Monday, April 8, 2013

Updated Ultralight Aircraft from Belite: Need to know details

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Sun N Fun 2013 demonstrator
Ultralight aircraft in metallic burgundy with accent copper

Q:         What is a Belite UltraCubTM?
A:        The Belite UltraCub is a predominantly aluminum ultralight airplane manufactured in kit and Ready To Fly form by Belite Aircraft.  It is available in several different configurations, with variations of instrumentation, landinggear, assembly materials and engines.  All configurations evoke the classic look of a Piper J3 Cub, hence the name, UltraCub.  Some of the key characteristics include:
  • Removable rear turtledeck; the plane may be flown either way.
  • Legal under FAR 103 (responsibility lies on the owner / operator)
  • Precision CNC cut aluminum parts in cabin and throughout assembly
  • Folding wings (must remove turtledeck)
  • Large wing area and flaperon area designed for low speed flight.
  • Enormous windshield and sunroof
  • Multiple storage compartments
Belite Ultracub
UltraCub flies away

Q:         What standard features and benefits does the Ready To Fly UltraCub have?
A:         All configurations include:
  • CNC cut aluminum parts throughout the entire airplane.  We use a CNC computer automated bed router for sheet metal and a four axis CNC robot for billet aluminum pieces. 
  • Taildragger configuration.
  • Folding wings.  (must remove turtledeck).  Easily and quickly fold!
  • Standard basic instruments: inclinometer, EGT/CHT, airspeed, AGL altimeter.
  • 5” tires and wheels.
  • Rear turtledeck, fully covered.  (Higher end configurations also cover the rear of the fuselage.)
  • OracalTM vinyl covering, with your choice of single color.  Very beautiful finishes!
  • Rear steerable tailwheel with steel tail wheel spring. 
  • Aluminum fuselage – riveted construction utilizing mainly 2024T3 longerons; also 7075 and 6061T6 aluminum in critical areas.  Other alloys are also used.
  • Lightweight 6061T6 aluminum lift struts.
  • 4130 Chromaloy steel landing gear “A” frames
  • Polycarbonate windshield and sunroof
  • Enhanced wing area (40” x 144”)
  • Enhanced flaperons (12” x 120”), reduces stall speed and improves roll control.
  • Intermixed aileron / flap controls, providing standard stick (aileron) and standard flap (flap handle) control with 3 notches of flaps.
  • Multiple storage compartments under seat
  • 5 gallon plastic fuel tank.
Q:         What does a Ready to Fly UltraCub cost?
A:          $15,995 + $2.50/mile delivery charge (one way) to any US destination.  This configuration includes a 28HP Hirth 2 stroke engine.  Other configurations are also available with 4 stroke engines, carbon fiber options, and additional instrumentation.  If you want everything in our option list, the price can hit $40,000.   At that price, you should expect, and you will receive, a state of the art ultralight aircraft.

Final approach for UltraCub

Q:          What does an UltraCub Kit cost?
A:         $8,495 includes the TurtleDeck and everything firewall back except instruments, paint, rivets, glue and the fuel tank.  Stiff link main gear are included.  Popular options include our spring main gear and our disc brake assemblies.  It also doesn’t include a fuel tank, but we buy ours at Walmart for about $12, and you can too.

Q:          What type of construction is used in the fuselage?
A:         It is straightforward aluminum construction.  All of the cabin area and most of the gussets have pre-drilled holes, and the rear fuselage is pre-aligned, mostly pre-drilled and ready for you to start drilling and riveting.  All main cabin bulkhead formers and gussets are CNC cut and have many pre-drilled pilot holes as well.  The builder has to trim some of the cabin longerons and members, but as these lengths are short, and all formers are square, the resulting assembly process is easy and straightforward.  Aluminum may be cut with a carbide blade table saw, or a band saw, or a hack saw.

