Sunday, 29 November 2009

Flight test text

As many people don't seem to want to register on the Av8magazine site, I have copied the text here:
This is going to be a very difficult thing to write about!
On Thursday the 19th of November I found myself at the Aircreation factory in Aubenas, France. The weather was a warm 16 degrees C with light winds. As I stood in front of the gold painted Tanarg fitted with the revolutionary BioniX wing, I thought that this was going to be one of those days that I would remember for a long time.
The Tanarg is the standard Rotax 912S engined flexwing, fitted with the Enigma dash and a ballistic parachute. The MTOW for this machine is 472 kgs here in France. There is very little difference between this and the Tanarg that I normally fly, apart from the parachute fitted to this one and the iXess15 wing fitted to mine. I had considered fitting an iXess13 wing to mine for a little extra speed, but would loose out on the short strip performance. Then there is the BioniX wing!
The BioniX incorporates a few bits of technology which are not normally seen on flexwing microlights. First is the “Corset” as Aircreation describe it. Instead of having a trim wheel on the right of the control bar, there is a handle to turn. This tightens the cables in the corset and changes the profile of the wing. On a standard trim wheel the wing is set up for a particular speed and any deviation from that speed, be it faster or slower, is a compromise. By changing the profile, as the BioniX does, the optimum speed is changed from slow to fast or vice versa, this means that in any position of the corset the wing is flying efficiently at different speeds. A conventional trim on normal flexwings pulls up the trailing edge of the wing and moves the bar forward or rearward so that the pilot does not have to hold any pressure to fly at differing speeds. The “Corset” changes the profile so that the control bar stays in the same position whether it is in fast or slow mode. This has the advantage of allowing full forward or rearward movement of the bar at any trim speed. The nearest comparison to this on military aircraft is the swing wing design.
Another interesting feature is that the wing has vortex inducers on top of the leading edge on the inboard part of the wing. Then there are the quick release baton tips on the trailing edge of the wing, which look more aerodynamic than the usual tied chords.
When it was time to fly the aircraft, the Aircration instructor sat in the back with me in the front and 40 liters of fuel on board. We taxied out to the short runway. After few checks, one to make sure that the handle was in the slow position, I pressed the throttle and within 60 meters or so was airborne. I climbed out at about 6 to 7 meters per second (1200 to 1400 ft/min), this was impressive compared to my wing. We leveled out at around 1200 feet and I played with the throttle. At a mere 65 to 70 kmh (40 to 45 mph) the wing felt completely in control, it was light in both roll and pitch and felt like it was flying rather than getting close to the stall – which it was not. I set the hand throttle at 4000 rpm and let it build up speed till it was straight and level at just over 80 kmh (50 mph). With the throttle fixed I turned the “go faster” handle and kept it level. When in the taught (fast) position it was flying at around 125 kmh (75 mph), the wing felt exactly the same as in the slow mode, very light and stable. At this point I opened the throttle and put a little back pressure on the control bar to keep the aircraft at the same level and found myself at just over 150 kmh (94 mph). The only difference was the buffeting around my flying helmet! It would have been happy sitting there all day. But speed is not what this wing is about.
We turned towards the airfield and slowed the machine down to 65 kmh again for the approach. It just floated toward the end of the short runway. There was no swinging about with the slight winds and the control felt very secure. Just above the end of the runway the instructor told me to push the bar out to the front strut, this is not something that I would normally do as a stall would result in a heavy landing, but not the BioniX, it just flew slower and slower until it touched down. I estimate the distance from rear wheels touching the runway to full stop as less than 30 meters.
We did not taxi back to the end of the runway for another take off, we just opened the throttle and were off again in no time. Aubenas is in a mountainous area with hills all around and I expected a little turbulence when flying low, but if there was any, the BioniX did not react to it at all.
On the second flight, I tried a spiral dive in the slow mode and the same in the fast mode, both felt fully controlled and as if the machine knew what I wanted to do before I did. To fly a fast, stable and lightly controlled microlight and then fly a slow stable microlight in one flight has to be a strange experience for any flexwing pilot.
I checked the fuel after the hours flight and would expect that it used around 10 liters per hour. This is on a par with the wing on my machine, but at a slightly higher weight. In normal flying, I would think that with less drag the BioniX may be a bit more economical than mine in the cruise.
The Tanarg has to be the most comfortable flexwing on the market with the large, well padded seats and the fully adjustable footrests, the BioniX wing is just the icing on the cake. The combination has now also become the most versatile. I can imagine that this would make an ideal aircraft wing combination for a small flying school where the instructor trains on the machine in the slow mode, and then goes touring in it too.
That afternoon, my wife went up in the back seat, she is not a pilot but a passenger, and has only been that for about 2 years. The instructor switched the engine off in the air and performed some manoeuvres to show her how it flies. They landed without the engine. She commented afterwards that it was the smoothest flight that she had ever had, and that it will be a great photographic platform for her due to the slow speed performance.
The instructor has a Tanarg of his own. He has two wings for it, an iXess 15 and a 13, one he flies in the Alps and one that he flies near Aubenas. His comment that he will sell both and have one BioniX, is testament that this is a very versatile wing.
It is very difficult to put the experience of this flight into words and I would encourage others to fly the BioniX to feel the difference between this and “normal” wings, I have not yet met anyone who has flown it and does not think that it must be the future of flexwing microlights.
Should anyone want to order a BioniX, it will fit any Aircreation Tanarg trike, but be quick because there will be a large order book.
Two interesting web pages about the BioniX can be found on the Aircreation website at:

