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Thread: Airplane in a box

  1. #1
    cluttonfred's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    World traveler

    Airplane in a box

    OK, following up on my earlier design contest thread, please help me refine this notional concept for a design contest:


    The purpose of this contest is to encourage the development of simple, low-cost designs to make flying more affordable and accessible. The idea is not only to encourage lighter, lower-powered designs with reduced materials, engine and fuel costs but also to reduce storage costs. The "airplane in a box" is a two-seat, single engine light aircraft can be easily hangared in a surplus 20' shipping container (see dimensions for 20' standard dry container). The compact storage dimensions would also maximize space in a conventional hangar or allow trailering home. Overall specifications would roughly follow European microlight (French ULM) requirements in order to encourage designs that could be built as experimental, LSA or microlight as appropriate in as many countries as possible. Here's a first draft:
    • Two-seats
    • Single-engine
    • Fixed-pitch propeller
    • Gross weight 450 kg (992 lb) or less (472.5 kg (1,042 lb) or less if fitted with a ballistic parachute)
    • Useful load 200 kg (441 lb) or more
    • Range 300 km (186 miles) or more with 30 minute fuel reserve
    • Maximum level speed 161 kph (100 mph) or more
    • Minimum speed 65 kph (40 mph) or less
    • Take-off/landing in 300 m (984 ft) or less over a 15 m (50 ft) obstacle
    • Dimensions L 5.25 m (17 ft 3 in) x W 2.15 m (7 ft) x L 2.15 m (7 ft) or less in "wheelable" storage configuration
    • Storage configuration to flight-ready in 15 minutes or less by one person
    Feedback welcome!


    Matthew Long, Editor
    A site for builders, owners and fans of Eric Clutton's FRED
    and other safe, simple, affordable homebuilt aircraft

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Hillsboro, Oregon / USA
    How about changing the load to "440 lbs with full fuel?"

  3. #3
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Tucson, AZ
    Don't need a contest. Just need awareness of what already exists...

    Other than a 7'-6" wings-folded width, I'm already building this airplane.

    A little more info:
    Build it with a Rotax 582 for power, and it's 992lbs gross, ~460 lbs empty.
    Build it with a Jabiru 2200 for power, and it's 1050lbs gross, ~500 lbs empty.

    Down side - it's absolutely too light for VW power, so "low cost" is relative.

    I'm planning on low-mid $30k with a brand-new 80-85hp engine... (Yes, I didn't say Jabiru.)

    Other numbers:
    Stall: 38mph (there are no flaps)
    Vne: 100mph (it's a cable-braced biplane, what do you expect!) (wait a second...wings fold?)
    Cruise: 80mph

    See my website link below...
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    I think this is a good start. Since this is a clean sheet of paper, why not plan for 2 persons at 400 lb combined, plus fuel? I am 225 lb and that would mean I could fly with someone 175 lb. Not that large really in today's world.

    I like your idea of a contest. Yes, there may be several small airplanes that approach these requirements, but motivation for some new innovative thinking might produce a raft of good ideas from which some great ideas (designs) may emerge.

    Timing is important. If it all has to be done in 6 months, I think there will be little participation. If concept drawings and preliminary calculations are in 6 months, final sizing and engine selection in 12 months, refined layouts, directional component details, cost estimates, and weights in 18 months, then ......
    Not sure what would constitute a win? I would propose a win is a functional, complete set of 3d visual images, design drawing(s), calculations, performance predictions. The winner would be determined by a panel of "experts" and the judging criteria might be ......
    I don't think every small detail would need to be defined as long as it was trivial to the overall objectives.

  5. #5
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Tucson, AZ
    Just checked the factory website under "builders" for my current project described above. Seems someone is way ahead of me on that non-Jabiru 85hp engine thing... inst port.jpg
    Last edited by Eric Witherspoon; 03-31-2012 at 05:44 PM. Reason: added link
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Hi Matthew,

    Our project is considering something like this and I believe would fit your specs. The design includes removable wings for trailering...!

    John Nicol
    EAA #835498

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