Light aircraft kit manufacturers come in many shapes and sizes, and are as diverse as the airplanes they manufacture. What may distinguish Quicksilver from the others is the success of Quicksilver products and Quicksilver’s overall accomplishments. A few significant elements have contributed greatly to the success of the Quicksilver brand. The primary elements were:
• Manufacturing a complete kit that includes everything needed to make it a flyable machine
• Packaging the kit so it can be easily distributed anywhere in the world; and
• Developing a dealership network that places qualified individuals between the factory and the new user
Everything with the outermost quality.
Quicksilver requires all customers to receive flight training or a checkout if they are already a licensed pilot. Flying the aircraft requires that you can perform proper operation throughout the flight, consistently, and without assistance. This “operation” also includes pre-flight inspection procedures, engine starting, a typical flight, all the way to securing the aircraft.
There is no fixed flight training requirement for a new pilot wanting to fly a Part 103 ultralight in the US. Experience has shown that the average person takes 7 -15 hours of dual training to get ready for solo. The minimum FAA certificate to pilot a two-place Quicksilver aircraft is a Sport Pilot License. This rating requires a minimum of 15 hours of dual training and 5 hours of supervised solo training. Everyone is different and the actual amount of training time varies widely. Sometimes a person needs to overcome individual challenges but with proper training most people are capable of learning to fly.
The answer below will address the basic configuration of each kit. Naturally, if optional equipment is installed, and after-market products are included, the assembly time will increase. Also, the experience of the builder will affect the build time. If the builder has assembled other aircraft before, he will know what to expect. A first-time builder will take considerable time to interpret the instructions and will likely perform the task at slower rate. Work environment and space available will also affect the build time.
||Average Man Hours
|Standard 1 place MX
||30 - 40 hrs
|Standard 2-place MX
||60 - 80 hrs
||60 - 90 hrs
||160 - 190hrs
All of the Quicksilver kits are “Bolt Together” assembly kits which makes it the best choice for a first time builder.
There are no specialized skills or training necessary to build a Quicksilver kit. General mechanical skills, the ability to read and understand the Assembly Instructions, and a little patience is all that is necessary. There are only a few holes that need to be drilled. There is no precision machining, no painting and no fabrication of components needed. A list of the simple hand tools that will be needed is included with each set of Assembly Instructions.
An important part of the project is to have an Authorized Quicksilver Dealer inspect the finished airplane before its first flight. Furthermore, an experienced and qualified pilot should perform the initial flights.
Quicksilver has both enclosure options and open cockpit configurations. The MX and Sport 2S models feature an open cockpit configuration while the popular GT ultralights come standard with the large fiberglass fairing and a full windscreen.
There are several considerations in terms of the seating arrangement in an airplane. From a scientific and aerodynamic viewpoint, the tandem seating arrangement would be preferred. With the occupants seated one behind the other, the overall drag is less than if the seats are oriented beside each other. Generally, the cockpit is more narrow, presenting less frontal area and drag for an increase in overall performance (with all other factors remaining constant).
For the GT500, by distributing the mass of the occupants longitudinally and placing the rear seat at (or very near) the center of gravity, the airplane’s trim is less affected in the absence of the rear occupant. Visibility is also improved for both occupants with a clear view both left and right with tandem seating. With a good intercom and headset system, communication is effortless between student and instructor or pilot and passenger. For students having trained in the front seat, soloing the aircraft will feel natural and may provide some psychological advantages.
With the MX series 2-seaters, the control system is simplified by having both occupants share the control stick for elevator and aileron control. If one considers the experience or the social aspect of sharing the flight experience with others, the side-by-side seating arrangement has benefits. Both pilot and passenger, or in many cases instructor and student, have the same view of the flight. The pilot (or instructor) can see the body language and facial expressions of the passenger (or student) to determine if the passenger is uptight or relaxed, and can adjust the flight (or instruction) accordingly. A bonus is to be able to exchange hand gestures as well, pointing out various things like traffic, a particular cockpit gauge, or geographic feature. A nod of the head, a thumbs-up or other subtle gesture may enhance the experience. Side-by-side seating is more sociable than tandem seating and provides a better environment for flight instruction to both the student and instructor.
