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AirCam beefs up

More power, higher gross weight, three seats

AirCam is adding a third seat, bigger engines, and a higher gross weight in an extensive upgrade of its distinctive twin-engine kit airplane.

The Gen-3 AirCam features more power, higher gross weight, and three seats. Photo courtesy of Lockwood Aircraft.

The Gen-3 AirCam comes with beefed-up landing gear, 115-horsepower Rotax 912 engines (up from 100 hp), a 220-pound gross weight increase (to 1,900 pounds), and an option for a third tandem seat.

“The new jump seat will be quickly removable to convert between cargo and a third passenger,” said Phil Lockwood, who designed and flew the first AirCam in the mid-1990s for a National Geographic photography expedition.

Landing gear modifications for the higher gross weight include stronger gear legs, a beefed-up fuselage gearbox, and Beringer wheels and brakes.

Both carbureted and fuel-injected Rotax 912 engines can be modified with a “big-bore kit” that includes new cylinders and heavier pistons. The engine upgrade is required for the gross weight increase. The third seat can be installed with or without an AirCam canopy enclosure.

Some AirCam owners and overseas operators have added additional seats in the past—but that was done without factory approval.

“Not only didn’t we approve third seats, we strongly discouraged them,” Lockwood said. “We didn’t want to give up the single-engine performance. But with the additional power and additional structure, we can do it safely.”

The Gen-3 AirCam's third seat can be removed to make space for cargo. Photo courtesy of Lockwood Aircraft.

The Gen-3 kits are only for land airplanes, but float AirCams—which operate at gross weights up to 2,000 pounds—can benefit from the more powerful engines, Lockwood said.

The Gen-3 kits aren’t retrofittable to existing AirCams. The company created the first AirCam in the mid-1990s, and about 250 of them are currently licensed and flying.

Gen-3 kits have a retail price of $70,000, up $5,000 from standard kits.

The engine upgrade costs about $6,000 per engine, and Lockwood says he doesn’t expect the additional power to reduce Rotax’s current 2,000-hour time between overhauls.

“We’ve installed the big-bore kits on a few of our airplanes and the performance is stellar,” he said. “They provide more horsepower with no increase in weight. Since AirCams typically cruise at very low engine power, we don’t anticipate any change to TBO.”

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: Aircraft, Aircraft, Taildragger

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