get it back. Like my prior instructor use to tell me all the time - if flying was easy, everyone would be doing it. Meaning - pretty much all the FAA and pilots in general have respect for each other. I've seen less for ultralight pilots, but then I've also seen some of the dumbest ultralight pilots in the world on YouTube. My plan (and advice given by a tail wheel instructor here in Dallas) is to get some seat time in most likely a 172/182. It's been 20 years since I've piloted an aircraft - jumping directly into anything that flies would be dumb. I've gone through the EAA's recommendations. Because it's not only the smart thing to do to follow their recommendations, it's also because I want the privilege of registering my ultralight with the EAA volunteer registration program. The EAA has requirements to be able to do this. I want my "E" tail number - something that seem pretty rare. I refuse to be an dumb idiot ultralight pilot. My parents both passed with in 2 1/2 years of retirement. I've not worked all my life to end my retirement as a burnt black spot on the ground because I refused to learn what I needed to as well as be respectful of others.
 

Aesquire

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RE: parachutes.

The Cornelli chutes will deploy at very low speeds, and are good products. Several of the Paraglider companies make really good chutes too, but would not be suitable for an enclosed aircraft.

I flew for years with a hand deployed chute on my hang glider. The possibility of collision with another glider, or aircraft, is very real when you are sharing the same section of ridge, or thermal. I've had Bonanzas fly under me on cross country flights, within 300ish feet, I could look right into the cockpit & knew when the pilot saw me. If he'd been on a collision course, he would not have had time to dodge. I also did a little very light aerobatics, all positive G and never past 120 degrees of bank. Still, that was beyond the placarded limits on speed and bank angle. I'm Turbulence rated, and like many glider guys fly in conditions that make cleanup of a Cessna after taking a passenger likely.

I never had to deploy my chute but I was always glad it was with me. However, a chute deployment is considered a crash with probable structural damage. And yes, people have died because of accidental deployments. You can indeed be killed by safety gear. Which may include that hatchet you should have secured to you seat so you can cut your way out of the plane as it hangs in a tree, on fire, so it doesn't brain you on impact.

That's why I wondered if we had a BRS handle design thread.

My hand deployed rig uses a lot of velcro and one curved pin. It's pretty foolproof. But when you add a spring, compressed gas, or rocket to the design, you need to have a 2 stage handle system that will not activate by accident or mistake. Going to a 3 stage system, IMHO is asking for it to never work. KISS
 

BTCrenshaw

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RE: parachutes.

The Cornelli chutes will deploy at very low speeds, and are good products. Several of the Paraglider companies make really good chutes too, but would not be suitable for an enclosed aircraft.

I flew for years with a hand deployed chute on my hang glider. The possibility of collision with another glider, or aircraft, is very real when you are sharing the same section of ridge, or thermal. I've had Bonanzas fly under me on cross country flights, within 300ish feet, I could look right into the cockpit & knew when the pilot saw me. If he'd been on a collision course, he would not have had time to dodge. I also did a little very light aerobatics, all positive G and never past 120 degrees of bank. Still, that was beyond the placarded limits on speed and bank angle. I'm Turbulence rated, and like many glider guys fly in conditions that make cleanup of a Cessna after taking a passenger likely.

I never had to deploy my chute but I was always glad it was with me. However, a chute deployment is considered a crash with probable structural damage. And yes, people have died because of accidental deployments. You can indeed be killed by safety gear. Which may include that hatchet you should have secured to you seat so you can cut your way out of the plane as it hangs in a tree, on fire, so it doesn't brain you on impact.

That's why I wondered if we had a BRS handle design thread.

