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Light Sport Report

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The new Challenger Light Sport X Series was originally designed expressly for diverse Canadian missions in a wide range of terrain and temperatures. Since its announcement in 2010 it has replaced the Challenger II as the sales leader world wide.

The new X Series models have many features and enhancements requested by owners which greatly enhance the performance, versatility and utility of the Challenger Light Sport line of aircraft.

The XL-65 model is powered by the larger 65 hp Rotax 582 engine which is liquid cooled and has an updraft radiator mounted above the wing. Oil injection is now standard and dual oil tanks support 10-12 hours of cruise. This aircraft has the longer 29.5 foot wing with fibreglass Hoerner style wing tips. The max cruise speed is 90-95mph and Vne is 105 mph.

The larger high lift wing plus the extra horsepower enables the XL-65 to be used on floats as well as wheels and skis. On the XL-65 the standard long range fuel of 20 USgal is carried in wing tanks. This frees up a large amount of space for luggage behind the rear seat. The gross weight on the XL-65 is increased to 1060 lbs. These features combine to make the Challenger XL-65 a true two person cross country aircraft suitable for overnight trips.

The new Challenger Light Sport XS-65 is a derivative of the best-selling XL-65 with all the same features including the 582 Power Pack but with a clip wing four feet shorter - 26 ft versus 29.5 ft. The XS-65 is optimized for speed whereas the XL-65 is optimized for lift.

The XS-65 and XL-65 have 1060 lb gross weights and both are approved on amphib floats as Advanced Ultralights. On floats both will perform better than any aircraft in their class, even with two people on board, and even on hot summer days. When the primary mission is amphibious floats the XL-65 will be a better choice than the XS-65 due to its larger wing area creating more lift.

The new X Series models have the following upgrades and new features:

1. A beefed up yet more streamlined landing gear. The landing gear sockets inside the fuselage are larger with additional welded steel cross braces. There are no longer any external drag or underbelly wires. The additional cross braces also strengthen the belly of the aircraft at the center of gravity.

2. The tail is the most noticeable change on these models. The new design is is 10 inches taller and has a vertical stabilizer with 55% more side area. This makes the aircraft much more directionally stable thus requiring less footwork on the rudder pedals.

3. The aileron bellcrank is modified so that the flaperons function as differential ailerons in the ratio 1.5 up to 1 down thus reducing adverse yaw. The airplane is even more friendly to fly, especially for those used to GA aircraft with low rudder usage.

4. The cockpit windscreen, side rails, and doors have been redesigned to make entry much easier. The windscreen stops 4.5 inches closer to the nose compared to previous models. This gives more room for the pilot to enter the front seat. The side rails are lower all the way to the back of the rear seat to make the aircraft easier for passenger entry as well. A hinged windscreen modification is available if the pilot desires even more room for entry.

5. Additional streamlining is included in these new kits. The landing gear legs are smaller in diameter and are made from solid aluminum shafts. There are no external support wires. They have full length streamlined covers. All of the jury struts on the main wings are now streamlined as well as the struts supporting the horizontal stabilizers in the tail.

6. Hegar hydraulic disc brakes are standard. The lines are hidden beneath the streamlined covers. There are no longer any exposed cables. This cleans up the appearance of the aircraft around the landing gear and the cockpit.

7. The cruise speeds are increased due to all of the additional streamlining.

8. The internal design of the wings has been changed to increase strength and accommodate the fuel tanks. A light weight leading edge channel wrap eliminates the scalloping effect on the leading edge of the ribs seen on earlier Challenger models. The bottom surface of the wings now has ribs every 18 inches as opposed to none at all on earlier models.

9. The new wing design enables two 10 gallon wing tanks to be installed. This not only increases the range of the aircraft but also contributes to the higher gross weight on the XL-65 and XS-65. The wing carries the weight of the fuel load internally rather than having to support that weight in the fuselage. Wing tanks are standard on the XL-65 and XS-65 and optional on the XS-50. With wing tanks the fuselage can be equipped with a baggage compartment.

10. The new Light Sport models come standard with a heavy load saddle kit. This greatly increases the strength and durability of the attachment of the main lift struts to the fuselage longerons. This kit spreads the forces acting on the bolts and nuts holding the Rony brackets over a much larger area and also eliminates movement at the interface.

11. The XL-65 and XS-65 at 1060 lbs have maximum load factors of +6G/-3G.

12. The instrument panel has been upgraded also. A precut aluminum panel is now supplied. A full suite of analogue instruments is now standard including air speed, altimeter, slip indicator, compass, tachometer, hour meter, fuel gauge, dual EGT, dual CHT, and coolant temperature.

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