Bits and Pieces
Dream Aircraft's 'Tundra'
Inside the Dream Aircraft factory with Luc Premont
The Tundra in tricycle configuration
The Tundra on amphibious floats
We are driving back to Montreal from Sherbrooke and our meeting with mechanical engineering students and their 'Épervier' project (see December 2008 Bits and Pieces story) and we stop at Granby, Quebec, to see Dream Aircraft Inc., manufacturers of the 'Tundra' aircraft. Luc Premont, is obliging and waits for us, since it is after hours, and willingly gives us an unhurried visit to the large and well-equipped premises of the firm.
The Tundra is the dream product of Yvan Desmarais, president of D&G Manufacturing. This large, sheet metal fabrication firm does a great deal of work for the Telecommunication and Aerospace industries, and has the latest CNC punching, cutting, and forming equipment. Desmarais, a pilot and EAA member of many years, has always had a utilitarian outlook for aviation use in Canada's rugged regions. So after years of evaluations and research, he brought a number of engineers and designers together, and while keeping a critical focus on the end product and its purpose, allowed the design of the Tundra to develop.
The first prototype flew in May of 2001, and the second in the early spring of 2004. These two aircraft provided the samples for evaluation, refinement and development for manufacturing and assembly processes.
The Tundra aircraft kit for amateur builders is manufactured and partially assembled on the second floor of this factory. It is almost a second thought (although Luc's passion for aviation belies this) to the operation of the firm. Having said that, this aircraft and its facilities are impressive, and one gets the immediate sense that the Tundra is a going concern.
The Tundra is a large, high-wing, four-place aircraft with lots of carrying capacity for four adults and baggage. Only one basic model is built, but many variations of the theme are available. It comes as a tail-dragger or nose-wheel configuration. It is available on wheels, skis, or floats. To keep it simple, it relies on the 0-320 series of engines, turning a fixed-pitch prop. Tundra allows the use of the 235 HP, 0-540, but insists that HP increases stop there.
It has a gross weight of 2550 lbs. in the utility category, and 2800 in normal category on floats. With minimum interior additions, and its fixed-pitch prop its empty weight of around 1385 lbs. gives it a useful load of 1165 lbs. Remember, this aircraft is designed for a utilitarian role, and the designers consider 125 mph, and 750 fpm climb rate to be just that.
The Tundra employs a modified Riblett 660.15 airfoil together with Fowler flaps, giving it a power-off stall speed of 40 to 45 mph. These huge flaps also are designed to reflex upward of about 10 degrees to enhance airspeed in cruise.
The wing uses a 'V' strut attachment that allows ease in rigging as well as supplying the strength and ruggedness that this type of aircraft demands.
Dream Aircraft is like every other amateur-built kit company with questions, costs, stringent requirements. It, however, came into the game well ahead of the curve! It already had a comprehensive aircraft design, a facility, and a skilled workforce that knew how to organize its production.
Look for this aircraft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009. Plans are for it to be there, front and centre.
To learn more about the Tundra, visit Dream Aircraft at www.dreamaircraft.com or 450-372-9929.
By Jack Dueck