Quad City Aircraft Corp has manufactured the Challenger line of aircraft in Moline, Illinois since 1983. It is ultralight aviation's longest running company!
National Ultralight has been the exclusive Canadian distributor since 1984!
Some 4,000 Challengers have been delivered worldwide since 1983 with over 600 owners in Canada. The Challenger Owners Association is the most active in recreational aviation. Clearly this line of aircraft is one of the most popular in aviation, and one of the most proven, safest designs in any category.
The Challenger is uniquely versatile - it switches quickly and easily between wheels, tundra wheels, skis, penetration wheel/skis, retractable wheel/skis, straight floats, amphibious floats, ... The heated cabin and an engine needing no preheating make it a true four season aircraft, even in Canada's winter. On warm summer days remove the doors and you have an open air sportster!
The Challenger's STOL performance and payload are extraordinary. A wide speed range and impressive crosswind capability, together with a cockpit having unrestricted visibility, make it a delightful and capable platform for long distance cross-country flights, as well as low and slow ultralight sightseeing.
Challengers also make great motorgliders, with recorded engine-off flights of several hours and altitude gains of many thousands of feet, even on amphibs!
There is no other airplane, at any price, with this broad mix of talents! In Canada new Challengers can qualify for the Advanced Ultralight category and be flown with a traditional licence or the easier to obtain Ultralight Pilot Permit. In the USA they can be flown as Light Sport Aircraft with a Sport Pilot Permit.
The Challenger design has stood the test of time but it has not stood still. Over the years several hundred changes have combined to let the latest Challenger take off in less distance, climb more rapidly and cruise 50 mph faster than the early machines. Wingtips to wheels it's more efficient and more durable.
In 2005 the Bombardier-Rotax 582 Blue Head engine became the core of a new bespoke power pack which quickly replaced the 503 engine in being by far the leading choice of Challenger owners. The 582 power pack delivers 30% more horsepower and 34% more torque than its predecessor the 503. All this with a specific fuel consumption 23% lower! The 582 power pack is now the de facto standard for floats, heavy loads and high density altitudes.
Also in 2005 we increased the gross weight of the Challenger II by 20% to 960 lbs. And in 2005 we created packages including airframe, power pack and everything necessary for flight. The Challenger II 582 Premium became the choice of virtually all new owners.
The newest Bombardier-Rotax 582 Mod 99 Blue Head engines are ASTM certified. Purpose built for use in aviation they have earned top marks for reliability as well as easy, affordable maintenance. Dual independent electronic ignition systems fire two spark plugs per cylinder, for redundancy plus more power and lower fuel consumption. A taller reduction drive and bigger prop increase cruise and climb.
The current Challenger Light Sport lineup gives choices with a wide range of features, performance and prices to suit every need and every budget!
In July 2010 the Challenger line of aircraft was expanded with the Light Sport 'X' Series Model XL-65. In March 2012 the line was expanded again with the new Challenger Light Sport 'X' Series Model XS-65.
The new Challenger Light Sport XL-65 and XS-65 are the most dramatic steps forward ever taken. The XL-65 and XS-65 incorporate numerous design enhancements driven by customer inputs. The new models are easier to fly, faster in cruise, more rugged, more ergonomic and easier to build. Prices remain very affordable even with engine and instruments.
The new XL-65 is a high power, high lift aircraft for amphibious floats, heavy loads and high density altitudes. A new wing design and a 582 power package with 30% more thrust combine to allow an increase in gross weight from 960 to 1060 lbs. Standard 20 USgal wing tanks allow for the creation of a baggage compartment in the fuselage behind the passenger seat.
The new XS-65 is a clip wing derivative of the XL-65 with all the same features including the 582 power pack but with a clip wing four feet shorter. The XS-65 is optimized for people who want speed. The maximum cruise speed is 100 mph - lightning fast for an ultralight! The XS-65 has an impressive payload of nearly 600 lbs. With its fast cruise, long range wing tanks and a baggage compartment in the fuselage the XS-65 makes a great cross-country machine.
In January 2016 the Challenger line of aircraft grew once again with the announcement of the new Light Sport 'E' Series Models EL-65 and ES-65. The new Challenger Light Sport EL-65 and ES-65 provide a more attainable entry point for those whose needs and budgets are not up to the level of the more fully featured XL-65 and XS-65. In effect the predecessor Challenger II's capabilities are significantly uplifted without uplifting the cost.
Available configurations include faired wheels, tundra wheels, straight skis, wheel/skis, straight floats and amphibious floats, all very affordable. In the grand Challenger tradition of versatility switching between configurations is quick and easy.
The new Light Sport 'E' Series and 'X' Series models all retain the docile nature, low stall speed and amazing crosswind capability of previous generations of Challengers. The combination of outstanding STOL performance plus heavy duty landing gear and hydraulic disc brakes allow operation from short, unimproved strips.
