STOL CH 701 Sport Utility Kit Aircraft

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The popularity of the STOL CH 701 aircraft and other Heintz designs around the world has created many imitations and copies. These copies are often modified versions of the original STOL CH 701, and are not authorized by designer Chris Heintz.
While imitation may be a form of flattery, Heintz cautions that these planes may not be built to original specifications, and that modifications may not, and often appear not, to be properly engineered (usually you decide to copy when you don't have the engineering ability to create your own design).

Zenith Aircraft Company cannot support aircraft that do not have a valid serial number, nor can it support aircraft built from parts manufactured by a third party, and cautions buyers that just because it may "look" like a STOL CH 701 it may not be built from parts manufactured to the same standards, or may be built from parts made from inferior raw materials, and that modifications are not approved by the designer.  

The following photos were all found on the internet.  Let us know if you come across a design that has an uncanny similarity to a Chris Heintz design...

International Customers:  Please verify that a representative or dealer is authorized by Zenair:
Zenith Aircraft International Sales | Zenair Website

copy-aerobravo1.jpg (32084 bytes) Aero Bravo of Brazil builds and markets the 'Bravo' in South America, a so-called "improved" version of the STOL CH 701, with a modified cabin and modified tail sections.
copy-aerobravo2.jpg (35771 bytes) Manufacturing the factory-finished "Bravo" in Brazil
Polish copy This Polish STOL claims in bold print to be a "Zenair CH-701" despite obvious design changes to its landing gear.
Another Polish 701
COPY of the STOL CH 701 Another Polish 701 called TT 2000
copy-trophy.jpg (57667 bytes)

copy-trophy2000.jpg (23720 bytes)

 

Sold factory-assembled as a "Trophy 2000" by a French company called Air Domi, this is a Polish-made version of the STOL CH 701. Other than the landing gear, this one looks pretty original...

French magazine 'Vol Moteur' reviewed this aircraft (2/99 cover story), stating: "A true copy of the celebrated STOL CH 701, this airplane has a very attractive price compared to the original..."

Evidently, Air Domi and the French magazine see no ethical (or other) problems by admittedly marketing and producing a copy of a design.

http://www.zut.wroclaw.pl

 

 

 

copy-yuma2.jpg (37935 bytes)

copy-yuma1.jpg (49073 bytes) Marketed as a "Yuma," this plane uses the STOL CH 701 wing. From the photo, it's hard to see the many other similarities.
ata11.jpg (18637 bytes) It appears that ICP of Italy manufactures and markets the whole line of (modified) Heintz designs.

The main CH701 modifications include a raised cabin (the wing root does not taper at the cabin) and the tail sections have been changed.

The modified STOL CH 701 is marketed as the 'Savannah' or MXP-740 in Europe, and is available both in kit form or factory-built.

 

77.jpg (21976 bytes)
icp11.jpg (29981 bytes)
icp13.jpg (26107 bytes) Copies of Zenair Amphibious floats are even available from ICP...
icp7.jpg (24662 bytes) ICP's Savannah MXP 740, also called the Bingo.

The copies are marketed by Skykits Corporation in North America as "painstakingly engineered in Italy," although they admit that the Savannah is "comparable in looks and components" to the STOL CH 701.

icp8.jpg (31041 bytes)
icp-hd1.jpg (23938 bytes) ZODIAC CH 601 variant sold as the "Amigo" - modified canopy and tail sections...
Italian flight report with photos
ICP mutation This is a hybrid / mutated aircraft from Italy with STOL CH 701 fuselage and Zodiac CH 601 HDS wings...
copy-icp-amigo.jpg (29192 bytes) The Italian company not only produces copies of the STOL CH 701, but also modified versions of the ZODIAC CH 601 HD and ZODIAC CH 601 HDS. Their website (www.icp.it) boasts that they've delivered 157 aircraft.

Super Amigo (or is it a modified Super ZODIAC CH 601 HDS?) with a turbo 914.

The company even has international dealers...
This is the S. American dealer: http://www.mxp-aerotec.com

