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Orange is not the - XtremeAir - Push The Limits · at all during rotation. The rudder allows the...

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Orange is not the There was an time in life when an little Extra was enough; Gerald Cooper finds that perhaps we need to live to be Xtreme 26 LOOP JULY 2010 www.loop.aero FLIGHT TEST PHOTOS: Frank Duke
  • O r a n g e i s n o t t h e There was an time in life when an little Extra was enough; Gerald Cooper finds that perhaps we need to live to be Xtreme

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    PHOTOS: Frank Duke

  • f u t u r e ; i t ’ s h e r e !

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    FOR THE LATEST NEWS GO TO... www.loop.aero

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    controls are large enough to dwarf both the horizontal and vertical stabilisers, with the ailerons containing themselves to a full 100% span of any wing that dares to show itself outboard of the fuselage. I am guessing that they probably work rather well with throws typical of similar types at 30°. LET’S FLY IT The two-seater has been loaded so that I am well below the gross weight, with the centre of gravity located just inside the aft envelope to give me the best chance of exploring this machine’s capabilities in pitch. Switches are located on the right side, with all of the circuit protection devices and two modular instrument panels in both pilots’ positions.

    The modern-looking cockpit reinforces the overall feel of a machine more akin to a Formula 1 car, as the carbon layup surrounds you with seats moulded to suit; this is not a cage in which you sit, as with many other comparable types.

    Beyond its own obvious improvements, I am impressed by the comprehensive list of desirable design ideas, condensed from the opinions of pilots of other machines – throughout

    the genesis into the 300 and 342, Steinbach has called on the talents of many of his world-level aerobatic and Haute Voltige friends, getting feedback in every stage from some of the world’s best pilots.

    The ideas include my trusty CAP 232’s slider throttle, now equipped with a neat little friction control device and slider rudder pedal systems, and a Sukhoi-esque large high-mounted control stick.

    Together, they form a veritable wishlist from the aerobatic aircraft world, a natural evolution, only changing the things that need changing and raiding good ideas from others.

    Start is stock Lycoming and setting off across the block-paved apron (what else?) directional control is easily maintained through the use of the steerable tail wheel and differentially operated toe brakes. Visibility is better than the Pitts and Extra family, which are probably the nearest comparable types.

    Opening up the engine, track is easily maintained with light rudder pressure, and within seven seconds, she is ready to go.

    Pitching directly to an initially impressive climb angle of around 60° leaves me in no doubt that

    Pitching directly to an initially impressive climb angle of around 60° leaves me in no doubt that for a two-seat machine we have moved on to a new generation

    Lycoming’s AEIO 580 engine develops 315 horsepower through the 203cm prop

    P H I L L I P S T E I N B A C H : E N G I N E E R A N D S P O R T S M A N

    IF YOU’RE setting out to create the ultimate aerobatic aircraft, it helps to be one of the world’s best pilots, as well as a top-level aero engineer to boot. Meet Phillip Steinbach.

    The reigning German Unlimited champion, Steinbach, at 36, has been flying for over 20 years and already has vast experience in aircraft manufacture. As well as formerly working at Extra, he established the much-admired Impulse aircraft firm in the late 90s. The Impulse was also all-carbon, in kit form.

    After joining Xtreme in 2005, he immediately set to work creating what he felt was his perfect aeros machine, building the prototype Sbach 3000 just in time to take medals in the German

    championships in 2006 with just a few hours under its wings.

    Throughout its genesis into the 300 and 342, Steinbach has called on the talents of many of his world-level aerobatic and Haute Voltige friends getting feedback in every stage from some of the world’s best pilots.

    Despite his unconventional image, Steinbach is a hard-headed businessman. Having tasted the bitterness of insolvency with Impulse, when he couldn’t match the low-build costs of Eastern bloc rivals, he believes the secret to making the Sbach a commercial success is to simply make it better than anything else out there – and to win competitions.


    for a two-seat machine we have moved on to a new generation. Impressive enough, but having watched Phillip fly earlier for a photo shoot, he would easily pitch to an initial climb attitude of 90° almost immediately after lifting off, which allowed him to commence his gyrating freestyle routine almost immediately after take-off.

    There are not many single-seat aerobatic types that can replicate this performance, and I remind myself that this is actually a two-seat machine I’m testing.

    Initial impressions are good; as she tracks straight, I can feel that I am astride a purposeful machine. This thing performs. Power to weight ratio and mass distribution, combined with affective controls, are the key.

    At 3000ft, it’s time to see if I actually like this machine, rolling inverted to see how securely it holds me, as I start to get a feel for the controls and feedback. I begin to feel at home quite quickly, which must be a good thing.

    Time to see how it handles during slow flight with some stalling in various accelerated modes. Feedback is predictable and benign if treated in a conventional manner. However, when aggravated, it is not for the faint-hearted, as this one is

    built to rotate. As with any highly tuned machine, it will give you an instant tumbling high-energy result in any axis.

    If you are not familiar to this class of machine, training will be required as the stick can appear to move with a mind of its own if not controlled deliberately. If you are already current on class, then you will simply be impressed by the effortless extension to your envelope.

    Stability tests are the norm for flight tests but, as the CS-23 test pilots have spent many hours conforming to EASA’s stability requirements, I'm going to look at it from a recreational aviator’s perspective.

    The aerobatic pilot’s wishlist includes lightning reactions around all axis when provoked, contrasting with the ability to track a stable trajectory when left alone, which helps to build confidence and accuracy.

