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FD C4 update

Roger Lee

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The Flight Design C4, the advanced, four-place GA aircraft currently in development by Flight Design has seen substantial progress this Spring, culminating in exciting announcements during displays at Sun‘n Fun and Aero Friedrichshafen.


The Flight Design Vision Touch


At Sun‘n Fun Flight Design announced the Vision Touch Avionics suite at its annual press-conference with the complete system on display in the C4 interior mock up. The Vision Touch suite is based around the Garmin G3X Touch ® system as PFD and MFD (Primary and Multifunction Displays). The G3X Touch is a new product offering from Garmin that features both advanced synthetic vision capabilities and a choice of touch screen and conventional button/knob input as well. The inclusion of this system will give C4 owners the greater situational awareness afforded by synthetic vision and the simplicity of operation through the advanced touch screen displays. Fmi: Visit Garmin

The Vision Touch suite also includes other super capable equipment such as the Garmin GTN 750 Black® Nav-Com-GPS system for primary navigation and also as a touch screen input device for entering fl ight plans, either manually or with a preprogrammed fl ight plans on an SD card. The convenient positioning of the GTN 750 will allow comfortablein flight data input. Entering a flight plan will automatically populate the information up to the PFD and MFD screens. Other components include the Garmin GNC255 Nav-Com as a secondary navigation system and back up radio, the Garmin GMA350 audio panel and the Garmin GMC 305 autopilot. To top off this impressive list are centrally located RC Allen solid-state digital Directional Gyro, Attitude indicator, full-size airspeed and altimeter.

The Vision Touch avionics suite uses a combination of TSO’d and non-TSO’d components. The certification plan of the Vision Touch installation follows the precedence EASA had established with type-certification of our CTLS at end of 2013. The use of this system requires analysis of the airframe level architecture in a different way in the certification process than for a TSO qualified system. The system will make use of two completely independent air data sources for all functions: Total pressure, static pressure, angle of attack sensing along with separate redundant electrical busses. The resulting additional redundancy can be of a higher level than for a simple TSO qualified system.

When flying at night or in IMC, additional precautions have to be provided. This is achieved by adding standard TSO approved instrumentation as a backup. To ensure that the TSO qualified information is available for the pilot, these instruments are located in plain sight and high up on the panel. This is the reason for the arrangement having the backup analogs in the center stack right on top. The careful choice of avionics allows for a significantly lower price point and much higher flexibility for future system enhancements and upgrades. With this selection of a major cost driver for an aircraft of this class, Flight Design has taken another major step to confirm the anticipated price tag of the C4.


The Continental IO-360


An update from Michael Gifford of Continental Motors at Aero Friedrichshafen was that the IO-360AF 180 HP Alternate-Fuels capable engine is progressing towards FAA Part 33 certification, which is expected in August 2014. The IO-360AF will be one of the standard versions available under the engine’s FAA type certificate. “We are very pleased with the cooperation we have gotten from Continental Motors on the C4 project” said Flight Design President Matthias Betsch. They have been proactive in the C4 design process and we look forward to expanding our cooperation for the Diesel powered version of the C4 in the future.”


Safety Box Program


Another interesting development involving the C4 is the advanced occupant protection research and testing using the C4 as the first example. This program is called the “Safety Box”.

The Safety Box program made its public debut at the Aero Friedrichshafen convention held in April. The German Ministry of Economic Affairs granted funding for a research project that aims at development of a modular “Safety Box” cabin safety system for light aircraft. The new system will provide a safety cage around the occupants of an aircraft, whose functionality builds upon several concepts, namely intelligently designed and located crash absorbing components, a stiff cabin structure with dedicated load paths for the majority of crash scenarios, advanced seat installation and restraint systems. This is significantly supported by optimized cabin ergonomic designs and enhanced fire protection concepts.


