• Vickers Aircraft engineers check the systems on the Wave prototype after the first run of the Rotax 915. (Vickers Aircraft)
    Vickers Aircraft engineers check the systems on the Wave prototype after the first run of the Rotax 915. (Vickers Aircraft)

Vickers Aircraft in New Zealand ran the engine in their prototype Wave amphibian for the first time last month.

The Rotax 915iS develops 141 horsepower and presented no problems to CEO Paul Vickers and his engineering team as they fired it up for the first time.

"The Rotax 915is didn't disappoint, it started straight away and sounded amazing," a company reads. "The RS Flight Systems Single Lever control operated perfectly out of the box and provided an abundance of engine data, working seamlessly with the MT Constant Speed Propeller."

Under construction at Vickers' Hamilton factory, the Wave project has been under development for 12 years, with structural testing of airframe components still under way, using a Whiffle Tree system.

"Part of the process is an array of structural testing," Vickers Aircraft said. "We opted for a complete structure test using this technique rather than sandbags which only test the wing itself. By taking extra time to design and manufacture the Whiffle Tree we were able to test the wing structure and corresponding fuselage attachment points.

"Another area where large amounts of resources were allocated was in developing our own pitch trim actuator that will allow for a fully trimmable horizontal tailplane. Trimming the entire tailplane will allow for a more aerodynamic and cheaper to operate aircraft, resulting in a better pilot experience.

"Many months were invested in development, design, manufacturing and testing on this actuator alone."

Although first schedule to fly in July last year, the prototype is yet to leave the ground. CEO Paul Vickers in on record as saying he wanted to concentrate on quality and getting it right rather than be pressured by deadlines and schedules.

Mistakes are an important part of growth and development," he says, "without them you do not learn, get better and advance. Believe me, I have made plenty."

With the first engine run complete, the company has described the first flight as "imminent".

The Wave is a two-place, carbon-fibre, high-wing amphibian powered by a 141-hp Rotax 915 iS turbo, which promises a 15,000-foot ceiling, 1400 fpm rate-of-climb, 120 KTAS max speed and an eight-hour endurance from the 189-litre tanks.

The cockpit is being fitted with single-lever operation for the engine and CSU, and Garmin G3X avionics.

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