From crisper handling to a more spacious cabin, the latest Challengers are not only more capable and comfortable they are better looking and quieter to boot!
This is why Challenger is truly Canada's favourite advanced ultralight!
For a sense of why this aircraft has enjoyed amazing longevity and success, read what owners say are the ten best reasons for owning a Challenger.
This site contains full details on the new Light Sport models plus it describes the experience of flying a Challenger, introduces a few of our owners, answers frequently asked questions, and tells you about our company. All this together with plenty of pictures and videos!
Browse through in sequence or flip through any way you wish. Your browser will change the colour of the underlined links so you know where you've been. To come back to a particular page, add it to your Bookmarks or Favorites list.
Remember to click on the small pictures to enlarge them and see the captions!
Owning a new Challenger is a dream reasonably attainable by most Canadians. A well equipped Challenger costs no more than a decent car. Purchasing a general aviation aircraft can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, akin to buying a second home. As well, the Challenger's operating and maintenance costs are a fraction of any general aviation aircraft, new or old.
Challengers in Canada are sold at the exact same US Dollar prices here as they are at the factory in the United States. We take care of cross border shipping and customs. We ensure that all new Challengers purchased here are eligible for registration in the uniquely Canadian Advanced Ultralight category.
Today the top of the line Canadian Challenger 582 powered packages are about the same price as the 503 packages were not all that long ago!
There is no time like the present to make your dreams of flight come true!
In Canada the Challenger is sold in complete quick-build packages configured for our climate and conditions. Everything from the enclosed cabin to the engine to the landing gear is especially chosen based on our 30 years of operating Challengers on and off airport on wheels, skis and floats.
Our uniquely Canadian Challenger Packages are unlike anywhere else worldwide. They contain pretty much everything you need to go flying: airframe, fabric, engine, prop, instruments, ... plus many extra comfort, performance and durability features. You just provide paint and pilot!
To put our Canadian packages together we have OEM contracts with leading suppliers such as Quad City (airframe), Rotax (engine), Warp Drive (prop), Sheer Tech (582 cooling), Puddlejumper (floats), Turbulence (skis), etc.
People who buy from us have access to our priceless world leading expertise. Our support capability is based on three decades of flying Challengers in Canada twelve months a year on wheels, skis and floats. Plus we completely understand the Canadian tax and regulatory environment - no mean feat!
Be very wary if you see Challengers advertised at low prices outside Canada! These sites are invariably showing pricing which is years out of date plus they include only the bare bones tail, wings and fuselage. They think you'll forget about needing engine, prop, instruments, streamlining, enclosed cabin, brakes, shoulder straps, ... You get what you pay for!
The Challenger II 503 Legacy Package is a wonderful way to own your own plane at a very affordable price. The careful selection of add-ons, accessories and upgrades keeps cost and weight to an absolute minimum.
The 503 has 25% more power than its predecessor the 447 and, importantly, also has dual ignition for redundancy and improved fuel burn.
This configuration takes off short and climbs great but is significantly slower in cruise than our other more fully featured packages. It's a great choice for the budget conscious flyer looking for fun in the sun rather than going places fast.
The Challenger II 503 Deluxe Package bundles the Rotax 503 engine with the Challenger II two-seat airframe and includes all sorts of add-ons, accessories and upgrades. Until 2005 this was the most popular configuration.
This airframe and engine combination is a great value - the balance of money vs capability - and will provide very good performance twelve months a year for most people in most parts of Canada, especially on wheels and skis.
The Challenger II 582 Premium Package from its announcement in the fall of 2005 until being superseded by the Challenger Light Sport models in 2010 was the choice of 95% of new Challenger owners!
This package bundles the powerful Rotax 582 engine with the two-seat Challenger II and includes all our add-ons, accessories and upgrades. The 582 boosts horsepower 30% and torque 34% over the 503. This translates into takeoffs 1/3 to 1/2 shorter and climbs 50-100% faster! For more details and comparative videos click here.
Amazingly, the 582 engine itself weighs less than the 503, although by the time the cooling system is installed there is a small weight gain. On a typical mission the more efficient 582 does all this on less fuel than the 503!
This airframe and engine combination is for folks who require extra takeoff and climb thrust to operate on amphibious floats or carry heavier loads or operate at higher elevations and temperatures. The Challenger II 582 Premium Package is also the preference of those who have higher budget resources and simply want to enjoy the stunning performance of the CII-582. It really is a WOW!
Our Canadian "kit by section" program allows those on a budget to purchase a series of sub-kits - tail, wings, fuselage, engine - as they have the financial resources and the time available for assembly. Each sub-kit includes all the necessary supplies and hardware. An important benefit of this approach is that it facilitates that all important first step, without which you never get airborne!