My hand deployed rig uses a lot of velcro and one curved pin. It's pretty foolproof. But when you add a spring, compressed gas, or rocket to the design, you need to have a 2 stage handle system that will not activate by accident or mistake. Going to a 3 stage system, IMHO is asking for it to never work. KISS
I like the two stage idea. Sort of like "Arm" and "Deploy", "Prep" and "Deploy"...whatever you wish to call the two steps. Both must occur for an action to take place. Of course with a two stage deployment system, practice (not actually touching the switch, pull handle...what have you) but putting your hands near as if you were doing so would be a good idea. People freak out sometimes. Practicing once in a while would help reduce that possibility. I've known, read about, and viewed videos too many times of people who had the tools to get out of trouble yet freaked out and ended up 6ft under. And as I've said, I will have a chute on my ultralight for just such examples you gave.

Thanks,
Todd
 

jedi

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Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA
You said pretty much exactly what I said before I read your post. Just as the FAA people being friendly if you treat them (and the people near the areas you fly in) with respect, you'll get it back. Like my prior instructor use to tell me all the time - if flying was easy, everyone would be doing it. Meaning - pretty much all the FAA and pilots in general have respect for each other. I've seen less for ultralight pilots, but then I've also seen some of the dumbest ultralight pilots in the world on YouTube. My plan (and advice given by a tail wheel instructor here in Dallas) is to get some seat time in most likely a 172/182. It's been 20 years since I've piloted an aircraft - jumping directly into anything that flies would be dumb. I've gone through the EAA's recommendations. Because it's not only the smart thing to do to follow their recommendations, it's also because I want the privilege of registering my ultralight with the EAA volunteer registration program. The EAA has requirements to be able to do this. I want my "E" tail number - something that seem pretty rare. I refuse to be an dumb idiot ultralight pilot. My parents both passed with in 2 1/2 years of retirement. I've not worked all my life to end my retirement as a burnt black spot on the ground because I refused to learn what I needed to as well as be respectful of others.
Do try to find something lighter than a Cessna 172. I would expect someone would have a J-3 or T Craft near Dallas.

Also, find a CFI that is not in the business or training airline pilots.
 

TLAR

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Sep 29, 2020
Messages
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Cornelli chutes
I will email the company and have them correct their manual. Mine must be mistaken on deployment speeds. Maybe I just received one that is different than everyone else?
a related question, what is the minimum deployment speed?
 

Aesquire

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Depends on model and how hard you can throw, powered, zero.

Better question for most is how low can it deploy?

There isn't a single answer to that one, it's too dependent on too many variables.

Top speed 130 kph. Comelli srl - Emergency parachute

I spelled Comelli wrong, can't blame autocorrect, duck it all.

I don't see any minimum deployment speed, did I miss it? I could always be wrong, I'm not a Sith.
 
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jazzenjohn

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If you're falling straight down then altitude is more important. As the parachute opens, you are slowing down. When it is fully open, you are essentially at the parachutes rate of descent. If you are deploying low, then speed is your friend as your trajectory is a ballistic arc with the faster you're going the better your chances. Straight down there is no canopy swing problem like there can be with a more horizontal deployment. In the real world there are angles of descent and wind and attitude of deployment and differences in methods of packing the chute for the intended craft etc. so manufacturers are loathe to give you hard numbers for minimum deployment speed.
Base jumpers jump from less than 200 feet and zero beginning airspeed, but, they would jump with a fast opening square parachute and the slider down. If that same person jumped from 3000 feet and deployed at terminal velocity, that same setup would compress his spine because it opened so fast.
 

TFF

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Cirrus’ stance is let the insurance buy you a new plane. They don’t want you to try and decide how bad it is and if you can land it. An alive customer is pretty happy in their experience. If you don’t have insurance, you don’t fit their model. There have been a few of those planes come up for sale on barnstormers. No one touches them.
 

jazzenjohn

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The first few times, the Cirrus activations were impressive, but the last couple I read about seemed like the pilot was looking for an excuse to deploy the chute and the problem would have been uneventful for a reasonably proficient pilot without a chute. I am concerned if someone were to become too dependent on a chute as an answer to any inflight problem. As I see it, on an ultralight gyro, a chute is a reasonable option when the alternative is certain death. I just looked at the title of this thread and it has drifted far from where it started. Maybe further discussion should be somewhere else?
 

