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Who Designed the Aircraft?

David Kervinen designed and built not only the aircraft and systems but also the identity and paint scheme. Instrumental in the building process of the Turbine Toucan was Butch Pfeifer, who tirelessly worked with David to complete the aircraft in record time.

How long did it take to build?

The aircraft took exactly 380 days to complete, ready to fly. That is 380 continuous days with only four days off in that period of time. This was after the bare airframe and components were completed. So, total time including all the design phase was closer to 2.5 years. The sophisticated Nacelle (cowling) alone took close to 700 hours between shaping and final layup.
As an example, a typical Christen Eagle kit takes a builder 2500-3500 hours too complete and that is with off the shelf components.

How much does the Aircraft cost?

Popular question. It's hard to place a price on ones time. The aircraft took over 5200 man hours. Since this is a one-off aircraft, every component on the plane was fabricated by hand. There was no off the shelf components to use other then the landing gear and brakes. A lot of dedicated hours of work by a few volunteers made this happen.

Is it a composite aircraft?

YES, especially if you consider the dictionary term of a blend of materials. If you think about it, it is the ultimate composite aircraft. The fuselage is 4130 chrome moly. The wings are wood (for light weight and strength), the cowling and misc. parts are carbon fiber. The fuselage sides and belly panels are aluminum and the wheel pants are fiberglass. Add fabric wings and tail surfaces, Kevlar prop and you have a full spectrum of material type to build the Turbine Toucan.

Why a Biplane?

For one, there is a strong emotional association with the romance of flight. A biplane allows us to be highly differentiated with the use of a turboprop power plant. A biplane allows us to draw rich cues deep from the past while incorporating contemporary styling and the latest aviation technological innovations. And last, there are several world records that are highly attainable in this class of plane including world’s fastest biplane, which the record was set in 1941 at 324mph. This is low hanging fruit for the Turbine Toucan.

Why a single place?

As much as we’d like to share in the experience with this kind of performance, it is all about fuel. Being the aircraft has a thirsty appetite for Jet-A (up to 60gph) and it is a small aircraft, we needed every available space in the fuselage for fuel.

What’s with the Toucan theme?

As for the identity of the aircraft, we thought the Toucan was a natural fit. Their colorfulness, intelligence, and entertaining qualities make toucans one of the most amusing species of bird. The Toucan design is based on the toco toucan, the most famous of the 38 species of toucan. It is the largest of the toucans, but its popularity comes from its brightly colored bill, which can measure 7 inches in length. While it looks quite heavy, it is actually very light due to its many air pockets.

What does positive thrust to weight ratio mean?

The ratio compares the thrust of the engine to the weight of the aircraft. The higher the ratio, the more powerful the aircraft. Most combat aircraft have had between 0.7 to 0.9 thrust to weight ratio. The F-15 and F-16 fighter models actually have a thrust to weight ratio of greater than 1.0 which allows them to climb vertically. To put it in perspective, the F/A-18 Hornet (at fighter mission weight) is 36,700lbs@32,000lbs of thrust. This is about .87:1 thrust to weight ratio performance at a cost of $39.5 million dollars. By conrast, a 747-400 has 0.27:1 thrust to weight ratio. The Turbine Toucan’s performance is better then 1.5:1 with pilot and fuel.

Is this an unlimited aerobatic aircraft?

No. The design mission of the aircraft was specifically designed for air show performance and entertainment. It will never see aerobatic competition, by design. Although the airframe is capable of +/- 10G’s and does have inverted systems, it is not designed for doing extremely high G, gyroscopic maneuvers. Turbines require high airflow and do not like gyroscopic maneuvers. That said, we will be doing maneuvers in the vertical that an unlimited aerobatic plane could only dream of. Sorta apples and oranges really.

What are your record-breaking ambitions?

We are excited about many records we think we have a shot at. The world speed record for a biplane was set almost 66 years ago at 324mph. World’s only fixed wing propeller driven aircraft that can hover. Only GA aircraft with better then 1:1 thrust to weight ratio. As well as a few others we have up our sleeve!

When will we get to see it fly?

We have concluded an exhaustive test program spanning more then nine months and over sixty hours. We’ve established a baseline understanding of the aircraft in all aerobatic and non aerobatic phases of flight. The Turbine Toucan will be ready and put into fulltime, National campaign service for the 2009 air show season.

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