After a winter spent working in the superb build facilities at the Eurofox UK HQ at Luke’s Field, we have an expedition aircraft! The aircraft arrived from the factory in Slovakia looking relatively complete. The looks are deceptive though. There were 3 major areas of work to complete to turn the kit into an aircraft.
The engine, propeller and cowlings required fitting. Wire locking gets easier with practice, but certainly hurts when a piece of wire gets pushed up under a nail! The cowlings are carbon fibre in a bid to save weight over the standard aircraft so great care was needed to prevent damage. The Eurofox microlight build team were full of great advice throughout – little things like masking around rivets before fitting the cowling fasteners certainly saved damage to the paintwork.
The second main area is the cockpit and controls installation. Here the sage advice and use of factory templates was invaluable. Whilst the build manual is excellent I’d have required twice the number of hours without access to the factory templates and jigs for things like control deflection setting. The end result is hopefully an aircraft set up as if it is a series production machine, rather than a builder’s first aircraft, which should save considerable time during the flight test phase getting the ac set up correctly.
The final area to complete is the avionics installation. The aircraft is equipped such that it may be possible to obtain clearance to fly in cloud in the future. That meant a lot of soldering; knowing that the failure of any of the joints could cause significant problems at a critical stage of flight in the future.
Having completed the build it was time for the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Inspector, Adrian Lloyd, to check everything. Adrian has inspected a large proportion of the 100+ UK Eurofox fleet and was full of great advice. There were some areas identified for rectification, but thankfully all minor. The main source of frustration was a problem with the fuel system. Despite having fuel correctly feeding from the wing tanks to the collector tank and the pumps running healthily, there was no fuel in front of the firewall. We dismantled the fuel system from the engine back to the fuel pumps under the seat checking for blockages. Nothing. With fuel at the pump inlet and no fuel at the pump outlet it had to be the pump…no, I’d wired both pumps the wrong way round. They were steadfastly trying to pump fuel from the engine to the fuel tanks. You live and learn!
With the inspection signed off the paperwork was sent off to the LAA and the aircraft moved to Boscombe Down for test flying. Hopefully the weather will improve and the next exciting phase can start soon.