BTCrenshaw

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Do try to find something lighter than a Cessna 172. I would expect someone would have a J-3 or T Craft near Dallas.

Also, find a CFI that is not in the business or training airline pilots.
The yoke and seat time the CFI I spoke to yesterday was just saying to go get some hours just to become familiar and comfortable again with flying, and doing so in what I use to train/fly in would be a good idea. I will seek out someone with a lighter aircraft more like what I'm going to buy/fly in the future. When I mentioned that I'm pretty set on buying a Badland ultralight and that it uses the same tooling that use to be the Kitfox Lite, he mentioned that he had owned a Kitfox knock off many years ago (sorry I don't recall the name of the aircraft). Anyway, he sort of took more interest. He currently trains in a Luscombe or I should say he would currently train in it. He's having difficulty with his insurance company concerning COVID-19. Once I get some yoke and seat time I'll transition over to tail wheel, hopefully as you mention a light aircraft. The Luscombe is pretty good size, but if that's all I can find then I'll try and train with him. At least he has experience in a Kitfox style of tail dragger.

Got ya on the CFI that's not in the business of training airline pilots. I had a school over in Arlington quote me $9,000 for an LSA course. I made the comment on the phone that I thought that LSA was implemented to make flying (including training) less expensive. The person on the phone told me flat out, we'll we like to train those who are looking into becoming pilots for a career. Nope, I need to find someone like my first flight instructor, who trained because he enjoyed it, it got him some flight hours, and a little extra income.


Thanks Jedi,

Todd
 

BTCrenshaw

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The first few times, the Cirrus activations were impressive, but the last couple I read about seemed like the pilot was looking for an excuse to deploy the chute and the problem would have been uneventful for a reasonably proficient pilot without a chute. I am concerned if someone were to become too dependent on a chute as an answer to any inflight problem. As I see it, on an ultralight gyro, a chute is a reasonable option when the alternative is certain death. I just looked at the title of this thread and it has drifted far from where it started. Maybe further discussion should be somewhere else?
Totally agree - the chute is "I have no other option, none, zero, zilch". Also agree on the thread, it kind of strayed off subject of Chip getting the Merlin Lite closer to in ultralight pilots hands. It has been a worthy subject and discussion though.

Todd
 

Aesquire

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To recap earlier wisdom from others in answer to earlier question... Yes, it's better to be lighter than the arbitrary 254 pound limit. It's just hard to do and have extras like an enclosed cockpit. It's not easy to just have a seat.

The parachute allowance is A Patch on a regulation written before parachutes were available for "whole craft" saves. Ultralights (U.S. pt 103 to be precise ) were, in the beginning, powered hang gliders, literally. Then the "goody! Small airplanes!" part took over.

And although even in the 1980s hang gliders were occasionally up in the "you need oxygen" skies, normally you didn't have the altitude to dismount/unhook/escape from, a broken glider, get away from the spinning tangle of high strength steel cable, aluminum tubing, & dacron, fall... Then open a normal reserve parachute.

So, yeah, it's a loophole. But it's useful one, and a lot of people have used it. And it's optional if you can keep the weight down by eliminating unnecessary options like seats, windscreens, and extra instruments.
 

TWilkie

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Hello,

I've been reading AC 103-7; very informative thank you. One question though, does 55 knots maximum speed "at full power" mean wide open throttle (max RPM for short duration, sometimes as little as a minute) or maximum continuous RPM (fly all day without melting the engine)? Seems like there should be an allowance for climb performance without counting against max speed. Ever plane I've ever flown, you pull the throttle back when you level out from a full power climb. Are ultralights allowed the same? If not, then the cruise speed of the Merlin Lite would end up being pretty slow.

Thanks, Todd (different Todd)
 

BBerson

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The AC says a series of full power 1000 feet runs in item 20. And other alternate options.
55 knots is 63 miles per hour or 92 feet per second. So 1000 feet is 11 seconds.
 
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