FAQs for Belite Aircraft and FAR Part 103 Operation
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1) What kind of tires does our aircraft use?
A: Our base aircraft are using 410 / 350 x 4. We're also using 5.00 x 5 tires as an upgrade on select aircraft. They should be underinflated a little because they are the primary landing shock absorber.
2) What do the bigger tires weigh?
A: The 5.00 x 5 tires and tubes weigh about 15 pounds for a set of two. That's four pounds more than are standard lighter 5 inch tires.
3) I see that your demo aircraft don't have any shock absorbers (EG Bungees) on the main gear. Why not? Can I add bungees?
A: The stiff gear are about 3.5 pounds lighter than the bungee gear, including the bungees. We have been selling spring landing gear instead of bungees. Kitfox Lite owners put them on their planes as well. We’ve had zero reports of any issues with these – they are way better than bungees. Highly recommended.
4) What kinds of engines are you using?
A: We've currently tested several types of two strokes and are happy with them. We base our satisfaction on actual flight and ground testing. My favorite single cylinder engine is the F-33 from Hirth. It has dual ignition and is just amazingly strong with a 58 x 24 propeller. My second choice is the F-23 with dual opposed cylinders and 50HP. It weighs around 78 pounds with exhaust. Try a 60x36 or 60x38 propeller and you will be blown away with performance. We also like the MZ-34 from www.compactradialengines.com and also the MZ-201 from the same company. They are smooth running. The MZ-34 produces 28HP and weighs about 44 pounds with exhaust. The MZ-201 produces 45HP and weighs about 62 pounds with exhaust.
5) Are you testing other engines?
A: Yes. We’ve been testing the JCV-360 four stroke. And we are working on a Generac 4 stroke conversion, but it won’t be ready until 2012, Sun N Fun. Be patient. And it may not work in a Part 103 legal installation – it is very heavy.
6) Can I use the bigger engines on a part 103 ultralight aircraft?
A: Subject to meeting weight and cruise speed requirements, and also being satisfied with fuel consumption. FAR Part 103 aircraft must weigh less than 254 pounds (278 pounds if equipped with a ballistic parachute, because a separate reweighing of the chute system is NOT required, regardless of its weight) [float equipped aircraft have even more generous weight limits]. Cruise speed must not exceed 62mph in level flight. If the engine is too powerful, a ground adjustable prop and/or in combination with a throttle stop is acceptable for meeting these requirements, per Advisory Circular 103.7. All of the two stroke engines mentioned above work great on our planes, if properly outfitted.
7) How did you keep the speed of the airplane down when using the big 50HP Hirth engine?
A: We have used a ground installed throttle stop. If operated as a homebuilt experimental, you can get the full benefit of the 50 ponies, subject to the yellow and redline of the airplane. We’ve also tuned the cruise speed down by playing with the pitch on an adjustable propeller.
8) How about operating the Superlite on floats?
A: We've never done it, we live in Kansas and we don't know what a lake would like if it wasn't covered with whitecaps. HOWEVER, it will work fine with the Hirth 50HP, assuming that you use two floats that are light enough to meet part 103 (30 pounds each). The full power of the Hirth will yank the little seabird off the water.
9) What's the difference between a Superlite and a Belite '254'?
A: The Superlite uses a bigger engine; either a 45HP or a 50HP engine. It denotes the fact that you are flying a relatively high performance ultralight aircraft.
10) What's the difference between a Trike and a Superlite or '254'?
A. The Trike has tricycle gear and uses a boom aluminum fuselage. The cabin is steel and unchanged from the other models. The nose gear is also a steel shaft to a very nice nose wheel design. The trike is heavier; to use a 45HP engine, you have to have the lighter carbon fiber wings to meet part 103 weight requirements.
11) What's the difference between Carbon Fiber and Aluminum/wood wings?
A: Aerodynamically, there is no difference. The CF wing uses CF spars and aluminum ribs. The traditional wing is aluminum spars and wood ribs, with optional aluminum ribs. The CF wing is lighter, which is necessary for some configurations to be legal. The CF upgrade is more expensive.
12) What legal pilot requirement is required to fly a Part 103 airplane, such as the Belite?
A: there is none. You do not need any type of license whatsoever. A blind 12 year old may legally fly our airplane. (You, however, may be charged with child endangerment and manslaughter and imprisoned after the 12 year old's untimely demise.)
13) What legal medical requirement is required to fly a Part 103 airplane, such as the Belite?
A: There is none whatsoever. You do not need any type of medical. If you have a lapsed medical, that is irrelevant and you may legally fly the Belite. If you have a lost a medical, that is irrelevant and you may legally fly the Belite. If you have been denied a medical, that is irrelevant and you may legally fly the Belite. If you’ve never had a medical, you don’t need one, and you may legally fly the Belite.
14) What prior experience is required to fly a Part 103 airplane, such as the Belite?