For many people the purchase of their own airplane is the fulfillment of a life long dream. Some are in a position to simply make the purchase immediately and proceed. Others cannot move right away because of finances so they are forced to wait and save towards the realization of this dream.
It takes a lot of financial discipline to keep focused on saving to turn an airplane into reality. The problem for many is that before sufficient funds are put aside to purchase the entire airplane, life intervenes and other expenses chip away at the savings. In the end the dream never happens. Quel dommage!
The key to making things happen is to start the project, even if it is only a tail sub-kit. By taking that first step you are making the commitment to yourself to achieve the dream of owning your own airplane, as only after it is started will it ever be finished. You will proceed at your own pace and as finances allow, but with the commitment having been made, your dream WILL become reality.
How do you choose between the Challenger II 503 Legacy, Challenger II 503 Deluxe and Challenger II 582 Premium packages? It's a matter of balancing your budget with your requirements.
The Challenger II 503 Legacy could be just the trick for local fun flights if you're not planning to go far, or fast, and the price really can't be beat.
The Challenger II 503 Deluxe has great performance on wheels and skis and enough performance to handle amphibious floats for two 170 lb people taking off from elevations near sea level with a standard size tank full of fuel.
The Challenger II 582 Premium has stunning performance in all conditions for not much more money. It's the best choice for amphibious floats, heavier loads, operation at higher elevations and temperatures, and long range fuel tanks.
You also gain access to our internet-based Canadian Support Section. Phone support is unlimited and is free for as long as you own your Challenger.
You can have your Challenger assembled, covered and painted professionally for a very reasonable price. Final cost varies according to configuration, paint design and add-ons. Opportunities to obtain a ready-to-fly Challenger at these attractive price are limited and are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Please contact us for availability and a price quote.
The most popular floats used on Challengers world-wide are made in Canada. You can order your fibreglass Puddlejumper amphibious floats directly from National Ultralight. Amphibs start at CA$6,400. For additional info click the diagram.
Ski prices start around CA$1,200 and you can choose straight skis, fixed penetration wheel/skis or retractable wheel/skis. If it makes sense for your missions in your area of operations you can even equip your Challenger with the latest in avionics - radio, GPS, transponder - even a full glass cockpit.
Aftermarket companies offer a wide variety of accessories made specifically for Challengers: cargo carriers, wing and fuselage covers, custom interiors, ...
The list is long - a benefit of some 4,000 Challengers worldwide - and we at National Ultralight can serve you all these goodies!
In Canada the Challenger is by far the most popular recreational aircraft and outsells the nearest competitor by 10 to 1! There are many reasons why the Challenger is so much more popular. A big one is bang-for-the-buck: more real world capability, versatility and performance per dollar than anything else you'll ever find. The Challenger is a true four season, all terrain vehicle!
This doesn't just benefit us as vendors it benefits you as owners because the support network is gigantic and there's no end of fellow Challenger owners to share experiences with. No other marque has annual owner gatherings and even if they did no other marque could put dozens of planes and hundreds of enthusiasts together at a rendezvous in the middle of the Canadian winter!
On any other ultralight to come near the Challenger's payload and performance you'd need a Rotax 912 which is over $20,000 for the engine alone. The mounts, prop, etc are another $5,000! And to support the extra weight you'd need bigger, more expensive floats, ... Apparently no one can duplicate the Challenger's secret formula: a huge wing, light weight and sleek shape!
We timed the water takeoff run of a competitor with a 912 and amphibious floats. The 503 Challenger on amphibs gets off in the same time, at half the cost! The 582 Challenger takes off in half the time, still at much less cost!
Careful researchers will soon realize that most manufacturers price quotes exclude the appropriate engine to match their performance claims and most don't show the 40-70% premium charged for quick-build versions, if available.
The Challenger has achieved amazing longevity and success, click to read what owners think are the Ten Best Reasons For Owning A Challenger.
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In-flight separation of right wing
Quad City Challenger II (advanced ultralight), C-IGKT
North Bay, Ontario, 14.3 nm E
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigated this occurrence for the purpose of advancing transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability. This report is not created for use in the context of legal, disciplinary or other proceedings. See Ownership and use of content.
History of the flight
On 29 July 2018, 2 privately operated Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corporation (Quad City) Challenger II advanced ultralight aircraft equipped with amphibious floats departed Ottawa/Rockcliffe Airport (CYRO), Ontario, for a daytime visual flight rules cross-country flight to North Bay Airport (CYYB), Ontario. While en route, the 2 aircraft encountered strong winds and turbulence, and the pilots decided to land on the Ottawa River, near Mattawa, Ontario. During the landing, the occurrence aircraft (registration C-IGKT, serial number CH2-1199-1919) touched down hard. After a short lunch break, the pilots inspected the 2 aircraft and then flew to CYYB without further incident.
