For years now, the boys from “down under” at AirBorne Australia, led by co-owner Russell Duncan, have been coming to America. The ultralight they have been showing is the deluxe Edge Executive model. It’s a beauty, but the company lacked a simpler, lower-cost model. No more! In April of last year, Duncan and crew debuted what they call the Edge X Wizard model. The “Edge X” series refers to the new trike carriage, above which you can have the double-surface Edge wing, making the Executive trike, or you can select the new single-surface Wizard wing. It is this new offering that is the focus of this pilot’s report. Smoothly finished in all-white powder coating, and lacking the nose pod and aft fairing, the new Edge X trike carriage looks light and basic. At only $11,700 fully assembled, it should find a market in the USA, I feel. (The figure is complete in every way except for an import shipping charge, which U.S.
|Empty weight||364 pounds|
|Gross weight||948 pounds|
|Wingspan||32 feet, 8 inches|
|Wing area||190 square feet|
|Wing loading||5.0 pounds/square foot|
|Length||11 feet, 3 inches|
|Height||11 feet, 8 inches|
|Load Limit||+6 Gs, -3 Gs|
|Fuel Capacity||10 gallons|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Standard engine||Rotax 503 dual carb|
|Power||50 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||19.0 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||54 mph|
|Stall Speed||32 mph|
|Never exceed speed||62 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||430 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||100 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||125 feet|
|Standard Features||Weight-shift control (dual), foot/hand throttles, dual steerable nosewheel (push left, go right), rear-seat ground steering footbar, integrated drum nosewheel brake (front seat only, left foot pedal), instrument panel (ASI, altimeter), trailing link nosewheel suspension, bungee cord main suspension, solid backrest padded seats, 3-blade composite prop.|
|Options||Rotax 582 engine, Edge double-surface trike wing, Rotax E gearbox, electric start, pilot cockpit pod, side fairings, wheel pants, instruments (compass, tach, dual CHT, dual EGT, water temp), ballistic emergency parachute, after-muffler and air intake silencer kit, 4-blade composite prop, training kit, aerotow system.|
|Construction||Aluminum tubing, chromoly steel, bungee cord main suspension, polyethelene fuel tank, Dacron® sailcloth. Made in Australia.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Simplified trike from earlier model - a rare but effective move: lowers cost and improves handling. Still a certified microlight as required in Australia. Well-developed; no surprises await buyers. U.S. representative helps import and provides parts. White finish looks clean and light.
Cons - Trike brands don't differ greatly and neither does this (except it's simplified over many imported trikes). Performs better solo. Openness won't appeal to all buyers and doesn't cut it in cold climates.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - New fuel tank custom-shaped to offer easy quantity check while flying. Brake - on nosewheel only - is quite effective (perhaps due to nose suspension). Hand and foot throttles provided to give pilot more choices. Easy access to all components needing maintenance. Very easy breakdown. Clean refueling.
Cons - No trim and no flaps (as is common on many trikes) means all speed and approach control are manual via control bar. No ground brake control from aft seat. Sparse radio mounting opportunities. Simple aircraft has few systems.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Entry can't get much easier, certainly to the front. Seats have excellent back support for front pilot - not common on trikes. Well-padded comfortable seats. Cargo space in aft seat if flown solo. Good pilot restraint system. Wind noise not bad as single-surface wing flies slower.
Cons - Rear seat entry includes some step up (though still easy). Seats do not adjust fore and aft. No cargo space if flown dual (except if you add side bags or other storage area yourself). Can't reach instrument pod with belts secured. No cabin protection for cold climates.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Excellent nosewheel arrangement: brakes, suspension and trailing link stability - all purpose-designed to prevent rollovers, a potential problem on some trikes. Suspended rear wheels, making absorption the best I've seen on a trike. Superb maneuverability (as on most trikes). Tight turn radius.
Cons - As with all trikes, some muscle needed to steady wing in any wind. Upward visibility limited to check pretakeoff traffic. No other negatives.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Wonderful visibility once in the air; true for all directions except directly overhead. Little precision needed to make good liftoffs or touchdowns (once you know the technique). Retains energy surprisingly well for a single-surface wing.
Cons - Climbout is limited with two good-sized persons aboard (assuming standard 50-hp Rotax 503 dual carb engine and single-surface wing). Approaches in gusty wind conditions will require attention and exertion to maintain a precise heading. Three-axis pilots generally are puzzled by the liftoff swing of a trike (as carriage orients under wing).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Handling is much improved - by using single-surface wing - over most other trikes. I was able to initiate turns with single hand (not possible with stiffer trikes). Response is quite fast. Muscular effort is modest. Turns coordinate easily with a little push-out (the trike equivalent of backstick). Predictability is good. Steep turns went well.
Cons - Lack of discrete 3-axis controls means crosswind landings require a different technique (angling across runway). Hard to be precise in turns to headings in stronger conditions. Controls are lightest when flying solo. Control harmony cannot be improved much with experience (though stock harmony isn't bad).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Sprightly performance when single-seat flying. While not fast, the trike with Wizard wing delivers loads of fun flying in the slower speed range that many ultralighters prefer. Good endurance with popular 503 engine and 10-gallon fuel tank. Single-surface wing offers a good sink rate, though glide is only average among ultralights (AirBorne offers a higher-performance wing - the Executive model).
Cons - Performance suffers a bit when dual at higher payloads (with 503 engine). Climb is not strong when flown dual: under 500 fpm. Not a fast-flying machine; if that's what you want, try AirBorne's Executive model with stiffer double-surface wing and bigger engine.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Power-off, power-on and accelerated stalls all recovered easily. Steep turns went well even at or near gross weight; plenty of "stick range" was available. Spins are probably hard or impossible to enter with this wing. Good longitudinal stability. Throttle response was normal and proper (nose-up on power-up).
Cons - If held in a stall, oscillation followed. Aggravated stalls got fairly exciting (though recovery was never in doubt). Adverse yaw present and lessened only with more aggressive push-out (typical trike coordination technique). Spins not attempted (no parachute fitted).
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Fully-assembled ultralight means immediate flying. Australian certification should be confidence-inspiring, as program is quite demanding. Very competitive price at $11,700 ready-to-fly - and this includes the very popular Rotax 503 dual carb engine (not included: import shipping at $700). Excellent suspension should make rough-field operations easier. New model can be upgraded to top-of-line version.
Cons - U.S representative is new, taking over from previous distributor. Trikes just aren't for everybody and limited (although growing) U.S. acceptance may increase the time needed to resell later. Training is still in sparse supply. Single-surface wing cannot offer performance of top end models.