Almost an Airplane!

Paul and Louise describe the power system to Gerry and Ryan so that they understand what they are inspecting.

After almost eight and a half years of on-again, off-again building (other airplanes and projects seem to keep getting in the way), we finally had an airworthiness inspection of the eXenos project today! Normally, an announcement like this would be accompanied by a picture of the inspector handing the applicants their airworthiness certificate and operating limitations, but due to some unique circumstances, that will come in a day or so. For now, its good to know that the FAA was happy with the airplane and all of our submitted paperwork, and its just a matter of dotting a few “i’s” and crossing a few “t’s” with FAA headquarters until we can put the paperwork in the machine and get it ready to fly!

Paul and Gerry check to make sure that the wing bolts are properly installed.

Why the further minor delay? We’re hoping to include the brand new option of doing a Task-Based Phase 1, and since the process was only approved about two weeks ago, it is taking a special effort between the Reno FSDO and a number of people in Washington to round up the necessary approvals and signatures. That’s right—we’re doing a little pioneering work so that this can become routine for everyone in the near future. And effectively, the delay doesn’t really mean much, since our weather in the neighborhood of the Sierra Nevada has been so atrocious  the past two months that it has been hard to keep the skills up for test flying. Now that we might be seeing a break in the storm cycle, I can get back in the air every day and do the necessary practice and skills work-ups to be ready for the first flights in this unique vehicle—an electric motor glider.

Gerry has a look at the rudder stops and attachment for the tailwheel spring.

Our visit from the FSDO today included two inspectors, Gerry and Ryan, who started out going over all our paperwork, and finished off with a thorough inspection of the airframe and the unique power-plant configuration. They did find the one missing rivet we left for them, and one bushing that was on backwards—great job guys! We’re all struggling a little bit with the contents of a Condition Inspection checklist for the electric motor and power system—aside from checking for wear on the two or three moving parts, and looking to make sure that the wiring is intact, there really isn’t much more to do. The Xenos airframe is similarly simple, but Louise is busy creating a detailed checklist which will “meet the scope and detail of Appendix D to Part 43” for the annual condition inspections, since she’ll be getting the Repairman’s Certificate for this aircraft and doing the annual ritual to keep it “in a condition for safe operation.”

So here’s hoping that we’ll be able to make a formal “birth” announcement of this new flying machine in a few days. There are a lot of fine folks working behind the scenes to make it happen, and we thank them all. Then it will be on to a Task-Based Phase 1 with a very different kind of machine.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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