icp-hds4.jpg (21593 bytes)
icp-amigo.jpg (26982 bytes)
copy - hornet stol This one was sent to us:
"The [Australian] Hornet STOL looks quite different compared to the 701 at a first glance but when I compare details it’s definitely based on the 701. The fuselage has a different shape but the construction method is nearly identical.  Isn't it illegal to copy and use your wing?"
copy-dkl2.jpg (20143 bytes) This is a new one, called the G1 from D.K.L. AirLight of Luxembourg.
Zodiac CH 601 HD This is a Zodiac manufactured in Poland and marketed as Zodiac CH 601 HD, sold with a 2-cylinder motorcycle engine.
This Italian-made copy in India quickly offered the new STOL CH701 features such as the top-hinged doors and new spring gear to try to win a bid on training aircraft [details].
A polish-built 701 copy.
miami2.jpg (13575 bytes) A South American-built "copy of a copy" STOL CH 701 commercially operated in Key Biscayne, Florida (without any noticeable registration).
Portuguese "Land Africa" A Portuguese "Land Africa" 
G1 copy This one is called a G1 
g1
copy? We're not sure what happened to the cowl and landing gear of this 701... 
Griffon: STOL CH 701 A detailed Russian website that sells a "Griffen 100" plane that looks like an exact copy of the STOL CH 701. Website has some good detailed construction photos that unmistakably identify the design (using many photos and illustrations from Zenith's own website!)... yet we've found no reference to the original in the Russian text...
on skiis in russia A near-exact copy of the STOL CH 701 on skis, called the Griffen-100M, by Griffen Aero in Russia
Italian-made Savannah copy in Greece
ch701-poland.jpg (45047 bytes)
Made in Poland copy The airplane behind the modified gear and cowl is unmistakably a STOL CH 701.
Polish Trophy 2000
STOL CH 701 ?? This copy is probably our favorite ;)
www.ulm.it, an Italian website, has a nice section on STOL aircraft, where it freely translates some of designer Chris Heintz' design articles and shows photos of STOL CH 701 copies, though it states that each of these STOL aircraft possesses its own "characteristics and improvements..."

Note: Copies of the original design may not be eligible for registration as "amateur-built" or other category aircraft.  Just because they look like a STOL CH 701 does not mean that they are.


RAAC Recreational Flyer, Cover, March - April 2007In the April 2007 issue of Recreational Flyer, the magazine of the Recreational Aircraft Assoc. of Canada, editor Gary Wolf points out that: "Heintz is nearly alone in selling construction plans these days, while most manufacturers concentrate on selling kits and completed aircraft.  The photocopier is the worst enemy of every designer, and Heintz's 601 plans have been copied and "improved" by manufacturers around the globe.  Have a look at many of the recent bumper crop of Eastern European light sport aircraft and you will see how many have their roots in the Zodiac.  Some look very tempting, but the question must be asked where a buyer might find parts and support five years hence. A [Zenith] Zodiac owner gets full construction plans and a mature manufacturing company as his backup"


Following is the translation of an editorial from the French magazine EXPERIMENTAL/FOX ECHOS, May/June 2000 issue. It addresses the issue of R&D* we are experiencing more and more.

NON-CONFORMING COPIES
By Gabriel Gavard

"Chris Heintz and sons, designers and manufacturers of the Zodiac CH 601 and STOL CH701 series of aircraft (built from plans only, from partial or from complete kits by homebuilders), are getting less tolerant of supposedly "improved" pirated copies of their designs. Zenith Aircraft’s internet homepage recently added a new link identifying rebel copies of their aircrafts originating from Brazil, Poland and Italy. The company has been sending updates and cautionary notices to the aviation press on a regular basis regarding these "new" machines, clearly derived from the CH 701 or CH 601, clearly unauthorized.

"The principle cause spurring the spread of these copies on the new light-plane market is not just the undeniable success of these two designs – now commonly registered as ultralights in many countries. A prime contributing factor has been the availability of complete blue-prints and assembly manuals for all components aircraft in question from Zenith Aircraft. This intentional move by Chris Heintz has allowed hundreds of aviation enthusiasts around the world to build and fly their own aircraft, on a budget.

"Making these construction plans available, while not profitable, was a generous move by Heintz in "the spirit of homebuilding". It is also having dire commercial repercussions: The designer’s gesture has now been dishonored and misused by a number of unscrupulous manufacturers who, by their very actions, attest to their own inability to conceive and engineer their original aircraft. Naturally, each of these nevertheless had the expertise to then "improve" on the original design.

"The motivation for the modifications has been varied: Changes to avoid "copyright" infringements; advanced or complete assemblies to meet market demands (ready-to-fly, custom modifications, etc.); and "improved" performances, often sadly based on strokes of ingenious intuition by novice builders not yet fully aware that every airplane is a sum of compromises…

"Chris Heintz engineers his airplanes to well-known stringent standards. Every component and flight characteristic is conceived to work in harmony with the whole from the outset. The wings, fuselage and tail; the controls, the cabin and the rest form that whole which can be appreciated in its entirety. Modify just one, let alone several, of these elements without reviewing the whole and clearly, the machine as a unit will have been tainted…"

* R & D: Research and Development, but also sometimes known as ‘Rip-off and Duplicate’.