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Flight test

A flight test on the BioniX has been published in the online aviation magazine at
You have to fill out a quick registration to read the magazine, but it is not something that will lead to any emails other than a reminder every month when the new issue comes out.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Pictures of the BioniX

This first picture shows a Tanarg with iXess wing landing. Note that the machine is being flown solo and the position of the control bar in relation to the front strut. This is the normal way to land a flexwing.

This one shows us landing in the Tanarg with a BioniX wing. We are two up, so heavier, and are probably flying much slower than the Tanarg in the first picture. Note that in this one that the control bar is just about touching the front strut, but the machine was very stable and sure footed, at no time did it feel that it was going to stall.

The picture above shows the point of touchdown when landing in the other direction. At this point the machine was flying very slowly. The photographer was standing at the edge of the runway.

This is the point of full stop! These last two pictures show that this wing is capable of landing in a very short space. This is a fantastic safety feature as the Tanarg is fairly heavy with two people, fuel and a parachute fitted. In an emergency, any small field would be enough for the BioniX.

Flying the BioniX

The next edition of the online magazine,, will have the flight test write up of my flight.
I will not post the full text here just yet, but have to say that it was very difficult to write what I experienced. What I will say is that I was blown over by the flight.
To fly a flexwing at 150 kmh and 10 minutes later, be flying the same machine at 70 ish kmh, was an eye opener!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Flight test day

We flew the Tanarg/BioniX combination last week on Thursday. After lunch Franck, the instructor, took my wife for a flight in the back seat. She loved the machine and had great fun when Franck turned the engine off in flight.
Note how slow the BioniX is capable of flying, and how Franck can push the bar out to the front strut on the approach without any fear of the wing stalling.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

First Englishman flies the BionIX

I have at last flown the BioniX - on the 19th of November. You will have to wait for me to get off this high to see what I think!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Bionix flying

These pictures were taken after a day of waiting for the rain to stop and the wind to slow a little. We were at a small microlight strip to the south.

As the rain stopped but still with a cross wind, the Aircreation pilot took the Tanarg/ BioniX up for a weather check.

At the time Jude was sat in the car reading a book, but was quick with the camera when she heard the machine coming in to land.

I have uploaded the pictures in a decent resolution so that people can download them and use them as wallpaper on their PC desktop.