The tools to build a Quicksilver kit are all available at your local hardware store. No special tools are required. here is a list:
Electric or Cordless Drill, Drill Bits: 1/16”, 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4″, & 5/16”, Hammer, Pliers: Regular & Needle Nose, Pop Rivet Tool, Nylon Leech Line, Rope (10 ft.), Medium Grit Sandpaper for downtubes (optional), Scissors, Screwdrivers: Flat & Phillips, Side cutters, Sparkplug Gapping Tool, Tape: Electric & Masking , Tape Measure, Torque Wrench , Vice Grips, Wire Crimpers, Angle Finder, Acetone, Lacquer Thinner or “Duracryl” (for cleaning), C-Clamps (optional), Awl, Duct Tape (for seats), Center Punch, Exacto Knife, Utility Knife or Razor Blade, Hot Knife (soldering iron with “pencil” tip, Files: Fine Flat, 1/2″ Round & Rat Tail, Lubricant (WD-40 or equiv.) , Pencil , Hacksaw , 2 Wooden Horses, Wrenches: 3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2″, 9/16”, 11/16”, 3/4″ & 1 1/16” & 10mm & 17mm, Sockets: 3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2″ & 9/16”, Sockets for Torque Wrench: 3/4″ & 1 1/16”, Allen or Hex Wrench: 1/4″, 1/8” (to fit Torque Wrench) 6mm
Note: Clean shop towels, rags or paper towels will come in handy to clean various parts and aid in installation of the wing ribs. Also, some strips of old carpet, or old bed sheets, painters’ drop sheets, or similar protective cover will be useful in keeping the wings and other parts clean and free of damage during assembly.
Most aircraft are stored, completely assembled and operational, inside a building or hangar. Some people will leave their assembled and operational planes tied down outdoors. Others may choose to remove the wings and tail for storage in a trailer or garage. Quicksilvers, as all fabric covered planes, will need to be sheltered from direct, prolonged sunlight. Protective covers are available to provide a barrier from the sun that will eventually degrade the polyester fabric. Protective coating (paint) with ultraviolet inhibitors is also an option to help preserve the fabric from deteriorating.
All Quicksilver models are easily dis-assembled for transport or storage. Step-by-step procedures are provided with each kit to instruct the owner/operator in the field assembly process. For the MX series models, the control linkages are disconnected, the tail removed, and the wings detached. The GT series allows the tail section to remain intact. This is easily accomplished with two people and can be done by a single person (in calm weather) with the aid of wing supports. The field assembly process may require an hour to perform as items must be carefully inspected, double-checked, and adjusted. The disassembly process normally takes about 30 minutes.
The Quicksilver kits fit into the category of: Tube and Fabric assembly type kits.
The tube is primarily Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 aluminum. All of the aluminum components have an anodized finish, many of them with the Quicksilver signature blue color.
Some of the central structural components and welded assemblies are constructed with 4130N Chro-moly Steel. These steel components are either gold cadmium plated or black powder coated: a durable coating bonded to the steel tubing. The fabric covering envelopes are constructed with 3.8 oz. Stabilized Polyester fabric. The covers are available in a variety of colors. These envelopes are pre-sewn to fit with a heavy-duty polyester thread and are reinforced in several areas. The rib pockets are pre-sewn into the fabric wing coverings. The wing ribs will not need to be ‘’stitched’’ to the wing covers as the pockets ‘’capture’’ the ribs.
The Cable assemblies, either structural support cables or control cables, are constructed with stainless steel stranded cable, stainless steel thimbles and tangs, and swaged with nickel plated copper compression sleeves. The structural cables are either 3/32’’ or 1/8’’ diameter. The control cables are generally fabricated using 3/32’’ diameter 7 x 19 stainless steel cable.
The various fittings and fasteners are fabricated with high quality materials. Some fittings are aluminum in a small variety of alloys, some are in stainless steel. All the fasteners meet stringent military specifications.
None of the Quicksilver models are aerobatic. The operating limitations for all the Quicksilver models are derived from extensive analytical data, static, and dynamic testing both on the ground and in flight. Most of the models meet the structural requirements for utility category aircraft as defined by the FAA. These aircraft are not rated for aerobatics. Spins in Quicksilver aircraft are prohibited. The aircraft should always be operated within the limitations published for each model.
Light aircraft kit manufacturers come in many shapes and sizes, and are as diverse as the airplanes they manufacture. What may distinguish Quicksilver from the others is the success of Quicksilver products and Quicksilver’s overall accomplishments. A few significant elements have contributed greatly to the success of the Quicksilver brand. The primary elements were: 1) Manufacturing a complete kit that includes everything needed to make it a flyable machine; 2) Packaging the kit so it can be easily distributed anywhere in the world; and 3) Developing a dealership network that places qualified individuals between the factory and the new user.