On 30 July 2018, the 2 aircraft departed CYYB at 0932Footnote 1 and climbed to between 1800 and 2000 feet above sea level for the return flight to CYRO. At approximately 0950, the occurrence aircraft's right wing separated from the aircraft when it was over Talon Lake, Ontario, 14.3 nautical miles east of CYYB. The aircraft entered an uncontrolled descent and collided with terrain in a wooded area. A post-impact fire ensued. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and the post-impact fire.
The pilot of the other aircraft overflew the occurrence site and landed on Talon Lake. At 0959, he met a local resident, who called 911 to report the accident. There was no emergency locator transmitter on board, and none was required by regulations.
The aviation routine weather report (METAR) for CYYB at the time of departure indicated winds from 230° true (T) at 9 knots, variable from 210°T to 270°T; visibility of 10 statute miles with smoke; and a layer of scattered cloud based at 600 feet above ground level. Weather reports for the planned route indicated that the weather was suitable for the visual flight rules flight.
Records indicate that the pilot was certified and qualified for the flight in accordance with existing regulations. He obtained a private pilot licence – aeroplane in December 2004 and had a valid Category 3 medical certificate. He had accumulated over 1330 total flying hours, with over 1230 hours on ultralights. The investigation found no evidence to indicate that the pilot's performance was degraded by fatigue or other physiological issues.
Quad City has been manufacturing Challenger ultralight kits since 1983. The Challenger is sold exclusively as a quick-build kit with several options, including engine upgrades, long or clipped wings, and single- or 2-seat cockpits. The aircraft can be equipped with wheels, skis, or amphibious floats. The company has sold over 4400 Challengers worldwide, including 608 in Canada.
Since the mid-1990s, most new Challengers in Canada have been registered with Transport Canada (TC) in the advanced ultralight category. At November 2018, of the 608 Challengers on the TC registry, 405 were in the advanced ultralight category, 195 were in the basic ultralight category, and 8 were in the amateur-built category.Footnote 2,Footnote 3
The occurrence aircraft was manufactured and registered as an advanced ultralight in 2000. The occurrence pilot purchased the aircraft in May 2008. It was a 2-seat, long-wing variant with a 29.5‑foot wingspan. Depending on the season, the aircraft was flown on wheels, skis, or amphibious floats. At the time of the occurrence, the aircraft was equipped with amphibious floats (Figure 1). The aircraft was also equipped with a heavy load saddle kit.
Lift strut attachment to the fuselage
The wings are supported by lift struts that are attached to the fuselage with 1⅝ inch preformed channel, U-shaped, aluminum alloy brackets. The brackets are attached to the lift struts using a bolt that passes through the bolt holes on each leg of the bracket and through a pre-drilled hole in the lift strut. The brackets and struts are then attached to the fuselage longeron using a bolt that passes through a bolt hole in the centre base plate of the bracket. Castle nuts or nyloc nuts are used to secure the bolts (Figure 2).
Heavy load saddle kit
The heavy load saddle kit was developed to provide the Light Sport version of the Challenger ultralight aircraft with greater lift and performance capabilities. It is a set of 2 spacers fitted to the fuselage longeron and provides a flat surface area at the attachment point with the bracket (Figure 3).
Advanced ultralights in Canada are required to be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. According to TC's Ultra-light Aeroplane Transition Strategy, manufacturers must provide owners with “a specified maintenance program that includes the inspection schedule and the maintenance procedures […] and Mandatory ActionFootnote 4 information issued by the manufacturer or TC and any corrective procedures for potential unsafe flight conditions.”Footnote 5 Aircraft owners are required to “maintain appropriate records for the aeroplane which must include scheduled maintenance, mandatory action, modifications and accident repairs.”Footnote 6
Quad City's manufacturer-specified maintenance program includes 50-hour inspections and high-time airframe inspections. In June 2014, the occurrence aircraft underwent a high-time airframe inspection after it had accumulated 1047.4 hours total time since new, and was refurbished with several new parts, new fabric, and paint. When the aircraft was returned to service, the spar and strut brackets had been replaced, and the streamline fairings over the main lift struts were new; however, the struts themselves were the originals from 2000.
The Quad City Challenger Owner's Manual lists the steps required to assemble the aircraft kit, including instructions to attach the wing spars and struts to the fuselage. The instructions specify that the bolts holding the brackets are to be tightened until snug.Footnote 7
The owner's manual also indicates that the brackets and their associated bolts and nuts are to be inspected for tightness, cracks, play, and safeties at the 50-hour inspection.Footnote 8 These are visual inspections only. The manual does not specify any recommended torque values to be used, the inspection methods to be used, or the type of inspections to be performed to identify possible cracking.