Cabin Assembly Detail
Q:         What type of construction is used in the wings?
A:         The wigs are build with aluminum spars and CNC cub Baltic birch ribs. Everything slips together and is locked in place with Gorilla glue.  Aluminum ribs are also available, as are carbon fiber spars.

Q:         What type of construction is used in the tail feathers?
A:         The purchaser may select between aerodynamic horizontal stabilizer/elevator or pre-welded stabilizer/elevator.  The pre-welded feathers simply need to be covered.  The aerodynamic feathers are easy to build and very straightforward, like a big model airplane wing.

Q:         How is the structure covered?
A:         We use generic Dacron, glued and shrunk to the underlying wing or fuselage structure, and riveted to the aluminum ribs.   We use Stewart Systems glue for most other fabric work, and we use Oracal vinyl (available in about 80 colors) for covering over the shrunk fabric.  Kit builders may use whatever system they are comfortable with.  We supply 30 yards of Dacron with each kit!

Q:         What does an UltraCub weigh?
A:         As built by Belite, with a reliable four stroke engine, and as described in this document, it weighs 278 pounds.  This is the maximum allowed by FAR Part 103.  (Our configuration includes a parachute which is deployed by hand, for which FAR Part 103 provides a 24 pound allowance.) The rear turtledeck is not included in this weighing, as it is removable for flight.  (The rear turtledeck weighs about 7 pounds).  Much lighter weights are possible by using two stroke engines.  We don’t weigh anything required for flight; if assembled like our Sun N Fun demonstrator, the airplane may be flown without the windshield, for instance.  We even made our instrument panel easily removable, and James has flown one of the UltraCubs without a main seat – he really did it, just to prove a point.

ultralight aircraft landing
Landing an UltraCub
Q:         I see that your configuration doesn’t include an engine cowl.  How could I add one?
A:         It is available as an option for $350.  We don’t weigh them as they are removable for flight.

Q:         What other options are available?
A:         There are all kinds of options.  Check our price list for full details; we’re even offering amphibious floats.  Carbon fiber, wheels, covering completeness, paint on the aluminum, type of engine, type of parachute, instruments…  Doors – really well designed doors.  Too much to discuss here.

ultralight airplane
Belite Aircraft are available with emergency parachute.

Q:          Are other instruments available?
A:         We are happy to install any instrument manufactured by Belite Electronics, including our Multi Function Display, our Turn Coordinators, fuel gauges, etc.  We do not install other instruments.  We recommend you have other installations (EG, radio) performed by your local instrument shop.

from Belite Electronics
MultiFunction Instrument from Belite Electronics

Q:          Does the four stroke engine have electric start?
A:          It is available.  It adds 10 pounds weight, and will work in high end configurations.

Q:         What power does the 1/2VW four stroke engine develop?
A:         James likes the 45HP variation with Nickasil cylinders.  He runs it with a 58 x 22 propeller, which derates it to about 38HP.  That makes it very much in line with the original Kitfox Lite, which had a 2 stroke engine of slightly less horsepower.  Fuel consumption hasn’t been nailed down to the last drop, but James is hoping to get it below 1.5 GPH in low cruise. 

1/2 VW Engine on Belite UltraCub

Q:         Who is the engine vendor?
A:          Scott Casler, Hummel Engines is our first choice for 1/2VW aircraft engines.  Scott makes a great engine and stands behind his work.

Q:         Will other 1/2VW four stroke engines work?
A:         Absolutely.  We recommend at least 37HP.  Great Plains is a good source for plans for a complete kit. See:  And as of this writing, their 1/2VW kit is under $3400.   Furthermore, an online build manual for 1/2VW engines may be found here: 

Q:         What about the motor mount for a Belite with the half V/W?
A:         We designed it, and it is pretty small and sweet.  It is welded out of 4130 steel.

Q:         What kind of gasoline does the engine use?
A:         91 Octane auto gas.  100LL will also work just fine, but like any other aircraft engine, pay attention to lead fouling in the spark plugs.
Sun N Fun 2013 Demonstrator aircraft
Happy Flying from James!

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