As we progress with the Merlin Lite development we will be collecting data for our ‘self-certification’ documentation. The Part 103 rules are pretty simple. Stall speed, top speed, single-seat, 5 gallons fuel maximum and 278 lbs empty with a rescue chute. Of course we will be conducting a lot more tests than that to be sure we have a structurally sound aircraft with no untoward flight characteristics.
On that note I have been flying between thunderstorms. I made some selfie videos and finally asked a professional to make proper edits so I don’t torture my 13 followers more than I already do. But now we wait for someone else to do their work…..
We obtained one scruffy bit of paper yesterday with an official DAR weighing with certified scales.
Our prototype Merlin Lite is legal at 271 lbs. The fuel was drained but perhaps one pound of unusable fuel remained in the tank and lines.
Recall that this weight INCLUDES hydraulic brakes, EFIS, EMS, windows, windscreen, electric trim, 3-blade prop, liquid-cooled Polini 250DS engine, large tires, and fuel system with fuel sender.
When we have the production Merlin we will be adding the extra weight of the long wings, cowl, and the tricycle gear. And subtracting some weight from the main gear leg, removing the two top windows, and cutting a few pounds from the engine mount. Plus the new Polini 303DS is 2 kg lighter than the 250DS.
As we finalize options we will post the cost and weight of each item. I know from the DAR who has weighed a few ultralights, and from other ultralight manufactures that most ultralights are over the limit. I also am sure that some of our customers will order options like painting, cabin heat, spinner, 2nd fuel tank, and autopilot. I don’t think they have much risk of a a FAA ramp check as they won’t be on ramps, and the FAA does not carry scales with them. They might check more obvious items like the number of seats and fuel capacity.
As long as it looks like a duck and flys like a duck it must be a duck…..
Next week I return to Dayton to begin flight tests with the new wing. I am sure about our stall speed compliance. It will be fun to document it. I have a few Garmin VIRB cameras with telemetry built in plus a purchased a second ASI that should read lower airspeeds than the EFIS. And a 2nd pitot tube that I will mount more directly in line with the airflow at high angles of attack. All this should make for some entertaining video clips. And more scruffy bits of paper for my compliance file.
Here is our DAR report:
We remain on track to offer an electric Merlin Lite before the end of 2021. Plus the design of the 750 straight floats for the Merlin Lite are finished and the floats will be manufactured later this year. The long wing electric Merlin Lite on floats is on my wish list.
In other news the VTWIN project rolls along. We have secured our own production run of engine made to our specifications. A significant number of Vtwin engines will arrive around the end of July. Reduction drives and matching propellers are also in production.
The installation to the Merlin moves forward with the engine mount, exhaust, cooling system, and cowl pretty much done. The mold for the cowl is now commissioned. We expect to have cowls from the new mold by the end of July. Here are some VTWIN images:
Oshkosh approaches and, if Sun N Fun was any indication, Oshkosh will be a big event this year! We will have the prototype Merlin Lite there and a Merlin, and a Merlin kit with a VTWIN and maybe a couple of surprises. I am not making any promises just yet as not everything gets done in time especially with all the COVID excuses. I can’t even rely on freight companies and will drive the Merlin Lite to Dayton and then Oshkosh myself.