At the time of the occurrence, the aircraft had accumulated approximately 1450 hours. The aircraft's journey log showed that the occurrence pilot was completing inspections at 25-hour intervals, rather than the 50-hour intervals recommended by the manufacturer, and that one of these 25-hour inspections had been completed on 06 May 2018. The manufacturer does not require or have a specific checklist for a 25-hour inspection, and it could not be determined if these inspections were conducted using the 50-hour inspection checklist, or if the brackets were inspected as required.
The Quad City Challenger Owner's Manual states that the brackets are to be replaced completely at 500 hours time-in-service.Footnote 9 The aircraft journey log indicated that all brackets had been replaced at the high-time airframe inspection conducted in June 2014, and the aircraft had flown approximately 403 hours since that time.
As part of the investigation, both right wing lift struts (front and rear), both right wing spars (front and rear), and the respective brackets were sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario, for examination.Footnote 10 The examination of the failed right front lift strut bracket identified the following:
- A clean and straight fracture line went through the centre of the bolt hole on the bracket. There were no signs of plastic deformation shown on the bracket (Figure 4).
- Arced beach marks indicate that the edge of the bolt hole being the origins of the fatigue. The number of beach marks also indicated that the fatigue had begun some time before the occurrence, although the exact timeframe could not be determined (Figure 5).
- The fracture surface of the fatigue crack was examined under the scanning electron microscope, and a significant number of secondary cracks were found parallel to and underneath the inboard surface of the base of the bracket (Figure 6). These cracks resembled material delamination.
The examination concluded that the bracket that attached the right forward strut to the heavy load saddle on the fuselage had failed under nominal loading condition due to the presence of a large fatigue crack. The fatigue crack, which accounted for at least 60% of the cross-section of the base of the bracket, had been present in the bracket for some time before this occurrence. The secondary delamination cracks that were found in the bracket are considered abnormal for aluminum alloy.
The failure of this bracket allowed the lift strut to detach from the fuselage and the right front spar to twist and rotate upward under aerodynamic load. The right front spar tore away at the bracket attachment point to the main centre beam and caused the wing to fail. Meanwhile, because the right-wing lift forces were no longer being transferred to the fuselage, the lift forces generated by the left wing caused the aircraft to roll to the right. As the right wing continued to fold back, the rear spar and rear lift strut failed, and the wing separated from the aircraft. This right wing separation resulted in an unrecoverable loss of control and collision with terrain.
It was determined that the fatigue crack on the right front lift strut bracket went undetected during the routine inspection cycle undertaken by the pilot and failed before the 500-hour stipulated life span. Although a bolt longer than specified had been used to attach the bracket to the lift strut, there was no evidence to indicate that the bolt had been overtightened or over-torqued. It could not be determined whether the hard landing the day before the accident contributed to the bracket failure.
Examination of brackets installed on other aircraft
To determine if this issue was isolated to the occurrence aircraft, the TSB examined lift strut brackets from 6 other Quad City Challenger II aircraft. Of these, 4 were based in the Ottawa area and 2 were based in the Toronto area.Footnote 11 Twenty-one strut brackets from these aircraft, each of similar construction to the occurrence bracket, were examined visually. Some were also examined under an optical microscope or scanning electron microscope. Of the 21 brackets, 8 were found to have cracks. The cracks varied in size and origin; however, their actual lengths and depths were not determined. Some cracks resulted from fatigue, whereas others were caused by material delamination.
The time-in-service of these brackets ranged from approximately 4 hours to 829 hours,Footnote 12 and the brackets had been manufactured between 1996 and 2018.Footnote 13 At the time of this examination, none of the aircraft from which these brackets were taken were owned or operated by the original owner; they had all been through multiple changes of ownership. The investigation did not examine the individual aircraft assemblies, operating histories, or maintenance documents, nor did it examine in detail the manufacturing process of the brackets.
Previous occurrences and related activities
Canada: Transport Canada and Transportation Safety Board of Canada
A search of TC and TSB databases for occurrences from 1993 to 2018 found 245 reported incidents and accidents involving the Challenger II aircraft. None of these occurrences specified wing separation or failure of the bracket as a contributing or causal factor.
United States: National Transportation Safety Board
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a report following an investigation into an occurrence involving a Quad City Challenger on 12 June 2007 near Lodi, California, United States.Footnote 14 The aircraft was damaged when its right wing separated in flight. The report stated that the bracket had failed and had not been attached as per the aircraft's owner's manual. The report states:
The manufacturer's instructions state that the bolt should only be snug. It also warns to not over tighten these bolts holding the brackets to the hollow tubes and that there should be no more than two threads showing past the nut. The bolt on this [bracket], on the accident aircraft, had at least five to six threads showing. Additionally, the end of the hollow tube was deformed into an oval shape and not round. The remaining [brackets] did have only two threads showing and they could be rotated by hand, per the manufacturer's instructions.Footnote 15
United Kingdom: Light Aircraft Association
The Light Aircraft Association (LAA) oversees the airworthiness of amateur-built aircraft in the United Kingdom. The LAA provides airworthiness information for 3 different Challenger variants: the Quad City Challenger, the BFC Challenger II, and the BFC Challenger II-SE (Long Wing).Footnote 16
Shortly after the 2007 accident in the U.S., the LAA issued MOD/177/015, Inspection of Lift Strut Lower Attachment Brackets,Footnote 17 which introduced mandatory inspections of lift strut lower brackets for all variants. MOD/177/015 indicated that
All Quad City Challenger II aircraft in the U.K. have been modified by the addition of shaped aluminium cups between the brackets and the fuselage longerons and a washer fitted under the bolt head (MOD/177/009). This modification, whilst improving the load carrying characteristics of the bracket, had the negative effect of making it difficult to inspect for signs of cracks without first removing the bracket.
