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uropa trigear - handling report

from www.pfa.org.uk

General Comments

1. This aircraft was fitted with a Rotax 912 and the Arplast electrically controlled variable-pitch propeller. A medium wt/mid CG aircraft was flown throughout the PFA conversion to type. Although the trigear Europa is in many ways a simpler aircraft to fly during the Take-Off and Landing phases than the Monowheel version, it still exhibits many similar characteristics to the Monowheel aircraft. Principally, the very powerful all flying tailplane still provides ample opportunity for PI0 in pitch whilst in contact with the ground. This is partly due to the centre of gravity being relatively close to the main wheels and thus providing plenty of scope for the nose wheel to bounce off a rough surface and into the air. However, this is also exacerbated by the combined inertia effects of the flight control system itself (counterbalance weight) and the pilots arm. The effect of a fully aft CG position was not investigated. Once airborne the aircraft is similar in handling and performance to the Monowheel. The following significant differences in technique and handling were noted:


2. A fully castering nose wheel allowed manoeuvrability in very confined spaces with use of differential toe brakes positioned between the rudder pedals. Taxying across grass or undulating surfaces at more than a few knots created a very uncomfortable pitching motion as the aircraft tends to bounce off the nose wheel and which causes feedback (due to the mass counterbalance) through the elevator exacerbating the motion.

Take Off

3. Take Off was completed with flap selected to 10 degrees and a fine propeller pitch setting (4.5 units).

During initial application of power and until the aircraft has reached around 10-20kts, judicious use of differential braking was found to be the most effective means of keeping the aircraft tracking straight. Thereafter, aerodynamic effectiveness is quickly gained and control transferred to the rudder pedals. The aircraft was allowed to accelerate to around 50kts before about 0.5 inch of rearward stick movement was required, just enough to allow the nose wheel to part company with the ground. During the ground roll it was essential to steady the hand against the thigh to help prevent inertia acting as a forcing function to the aircraft's natural susceptibility to pitching motion (as the nose wheel bounces along the surface). Once clear of the ground, the aircraft accelerates much more rapidly than the Monowheel Europa (with Full Flap) and settles down quickly into a comfortable climb at 80 kts.


4. With the speed back at 80 kts the final turn was commenced with 10-15 degrees of flap. This provided enough drag to commence descending at a reasonable rate without risking the possibility of a Flap overspeed in turbulent conditions. Rolling out on the final approach Full Flap was selected and the speed stabilised at 70 kts. Prior to landing, it was again found necessary to stabilise the flying arm to prevent any self-induced pitch oscillation immediately after touchdown. Even the slightest fore/aft movement after touchdown creates an uncomfortably large pitch input and should therefore be avoided.