For Quicksilver to provide good, solid, and complete kits, they developed an engineering department that specifies the components and develops specific, accurate, bills of materials. A Quality Assurance Department was also developed to inspect the components and assemblies for correctness. A manufacturing system was established to package and deliver the kits in a consistent manner. Each of these departments is required to follow operating procedures. These procedures and systems were eventually approved by the FAA to qualify the company for an aircraft production certificate to build complete flight systems. It was this level of documentation and adherence to procedures that made this FAA approval possible. The same policies and procedures that were developed in the early 80s prior to approval are still followed today.
Regardless of the design features, the significance is that the product was consistent. Each kit fit together and functioned nearly identically to the previous kit, and any changes that were made had been documented to ensure that there would be no confusion as to which “revision level” the customer had purchased. Additionally, a thorough set of assembly instructions were developed for each model and service bulletins were distributed to support continued airworthiness.
The packaging of the kits was also a very popular move. Many home builders have spent so much time “chasing down” components and hardware that they never end up finish the kit. The mission at Quicksilver is to provide everything needed in the kit. With the Quicksilver kits, the parts and hardware are packaged in numerical order, under a transparent skin, and attached to cardboard panels. Customers appreciate the ease of assembly, the completeness of the kits, and the organization of the components. This results in a positive experience for first time builder and experienced builders. Quicksilver has developed a strong dealer network. At a critical time when the “kit becomes and aircraft,” the dealers assist builders in the inspection, the initial operation, the engine break-in, and the first flight tests. The dealers also offer flight instruction to ensure that customers have the skills necessary to operate their new plane. This environment prevents many tragedies and contributes greatly to the success of the product.
The original Quicksilver was first designed as a rigid-wing hang-glider in the early 1970s at a company called Eipper-Formance.
The first 3-axis control Quicksilver became known as the MX (Multiple aXis). These had a rigid, fiberglass seat, a control stick for elevator and rudder, and independent spoiler (spoileron) pedals. The Quicksilver MX was a huge success. In 1981, there were more MXs delivered than all of the single engine aircraft sold by Piper, Cessna, and Beechcraft combined that year.
. In the mid-90s, the Quicksilver company achieved a milestone in sport aviation. The GT500 was put through heavy scrutiny by an FAA aircraft certification office to qualify for a type certificate. The company itself was able to acquire a production certificate to build a complete Primary Aircraft Sport Plane. No other aircraft kit manufacturer has ever been successful to that degree.
Read more detail on Quicksilver History here.
All Quicksilvers are quick-build and are designed as very simple assembly kits that require no special skills or tools, and the whole process can be completed within a couple of weeks.. The Quicksilver kits are the easiest and quickest assembly kits available in the Light Sport Aircraft market. There is no fabrication required. Nearly all of the holes are pre-drilled in the tubing and all of the fabric envelopes are pre-sewn. However, Quicksilver does not offer pre-assembled sub-assemblies.
Generally, no, however, the GT400 was available in either a cable braced configuration or strut braced. If you had a cable braced GT, you could convert that model to a strut braced version. You could even convert a strut braced GT400 to cables. These airframes accept both construction methods and the parts are still available for both. The current GT400 is available in a strut braced configuration only. The GT500 has only been available with wing struts. The MX series airplanes have been cable braced for many years. In 2001, a completely redesigned Sport 2S became available and shares very few parts with its cable braced counterparts. The Sport 2S has a completely different wing structure than the cable braced models. There are no conversion kits available to convert any of the Quicksilver models form cables to struts. Any aftermarket kits that may become available have not been tested, and are not approved by the Quicksilver factory.
The Quicksilver kits are currently available with the Rotax-Bombardier brand of engines.
Several power plants are available with the Quicksilver kits, all of which are from the Austrian manufacturer: Rotax-Bombardier. Aalthough there are many similarities to snowmobiles and watercraft, the ultralight engines are manufactured specifically for light aircraft applications. The manufacturing specifications and distribution network are dedicated to the light aircraft industry throughout the world. Quicksilver uses the Rotax engines exclusively as the power plants are light, powerful, consistently reliable, and are supported by a worldwide parts distribution network.
The Quicksilver single-place models are offered with the Rotax 447 model as standard equipment. The 447 is a fan-cooled, Twin-cylinder, two cycle engine with an electronic ignition. The 447 is rated at 42 horsepower. Both the Quicksilver Sprint and Quicksilver Sport use a multiple v-belt reduction drive system and a 2-blade wood propeller. The GT 400 is standard with a Rotax B-type reduction gearbox, and a wood prop. The 447s do not come equipped with an oil injection pump. For the Quicksilver MX II Sprint and MXL II Sport, the engines are the 50 horsepower Rotax 503 and the 65 horsepower Rotax 582. The R503 is fan-cooled and the R582 is water-cooled. Both are twin-cylinder, two-cycle, dual ignition and dual carbureted engines. Oil injection is an option on both engines and both come standard with the B-type reduction gearbox turning 68’’ diameter wood propellers.
