Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Cruising In Zenith’s Cruzer
Zenith produces a high-performance version of its popular STOL LSA
Another goal was enhanced visibility, though the STOL model didn't exactly suffer from a lack of view. The Cruzer offers a perspective that's more reminiscent of a helicopter than a light aircraft. The windshield and side windows are huge and offer a view from below your elbows to above your head.
Pilot and passenger climb aboard through their own doors on each side. The cabin is tall and comfortable. It measures 42 inches wide at the hips, the same dimension as a 36 Bonanza or 58 Baron. It's also three inches taller than the STOL airplane. Even the instrument panel benefits from the redesign. The panel is notably wider to accommodate more radios. The STOL CH 750 had a pointier nose configuration to allow better forward visibility during high angles of attack, so the panel was narrower.
The panel on the demonstrator was fitted with a Dynon SkyView system, a Garmin moving-map GPS and an engine analyzer. The instruments are fairly telegraphic, and the new combination groupings make it easy to display all the important information in a compact space.
Once you're settled in, you can't help but notice the unusual Y-shaped stick for pitch and roll. It springs up from the floor at center panel and branches left and right to accommodate pilots in both seats. The arrangement looks unconventional, but in practice it works very well, allowing both pilots to spell each other with a single control and no compromise with space in front of each pilot.
As you might expect with 130 hp lifting only 1,320 pounds, the Cruzer is a reasonably brisk climber. Whenever power loading approaches 10:1, you can usually count on enthusiastic climb. The Cruzer showed me about 1,000-1,100 fpm, pretty impressive for an LSA.
Stalls in the Cruzer are predictably docile, but they offer a feature that bears directly on safety. The listed stall speed is 39 mph, but a full power-off effort with the stick full back drives the airspeed off the bottom of the gauge. It also generates a sink rate of only about 500 fpm. In an emergency, you could conceivably hold the stick full back right to the ground and walk away. The airplane might be a little worse for wear, but it's unlikely you'd be injured unless you plowed straight into something on the ground.
Page 2 of 3