All BFC Challenger II and BFC Challenger II (Long Wing) in the U.K. have been further modified by the addition of a sleeve through the fuselage longeron preventing over tightening of the through bolt. In addition, the bracket was rotated through 90˚ to prevent the possibility of bending loads in the bracket […].Footnote 18
MOD/177/015 also included the following required action:
Remove the four lift strut lower attachment brackets and inspect using x10 magnification in good light for signs of cracking, hole elongation, distortion, scuffing or corrosion. If the bracket is defective in any way it must be replaced before further flight. It should be noted that this bracket is made from a special high strength aluminium alloy and new brackets, if required, must be sourced from the kit manufacturer.Footnote 19
The notice further specified different re-assembly procedures for the Quad City and BFC variants.
In 2018, the LAA published an updated Type Acceptance Data Sheet,Footnote 20 which provides general, mandatory, and advisory information about the aircraft type. In the “mandatory information” section, the data sheet lists all required modifications for all U.K.-registered Challenger II (Quad City and BFC) aircraft, including both MOD/177/009 and MOD/177/015. It specifies that the front lift strut attachment brackets on all U.K. Challengers, whether BFC or not, are to be fitted with load spreader washers under the bolt heads and with shaped cups under the brackets. Separate instructions for the BFC Challenger II variants specify that the brackets are to be rotated through 90°, and that a longer attachment bolt is to be used and fitted with a bush through the fuselage tube to allow the nut to be torqued up to 70 inch pounds.
The lift strut brackets used on the Quad City Challenger II have been in service for 35 years and are installed on more than 4400 aircraft worldwide, of which 608 are in Canada. In this accident, a fatigue crack on the right front lift strut bracket went undetected during the routine inspection cycle undertaken by the pilot, and the bracket failed in flight before the 500-hour stipulated life span. The failure led to the right wing separating from the aircraft, resulting in an unrecoverable loss of control and collision with terrain. Examination of additional brackets obtained from other aircraft, with various amounts of time-in-service, found that fatigue and delamination cracks are not isolated to the occurrence bracket.
As this occurrence demonstrates, it is possible for fatigue and delamination crack failures to occur on these brackets within recommended time-in-service limits and to remain undetected during basic manufacturer-recommended inspection practices. Cracks that develop on an airframe component need to be identified before the component fails completely. This is especially true when the component's failure can result in an irrecoverable loss of control in flight.
Safety actions taken or underway
On 15 November 2018, the TSB issued a safety advisoryFootnote 21 to inform TC, the manufacturer, and other stakeholders about the issue and encourage them to take the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of the bracket failure identified in this occurrence happening again.
Quad City is conducting a stress analysis on the addition of a fixture under the head of the bolt that secures the lower strut attachment brackets to the fuselage longerons. The purpose of this fixture is to reduce flexing and spread loads around the bolt hole where fatigue cracks appear to start.
TC, Quad City, the Canadian distributor of the Challenger II, and other agencies are working together to determine the causes of the failure and to publish safety alerts with amended maintenance directives and inspection processes. The purpose of the safety alerts will be to
- provide details on the possibility of cyclic loading of the lower strut attachment brackets;
- require the removal and inspection of the brackets before further flight;
- require that installation, configuration, inspection, assembly and replacement criteria and processes be amended;
- require that maintenance checklists and the high-time airframe inspection document be amended;
- require that bracket inspection and replacement intervals be amended;
- provide information on the bracket service life for aircraft used as trainers and those operating in rough terrain;
- warn against using the strut-to-fuselage junction as a step or installing fuel tanks or baggage pods on the main struts or jury struts; and
- recommend that the heavy load saddle kit be installed.
On 01 March 2019, TC published Civil Aviation Safety Alert 2019-02Footnote 22 to address the issue.
Quad City intends to issue a safety alert to Challenger owners that will explain the updated maintenance instructions.
This report concludes the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's investigation into this occurrence. The Board authorized the release of this report on . It was officially released on .
- Footnote 1
All times are Eastern Daylight Time (Coordinated Universal Time minus 4 hours).
