Wooden aircraft and wood used in model planes were one of the inspirations behind the WISA Woodsat project. Especially the French aircraft manufacturer Robin, which has been building wooden general aviation aircraft since 1957 and is doing so also now.
Robin DR401 is a sleek and beautiful four-seater, featuring a legendary Robin "cranked wing" configuration, where the V-angle of the outer wing is much greater than the inboard wing.
Interestingly the wing and whole plane structure is made of wood: birch and ocoume plywoods, Oregon pine, and European spruce. Naturally, the birch plywood Robin is using comes from Finland.
One wing weighs only 100 kg and requires 250 hours of work to build.
The fuselage, tail and horizontal stabilizer are wooden as well. Some parts of the body and lower side of the wing are covered with canvas, and naturally some metal parts are used for instance in engine support and landing gear.
Finally a DR401 weighs 800 to 1100 kg depending on a avionics and engine choice. You can fly with a up to 1600 km with a top speed of 250 km/h and take 470 kg of payload – again, depending on a model and conditions. About 500 metres of runway is engouh for a take-off.
We met Robin's CEO and President Casimir Pellissier at the AERO 2022 aviation fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany. He says that wood is coming back to fashion and despite many people think it is an old and obsolete construction material, it is very capable and in many cases better than metal or composites.
Unlike any other aircraft, wooden plane doesn't have lifetime limits as wood doesn't experience fatigue like metals and it supports especially well vibration and turbulence.
And this is just what we have also found out with WISA Woodsat ... wood is good for space, too.
Merci, Casimir, et au revoir a Darois!