Stephen

Aircraft Review : Fournier RF-5B by Avia71

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Aircraft Review : Fournier RF-5B by Avia71

 

Motorised gliders make the hard part the easy part...  that is just getting up into the air. And once up there it is nice to be able to position yourself quickly at the right point to collect the full potential of those lifting updrafts. So you don't then have to rely on a puller plane to get you up in the air, and if you get bored you can easily power up and head on home. The disadvantages are of course the weight you have to carry around with you, it is not a pure gliding experience par excellence, but in reality the disadvantages outweigh the purity of the sport as this versatility makes the aircraft easier to run, use and fly without any outside assistance and it is those set of conditions that have made the Fournier RF Motorglider a very popular aircraft.

 

These aircraft are known as "Touring Motor Gliders" for the obvious reasons, but there are different ideas to do the same thing. Most of these lightweight powered gliders have only a small puller or pusher engine, either mechanical or electric. Where as the Fournier is different is that the engine is quite large and very powerful for the size and weight of the airframe. The B version here uses the 50.7 kW (68 hp) Limbach SL 1700 E Comet engine, and that makes it a true touring aircraft that just happens to good at gliding and be semi-aerobatic as well.

 

Built by René Fournier in the central French area of Nitray , near Tours. The famous RF aircraft was the first of what we now call Touring Motor Gliders. The Frenchman already had an outstanding pedigree as René Fournier as he was already a recognized artist in the early 1950s, an amateur pilot, aircraft mechanic at the patented School of Rochefort , he was also poet, a violinist and especially a ceramist. He also was already highly involved in creating sailplanes and the early prototypes of the RF-5B carried small motors. 

 

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Fournier RF-5B by Avia71

 

Gliders are rare in X-Plane, maybe one a year. And so when a new one comes along if you are albatross minded it is usually worth a look.

 

This aircraft is a replica of the developer's personal aircraft, which was uncovered in an old hangar and restored back to flight. This is the "Lady Wander" (N99098) and the aircraft first flew in in 1971.

 

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Design wise it is basic, but well done. Remember the aircraft is not from a fully developed design studio, but one person's personal project to bring the aircraft to life in X-Plane. So detailing is minimal, but the aircraft is plugin based and not a Plane Maker design and that means it does have some quality above the standard issue basic X-Plane structures with good features.

 

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The forward panel is basic but well laid out on a cork or rough hardboard base. Four large major instruments dominate with the  airspeed, VOR fix, altitude and the smaller rate of climb instruments. An amp meter is left with oil pressure and temperature gauges next. An engine RPM counter is next to the well calibrated artificial horizon, which is different but effective in its grey/black background. Airbrake indicator (0 - 1/2 - Full) and slip bubble indicator. Right panel are lighting and ignition switches with push pull choke, Fuel cutoff and Carb heat knobs below. A large compass is on the top of the panel.

 

Below the panel is the Starter (engine) Brake and the huge handle to control the variable pitch on the propeller. This lever is important to convert from the powered flight to flattening the pitch for glider flight.

 

On the central lower panel there is a Radio set which is an unusual unit because it is COMM (1) and NAV (VOR2) setting (usually it is Comm 1 and NAV - VOR 1) and set below is both a Davtron Chronometer and TRIG Transponder.  

 

Left side is the (small) throttle, and on the right a pitch trim lever, right down under seat is the airbrake lever.

 

Being a two-seater the Fournier does have instruments in the rear as well, but only the basic airspeed, altitude and rate of climb instruments... oh and the second set of a stick and rudder controls to fly the aircraft.

 

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By pressing either side of the compass you can pop-up either the X-Plane GNS430 or an earlier basic Bendix/King unit.

 

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There are two options in a fully opening (animated) canopy or a twin open seat arrangement with small screens. An optional animated pilot who seems to be on a Sunday afternoon fashion posing outing can be switched in or out. 

 

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Seats are basic but in a well done leather covering.

 

Flying the Fournier RF-5B

 

The aircraft looks very fragile sitting on the glass or hard runway surfaces. A single wheel (glider style) supports the aircraft and the wings are supported by single stick like none retractable support wheels.

 

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The Limbach engine is quite throaty and powerful as you increase the throttle and surprisingly in a low wind the Fournier is very stable on the takeoff roll. Around 40mph (35 knts) the tail will lift as you gather more speed and rotation is around 55mph (48knts) with a slight back pull of the stick.

 

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It helps to internalise that large support wheel straight away to quickly clean up the airflow around the aircraft, but you do have a fair bit of power at your disposal. The Fournier will climb quite easily but you will need to find the right balance between the power (speed) staying static and your best rate of climb, i found it was around 700fpm which is very good, but 500fpm does give you more space to go faster as you climb.

 

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Once at your desired altitude the 360º view is very good, but you will need to adjust something before you get too relaxed.

 

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Twiddling with the small trim lever will balance out your rate of climb and steady the aircraft, it is a little fiddly to get it right, but the aircraft is much more stable when you get the right setting and easier to fly over a distance. The only other force is the power from the propeller that gives you a slight yaw that you have to correct with the rudder pedals.

 

Powered to Glider flight

 

Once you have reached your altitude and position, you will want to go to glider mode. You stop the engine by pulling out the "Fuel Switch off" knob and then you wait until the propeller has spun down.

