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Identical Twin?

“New” Iranian aircraft sure looks like a Cri-cri

Iran’s Faez

The Cri-cri

Iran-Cirrus lookalike
The Cirrus-like Fajr F.3

February 11, 2010Earlier this week the Iranian Defense Ministry unveiled a new twin-engine aircraft, reportedly designed and built by experts of the country’s aerospace industry. But on first glance, the Faez (Victor) looked suspiciously similar to a popular sport plane, the all-metal, French-designed Cri-cri. We asked EAA’s Experimenter newsletter editor Pat Panzera to do some digging to find out more about the airplane. Like many stories emanating from Iran over the past three decades, precise details were hard to come by.  But here’s what Pat was able to find out:

The single-place plane is said to be made from composites and sports a ballistic recovery parachute. The empty weight is reported to be 78-kilograms kg (171 lbs) with a gross weight of 175-kilograms (385 pounds, 10 more than the Cri-cri).

Several sources reported the Faez has a range of 1,500 km (932 statute miles) and covers that distance in three hours with a maximum speed of 220 km per hour (137 mph). That would beat the Cri-cri by 20 km per hour and a whopping 645 miles in range…but the math doesn’t add up: Covering 1,500 km in three hours would give it a speed of 500 km/hr, or 312 mph.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the Faez has successfully passed all test flights.  He added that the aircraft had the ability to be upgraded to a two-person aircraft. The airplane needs a 100-meter airstrip (328 feet) to take off and a 150-meter airstrip (less than 500 feet) to land.

The aircraft’s first test pilot, Captain Ali Yazdani, was quoted as saying the Faez can fly for six hours non-stop at an altitude of 16,000 feet.

Both engines turn in the same direction, are air-cooled, two-stroke, twin-cylinder, horizontally opposed and have single ignition, potentially producing up to 25 hp per side, but certainly not less than 15 hp. Packed in compact, aerodynamic round nacelles, the engines are supported by a pair of streamlined struts sprouting from the nose at 45-degree angles. Wood propellers are further streamlined by skull-cap spinners, but the cylinder heads are fully exposed, popping out both sides of the nacelle, spark plug wires flapping in the breeze. Huge mufflers trailing out the rear are further supported by triangulated, streamlined struts.

The Faez is reportedly being tasked with “reconnaissance tools and equipments, medical cargoes and mail parcels.”  It’s also reported that the plane is capable of landing both in water and on the ground, but all the photos seen thus far only show tricycle gear, identical to the Cri-cri.

Brigadier General Vahidi said the aircraft is slated to be sold at a price of between 40,000 and 50,000 dollars (currency unknown) for “private use,” which the minister called “a cheap price.” Yet one has to wonder if there’s such a market in Iran.

Another feature is that it’s portable; designers claim the plane can be assembled and brought into operation in less than 5 minutes. They also said extra fuel tanks can be installed in the wings and in the fuselage.

Fajr Aviation Ind (Fajr Aviation & Composites Industry - FACI) is painted on the nose, but is not directly credited as the manufacturer or designer in any news reports.

FACI was established 1991. Their first design, the Fajr F.3, itself bears resemblance to the Cirrus SR20, entered production in 2001 and made its public debut in October 2002. Used primarily for military training, this all-composite four-passenger aircraft is a very capable machine, powered by a 270 hp air-cooled six-cylinder piston engine, but with a cruise speed of only 148 knots (170 mph) falling short of the Cirrus’s advertised 178 mph from only 200 ponies. First flown in 1995, the aircraft was certified to JAR-1 and JAR-23 standard in 2002 and has a useful load of 1,063 pounds, almost 100 lbs more than the Cirrus.

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