HOMEDALE, Idaho – Kitfox Aircraft hung a 180-horsepower Titan X340 engine on an airframe and took it flying the first week of January.
“Flight testing is partially complete, but so far we are seeing massive climb performance,” reported Kitfox on its Facebook page. “We are seeing numbers at 2500 fpm cruise climb and are hoping for as much as 3500 fpm Vx. Should also be able to keep great climb without giving anything up in cruise. But have not tested top cruise speeds yet.”
I caught up with Kitfox owner John McBean by phone while he attended the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo to talk about his fire-breathing Kitfox.
TITAN AIRCRAFT ENGINES
“Continental Motors acquired Titan Aircraft Engines, which manufactures the X340 engine,” said McBean. “They approached us about the possibility of putting an X340 on a Kitfox. We’ve had good success with different engines on our airplanes from the Radial to the Lycoming 233 and Rotax, so we said ‘let’s take a look.’”
McBean admitted he’s “been wanting to target the Super Cub market, the Carbon Cub market, with our airplanes for awhile,” and this motor gives Kitfox the horsepower they need.
So far, the X340 is on a current model Kitfox and is flying “real low profiles” as part of making sure that the installation is sound and things are working properly.”
I couldn’t help but ask about performance.
“We’re seeing 2,000+ feet per minute at a little over cruise climb speed of 80 miles an hour,” continued McBean. “We’re not anywhere near best angle, which is roughly 60.”
At Vx, McBean suspects “we’re going to see 3,500 fpm or better once we really start trying to push it. We want to make sure we get the right prop for it. Right now we’re just simply doing a rig-out and checking the engine and making sure that everything’s operating how we want it to operate before we start pushing the envelope.”
Paired with the right propeller, McBean estimates “800 pounds of thrust.”
LSA OR EXPERIMENTAL
There is a weight penalty over the popular Rotax line, but the Kitfox airframe will support it. McBean believes it’ll be a good match for both light-sport and experimental class airframes.
“The Kitfox is a 1,550 pound gross weight capable frame, so operating as an experimental will be a great choice,” he said.
Flight testing is continuing in earnest now that he’s made it home from Sebring.