The First Flight of our Europa XS

April 2008, we started building our PH-DIY, april 2010 she's been ready for some months and today the day of the truth has arrived: the day of her First Flight!

The moment of the truth is approaching... will she fly??

Robbie Sénéchal (on the left) is our test pilot. He has only flown a (monowheel) Europa many years ago, but he has 10.000 flying hours on a very wide range of tempting, difficult aircrafts so our little Europa won't be a real challenge for this man.

Frans tells Robbie some basics about the PH-DIY that he needs to know for this first flight

Yesterday we did some taxi tests with Rob Zeelenberg, so today, before the first flight we check the fuel filters for gunk (there's nothing there, as expected because our fuel pressure sensors were still indicating the same amount of pressure)

Frans sr and Ank Veldman are enthusiastic spectators, so is Frank (who is Laura's (who is Frans' daugther) boyfriend). Thomas, Frans' son unfortunately could not join this happening today, which is too bad.... I'm not on the photo's because I'm taking them :-D and my parents and sister are living in the Alps, so they also couldn't be here..

There she goes for the holding point 28, just a few more minutes and we will know if she's built to fly..

She IS!!!! Look at our beauty, she does a very good job :-D

On final for a low pass

One second away from a beautiful landing by our test pilot (thanks!! and also a lot of THANKS to Tim Weert, Henks Roelofs and Rob Zeelenberg for their support and efforts towards the first flight!)

A few days later, after a thorrough check of the aircraft, and with nice weather conditions, we made a flight with Robbie as a safety pilot in the right seat. He gave us some instructions and after a couple of landings he said: "now you two go ahead, it's safe without me". So we did and this picture was taken the day after: it's on the German island Juist. Ilona just landed our pretty bird here. It was a memorable moment, to see her on an island instead of in our barn (ehm, I'm talking about the airplane here, not about Ilona) :-D And what a JOY to really fly the project that you spent so many hours on. She flies truly fantastic, all the work we spent was very much worth it!

You can read more information in the following e-mail that Frans has sent to the Europa email list:

Today, at 12:25 LT on EHHO, PH-DIY made her first flight. Conditions were vulcanic ash, 17-22 KN head wind (straight on the runway).

According to the test pilot, the PH-DIY flies beautifully, straight and balanced, can be flown hands-off, with a very slight tendency for left (but this can be attributed to the asymmetric load). Only the rudder seems to be a bit out of balance: there is always some "right rudder" required. A trim tab would solve this. This needs some investigation.

The stall is, with and without flaps, benign. Some buffetting, and then nothing really happens, she just parachutes down. Absolutely no wing drop. "Like a Cessna" according to the test pilot. Stall clean is at approximately 50 Knots, with full flaps it is 42 knots.

The pilot was amazed at the performance of this airplane. Climb was 1500ft/min with 80 knots, with the power to 100% (not 115%). Cruise was with 4200 rpm and a manifold pressure of 28 good for 120 knots IAS (the airspeed indicator has been calibrated to a maximum deviation of 1 knots).
Conditions were somewhat turbulent, but performance data was verified in a sequence of tries (because the pilot had some trouble to believe this data, he tried it a few times at some distances apart to rule out local updrafts).
We have had some temperature problems on the early ground runs, but although the temperatures on the ground still have a tendency to rise, during flight the temperatures were actually quite low (this was with the cowl flap 3/4 open, I asked the pilot to leave it at this setting to keep things simple and comparable).

The PH-DIY needs constant right rudder. If anyone has a good idea what the cause can be and/or what to do about this, let us know! In cruise, there is some down trim necessary. Trim setting is not in the middle of the scale. I believe that this is a common thing, but I have not yet checked the Europa forum archive for this.

After some horror stories of Europa's that flip upside down on the stall, we are very pleased with the benign stall characteristics of the PH-DIY. The performance data is better than we expected, and we will of course repeat the tests. (We have Fred Klein's wing root fairings, a radically trimmed down and optimized cooling duct, and of course this "can't be true" 2-blade high twist large diameter prop, so we expected performance to be on the good side of the scale, but this is more than we accounted for).

Well, tomorrow we will give the PH-DIY a thorough check, so if weather cooperates we will saturday fly ourselves (first with an instructor of course).


If you want to leave feedback (which we like!), you can do so here: