Builders of the Van's Aircraft RV 12 two-place aircraft have been limited to using a complicated, expensive powerplant or designing everything themselves – until now.
Al Smith, of AB Enterprises, has developed and now markets a complete firewall-forward (FWF) solution for those who want to use the popular ULPower 260-series engine in their new RV 12, saving complexity, a little weight, and some serious money.
Smith, a retired Army Warrant Officer who has already built an RV 6 (and whose wife is now building a Zenith CH 750 STOL with the 160hp ULPower engine), explained, “I wanted to fly and build. I came up with this firewall-forward solution because the ULPower is an excellent engine, and it's a good marriage to this airframe.”
Exact weight comparisons with the stock design are difficult, due to the fact that every airplane is a little different, but Smith notes that his RV 12, without fuel but with oil and full options (including carpeting and seat cushions) weighs 752 pounds.
Mounting to the same hard points as the original Rotax means the airframe design remains uncompromised. The kit comes with all hardware, the cowl, ductwork and baffles, flex tubes, cabin heat valve, cable, hoses, master relay, spinner, Sensenich carbon-adjustable prop (Whirlwind and Warp Drive are also available), and a powder-coated mount in your choice of colors. The standard FWF kit is configured for a single ECU and electric fuel pump. Options include a second fuel pump; an oil heat exchanger; and an additional ECU. (The exhaust system supplied with the engine is integrated into the design.)
“The cowl and mount are a little longer than the Rotax version, because of the slightly lower weight of the 260,” says Smith, “and that gives the airplane a sleeker look.” He laughed, “and for all I know, a better coefficient of drag.”
Smith has been flying his own RV 12 / ULPower machine all summer, and has made detail improvements, all of which are incorporated into the latest FWF kits, which are now available and retail for $5200, FOB his shop in Missouri.
These will join OEM-supplied FWF installations for many Zenith, Just, RANS, Panther, and other aircraft.
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