In the world of kit aircraft a few companies stand out for having delivered many kits that have launched into the air. Leading the success stories is Van’s Aircraft at nearly 10,000 flying — with around double that number of kits shipped. Van’s is trailed by Rans Aircraft, Kitfox Aircraft, and Kolb Aircraft. Kolb estimates about 8,000 of their various models are flying today, a strong enough figure to make the Tennessee company one of the shining lights in the field of light kit aircraft. However, Kolb has always had a problem. They build taildraggers. After generations of pilots were trained in tricycle gear airplanes, many pilots aren’t sure about their ability to handle a taildragger. When landed other than straight and true, a tricycle gear airplane auto-corrects, swinging toward the nosewheel. A taildragger can, if handled poorly, result in the dreaded ground loop, meaning that the tail can swing to the side, potentially causing a wingtip to touch the ground.
- Improved forward visibility — to enhance flying enjoyment and safety.
- Comfortable cabin with less noise and vibration — positioning the exhaust pipe above the wing helps FX1 reduce noise for neighbors and other people on the ground.
- Accelerated Lift & Control Response — with the engine mounted close to the wing, the propeller directs accelerated airflow over the wing enhancing take-off performance, said Alfredo. "This is called 'accelerated lift,' a phenomenon common to twin engine designs," he added. "This effect also tames departure stall characteristics, contributing to the FX1’s forgiving flight qualities. In a similar way, the propeller is also closer to the vertical and horizontal stabilizers and associated control surfaces (rudder & elevators) for enhanced control response."
- CG & Balance — “mid-ship” engine placement, common for exotic sports cars, places FX1’s engine mass closer to the aircraft’s center of gravity. This is said to decrease the aircraft’s moment of inertia for faster response in the pitch & yaw axes, and for the roll axis, raising the engine to the level of the wings on a high-wing design increases roll response.
- Safety — experience with the FX1’s predecessor, the JetFox 97, proved that a “front & center” engine placement can help in the event of an impact. "Rather than having the engine transmit force directly to the cabin, a forward impact is transmitted to the airframe, independent of the cabin, for greater survivability," noted Alfredo. FX1’s cabin employs a cage of built-up welded steel-alloy tubing (chromoly), wrapped in a carbon-fiber composite structure.