|Velocity's V-Twin (photo by Mariano Rosales)
By James Wynbrandt
No, the small twin-engine pusher with canards and delta wings is not a baby Avanti Piaggio. It's the prototype of the V-Twin, a new offering from kit company Velocity Aircraft of Sebastian, Florida.
"I've been wanting to build a twin-engine version of our airplane for many, many years," said Duane Swing, chairman and owner of Velocity Aircraft. But with their propensity to enter a stall spin in the event of an engine loss in high-power, low-airspeed operations, such as during takeoff, "Twin engines have lost favor because of the high rate of death with engine failure," Swing noted. "The idea was to build a Velocity twin with no VMC (minimum controllable airspeed), where you couldn't slow to the point where you could stall, and therefore there's no way to spin."
In theory, a canard aircraft such as the Velocity can't spin because the canard stalls before the wing, lowering the nose, and keeping sufficient airflow over the wing to keep it flying. Engineers Swing consulted agreed the same principal would apply to a twin-engine canard aircraft, convincing him to pursue his longstanding goal.
"Last year at Oshkosh I said, 'I'm going to do this,'" Swing said. "In October I told our guys the company can't afford to fund this, so the whole cost is coming out of my pocket, and you guys know what you're doing, so let's build a twin. Six months later we had it flying."
The completed aircraft was intended to be proof-of-concept aircraft, to be followed by a prototype from which parts for the kit version would be made. But the airplane flew so well that "right after the first flight it became apparent this was not just a concept airplanes, it was going to be the prototype."
After its debut at Sun 'n Fun, Swing and company pilot John Abraham subjected the aircraft to more rigorous flight tests, "doing things most twins would not, like full stalls with one engine shut down, to prove we can't get it to stall, eliminating the major problem of other twins," Swing said.
The prototype at the Velocity display (exhibit No. 11) is powered by two 160-hp Lycoming IO 320 engines. Fuel burn of about 6 gph per engine in economy cruise yields 170-plus knots and about 1,400 nm range. Single-engine climb is about 400 fpm up to 8,000 feet, and from 8,000 to 12,000 feet the V-Twin will hold altitude on one engine.
The company expects the airframe to support engines up to 250 hp. Velocity is also designing a six-place version with a 2-foot cabin extension and is talking to Delta Hawk about offering a diesel engine option.
"We're now just waiting to build one more in our shop so we can complete the construction phase" to document the building instructions for kit buyers, Swing said. V-Twin kits start at $110,000, and Velocity estimates cost of the completed aircraft with engines and glass panel will be about $250,000. Estimated construction time is about 800 hours.