The January 2000 issue of EAA Experimenter says:
"From Italy's ICP comes two aircraft aimed at different markets. A successful company in the automotive field, an interest in flying lead the company into microlight sales and from there to manufacturing. Though they have no American representation at present, ICP expressed interest in acquiring US dealers. The Savannah is an evolved version of Zenair's popular utilitarian CH-701, which ICP once represented. ICP pilot Franco Paolini said so many improvements have been made that the two can hardly be compared anymore. Perhaps, but the basic shape will cause most North Americans to note the resemblance. In my experience flying the Savannah, I was impressed with its solid feeling in the air and its good performance and handling qualities, especially at the crawling speeds it can sustain. The Amigo is completely different though Zenair followers may note that it imitates the CH-601 model from the Canadian designer. Unlike Savannah, the Amigo's stylish form appears and operates more like a general aviation light plane. While I found handling to be just as pleasant as the Savannah, the Amigo was quite a bit speedier.."


In a letter to Ultraflight magazine, Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Company wrote:

I just recently read Guy Gratton's "Biggles" article (Ultraflight, June 2002), which chronicles the approval process for ICP's MXP740 Savannah in the UK. The writer diplomatically states that the Savannah is a "derivative" of our STOL CH 701 design, but then proceeds to contact designer Chris Heintz to obtain help with the approval of the Savannah (!).

ICP's Savannah is nothing more than a modified copy of our popular STOL CH 701 aircraft. In fact, ICP of Italy (www.icp.it) was a one-time distributor for the STOL CH 701 in the eighties (and also markets an unmistakable copy of our ZODIAC CH 601 design called the Amigo) and a closer examination of the similarities of the design and the construction techniques shows the Savannah to be more than a "derivative" of the STOL CH 701 - copying the design and simple construction techniques that designer Chris Heintz has painstakingly developed over the past 30 years.

As the article points out, the Savannah has been on the market for years without ever having undergone spin testing: Companies that copy an existing design typically do so because they lack engineering skills, and to profit from an original product's hard-won reputation. Modifications are marketed as "improvements" over the original design, but often these modifications are not properly engineered and tested, as the above demonstrates.

With form following function, the STOL CH 701 was not designed to be just another pretty light aircraft, but was engineered to offer outstanding short take-off and landing performance, all-metal durability, and simplicity and ease of construction. The design features fixed leading-edge wing slats for high lift, full-span flaperons (both ailerons and flaps), an all-flying rudder, and simple, yet durable, all-metal construction. Introduced in 1986, the STOL CH 701 design has been a success since the beginning because it met its design goals, and continues to be very popular aircraft kit today as it meets the needs of sport pilots seeking the features and advantages of a "real" airplane with the short-field capabilities of an "ultralight" aircraft.

The success of the design and its ease of construction have made it what is probably the most copied kit aircraft design on the market today. We count six different copies currently being produced and marketed around the world. Admittedly, we've made it easy for copiers by offering detailed blueprints (and not just assembly instructions), but we feel that this is an important service to the otherwise very honest aircraft-building community.

In flight testing the Savannah, Gratton notes that the take-off and landing performance of the aircraft is 500 ft. and 460 ft. respectively, with climb at 600 fpm and cruise at 80 mph. These performance figures are notably inferior than those for the STOL CH 701 - an indication that the Savannah's modifications adversely affect performance, not to mention flight characteristics.

While imitation may be a form of flattery, outright copies of a proprietary design is a form of theft, and they are typically misrepresented to buyers. We're concerned that such copies do not meet original design specifications (quality of raw materials and hardware, manufacturing standards, etc.) and that modifications may not, and often appear not, to be properly engineered (usually you decide to copy when you don't have the engineering ability to create your own design). Potential buyers need to be aware of this, and should be concerned about the level of technical support and spare parts available from these foreign manufacturers, and whether the imported kit will be eligible for registration in the "amateur-built" category.

Designers and manufactures get ideas and "inspiration" from the competition in the ongoing quest to design and build better aircraft (in fact, Chris Heintz, an aeronautical engineer by training, often consults to competitors), but I think you'll agree that copying someone else's work outright (and then marketing it as an "improved original design") is not acceptable business practice and does not serve the aviation community. Openly promoting a known copy of an original design, as this article does, is a disservice to the aviation community, and penalizes the engineers and companies that keep this industry vibrant by developing, manufacturing and supporting unique light aircraft designs.

Notes / Additional Information:

Details about the unique STOL CH 701 design features:
http://www.zenithair.com/stolch801/design/design.html

(In 2001, the design gross weight of the STOL CH 701 was increased to 1,100 lbs. from 950 lbs. by redesigning the wing spar and numerous other structural components. Nearly overnight, copies were subsequently marketed with a gross weight increase to 1,100 lbs. - with no apparent design or structural changes to justify the gross weight increase).

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