    Once again, she doesn’t disappoint and after two flights the realisation dawns that I could be competitive quite quickly in this aircraft. Elevator is probably a touch light if applied aggressively – I find that I can hit peak g (+/-10) almost instantly when at speed. The rest of the controls are also very

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    Tail end flight controls dwarf the horizontal and vertical stabilisers

    S S D R C L A S S

    FORMER World Aerobatic Champion – and British team member – Eric Vazeille has also flown the Sbach 342. The French star said: “When I tested the 342, I flew the aircraft alone. The performance of the aircraft is comparable to an actual Unlimited single-seat aircraft. Power to weight ratio is very impressive and, because of the shape, the aircraft in cruising flight is very fast. “I was impressed with the rate of roll and its ability to fly at slow speed, which is as good

    as current single seaters. It also has a very efficient rudder with a lot of movements possible; it just seems that the tumbles are not going to be easy to learn. “It’s obviously a very strong aircraft – the best two-seater I have ever flown. Everything is well designed with a lot of room in the cockpit. A little bit too fast sometimes, so, more than in other

    aircraft, you do need to learn to use the power lever to slow down. This is the first two-seat machine that you can take to a world contest and be taken seriously.”

    light throughout the speed range, so I have to detune my inputs somewhat.

    Book figure roll rate is 450°/ sec at 225kt and 280°/sec at 60kt. Comparing it to types I am current on today, which are the Extra 300L and Cap 232, I can categorically confirm that it rolls very fast indeed, leaving both the 300L and much faster Cap 232 behind!

    Equally important when rolling fast is the ability to stop cleanly and quickly. Reduction in aileron and wing-tip mass has endowed the machine with good ailerons that work at both high and low speed. The other reassuring fact about this aircraft’s ailerons are that they have been designed and load tested to be fully deflected up to Vne, a point which I cannot

    resist – as I yo-yo between the vertical and level Vne flight, I aggressively and repeatedly apply full aileron in both directions. The rate is phenomenal and I play for 10 minutes or so (basically until my head hurts) trying to recalibrate my 232 timing in order to become accurate. When certified, the Sbach will be the only certified aircraft with this desirable aileron feature.

    Manoeuvring speed (full deflection of all control surfaces) and for any snap roll is 174kt. This figure

    is much higher than any comparable type and results in the aircraft whipping around at a phenomenal rate when flicked positive or negative. Stopping accurately now becomes the new game and one which will take a competition pilot in his own machine months or years to master.

    The rate of rotation when flicked at the higher speeds is well above those for which my inertial gyro is calibrated and opens a world of very dynamic snaps if you are brave enough to give them a go repeatedly. Absolutely exhausted, I retreat to the comfort of less aggressive figures.

    EXTREME FUNDiving for speed is always my favourite part of any aerobatic flight, being fresh for the fight and not yet feeling like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards (the stock feeling at the end of a hard flight). The aircraft smoothly accelerates, and modifies its character from lively to positively electric.

    The ride is smooth, although very lively in roll, and it takes me two flights (that’s my excuse for another go) until I get the ‘feel’ of this animal.

    It remains relatively smooth as

    I load to +8 in the first corner; the feedback is absolutely solid with no discernible give anywhere in the structure. There is some light buffet above +8. The aircraft tracks the vertical well, so should prove a stable mount for those who choose this form of normality.

    Pitch and roll forces are balanced, so large applications of aileron do not upset the pitch trim, although surprisingly for a two-seat aerobatic type, the rudder is very light and effective so tends to over control if applied at all during rotation.

    The rudder allows the aircraft to yaw to around 90° left or right at any speed under around 90kt. However, at this point, the pitch appears almost uncontainable and, with large oblique angles generated by rudder deflection, you should be prepared for the rapid, compact pitching movement that follows.

    This area of gyroscopic tumbling requires more experimentation than I have time and fuel for today, so I’ll reserve judgement in this arena as new movements are certainly possible. However, I can tell it is different to the old breed because, when combined with large rudder deflections, the application of forward or




    POWEREngine// Lycoming Thunderbolt AEIO 580 L1B5Prop// MT three blade mtv 9, hydraulically actuated constant speed, 203cm diameter

    DIMENSIONSWingspan 7.5m Wing area 11.25m2 Wing loading 75.5kg/m2Length 6.6mSeats 2 Baggage capacity 20kg

    PERFORMANCE Max level speed ISA @ 300ft 210ktsStall speed 53ktsFuel 285lRange 800nmTakeoff 260mLanding 400mRate of climb 3200ft/min Max take-off weight 850kg Empty weight 610kgSafe Load +/-10g

    MANUFACTURERXtremeAir GmbH Harzstraße 2 Am Flughafen Cochstedt39444 HecklingenGermanyTel: +49 39267 60 999 0Fax: +49 39267 60 999 20Email: [email protected]

    All specifications and performance figures are supplied by the manufacturer. All performance figures are based on standard day, standard atmosphere, sea level, and at gross weight unless stated otherwise.

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    FLIGHTTEST FOR THE LATEST NEWS GO TO... www.loop.aerobrick outhouse. Sure, they’re not the fastest, most thrifty or highest flying machines, but in handling terms you really have to experience a carbon-winged aerobatic monoplane in order to appreciate the explosive three-dimensional freedom they offer.

    Having flown thousands of hours in directly comparable machines and lots more in high-end personal tourers, I can say that for nipping out for 20 minutes of fun or making big strides around Europe there is nothing that even comes close. It’s fast, good looking and incredibly light to the touch.

    When unleashed, it transforms from a comfortable and capable tourer to a no-holds-barred cage fighter capable of far more than I had time to discover.

    Bringing this type of machine through the certification process is a remarkable feat by the Xtreme team and one I hope will be rewarded through success in both competition and (more importantly) sales.

    Good luck boys and girls, as you have created a truly great flying machine that inspires and intimidates in equal measure. The market should be interested! Roomy, well laid out cockpit with relaxed seating position for comfort.