The standard power plant for the Sport 2S and GT500 is the Rotax 582. This is a 65 horsepower, liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder, two-stroke engine with a dual electronic ignition system and dual carburetors. This power plant is delivered with a complete cooling system, the oil injection pump, and the Rotax B-type gearbox. These 582s are optional equipment for the MX II Sprint and MLX II Sport and are Quicksilver’s most popular engine. The GT500 has the Rotax 912 engine available as an option. The 912 is an opposed (or flat) four-cylinder, four-cycle engine. The ‘’UL’’ version is rated at 80 horsepower and the ‘’ULS’’ is listed at 100 horsepower. This engine is primary oil-cooled and also has liquid-cooled cylinder heads, hydraulic lifters, dual electronic ignition and an integral reduction drive system.
Do not try to powder coat the aluminum tubing. Quicksilver uses aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum alloy for many of the airframe and landing gear components. The “T6” is a specific, carefully controlled heat-treat process. Most powder coating processes use considerable heat and duration during the coating process and in most cases this will affect the heat treating of the aluminum tubing. It is important not to alter the physical properties of the airframe and landing gear materials. There may be acceptable painting processes that reach temperatures (or temperatures and exposure duration) that do not affect the properties of 6061-T6. A better option is to paint the tubing or have the tubes wrapped in a 3M vinyl graphic.
The original Quicksilver planform lends itself to the pusher configuration mostly because the designer wants the pilot (and passenger) to be out in front with an unobstructed view of the world, and to have the experience having undisturbed air pass between them in flight. This pusher configuration does not required that the occupants be protected from the accelerated airflow from the propeller: the prop blast. The pilot may choose to use a fairing and or windscreen, but it is not absolutely necessary as it would be with a tractor configuration. This undisturbed airflow passes across the wing too, giving the pilot a better feel for the airflow across the wing.
The pusher configuration also has the benefit of having the prop wash blowing directly across the tail control surface, aiding in the control authority at the low speeds where these planes operate. One other benefit related to safety is that the propeller arc is located within the confines of the tail booms. When propeller is turning, it nearly disappears or turns invisible. With the propeller tucked-in behind the wing, and between the tail booms, the chance of someone “walking into” the propeller area is reduced. This is beneficial when entering and exiting the airplane while the engine running.
Among the many considerations in the aircraft design, strength and rigidity are only two. Weight and drag would be a couple more important issues, especially in a light aircraft. It is not fair to say that one method of support is “stronger” than the other, rather, both methods would need to withstand the same loads. It is true that steel is stronger than aluminum for the same dimension component so, it can be said that the small steal cable structure will support the same loads as its larger aluminum strut counterpart.
The original Quicksilver design was a cable braced tubular structure. Being light weight was of great importance, which kept the early designers with the cable braced structures. This “sail boat technology” proved to be quite light, was plenty strong, presented a small frontal area (low drag), and was inexpensive to manufacture. The cable braced design, being attached at the wing in four locations, keeps its geometry very well under both positive and negative aerodynamic loads (g-forces).
As the Quicksilver products evolved, the designers wanted to offer a product that was more like a “real airplane.” The tubular lift struts were developed for the GT400, which eliminated the upper cables and kingpost support. It made the total height of the plane shorter, and it looked much better to the general aviation public. In later years, those lift struts became streamlined and appear on the GT500 and Sport2S models. The strut bracing did add weight to the airplanes, but the advantages are in the simplified field assembly, and are sometimes more appealing to the public.
Generally, tricycle gear configured airplanes are easier to land and they handle ground maneuvering much easier. It used to be that “Bush Planes” were all just tail draggers. The heavier, faster planes operating out of unimproved landing areas were usually tail draggers. The nose gear on a heavier airplane was considered vulnerable to damage on rough of soft surfaces. Quicksilvers have a lightly loaded nose wheel that can easily be “pinned” to the ground for steering or lifted to “float” above rough or soft surfaces. These planes have easy ground handling and are effective on unimproved surfaces.
Transitioning from flying a Cessna to a flying a Quicksilver can be surprisingly different. A Quicksilver is a high drag, slow-flying aircraft that requires even the most experienced pilot to have some dual flight time to adapt.