The Flight Design C4 marked a major milestone toward certification and first deliveries April 9, completing its first test flight. Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny, who is running the testing and European certification program, reported in a company news release that the first flight of the new four-seat aircraft was free of surprises.
“The C4 really performed as expected,” Peghiny said in the April 14 announcement. “It appeared and test pilot Damian Hischier confirmed that the C4 is stable about all axes.”
The 55-minute flight included turns with up to 30 degrees of bank, go-arounds, and slow flight (approaching a power-off stall) with flaps set to 10 degrees.
“Very few first flights proceed through the entire test card,” Peghiny noted. “Yet we completed all of the points permitted under the EASA-established Flight Conditions as specified in our initial Permit to Fly authorization.”
Peghiny, in a follow-up email, said he spent three weeks in Kamenz, Germany, working with the engineering team to prepare the aircraft and with European aviation officials to secure the required approvals for the flight. He also helped put the finishing touches on the aircraft (“grinding carbon and routing cables”) and sat right seat in the chase plane snapping pictures.
The C4 will be Flight Design’s first entry in the certified market, powered by a 180-horsepower Continental IO-360-AF engine and priced at $250,000 including Garmin G3X touch displays (an experimental avionics choice announced in 2014) augmented by certified analog instruments. A BRS airframe parachute is also included in the base price.
“We observed the C4 accelerate away from the C-172 chase plane during simulated approaches to landing and in simulated go-arounds,” Peghiny said in the news release. (A 105-knot limitation was imposed for the maiden flight.) “I could also see that during the 30 degree bank turns the test pilot needed no control correction and he reported that pitch forces were light. The plane appeared to be on rails, it looked very stable.”
Flight Design wanted to have the C4 flown in time for Aero Friedrichshafen April 15 through 18 in Germany, where the C4 was to be displayed. The C4 used for flight testing will not be shipped back to the United States for the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo, though company officials hinted more information about the flight test may be released there. The C4 is expected to appear in the United States later in the year.
Test pilot Hischier noted in the April 14 announcement that some work may need to be done to improve cooling under the cowling for operation in hot climates, but the aerodynamics should be left alone.