Easy Raider - Test Pilot's Impressions

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Reality Aircraft's Jabiru powered Easy Raider, first flew on the 19th of March this year. The 20 minute flight was made at Old Sarum, and was short because of lowering cloud as a front moved in. However, it was long enough to confirm that everything necessary to commence the flight test programme worked, and preparations were made to transport the aircraft by road to Ginge, where the initial test flights were to be made.

The flight tests were divided into four sections; the first for stability and control, including general assessment of the cockpit layout, aircraft configuration, taxying and ground handling, and calibration of the air speed indicator to determine what the position error is; the second is stalling; the third is to test the aircraft's performance and the fourth tests the spinning characteristics. Microlights are prohibited from intentional spinning, but in order to give pilots advice on how to recover should they inadvertently get into a spin, the test programme investigates this flight regime.

The first section has been completed, and it was during this that it was decided that a minimum offset of the thrust line of the engine needed to be applied. This is not an uncommon practice on microlight aeroplanes, and makes the aircraft easier to fly in balanced flight.

The second section is nearly complete. All test points have been done except for turning flight stalls in the clean and landing configurations.

The third section, performance, is complete except for take off and landing performance. This is required so that take off and landing lengths can be declared, and cross wind performance determined. The worst wind experienced was at Ginge where on one occasion the aircraft took off in a 90° crosswind of 12-15mph. The aircraft climbs at about 700 feet per minute with with a maximum level flight speed of 80mph being achieved (this is at its maximum all up weight of 450Kg/990Lbs), These numbers have to be verified. The introduction of the Jabiru engine caused the CG to be farther forward than on the original aircraft, and tests have been conducted to re-define the CG limits.

The aircraft is now back at Old Sarum, where the spinning tests will be conducted. This requires no turbulence and a cloud base in excess of 5,000ft agl. It is hoped that these conditions will be met before the Popham gathering in May.

In addition to the formal flight test programme, the aircraft has to pass a noise certification test. This is run by the CAA, and involves the aircraft being flown over the test equipment at exactly 400 feet on six runs, three into wind and three downwind. The technician on the ground not only records the sound of the aircraft flying overhead, but he records each event by instant camera to prove that the aircraft was at the correct height! Easy Raider easily passed the test, and will be issued with a formal Noise Certificate.

First impressions? The aircraft is a delight to fly, with the controls being beautifully balanced and harmonised. The mechanical trim control is very effective and is easy to use. The engine has performed well, and it is fitted with an effective selectable carburettor heating control. The combined fuel gauge and fuel flow indicator instrument is being calibrated at present, and should be a popular feature. I believe that pilots who fly the Easy Raider will be throughly satisfied with this delightful aeroplane.

Tom Porteous


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