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Wings in a Week

By Randy Dufault

July 24, 2017 - Fabric-covered aircraft have long been a tradition for Kansas-based kit and LSA manufacturer, RANS Designs. However, innovative founder Randy Schlitter is not one to sit on the laurels of past success.

“We still think there is a good market for an all-metal high-wing trainer,” Randy said. “Eventually, we’d like to see that as a part of our stable.”

To support that vision, RANS is currently developing the first all-metal design to come from the company: The RANS S-21 Outbound. Although the S-21 prototype is not yet flying, the wings are.

Now available as an option for the S-20 Raven, the metal wing offers a long list of benefits for a measly 20-pound increase in empty weight.

“I’m liking that wing a lot,” Randy said. “Probably the most revealing thing that I did — we did a lot of flight testing before coming to [EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017] — one of the more fun ones, is that I set up a set of runway markers. I took my S-7 and both Ravens out. I’d take off in one, jump out of that one, get in the other one, and take off so the conditions are real close together. We have to do this quick in Kansas because the heat comes up fast. I got the same numbers with this wing, and it is a heavier airplane.”

Even though the wing is designed for the heavier S-21, it fits the S-20 fuselage nicely.

“It’s way overbuilt for the Raven,” Randy said. “We argued a bit during production meetings about whether we could make parts that are a little lighter because we don’t need all that gross weight on the Raven.”

In the end, they left the wing alone, making the metal-wing Raven a bit more of a capable airplane.

A key design point is rapid construction.

“It’s only a weeklong project to build a set of wings,” Randy said. “I’m pretty excited about that…. We set out to take as much effort out of the build process as possible. We want as low a build time as possible so we can make a reasonable margin on manufactured versions.”

An extruded aluminum front spar and leading edge, along with an extruded rear spar, full size rivet holes, and a number of other innovations help make the quick build time a reality.

The metal-wing Raven is on display at RANS’ booth in the North Aircraft Display area.