Return to footnote 1
- Footnote 2
Depending on the planned usage, gross weight, and construction method, Challengers can be registered in Canada in any of these 3 categories.
Return to footnote 2
- Footnote 3
Data obtained from the Transport Canada Civil Aircraft Registry website, at https://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/saf-sec-sur/2/ccarcs-riacc/RchAvc.aspx (website last accessed 25 March 2019).
Return to footnote 3
- Footnote 4
“Mandatory Action means an action taken with respect to an Advanced Ultra-light Aeroplane, which, in the opinion of the manufacturer or Transport Canada, if not taken, would result in an unsafe or potentially unsafe condition.” (Source: Transport Canada, Ultra-light Aeroplane Transition Strategy [10 October 1996], section 1.5).
Return to footnote 4
- Footnote 5
Ibid., section 3.5.
Return to footnote 5
- Footnote 6
Ibid., section 3.6
Return to footnote 6
- Footnote 7
Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corporation, Challenger Owner's Manual, Step 24: How to attach Wing Spars to the root tube, p. 34.
Return to footnote 7
- Footnote 8
Ibid., Challenger 50 Hour Inspection Report.
Return to footnote 8
- Footnote 9
Ibid., Items to be inspected and replaced on high-time airframes.
Return to footnote 9
- Footnote 10
TSB Laboratory Report LP 189/2018 – Failure Analysis – Wing Attachment.
Return to footnote 10
- Footnote 11
All of these aircraft were long-wing variants and ranged in age up to 22 years. Five of the 6 aircraft were operated almost exclusively on floats and skis; the 6th was operated off airport on skis and wheels. Three aircraft had brackets that had exceeded the service life of 500 hours.
Return to footnote 11
- Footnote 12
The brackets had the following times-in-service: 4 hours (1 bracket), 90 hours (1 bracket), 430 hours (2 brackets), 514 hours (2 brackets), and 829 hours (2 brackets)
Return to footnote 12
- Footnote 13
There have been no known changes to the bracket manufacturing process since 1983.
Return to footnote 13
- Footnote 14
U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB Accident Number: SEA07LA155.
Return to footnote 14
- Footnote 15
Ibid., Factual Information, p. 3.
Return to footnote 15
- Footnote 16
The BFC Challenger is a U.K. variant and has undergone several design modifications since the original Quad City Challenger design. The LAA's airworthiness information includes common instructions for all variants, as well as separate instructions for the BFC Challenger variants only, which may not be applicable to the Quad City variant.
Return to footnote 16
- Footnote 17
Light Aircraft Association, MOD/177/015, Inspection of Lift Strut Lower Attachment Brackets (11 April 2008).
Return to footnote 17
- Footnote 18
Return to footnote 18
- Footnote 19
Return to footnote 19
- Footnote 20
Light Aircraft Association, LAA Type Acceptance Data Sheet, Control range of movements updated & clarification of flap indicator requirement, Issue 2 (08 October 2018).
Return to footnote 20
- Footnote 21
TSB Aviation Safety Advisory A18O0106-D1-A1 – Quad City Challenger II Advanced Ultralight – Bracket Failure.
Return to footnote 21
- Footnote 22
Transport Canada, Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) No. 2019-02, Quad City Challenger II Lift Strut Brackets (effective date 01 March 2019).
Return to footnote 22
- Very nice. Wish I had one.
- Nice! What engine do you have on that bad boy?
Ultralight aircraft challenger
Quad City Challenger
The Quad City Challenger is a family of one and two seats-in-tandem, pusher configuration, tricycle landing gearultralight aircraft that is designed and produced by Quad City Aircraft Corporation of Moline, Illinois. The Challenger was first introduced in 1983.
Design and development
The Challenger ultralight is a high wing, tricycle gear kit aircraft with a frame structure built from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy tubing fastened with aircraft grade AN bolts and rivets and covered with either presewn Dacron envelopes or standard aircraft fabric. The engine is mounted in pusher configuration and turns the propeller through a reduction drive that uses a cogged tooth rubber belt.
The kit can be purchased in 4 major sub-kits: the Tail Assembly, Fuselage, Wings, and Engine. The factory kit is supplied with the most difficult mechanical work already completed. This includes the primary fuselage framework along with the controls and the basic wing structures assembled at the factory. The kit builder is required to finish the smaller structural components, cover the aluminum frames with fabric, seal and paint the fabric and do the final assembly.
The aircraft has the ability to soar with its motor switched off.
The Challenger design has been criticized by reviewers for its landing gear, which is a rigid cable-braced type and is subject to being bent during hard landings. A number of after-market suppliers have designed steel gear legs as replacements for the stock landing gear in an attempt to rectify this problem. The improved factory-designed Light Sport Special (LSS) model incorporates revised landing gear to address this deficiency.
