CubCrafters Unveils Carbon Cub UL

The Carbon Cub UL is the first airplane to be powered by the Rotax 916iS engine.

The Carbon Cub UL is the first to be powered by the Rotax 916iS engine. [Credit: Stephen Yeates]

CubCrafters debuted its newest aircraft design—the Carbon Cub UL— at the 2023 Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo held in Lakeland, Florida this week.

The Carbon Cub was first introduced in 2009 and quickly became a favorite of the backcountry aviation set. The newest Cub variant made by the Yakima, Washington-based light sport aircraft (LSA) manufacturer was also designed to capture a larger share of the European ultralight market, the company said. 

The aircraft is also the first to be powered by the Rotax 916iS engine.

The aircraft on display at Sun 'n Fun was flown across the country to the airshow by Brad Damm, CubCrafter's vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to the journey, Damm—an accomplished pilot—primarily had experience flying CubCrafter aircraft powered by Lycoming engines.

“It was my first real experience behind the Rotax, and now I am part of their big fan club,” he said. “The Rotax 916iS is a 160 hp turbocharged engine. It can handle density altitude. It can make takeoff power up to 17,000 feet.”

Rotax 916iS engine.[Credit: Stephen Yeates]

Damm carried supplemental oxygen on the trip, allowing him to safely climb up to 17,500 feet.

“My true airspeed was 150 mph. I had a nice tailwind, so my ground speed was showing as 230 mph.”

The trip to Florida is a warm-up before the intensive aircraft testing begins. When the airplane gets back to Washington, it will be put through rigorous testing to fine-tune the design.

“I’d say you are looking at 70 percent of what to expect,” Damm said, adding that testing is expected to be completed by 2023, with deliveries to follow in early 2025.

About the Airplane

The Carbon Cub UL was made possible through a collaboration of CubCrafters and BRP-Rotax, the makers of its new 160 hp turbocharged engine. The engine manufacturer makes two- and four-stroke engines that power everything from sport aircraft and snowmobiles to watercraft.

CubCrafters said the aircraft reflects their goal of creating a new airplane that features multi-fuel technology (mogas and avgas) and fully meets (American Society for Testing and Materials) ASTM standards while carrying two adults with a full fuel load and a reasonable amount of baggage at a takeoff weight of 600 kg (1,320 pounds).

Deliveries of Carbon Cub UL are expected in early 2025. [Credit: Stephen Yeates]

“The new 916iS engine is lighter, more fuel efficient, and can produce more power than the normally aspirated CC340 engine on the Carbon Cub SS in higher density altitude scenarios,” Damm said.

The Carbon Cub UL has full authority digital engine control (FADEC).  “There is no mixture,” Damm explained. “A computer monitors the engine, which makes it very efficient. Instead of burning 12 gallons an hour, it burns closer to eight or nine.”

While the production version of the latest aircraft is slated to be initially built, certified, and test flown as a LSA, it will also meet ultralight category requirements in many international jurisdictions, according to the company.

“The aircraft can remain in the LSA category for our customers in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and even the United States, but it can also be deregistered, exported, and then re-registered as an ultralight category aircraft in many jurisdictions in Europe, South America, and elsewhere,” Damm said. “Our kit aircraft program has always been strong in overseas markets, and now we are very excited to have a fully factory-assembled and tested aircraft to offer to our international customers.”

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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