Merlin F.A.Q.

I like answering questions. Call me nearly anytime or send me an e-mail.
You will get an answer sooner or later, and it might even be for the question you ask.

How far can I fly with the Merlin? What is the endurance and range?

There are 3 big variables: 1) your power setting, and 2) what engine you are setting the power to, and 3) how big is your bladder? Here is the quick answer: 2 hours plus reserve @ 105 mph with the Rotax 582. 4 hours with the 4-stroke 0-100 or HKS. Cruise should be about the same but fuel consumption is around 2.5 GHP vs 4 to 5 GPH with the 582. Realistically 3 hours is the endurance for most pilots to sit in one spot with no breaks.

How fast is it?

The published top cruise speed is 120 mph. That would be true airspeed with a cruise prop set to best cruise setting. Realistically expect 100 to 110 at lower altitudes, lower power settings, and with prop set somewhere between best climb and best cruise for good overall performance.

Will I fit in the cockpit?

Probably. Most people do. I have not yet had anyone try it and not fit. The width and height is greater per person than most LSA or even general aviation aircraft. From personal experience it is easier to get in and out of and there is more headroom than a SportCruiser.

How much fuel does the Merlin carry and can auxiliary tanks be added?

13 gallons. That is really plenty of fuel for most missions. I am planning to fly the Merlin on floats to Oshkosh this summer. I will have a few extra fuel stops than usual but there are plenty of airports along the way and I am ready to stretch my legs after 2 hours anyway. As you are the builder of the Merlin you could add extra fuel tanks behind the main spar. Or choose a 4-stroke engine and burn less fuel.

Do the wings fold or remove?

They do not fold. They can be unbolted for long-term storage or transport. It takes about 20 minutes per wing. Not something you would do each weekend. Note that the wing span is only 25.5 feet so the Merlin does not take up much hangar space plus it is light and easy to move without a towbar. Should not be hard to share a hangar with a low wing like an RV.

When can I buy a Merlin with a 4-stroke engine?

Now. The HKS is already available for many years and is a well-proven engine with an excellent reputation. The HKS is already installed on a Merlin. We are just finishing the cowl.

The Pegasus 0-100 engine is progressing nicely and I expect to have some 0-100 engines very soon.

Do I have to buy and attend the builder’s assist program?

No, you can build the Merlin on your own. The $34,900 price includes the build program. Deduct $7,500 if you prefer to build yourself.

What are my panel options and how big is the panel?

We only make recommendations as you are free to build your own panel. I would install a glass panel with EFIS/EMS/GPS. There are several like Garmin, Dynon, MGL, Grand Rapids. OR use a tablet like an Ipad. Plus a transceiver and transponder. And an ECO autopilot if you want to splurge. This blog post has panel photos and dimensions:

How big is the baggage compartment?

Big enough to carry a roll-on bag and still have room for some camping gear! 25 lb. capacity and the CG range accommodates it well. See dimensions and photos in this blog post:

Is there a taildragger version with tundra-tires?

Yes, the taildragger version is available now. You can choose standard or tundra tires. See how it looks in the photo gallery.

Will the Merlin be certified as a SLSA?

If there is enough demand. But with only 2 weeks to build the Merlin having it available ready-to-fly may not be that important. Low cost is a big feature of the Merlin and LSA approval would add to the price. The Merlin fits ‘inside the box’ of the LSA rules so it can be flown with a sport pilot license and no medical. Plus, the experimental classification means the builder (you) qualifies for a repairman’s certificate so you can do your own maintenance and customizations.

Is the nosewheel steerable and are the differential brakes?

Yes to both questions. The differential braking is there primarily for the amphibious floats and taildragger options.

When will electric-power be available?

Soon I hope. If all goes well, and it hasn’t so far but that is normal with complex R&D projects, sometime before the end of this year.


Is the Merlin ‘too hot to handle’?

I am surprised by this question as the Merlin still fits inside the LSA rules but after consideration I can see how some might think this. But, in fact, I am sure that nearly any current sport pilot with time in LSA-class aircraft can fly the Merlin easily. Even I managed it.

How is the performance on floats?

I can hardly wait to find out. But, in general, floats reduce climb and cruise by 20%.

What is the meaning of life?

42 (according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)