In November 2018 the design was subject to a Transportation Safety Board of Canada Aviation Safety Advisory due to an accident on 30 July 2018 where a Challenger crashed and the pilot was killed. The investigation determined that the right front lift strut lower bracket had failed due to fatigue after only 402.2 hours in service. The bracket has a 500 hour component life and is subject to 50 hour periodic inspections. Examination of 22 other Challengers found eight that also had cracked brackets.
- Challenger I (Challenger UL)
- Single seat, 31.5 ft (9.6 m) wingspan gives lower stall speed. Can be fitted with a variety of engines. Qualifies as a US "Experimental - Amateur-Built", Light sport aircraft or with the 22 hp (16 kW) Hirth F-33 engine as a US FAR 103 Ultralight Vehicle, 800 reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
- Challenger I Special
- Single seat, 26 ft (7.9 m) wingspan gives faster roll rate. Engines 40 hp (30 kW) Rotax 447, 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503, 64 hp (48 kW) 582 or 60 hp (45 kW) HKS 700E. Qualifies as a US Experimental - Amateur-Built or Light sport aircraft, 300 reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
- Challenger II
- Two seats in tandem, 31.5 ft (9.6 m) wingspan provides more lift and lower stall speed. Can be equipped with floats. Engines 40 hp (30 kW) Rotax 447, 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503, 64 hp (48 kW) 582 or 60 hp (45 kW) HKS 700E. Qualifies as a US Experimental - Amateur-Built or Light sport aircraft, 2000 reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
- Challenger II Special
- Two seats in tandem, 26 ft (7.9 m) wingspan gives faster roll rate. Engines 40 hp (30 kW) Rotax 447, 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503, 64 hp (48 kW) 582 or 60 hp (45 kW) HKS 700E. Qualifies as a US Experimental - Amateur-Built or Light sport aircraft, 350 reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
- Challenger II CW LSS
- Two seats in tandem, 26 ft (7.9 m). Engine 50 hp (37 kW) Rotax 503, 64 hp (48 kW) 582 or 60 hp (45 kW) HKS 700E. This model incorporates many revisions to the basic Challenger design, including a larger and re-shaped vertical fin, fiberglasswing tips and redesigned landing gear. Qualifies as a US Light sport aircraft, 110 reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
- Challenger II LSS XL-65
- Two seats in tandem, 29 ft (8.8 m). Engine 65 hp (48 kW) Rotax 582. Qualifies as a US Light sport aircraft, ten reported completed and flown by the fall of 2011.
Specifications (Challenger II)
Data from Challenger.ca
- Crew: one
- Capacity: one passenger and 500 lb (227 kg) useful load
- Length: 20 ft (6.1 m)
- Wingspan: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)
- Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
- Wing area: 177 sq ft (16.4 m2)
- Empty weight: 460 lb (209 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 960 lb (435 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rotax 503 twin cylinder, inline, two stroke, piston aircraft engine, 50 hp (37 kW)
- Maximum speed: 96 mph (154 km/h, 83 kn)
- Cruise speed: 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn)
- Stall speed: 28 mph (45 km/h, 24 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 100 mph (160 km/h, 87 kn)
- Range: 200 mi (320 km, 170 nmi)
- Rate of climb: 750 ft/min (3.8 m/s)
- Wing loading: 5.42 lb/sq ft (26.5 kg/m2)
- Power/mass: 19.2 lb/hp (0.087 kW/kg)
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
- ^ abcdefghVandermeullen, Richard: 2011 Kit Aircraft Buyer's Guide, Kitplanes, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2011, page 66 Belvoir Publications. ISSN 0891-1851
- ^Challenger Advanced Ultralight & Light Sport Aircraft - National Ultralight Canada & Quad City U.S
- ^ abcdeKitplanes Staff: 2008 Kit Aircraft Directory, page 67, Kitplanes Magazine December 2007 Volume 24, Number 12, Belvior Publications, Aviation Publishing Group LLC.
- ^ abCliche, Andre: Ultralight Aircraft Shopper's Guide 8th Edition, pages B-11 & B-71. Cybair Limited Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-9680628-1-4
- ^National Ultralight (n.d.). "Ten Best Reasons". Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- ^Cliche, Andre: Ultralight Aircraft Shopper's Guide 8th Edition, pages B-75. Cybair Limited Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-9680628-1-4
- ^Freedom Flight (n.d.). "Back 40 Gear Leg - The Best Gear Available for your Challenger". Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- ^ abBayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 116. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
- ^Drinkwater, Steve (15 November 2018). "Quad City Challenger Wing Separation". Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- ^ abcdQuad City Aircraft Corporation (n.d.). "Basic Models". Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- ^Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, page 121. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
- ^National Ultralight (n.d.). "Challenger II Performance". Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- ^National Ultralight (n.d.). "Challenger II Specifications". Retrieved 2009-09-24.
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