Carbon Cub Gets A Rotax


CubCrafters took a surprise turn in 2009 when it developed its own engine, the four-cylinder CC340, for the hot-rod Carbon Cub. At Sun ‘n Fun 2023, they’re repeating the trick by offering Rotax’s new 160-HP 916 iS in a slimmed-down version of the Carbon Cub. It followed in 2017 with an even beefier CC363i at 186 hp.

The new Rotax model will be called the Carbon Cub UL—presumably for unleaded—and is intended to expand CubCrafter’s piece of the international market pie. The airplane will be capable of burning either mogas or avgas, including what new unleaded aviation fuels may surface in the future. The company says the UL model will be lighter and better performing than the previous model, the Carbon Cub SS.

The 916 iS is an iteration of the basic four-cylinder powerplant line Rotax first developed in 1989 and has been expanding to dominate the light sport and ultralight market. At 160 HP, its output is lower than the CC340 180 HP, but the 916 iS is turbocharged and thus capable of better performance in high density altitude conditions. Like Rotax’s other four-cylinder engines, it’s air and water cooled. Building on the 912 iS engine technology, the 916 iS has redundant electronic fuel injection and electronic ignition. Its initial TBO, according to Rotax, is 2000 hours.  

CubCrafters says the UL will incorporate pre-preg composites and titanium components to reduce the weight of the aircraft to even less than the original Carbon Cub. The production version is intended to be offered as a U.S. light sport model—up to 1320 pounds max gross—and will meet ultralight requirements in many other countries. In a stroke of good-timing PR, the technology demonstrator was used in the Red Bull project to land on 88-foot diameter helipad at Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arab on March 15.

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  1. A proven airframe and a proven engine. Not a bad combination. Good power to weight as well. (Particularly if you consider a Piper warrior at 2200 lbs and 160 hp!)

  2. Sounds like a great combination. This new 916is sounds incredible. I love my 912is. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find anywhere you fly into that sells MOGAS. Which the Rotax prefers.

    • I spent many years schlepping mogas for my STC’d C-182. An annoyance but well worth it as I commuted daily in it.

      Of course, that’s not an option if you have an airport bureaucracy with restrictions on such activities.

    • If there’s enough demand, the supply will follow. Having a 160 hp rotax available will likely mean more demand.

    • We have many Rotax powered aircraft on our field – most of us use avgas, changing the oil at 25hrs. No issues, and some of the engines have almost 1500hrs

  3. I would hazar the “UL” in “Carbon Cub UL” stands for Ultra Light, as that’s more likely to be a selling point abroad than its propensity for a difficult to source fuel.

  4. I am already in love with the spec’s on the 916iS. Now … if Van’s marries this engine to the RV-15 … everybody waiting for kit #1 better step aside for ME! Are ya listening, Van’s? Finally, a ‘modern’ engine like the cars we drive these days in an airframe that would — likewise — be a new clean sheet design. WOW!