The ZODIAC aircraft is built of stressed-skin semi-monocoque all-metal construction, just like todays factory-built planes, but adapted specifically for the kit builder. Sheet-metal construction is outstandingly the most widely used aircraft building method around the world, and has proven itself as the ideal aircraft material since the early pioneering days of aviation.
Unlike most other all-metal kit aircraft, the ZODIAC kit is made for the first-time builder, and is easy and quick to build, requiring no special skills, tools or jigs to assemble in a small workshop, such as a single car garage. Zenair has been perfecting all-metal construction for homebuilders since 1974, giving it unparalleled experience in providing complete kits for first-time builders, and renowned customer support to every builder.
Sturdy and low-fatigue aluminum alloys make the ZODIAC airframe very rugged and corrosion resistant. The modern 6061-T6 aluminum-silicon alloy used in the ZODIAC construction is durable and corrosion resistant, ideal for even the harshest environment, and very easy to repair and maintain. The owner of a ZODIAC is assured of a long airframe life, with minimum required maintenance, as metal is not adversely affected by ultra-violet (UV) light and temperature changes like fabrics, Dacron or composites (its thus feasible to tie-down the aircraft outdoors, minimizing costs).
Made for the first-time kit builder, the ZODIAC may be built from plans-only, or from partial or complete kits. Building a ZODIAC from scratch (rather than a kit) necessitates more time, skills, and tools, requiring about 1,500 hours to build.
All the ZODIAC CH 601 models draw on Zenith Aircrafts vast design and manufacturing experience. The simple stressed-skin semi-monocoque construction uses single curvature sheet-metal skins riveted to internal structural members.
The sheet-metal skins, main wing spar, structural ribs, longerons, stiffeners and bulkheads are fastened together with Zeniths proven riveting method using Textron Avex blind rivets, which are as easy to set as pop rivets, requiring only a simple hand rivet puller. The corrosion-resistant Avex rivets provide a permanent structural bond and tight low-profile dome finish, formed by the custom riveter head. The rivet stem becomes locked in after being set to provide a water-tight seal. The 1/8-inch and 5/32-inch Avex rivets used are very sturdy and durable fasteners, and may be used over a wide grip area. The blind rivets are much easier and quicker to set than bucked rivets, and dont require the use of a noisy pneumatic rivet hammer or counter-sunk rivet holes.
Many flat surface skins are pre-drilled at the factory with a drilling machine, and are pre-formed and cut, ready for assembly.
Following is detailed information on the construction of the ZODIAC kit aircraft, with many photos of actual assemblies. Click here to follow through the construction steps to build a ZODIAC.
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© Zenith Aircraft Company: 2008-09-10