Zenith breaks from STOL mold

April 10, 2013

Conventional tires and wheel pants distinguish the CH 750 Cruzer from its STOL predecessors.

Zenith Aircraft Co. introduced a new light sport model at the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo. The all-metal, two-seat CH 750 Cruzer is the latest design from Chris Heintz. Although it’s influenced by its well-known short-takeoff-and-landing predecessors, the CH 750 Cruzer is a new design.

“For years we have excelled at making aircraft go slower,” said Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Co. of Mexico, Mo. “With the 750 Cruzer we maintain most of the slow-speed performance.” However, the new model—which Heintz said was designed in response to customer feedback—recognizes that many customers do not need off-airport capability or extreme STOL performance. “We’ve optimized the new design for airport operations. We don’t need to please everyone with one model.”

The 750 Cruzer’s fuselage and wide cabin are nearly identical to those of the STOL CH 750, Heintz said. The wing—while similar—is not. “The leading edge is different,” he explained. “Not having [leading edge] slats, your takeoff and landing are more conventional,” without the steep deck angle normally experienced in STOL operations.

The new design retains the STOL model’s flaperons, which Heinz said still provide aileron control at airspeeds into the low-30-knot range. At gross weight the new model stalls at 39 mph in the landing configuration, compared to 32 mph for the STOL version. And he’s equally pleased with the cruise performance. “We’re pleased with the cruise speed,” he said. “We do an honest 118 mph with it.” He flew the Cruzer 1,000 miles from Missouri to Lakeland, Fla., for the show.

The Cruzer is fitted with 5-by-5-inch aircraft wheels and new wheel fairings, instead of larger tires for off-airport operation. The instrument panel also is wider and more conventional than that of the STOL CH 750, where the panel is narrower to improve forward visibility in extreme nose-high attitudes associated with STOL flying. It is powered by a 130-horsepower, fuel-injected ULPower Aero Engines UL350iS and equipped with a Dynon SkyView glass panel display system. The aircraft weighs 780 pounds, providing a useful load of 540 pounds at the 1,320-pound light sport gross weight limit. Rate of climb is 1,200 fpm.

Zenith is offering complete airframe kits for the new design, with parts made using computer numeric control technology to assure matched-hole assembly. Estimated kit assembly time is less than 400 hours, and a quick-built kit option will be offered. The company said deliveries of component kits would begin next month.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins | Technical Editor, AOPA

Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.