Click on the photos to see bigger pictures.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

AirCreation website update

The factory website has now been updated to give more English language content. the link is AC English website.
If you click on the part that reads "Corset presentation English A4" You will see the technical description of the corset in .pdf format.
The "CTP BioniX_en" now has imperial performance measurements as well as metric.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

BioniX FAQ on the Aircreation website

I have been asked many times about the technical details on the BioniX wing, but have not been able to answer everything without detailed information. The factory have also recognised that there are people in the English speaking world who want to know more, so they have created a FAQ page on their website for those of us who do not speak fluent French.
Here is the link
Mike in Thailand, please note; do not believe everything that you read about topless wings, they are a fad.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bionix is the name of excellence!

Since the Blois show, my wife and I have been beside ourselves with excitement about the Bionix. I have not yet had the chance to fly the wing, but will do so on the "come and try it" day that Aircreation has arranged at the begining of November.
The first wings are going to be produced for dealers and instructors, so individuals, like me, will have to wait till early next year to take delivery.
At first there will be little colour choice as the factory produces enough wings to suit demand, but the yellow stripe on the under surface can be had in red for the two different Tanarg colour schemes. I would expect later production to offer the fantastic designs that the Ixess range of wings offers, but there is no firm information on this option at the moment.
Having spoken to a number of people who have flown the wing, it is very spectacular. A good description can be seen on the English part of the Aircreation website here.

The fast/slow handle

This wing can be adjusted by turning the handle on the right hand upright. As it is adjusted from slow to fast, the wing changes, and I am told that one turn makes it feel a different wing!
Vortex inducers

The inboard leading edge supports "vortex inducers" along the top edge. These will ensure that the top surface maintains its profile at all speeds and will make sure that the boundary layer effect of the air does not break away from the surface.
On the underside of the outer leading edge are what Aircreation calls "pressure valves", my aviation background makes me think that these would come into play at higher speeds and let the pressure differences equalise between the top, bottom and internal surfaces of the wing, therefore giving more stability.
I understand that turbulence has very little effect on this wing at high or low speed, and I am told that when flying in the low speed range, at all up weight, the wing is docile and light. It can land at extremely low speeds when loaded to 472kgs!
To see some of the pictures of the wing from the Blois show, go to Av8magazine and read the atricle, you will have to register at the site.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The BioniX is here

We went to the Blois microlight trade show today for the official viewing of the BioniX wing. Not only have Aircreation released a technical masterpiece, but a few other things were worth noting too.

The BioniX is not designed to be the fasted wing on the market, but the most versatile. At maximum take off weight of the Tanarg BioniX combination (472kg), the wing is designed to offer fantastic slow speed handling. The stall speed at that weight is still only around 37 mph!

The BioniX design has a "Corset" built in that is capable of changing the profile of the wing from slow to fast and back again with a control on the A frame.
This is a major safety factor in that whatever the weight of the trike, an engine failure will still leave perfect slow speed handling for a short field landing.

The batton tips are also a new design. Gone is the old "bits of string" idea that has been used in all flexwing microlights up till now. In comes a new over center clip, which makes life easier.

Another new thing is that the Tanarg can now be seen in different colour schemes. Aircreation has had the gold version for a while as their factory demonstrator, but at the show there was a very nice black machine fitted with the BioniX wing, as can be seen in the top picture.

My next step is to test fly the new wing as soon as I get the chance and write a full flight test, before I place my order.

Click on the pictures to see a bigger clearer picture.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The new wing!

A picture at last. The wing is called the BioniX. It is not quite a swing wing, but a variable geometry design. It has been patented by Aircreation and I still think that it is such a fantastic design that I want one. I will need to fly one first, but I am sure that it will be everything that I expect.
Click on the picture for a bigger clearer look.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Final cut for radio fit

I have at last worked out the correct wiring loom for the radio fit. There is no need to connect to anything except the Flycom focus.