 

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Then you feather the prop via that propeller pitch handle to lock it into a horizontal position, and you can now go soaring...

 

...  don't however just pull the handle across without shutting the engine first and letting it spin down, as the consequences of that action will mean you will blow up the engine and have a smoke filled cockpit.

 

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Restarting powered flight requires a bit more effort. Because the engine is not running and has become cold and so you will usually get the "Carb Ice" notice and the engine is now too cold or frozen to restart. So you first have to pull out the "Carb Heat" knob and when the notice disappears can you then push in the fuel shutoff, then release the propeller from the horizontal position and finally hit the left lower side starter button. The engine won't start straight off, but you will need a little throttle (not too much to flood it) and then it will fire back into life.

 

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With the Fournier being a well balanced Glider (correct trim important) then the aircraft is very light and easy to fly. It can turn on a dime as they say, but it is very easy to position and slips down easy for approach.

 

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The airbrake lever is positioned on the floor and you pull it up (two settings available) as noted on the panel. Note the built in checklist.

 

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Those two stage airbrakes come in like throwing an anchor out of the cockpit. So you have to be aware of the sudden speed drop and to not create a bad stall.

 

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In the air we can get a better look at that big single landing wheel.

 

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The single wheel with a safety guard is very well modeled and animated.

 

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Excuse the pun but you sort of glide in to a stable landing at around 40mph (35knts) landing speed, use the airbrakes wisely unless they will catch you out if you are going to use them close to the ground, I found a quick up and down of the lever adjusted the speed for touch down.

 

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The Fournier is quite stable back on the ground with those out set training wheels, there is none of this sudden twist when you have to put a wing down on the grass to stop, like you do in a normal glider.

 

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A gentle touch of the brakes when you have run off a little of the speed will bring the Fournier to a stop and it is of course a little faster stopping on grass. Taxiing is no problem with easy manoeuvrability just like any other taildragger.

 

Menu

 

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You can access a pop-up menu by pressing the (71) tag in the lower left screen.

 

The simple menu covers "Field of View". There are eight spot points of view that are good except for the two outer views which note the view towards the aircraft, but actually face forward?

 

Covered or open cockpit, Show pilot or an empty aircraft and the radio set view behind the control stick. And if you select the clickboard image it shows a forward view above the compass?

 

Liveries

 

There are eight liveries including a blank white. All are quite bland, and more livery detail and depth would have helped in bringing the aircraft to life more as the 3d modeling is quite good, and there is quite a wasted good selection of great real life liveries available for this aircraft on the web

 

Fournier_RF-5B_Livery Blank.jpgFournier_RF-5B_Livery Lady Wander.jpgFournier_RF-5B_Livery Avia71.jpgFournier_RF-5B_Livery Black Cross.jpg

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Lighting

 

I don't think the Fournier can be flown at night as the panel is completely dark and the instruments are not very visible or even recognisable, externally it is also standard navigation lights, wing strobes and a single large landing light.

 

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Performance

 

Wing Span : 55ft 10in (17.02m)
Empty Weight : 1,014lb (460kg)
Gross Weight : 1,499lb (680kg)
Max Cruise Speed : 118mph (190km/h)
Economy Cruise : (75mph) (120km/h)
Stall Speed : 42.5mph (68km/h)
Service Ceiling : 18,050ft (5,500m)
Engine : 68hp Limbach SL 1700 E

 

Summary

 

Internally and in flying performance the Fournier RF-5B is very good, but the average skin of the aircraft and liveries lets down a far better aircraft sitting underneath. Real RF-5B's have more detail as you can see the wooden slats and wing frames under the canvas, were as here the wings are mostly plain on both sides. There is slight evidence of this canvas on frame but not enough to give the aircraft life or a realistic look. X-Plane is now in the world of hyper-realistic quality modeling and textures, and you notice that here.  

 

The effects and design are good inside the cockpit, and it is really great and easy to fly and convert from powered flight to soaring flight and back again.

 

If you want a a great motor glider and there is certainly a lot of versatility and even a lot of fun built into this great classic French aircraft, then you will love this clever machine from a very clever Frenchman.

 

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Yes! the Fournier RF-5B by Avia71 is NOW available from the new X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

Fournier RF5B

 

Price is US$19.95

 

Features:
  • Complete 3D cockpit
  • Two versions : canopy and opencockpit (switch even in flight)
  • Two GPS included : simple receiver and X-Plane 430 (switch even in flight)
  • Instrument switches (even in flight)
  • HD textures
  • Custom sounds
  • Custom animations
  • 8 livreries
  • In flight special procedure for feathered propeller, as the actual aircraft
  • Checklists and procedures inside the cockpit
  • Pop Menu
  • Easy access around cockpit and outside
  • Field of view adjustment
  • Switch between 2 models : opencockpit or canopy

 

 

Installation and documents:

Download for the Fournier RF-5B is 55.90mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 66.10mb.

 

An 18 page manual with checklists and original Appendix is supplied

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 10.45+ (Any edition)
Windows, Linux and Mac in 64bit mode
1Gb VRAM Video Card Minimum - 2GB VRAM Recommended
 
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Review by Stephen Dutton
14th September 2016
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global v10.50

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

 

Scenery or Aircraft

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum - (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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Laurent Avia71 likes this

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