An FAA five-person National Kit Evaluation Team recently visited kit manufacturer Zenith Aircraft Co. in Mexico, Mo., to determine if the CH 650 aircraft kit will officially allow an amateur builder to meet the 51% rule.
While it will be several more weeks before the FAA issues its official determination and the CH 650 kit will be added to the FAA’s official “Revised Listing of Amateur-Built Aircraft Kits,” Zenith Aircraft officials said they were pleased with the team’s visit: “Based on the FAA’s on-site inspections and our subsequent discussions, the CH 650 kit will be added shortly to the FAA list of of eligible aircraft kits,” stated Zenith Aircraft’s President Sebastien Heintz, explaining that the FAA has already evaluated earlier Zodiac models, and last year evaluated the kit for the STOL CH 750 light sport utility kit plane.
CH 650 builders will be able to 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 “major portion” requirement, commonly referred to as the “51% Rule.” Based on the Zodiac CH 601 design from Chris Heintz that was first introduced in 1984, the new CH 650 design incorporates all of the earlier models’ “easy to build” features, such as the extensive use of blind rivets and CNC cut and pilot-hole drilled skins, according to company officials.
Zenith’s new factory demonstrator is currently being equipped with the ULPower UL260iS powerplant (with full FADEC) and will use dual Dynon SkyView glass panel displays.
The CH 650 is a second generation light sport aircraft, developed specifically for Sport Pilots. This newest model incorporates all the CH601XL B model upgrades introduced in 2009, company officials add.
The CH 650 airframe requires just 400 hours to build from the complete factory-supplied kit, according to company officials. The kit includes many CNC pre-cut and pre-drilled skins and components, and includes detailed drawings (blueprints) and photo assembly manuals. The standard kit comes with factory-finished wing spar assemblies, and is supplied with all hardware needed to complete the airframe.