As we approach the final stages of the build we can start to put the final finishing touches to the aircraft. The Lexan for windscreen comes tinted as standard and is supplied in large sheets which have a template for the various sections marked on them. Homebuilt aircraft by their very nature are all a little different so the glazing needs to be roughly cut to size and then fine-tuned by cutting and sanding the edges for a perfect finish. It’s a time consuming job but we’re very happy with the results. The windscreen is now in place as are the windows behind the doors. These we’re particularly challenging to install as the Lexan bends up behind the flap and onto the roof. The next step will be to build up and fit the doors. We’ve gone for the split door option which allows the top half of the door to open as a window.

As we announced a few weeks ago, SkyBound has become the Irish agent for Kanardia Avionics so we’re using this opportunity to install many of their instruments in our panel. We’re using an iPad mini 3G which will run SkyDemon as our main navigation unit. Then along the top we have Kanardia gauges such as the Airspeed Indicator with digital read out in the centre. This has been custom designed by Kanardia for the speed range of the SkyRanger. Beside that we have an Altimeter again with a digital readout. Below that we have the jewel in the crown of our panel, the Horis artificial horizon! RPM is derived from a standard Rotax RPM gauge. Beside that we have a Kanardia VSI with digital readout. We’ve gone for the f.u.n.k.e ATR833 OLED 8.33kHz radio and a f.u.n.k.e. Mode S transponder. To the right of the iPad is the EMS – Engine Management System. This can be configured to display a wide variety of information including RPM, Manifold Pressure, Oil Pressure, Fuel Pressure, Oil Temperature, CHT, EGT, Fuel Quantity and Battery voltage. On another screen, you can get EGT from each cylinder if you install the sensors. There’s also a logbook feature that automatically logs flights for you, you can even select the pilot! The EMS is also on the same CAN BUS as the Horis so you can display the Artificial Horizon on the EMS as well! There’s not too many microlights in the country that have two Artificial Horizons!

We trial fitted the panel to see how much room was available. The kit comes with a carbon fibre panel but we opted for a stainless one which gives the panel a cleaner finish.

The DAQU, or Data Acquisition Unit, takes all of the feeds from the various inputs and converts them to digital signals for transmission to the instruments.

Trial fitting of the interior which gave us an idea of the final finish

The completed windscreen

The early stages of the stainless panel before being sent for powder coating

The EMSIS can be used to display the Artificial Horizon as well

The nice view of the Kanardia ASI, Altimeter and Artificial Horizon. They all have very clear, bright displays. The AH has a calibration feature that we’ll run when the aircraft is complete.

Another view of the EMSIS, this is the main page which shows the primary engine parameters

The aft windows fitted, a tricky job with complex curves

The EMSIS Engine Management System has many features including the ability to log your flight time and select the pilot flying.

The panel powered up for the first time, impressive results!