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S-21 Outbound: Ramp Ready in 500 Hours

By Randy Dufault

July 26, 2018 - Over the years as Randy Schlitter, EAA 223759, created aircraft kit after aircraft kit, he collected a whole bunch of design ideas in the back of his mind that he knew, at some point, would make a kit simpler and faster to build. Many of those ideas came to the surface in the latest RANS design, the S-21 Outbound.

The Outbound is an all-metal, conventional or tricycle gear, high-wing, two-seat kit airplane that Randy expects builders will be able to construct to a ramp-ready state (without paint) in 500 hours or less.

“We have the convenience of precision machining that allows us to make the parts, stand back, open the box, and watch an airplane [almost] build itself,” Randy said. “Of course what do we do to make that happen, right? It all starts with a guy like me who is tired of working hard to build an airplane. Give a lazy man a job and he finds the easiest way, right?”

A key piece of the Outbound design is a welded steel tube cage that creates the aircraft’s primary structure.

“With a welded cage you have a base to build the airplane from,” Randy said. “You could actually put [the cage] on the gear — provided you have something to hold up the back — and do all your interior work, your instrument panel, you can mount the engine, mount the windshield, the doors, before you ever build a tail cone or a wing. All your intense activity building a plane is on that part between the prop and the seats. So, now you have a compact mode where you can do that and easily move around the shop.”

Simplicity and low part counts were key to making the aluminum parts of the plane quickly come together.

“Honestly, we are busting some paradigms on building this stuff,” Randy said. “In our shop it takes about an hour and 10 minutes to build a rudder, same way for an aileron or a flap. The wing sets are taking about 50 hours to build a set. Fuselages are taking about 16 to 20 hours. So now, you’ve got the whole airplane done … in probably less than 70 hours to do the basic airframe. Conservatively speaking, a home shop guy might do it in under 200, leaving him 300 hours to do all the other stuff.”

Builders can choose from two factory engine options: a 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS or a 180-hp Titan 340. RANS has a Rotax-powered Outbound on display at their booth in the North Aircraft Display area.

Performance for the plane is very much as expected.

“We’re pretty much right on,” Randy said. “[We are] within a couple miles an hour of the stall speed prediction and were getting the top speed, no problem.”

All the component kits for the plane are shipping now, with the exception of the finishing kit and engine mount kit. Both remaining kits should be available soon.

Cost for the tailwheel version of the kit, without engine or instruments, is $30,000.

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