The concept goes significantly beyond current aircraft designs, where the certification requirements only ask for consideration of accelerations to the seat and restraint system, regardless of the capability and level of energy absorption of the surrounding fuselage cell. With the new approach selected in this research program, the Safety Box project team is optimizing the interaction of all the available elements early in the design phase of an aircraft. This will lead to a system of modular design elements that subsequently can be tailored to multiple applications in various aircraft designs. With this, the Safety Box team is leading a path that is fully in line with the intentions of the current FAA Part 23 re-write activity which is jointly driven by all major aviation authorities, aircraft industry and aircraft users.

The Safety Box project team has selected Flight Design’s new C4 aircraft as the first aircraft for the application of the system. Development times of the Safety Box system match naturally with the development times of the C4 project. The full development will culminate in full scale testing of a completed aircraft under controlled conditions in 2015, to validate the superior suitability of the new system. The system is designed as modular system and will be offered to other aircraft manufacturers on the market, application is not limited to Flight Design products.


C4 Proof of Concept



The C4 Proof of Concept flight test prototype is being final assembled looking towards its first flight expected this summer in Kamenz Germany. Flight Design made the decision early on to build more than one airframe for the proof of concept stage of development. This allows a higher level of structural testing of the design without the potential of damaging the flight test airframe. The proof of concept prototype will undergo numerous ground tests including ground vibration testing (GVT) from an independent consultant engineering firm.

Flight testing of the C4 will be performed by an FAA approved Swiss test pilot, Damian Hischier. Damian did the certification flight testing for the EASA certified version of the CTLS and is a graduate of the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) located at Mojave, CA.


C4 Conforming Model


Design work continues with the staff of Flight Design engineers to complete the design of the conforming C4 with the expectation to achieve certification early in 2015. A conforming model of an aircraft is one that is used to show compliance to EASA or the FAA. Work on production specification molds has started and expert consultants from Germany and the USA have been participating in the design review process to optimize the C4 design for performance, stability and control.


C4 Production Facilities


Flight Design recently expanded their presence at the Kamenz airport, south of Berlin, Germany. Departments in the Kamenz facility include workshops for avionics and engine installation, composite repairs and painting, plus final assembly after receiving major components from another division outside Germany.

The Kamenz facility takes over all responsibilities of Flight Design’s former Stuttgart center to further streamline operations, optimize costs, and reduce complexity in the manufacturing and distribution of all Flight Design aircraft.

Inside the main building referred to as “Hangar 1” the company has ample office space for the EASA Part 21J Design Organization (including engineering and flight test) and EASA Part 21G Production Organization (including quality management staff and production management), for which approval is expected shortly. The upper floor on the northeast side is occupied by Finance & Administration, including a meeting room and the Directors office.

In addition to Kamenz, Germany where final assembly and test flights of Flight Design aircraft are currently done, Flight Design is planning complete production of the aircraft in Xiamen, China and final assembly in Newport, Vermont USA.

Flight Design has partnered with Taiwan based GSEO to create AeroJones Aviation in Xiamen, China. AeroJones will be building complete CTLS and C4 aircraft from their facility there. Flight Design has shipped complete mold sets and has been training AeroJones staff composite construction techniques. Parent GSEO has been working in Xiamen since 1992 and has significant experience with commercial production and quality control. Aircraft produced in Xiamen will be delivered to customers in China and the Asian pacific region.

Flight Design Americas will build a final assembly facility for the C4 at Newport, Vermont. Plans include a new 50,000 square foot assembly hall along with many new facilities. Newport Vermont is within an economic development zone created by the State of Vermont to foster such new ventures and is well known for its proximity to the Jay Peak resort nearby. The Newport Airport is also the location for an onsite U.S. Customs and bonded warehouse facility which will greatly aid in timely importation of container shipments from the nearby port of Montreal. C4 aircraft assembled in Newport will be delivered to customers in North and South America.


Thank you for your interest in the C4. With the first flight of the C4 proof of concept prototype anticipated this summer, we are excited to be able to stay in communication with all interested C4 customers. We will continue to print new information about the program as it becomes available.



This email was sent by jgilmore@flightdesignusa.com to roger@lsamechanic.com

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