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The X-Air!

The idea proposed by the C.G.E. in Biella, to import into Italy X-Air, an ultralight with Indian made tubes and canvas , appears to be a winner. The first delivery of these planes was sold out after only a few weeks.
Itıs not difficult to understand why it sold so quickly. Apart from the important fact that the plane is extremely well made, the X-Air falls into the 20 to 30 million lira price range (11-17,000 $), where the choice of planes is currently very limited.
The Indian builder Raj Hamsa, designed it to withstand the rougher elements of flying, take-offs and landings on short, unprepared fields. As a result of its sturdiness, the X-Air has proved to be ideal for usage in flying schools, in that it is: spacious, solid, offers a smooth ride, easy to inspect and easy to fly.
A nun, on a mission in the third world, uses it normally to do the shopping and to transport people and cargo quickly.
We were able to see and try out the X-Air at the Pegasus airstrip in Busano, near Turin. Based there is one of the flight schools that have started using the X-Air.
The configuration of the X-Air is typical of an ultralight of this category: high wing with double, profiled, aerodynamic struts, dacron wings and fuselage, engine located directly at the front of the fuselage, steel welded body and structured with 6061 alluminium tubes, three wheeled landing gear and controls on three axis.
Particular attention has been given to the planning of the pilots cabin, lots of space, fitted out with a fairing, front windshield and two comfortable padded seats. Doors that entirely seal the cabin are an available option. On the model that we tested, the doors had been modified to open upward quot;Gullwinged". It is likely that this modification will become standard in the future.
The aft of the fuselage is completely covered with dacron and contains two fuel tanks capable of holding a total of approximately 55 litres of fuel.
Access to the cabin is acheived from both sides. The two steering sticks and the pedals transmit the commands to the mobile surfaces via a rod (stabilizer) and cables and pulleys (rudder and ailerons). The instruments are arranged on a panel with more than enough space for the necessary. The unusual dimensions and positions of the control levers are all very handy! Moreover the trim control and brakes on the pilots side are standard.
Taxiing creates no problems, the turning radius is minimal, the pedals are as efficient as the brakes, more than sufficient to keep the plane sttionary during normal engine checks.
The take-off, with two aboard requires approx. 150 metres. The engine that was installed on the plane that we tested was a classical Rotax 582, but it is also possible to install the 503. With the 503, the rate of climb can reach up to 2.5 mt/sec.
The optimum cruising speed is around 90km/hr with the engine humming, at 5500 rpm.
The stall speed with two aboard is 35 km/hr (airspeed). Quite a lot of persistance is required but eventually the planes nose will drop decisivly with a slight tendency to verge to the right. Regaining control is not a problem.
The turns require only modest usage of the pedals however a large amount of movement with the stick (which is longer than usual), is necessary. The controls are quite homogeneous, all slightly loose and surely improvable with better installation. Regarding this, the impoter informed us that the assembly was performed in one single days work at the European importer in France.
The visibility is typical of an ultralight with the only limit being the presence of the engine located high in front of the pilot.
Also the approach is totally conventional: engine at 4000 rpm, trim set for a slight climb, velocity of 70 km/hr. The plane will decend smoothly, will land and come to a stop in not much more than 100m. The landing gear is truely marvellous and allows for heavy landings without shaking up too much the passengers.
The plane is normally sold as a kit. Not in the sense that it is necessary to create each piece, but in that the peices come ready prepared and one need only to put them together. Working a few hours a day, even an amateur could have the project complete in more or less 10 - 15 days.

More information about X-Air

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