“Over the past 20 years kit and experimental aircraft have evolved," said Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Company. "However, the aircraft kits and the industry have changed drastically.” Maturity, as many have indeed realized in the past 20 years, can be a good thing: “In terms of kit quality, precision, parts availability, and especially flyability, virtually everything has improved.” He added, “And when you’re talking about building your own airplane, all those advantages come together even better, when you realize how much more advanced the kit manufacturing equipment, processes, and documentation have become, thanks in large part to technology [such as CNC manufacturing and CAD engineering]. It’s easier today than it ever has been to build your own great-flying airplane.”
All these improvements are cause for celebration at Zenith Aircraft Co., which twenty years ago, in 1992, opened at its present facility in Missouri, centrally located in the United States. Though Sebastien Heintz’s father, famed CH-series aeronautical engineer Chris Heintz, had been developing and selling plans and kit aircraft since 1974 (and later, certified and LSA), the move to Missouri marked a huge milestone for the company and the whole Heintz family. Today, with several thousand kit-built aircraft in the air, and several more thousand under construction, the attention to customer service and factory support and involvement are apparent at hundreds of airports across America and around the world.
“When you look at the kit manufacturers then,” Heintz reflected, “and see who is still producing today, you have a small handful of dedicated producers. We have evolved together, making a better experience for builders and pilots; and we have survived because we did that.”
One of the hallmarks of the Heintz designs has been a readiness to allow flexibility in design features that customers want. “We are not locked into any particular engine for our airplane designs,” Sebastien noted. “Though the vast majority choose to fly the standard configuration, we see Lycoming, Continental, Corvair, VW and Honda auto conversion, 4 and 6 cylinder Jabiru engines, and increasingly, the UL Power series being picked by our builders. This flexibility means that people can more-readily tailor their aircraft to their exact tastes, and be assured of factory cooperation and support, while having access to an engine that meets their budget.”
“We at Zenith applaud all the companies that have been our friends and competition for all these years, and we look forward to many more years of improvements, innovations, and helping dreams take flight,” stated Sebastien Heintz.
More News – Big Celebration Event:
The 20th anniversary celebration will take place at the annual Zenith Aircraft Open Hangar Day and Fly-In gathering at the factory in Mexico, Missouri in September. A Zenith banquet will be held on Friday evening, September 21, with the Open Hangar day activities the following day, on September 22 at the Mexico Memorial Airport. Kit suppliers Dynon, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, Matco wheels, Wicks, Garmin, Corvair, UL Power, Jabiru engines, and others will attend for the celebration and to meet with Zenith builders and pilots. It’s not a trade show, but an excellent opportunity to interface with builders, owners and pilots of Zenith kit planes. Educational seminars, workshops and demonstrations will take place on both Friday and Saturday, September 21 & 22, 2012. Dozens of Zenith customer-built airplanes will fly in for the activities, and many builders and owners (some of whom have been flying Zenith / Zenair designs since the 1970s) will swap stories and tips with first-time builders in this annual celebration of flight.
For more on this separate story, visit http://www.zenithair.com/news/oh2012.html
About Zenith Aircraft:
Zenith Aircraft Company is a founding member of the Aircraft Kit Industry Association (AKIA), which was formed earlier this year to "represent aircraft kit manufacturers, designers, suppliers and supporters with a unified voice in the promotion and safety of the aircraft kit industry." Zenith Aircraft Company, along with other industry heavyweights, will work to promote the homebuilt aircraft industry, and work with other leading aviation organizations (such as EAA), as well as with Zenith builders and pilots, to continue to improve safety through ongoing education and training.
Zenith Aircraft Company is based in modern kit production facilities in Mexico, Missouri (located between St. Louis and Kansas City). The kit manufacturer produces a very popular high-wing STOL (short take-off and landing) series made up of the two-seat STOL CH 701 and STOL CH 750 light sport utility "sky jeeps," and the four-seat STOL CH 801 sport utility kit airplane. The STOL designs all share the same high-lift design features, which include fixed wing leading edge slats and heavy-duty tricycle landing gear, making them ideal personal planes for off-airport operations. Zenith also produces the sleek Zenith CH 650 cruiser, an easy-to-build all-metal side-by-side cross-country cruiser with a gorgeous new bubble canopy.
Zenith's two-seat designs meet the definition of an LSA for operation by Sport Pilots. Kit parts and components are produced in the Zenith kit factory located on the Mexico Memorial Airport (KMYJ), using modern CNC design and manufacturing technology. The all-metal aircraft are produced using modern 6061-T6 aluminum alloy parts, and fastened together primarily with blind ("pop"-type) rivets, making them both quick and easy to assemble. The kit manufacturer recently introduced "quick build kits" for all its models, supplying the fast-build kits with factory-assembled fuselage assemblies. Alternatively, builders may also choose to scratch-build their entire airplane from blueprints (drawings), or can "buy-as-they-build" with component kits, such as wings, tail, or fuselage. Zenith Aircraft ships complete kits (packed in a large wood crate) around the world. Factory demonstrator aircraft are also housed at the Zenith factory and are available for demo flights (by appointment), and the company hosts monthly two-day "hands-on" workshops in the factory to give prospective builders the opportunity to gain building experience prior to committing to an entire kit airplane project.