A: There is none whatsoever. There is no currency requirement. There is no biannual requirement. Whether you are in biannual or not is irrelevant. Skill, however, is very relevant.
15) OK, I think I get it. Anyone can fly a Belite, correct?
A: Legally, anyone can do it. HOWEVER, You should be capable of safely flying the Belite before you fly it.
16) What level of training do you recommend prior to flying a Belite?
A: We recommend recent tailwheel proficiency in a similar aircraft, such as a Cub or Kitfox. If flying our Trike, recent experience and solo proficiency in a Cessna 150 or similar aircraft would be helpful.
17) Why do some models have a covered fuselage, while others have an open frame, reminiscent of an 'Airbike'?
A: I like the open framework, and I can't personally feel any difference on the flying qualities. Also, the open frame requires substantially less work to finish. It's also lighter, which was absolutely imperative on our 'Superlite' model. However, the covered fuselages are more attractive to many people. You pays your money and you picks your favorite.
18) Why is powdercoating an option in our kits?
A: The builder of our kits has 2 choices: painting or powdercoating. If the builder wants us to powdercoat it, we will do that. Powdercoating looks fantastic, and there are dozens of colors available. It is also slightly heavier than painting. If the builder wants to paint the fuselage and metal components, that is easily done using an enamel spray paint. It's also a lot cheaper than powdercoating. It's more prone to chipping than powdercoating. It's helpful to 'bake' a paint job in the sun for a week so that the enamel paint truly hardens. This will help resist chipping. Corrosion can appear under powdercoating and be difficult to spot; it's easier to see corrosion with paint. This all boils down to builders choice with good reasons to go either way. We no longer recommend powder coating, but are happy to do it if it is what you want.
19) Is the airplane available with 2 seats?
A: No, that is not allowed under Part 103.
20) What is the difference between a trike and a taildragger?
A: The trike is easier for many pilots to land. We put a wheel on the nose to facilitate this.
21) I'm uncomfortable using 'push-pull' cables for control surfaces. What has Belite done to make them safer?
A: 1) We've demonstrated flying the Belite with one flaperon unattached to a cable. It was easy to control.
2) The elevator on the '254' and the Superlite use a conventional push pull aluminum tube, not a cable.
22) Can you install a BRS parachute in a Belite?
A: Yes! This option is available on many of our aircraft configurations.
23) Why is the firewall made out of Carbon Fiber?
A: We no longer make the firewall out of Carbon Fiber, but we used to. I had an electrical short through the firewall, and it scared me. (Carbon Fiber can burn.) We now make all of our firewalls out of aluminum, the old fashioned way. (If you have a Carbon Fiber firewall, you should cover it with an aluminum anti-heat product and ensure that all pass through openings are maintained with rubber bushings.
24) Do you count the weight of the battery in the total weight of your airplane?
A: No. We use a quick disconnect connector, so the engine may be started with the electric starter and then the battery is removed from the aircraft before flight. The connector we use is from the RC aircraft industry, and works extremely well. It is called a “Deans” connector, and many people seem to be familiar with it.
25) Are doors available?
A: Yes. They are removable.
26) Why are your airplanes so expensive, for instance, compared to a used Taylorcraft or a used Ultralight? My uncle has a 'puddlejumper froggie' with an old Rotax 277, and he says he bought it for $2,500 last year. When he is able to get it started, he says it flies great, especially after the white smoke cloud clears!
A: As we have recently cut our prices, our aircraft are now reasonably priced. FWIW, our aircraft are built by skilled workers who are paid a decent wage with real benefits. For cost conscious customers, we offer kits starting at little more than $6,800. We have a lot of machined aluminum in our kits and aircraft. We even try to ensure that our aircraft designs look like aircraft, not like ultralights or low cost, built cheap concoctions. Our engines are modern designs from good companies. The engine vendors, like us, demand to be paid a fair price for a good product. Used aircraft can present outstanding aviation bargains, but require more maintenance and paperwork of allkinds than our ultralight aircraft. Certainly, if you want a used ultralight, buy it. Or if you want a used classic aircraft and are willing to take on the maintenance and paperwork burden, buy it.
27) Why are your airplanes so inexpensive, for instance, compared to new LSAs?
A: Our aircraft do not require or meet any ASTM or FAA certification, so we save considerable expense. I am very pleased that someone recently told me: "Your aircraft fill the vision of what Light Sport was supposed to be: inexpensive affordable flying."
28) What covering system do we use?
A: Stewart Systems and Dacron fabric.
29) How long before you ship a kit, after I give you an order?
A: currently 4 to 6 weeks.
30) How long before you ship a plane, after I give you an order?
A: currently 6 to 12 weeks.
31) Can I avoid shipping and crating charges by picking up in Wichita?
A: Yes. However, you will have to pay sales tax.
32) What are the benefits of your aluminum fuselage?
A: Lower weight. This opens up a bunch of new configurations. It also helps us reduce costs.
Please send me emails with other questions to firstname.lastname@example.org