This has been designed by me with no help at all from Microair, who cannot even be bothered to answer emails.
Spot the deliberate mistake in the above diagram! The backlight cable should be wired to pin 8 on the M760 plug and not pin 15. Pin 15 is the speaker pin.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Update on the radio fit

I have now got the radio fitted and interfaced with the Flycom Focus EFIS. The wiring diagram is as follows:

The alert messages come through the headsets still as they are still using the Flycom Focus intercom. The radio works well apart from some interference from the aircraft electrics.
To overcome this interference, I wanted to wire the power wire to the DB-15 plug on the Flycom so that there is a clean supply, but I cannot get any information on the Flycom Focus. The Aircreation factory tell me that Flycom is no longer trading and they have no wiring diagrams for the Flycom.
They also tell me that they will not need to worry about this combination as the Flycom will no longer be fitted to new aircraft.
I tried to find out where the facory fit Filser radio gets its power from, but that is proving elusive. If anyone out there has a Filser with the Flycom, could you please look at it and see where the power supply for the radio comes from, the Flycom or the fusebox.
Update 12 Aug: Aircreation have confirmed that when radios (normally Filser) were fitted at the factory, the power for the radio is taken direct from the Flycom. I will therefore sort out which pins on the Flycom plug will supply 12 volts and update the wiring diagram in the future.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A revolution in flexwings (Trikes)

The Blois microlight show happens in France on the last weekend in August.
This years event will see the biggest innovation in flexwing (weightshift) microlights for many years.
Aircreation will show a new wing! we all know that there are new wings about, the Pegasus GT450 with winglets and the small fast QuiKR with its topless wing, they will fade into insignificance compared to what Aircreation will show.
The rumours are that it will be a swing wing, a design that should allow the machine to fly as slow as a large old fashioned design for short field performance, yet be reconfigured in the air to allow high speed cross country flying.
As I understand it is going to be possible to fit this wing to any Tanarg so should not put people off who have just bought, or are thinking of buying, a Tanarg.
I have no doubt that it will take time before this new wing hits all of the worlds markets, but I think that it will take the microlight world by storm.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Tanarg for sale

No not mine. The very pretty gold coloured demonstrator that you see at the factory on a previous post is for sale on the factory website. It must be one of the best looking Tanargs that I have ever seen and has all sorts of toys fitted to it. I believe the price is 41,000 Euros.
Edited 27 July:
Aircreation have now opened a website for second hand machines and parts at This is a good place to start should you be looking for something.
Thanks to Gabriel at Aircreation for the information.

How to fit the M760 radio to the Flycom Focus

If the Tanarg is fitted with a Flycom Focus dashboard (EFIS) then the intercom is integrated into the Focus with the Push to Transmit (PTT) button on the headset connector. It is worth keeping this as it is so that you will get any warning messages from the Focus through the headphones.
The Microair M760 radio that I have used is a revision P with built in intercom, but that was no use to me.
After removing the complete dashboard, 5 self tapping screws along the bottom edge, I laid it on my lap to see what the set-up is. At the bottom of the rear of the dashboard there is a fusebox with spare connectors and one has a 3 amp fuse fitted to supply power to the M760. On one corner is the earth point for the earth connector from the M760.
One of the other leads from the M760 15 pin D connector was the back light cable which was wired to the on/off switch for the focus so that it is on when the Focus is switched on.
On the back of the Flycom Focus is a 15 pin D connector which is labeled "RADIO". Mine had a plug on this with flying leads to fit an Icom a3 radio. After stripping the pugs off I found that; the blue wire was wired to pin 1 on the Focus plug and is the headphone cable, the black wire was wired to pin 2 and is the earth cable, the red wire is wired to pin 3 and is the microphone cable and lastly the white wire is connected to pin 4 and is the PTT cable.
The 15 pin D connector on the Flycom Focus has a part number of A014765 on it which looks to me like an Aircreation part number. I was wondering if there is also a plug supplied by Aircreation that would have made fitting a little easier, but did not have time to ask the factory if they supply other options for this connector.
When every thing was soldered together and loads of heat-shrink and tyraps were fitted I tested the installation with my hand-held Icom A6 radio and the GPS switched on to check for interference. It sounded very clear, but I still have to test it in the air.
If anyone is going sown this same route then I would say that it would be easier to obtain a 15 pin D connector and solder the wires from the same connector on the radio to the pins as described above.
I also noticed that there are a row of small electrical jumpers on the back of the Flycom Focus and wondered if these might be the things that select the units of measurement for the display. I would hope someone will know and share that information with the rest of us!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

