The Zenith CH 650 / 601XL is designed to provide attractive performance using efficient and lightweight new-generation aircraft engines, like the UL Power and Jabiru 3300, while also being suitable for traditional but heavier aircraft engines such as the Continental O-200 and Lycoming O-233 / 235.
While all aircraft are designed within certain power and engine weight guidelines, Chris Heintz did not design the CH 650 / 601XL “around” a particular engine – to maximize the customer’s choice of installed powerplant. Recommended power is 100 to 125 horsepower, up to 300 lbs. installed weight.
The following engines have been installed and tested in the Zenith CH 650 / 601XL prototypes at the factory:
Click here for price information on firewall-foreword engine packages.
The standard airframe kit is supplied “firewall-back.” Most builders do not know which engine they will install when they start construction of their kit so the engine mount and engine cowl are not supplied with the basic kit. Furthermore, the engine does not need to be installed until after the basic airframe has been constructed.
Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) and Sport Pilot
While the CH 650 / 601XL was developed to meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft, as defined in the FAA’s Sport Pilot category, Zenith Aircraft Company cannot guarantee that the aircraft, as constructed by the builder, will meet the definition. Due to the gross weight and stall speed limitations of the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft category, it is recommended that the aircraft be kept as light as possible if planning to operate the aircraft in this category. Larger and heavier engines, such as the Lycoming, and other installed equipment limit the useful load of the aircraft, and may disqualify the aircraft from meeting the defined category limits of the Light Sport Aircraft category.
Regarding alternative engines for the CH 650 / 601XL, designer Chris Heintz has stated: “I designed the aircraft to be suitable for different engine types – 80 to 125 hp, up to 300 pounds installed. Literally dozens of different engine types can be custom-installed in the aircraft.”
Most custom engine installations require a lot of work and “troubleshooting” to properly install, and may often not provide the expected performance and reliability. An inexpensive engine may cost you less to purchase initially, but may not provide the proven reliability and performance you expect, and may need to be replaced a lot sooner than expected.
Zenith Aircraft Co. stocks engine mounts and accessories for some other engine types but does not provide support for such installations. The engine mount and fiberglass cowls supplied by Zenith were developed to fit standard configurations for a specified engine and may not be suitable, as supplied, for all configurations and/or models of a given engine type with accessories.
Alternative engines will affect performance, specifications and flight characteristics of the aircraft. Also, the weight and balance of the aircraft may be adversely affected by different engines, and the original fuel system may not be adequate or suitable for some engines and installations. Most alternative engines will require a custom engine mount and cowl. Zenith Aircraft Company does not manufacture or directly support engines nor their installations.
To best serve customers’ needs, Zenith Aircraft Company stocks engine mounts and accessories for various engine models and types but does not provide support for such installations. The engine mount and fiberglass cowls supplied by Zenith were developed to fit standard configurations for a specified engine and may not be suitable, as supplied, for all configurations and/or models of a given engine type with accessories For example, there are many different configurations / models of used Lycoming and Continental engines, each with its own accessories, some of which may not be suitable for installation.
- Click here for price information on firewall-foreword engine packages.
- Click here for information on sample alternative engines.
- Click here for photos of custom engine installations
- Click here for more photos of custom engine installations.
- Article web link: What Engine? Bigger Is Not Always Better, by Tony Bingelis
- “The 912 Competition” is a video presentation (on DVD, from HomeBuiltHELP.com) from the vendors of engines for experimental aircraft (80-120 hp).