Who would have ever thought that a Cub type aircraft would be fitted with a nose-wheel, well it has been done and apparently it is being well accepted by the aviation world. I know some hardened taildragger pilots that would have a field day ripping into this aircraft and of course the pilot.
Following a year-long public Market Survey effort, light aircraft manufacturer CubCrafters has officially decided to certify and offer a nose-wheel option for its flagship Part 23 certified aircraft, the CC-19 Xcub.
“Putting a nose-wheel on a modern Cub type aircraft certainly surprised some people, but the overwhelming public response has been positive, especially among the more than 300 pilots that have had the opportunity to fly the aircraft during the Market Survey phase,” comments Brad Damm, CubCrafters VP of Sales & Marketing. “A nose-wheel equipped XCub is a very easy aircraft to fly that takes off shorter, lands shorter, and cruises faster than the tail-wheel version. Once a pilot is in the aircraft and experiences it, the advantages are obvious.”
“Engaging our customers in a Market Survey effort for this new nose-wheel option has been hugely important,” says Patrick Horgan, President of CubCrafters. “We went into this process not entirely sure if the market wanted to accept a nose-wheel type personal adventure Cub. There is no question now; we’ve had people wanting to place deposits for this aircraft from day one. Our customers have made it very clear that they want us to build this aircraft.”
CubCrafters also notes that hundreds of hours of real-world use by a variety of pilots of varying skill levels during the Market Survey phase led to many design improvements that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible in an internal-only development setting. Current and prospective customers were able to have a large influence on the final design of the nose-wheel option for the aircraft.
“The added capabilities and value offered by the new nose-wheel option are game-changing” continues Horgan. “The XCub is easily convertible between nose-wheel and tail-wheel, so you really get two aircraft in one. A fast, modern, easy-to-fly, tricycle gear aircraft and a traditional big-tire tail-wheel Cub together. Both are very capable STOL aircraft designed for the back-country missions that CubCrafters’ aircraft have always excelled at.”
With an extremely robust trailing-link nose-wheel assembly and large tundra tires as an option for the mains, the nose-wheel equipped XCub is capable of handling primitive landing strips and most off-airport type operations. Landing loads on the nose-wheel are transmitted to the airframe by a heavy-duty truss designed just for this application, and the entire nose-wheel assembly itself is a bolt-on option that can be removed should the owner want to convert the aircraft to a tail-wheel configuration.
“This is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time,” comments Jim Richmond, CubCrafters’ Founder and CEO. “I’ve always believed that back-country flying should be open to more than just tail-wheel rated pilots, and it’s exciting to see that vision now becoming a reality!”
The XCub program has achieved a number of significant milestones in its short history. After initial FAA certification in June of 2016, the XCub was the first United States General Aviation aircraft to achieve non-TSO’d avionics approval for the Garmin G3X system in 2017. In 2019, CubCrafters collaborated with Lycoming and Hartzell to offer the new lightweight CC393i fuel injected 215 horsepower engine and a new high-performance PathFinder 3-bladed composite propeller, for the Xcub.
Badged as the “NX Cub” for aircraft leaving the Factory in the nose-wheel configuration, the new tricycle gear option is available now on experimental XCubs through the company’s Builder Assist program, and CubCrafters expects to achieve FAA Part 23 certification in early 2021.
How well this aircraft will be accepted in the harsh world of aviators is yet to be seen. I personally believe there is a place for this machine especially here in South Africa, judging by the success of slightly smaller aircraft like the Savannah and BatHawk.