Decathlon Adds Lycoming For "Xtreme" Aerobat

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American Champion Aircraft introduced a new version of the venerable Decathlon at EAA AirVenture on Monday, modified to fly with a Lycoming AEIO-390-A1B6 210hp engine. The Xtreme variant pairs the powerful engine with an MT 76-inch prop. "That meant we needed taller gear, so we've redesigned the gear legs," said Jerry Menlhaff Jr., the company's VP of engineering. They also added a new airfoil tail with 10 percent more area, clipped the wingtips, and boosted the ailerons. "We not only added 30 horsepower, we've enhanced almost every aspect of the airplane," Menlhaff said. Flight testing of the prototype is ready to start, and test pilot Jody Bradt said he expects the new features will translate to a higher roll rate, lighter stick forces, increased longitudinal control, and overall better performance in the box. Menlhaff said certification is expected in October. Base price for the airplane is $204,900.

The company listed performance specs for the Xtreme at a 1660 fpm rate of climb, a maximum level speed of 165 mph, and a stall speed of 54 mph. Menlhaff also showed the media a new agricultural spraying system that the company will soon have available for its Scout. The system was certified for spraying back in the '70s, he said, but then was out-competed by larger, more powerful ag planes. Now, he said, new concentrated chemicals are on the market that make the little Scout with its 90-gallon spray capacity an attractive option. "These new chemicals only require as little as 6 ounces per acre to be effective," he said. With the Scout, Menlhaff said, the companies who do the spraying "can charge half as much to the customer and still make a bigger profit than they would with the bigger airplanes." He hopes to have the system certified and ready for the market by early next year.