A new radio for the Tanarg

Microlights have normally used hand held radios such as the Icom A3 or A20. Icom no longer make these models and they have been superseded but the A6 and A24. The problem is that the new models are not authorised for aviation use in Europe. There is a version of the new models that are legal for use in France and are known as the A6FR and A24FR, but they are very expensive compared to the none FR radios.
For almost the same amount of money I have bought a Microair M760 radio, which is a panel mount. This will be fitted to interface with the Flycom Focus dashboard. The reason for doing it this way is to retain the intercom system in the Focus rather than using that of the radio, and so I will still get audio warning for oil pressure etc.
The beauty of the M760 is that it weighs around 500 grams but seems a very well built radio.
The downside is that there seems to be little support for the Flycom Focus dash and I will have to work out the wiring for myself.
I will update when I have the system working.
If anyone out there has any information of the workings and set up of the Flycom Focus, I would be forever in your debt if you can share that knowledge.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A video of the clouds

We seem to be going through a spell of blue skies and little wind here in the Dordogne. Sunday was the first of those days and as it has been damp the week before there were a few clouds forming. Time to go flying.
We went over to the airfield and within 20 minutes had the Tanarg fuelled and checked ready for flight.
After take off we headed east and climbed, the clouds were getting a little thicker by the time we were at 4500 feet. The cloudbase was 4000 or so. The air was very smooth with a slight wind from the east. The temperature was around 5 or 6c at that altitude.
Jude started taking a video and we descended toward the cloud. Just before we were at cloud level we saw the circular rainbow in a cloud with the silhouette of the microlight in the middle of it.
Here is the video:

Saturday, 6 June 2009

A visit to the factory

This is a post copied over from my other blog as I thought it would be more use here.

We decided that we should go for a short trip (in the car) to Aubenas in the Ardeche region of France. It just so happens that the Aircreation factory is very close to Aubenas.
On Thursday morning we turned up at the factory unannounced. We were greeted by a lady just outside who I later found out was the wife of a man who I wanted to meet, Jean-Luc Tilloy. Jean-Luc has been very helpful to me in the past.

We were taken into the reception and introduced to Inma, one of the receptionists who speaks very good English. After being offered a coffee, we were taken into the factory itself and shown around. There is only a small workforce at AirCreation and the whole place has a family feel about it.

The first thing that we saw was a gold coloured Tanarg, very different to the red or yellow colours that this aircraft normally has. My eyes were immediately focused on the EFIS dashboard, and Enigma with full colour and integrated GPS. I am led to believe that this will become and option on the Tanarg instead of the Flycom Focus dashboard that is fitted to our aircraft.

A prototype wing was being tested at the time, which surprised me as the Ixess is a very good all round wing and would take some beating.

We also found that AirCreation stock a range of clothing, and ended up spending a few hundred euros.
The next area was the wing fabrication floor, where the ladies who make the wings, seats and other fabric parts were working away. All of these ladies have worked for AirCreation for many years and make every part themselves. Even the seat cushions are hand made! Due to their skills in this area, AirCreation can offer any design on the wing surface that a customer would want. There has even been one made with "missiles" sown onto the lower surface.

I went out to the front of the building to take a photo of the place and managed to catch the gold coloured Tanarg flying just above.

We ended up spending over two hours on our visit and enjoyed every minute of it. The only disappointment was that we did not get to meet Jean-Luc as he was away that week.
I have decided that I would like the new Enigma EFIS fitted to our aircraft and would also like the newer Ixess 13 wing too. The problem is that we would have to sell the Ixess 15 wing to make the change worth it. Another possibility may be to sell our Tanarg and buy a new one complete with the Enigma nad the 13 wing. We will see what happens.

Further to my last post

I forgot to mention on my last post that there are also two deflectors which are with the kit. They fit either side at the rear of the radiator and ensure that there is enough air going through the oil cooler.
I had a nice surprise in the post today. The factory sent me a CD with all of the Tanarg technical documentation on it in PDF format. I will spend a few hours reading through it.