Smoke On Go

A relook at the Colomban MC-15 ‘Cri-Cri’

The MC-15 Cri-Cri was given the nickname of his daughter Christine. Cri-Cri is also the French term for the sound of a cricket or a cicada.Funny enough for an older designed aircraft, the homebuilt Cri Cri is built using Klegecell foam with an aluminium skin glued over it. This is accepted as quite modern even in todays standards of composite construction.

The Cri-Cri features tricycle landing gear, a bubble canopy and two engines mounted on nose pylons. The wing employs a Wortmann 21.7 mod airfoil. The aircraft is aerobatic,  stressed to +10g and -5g.

The Cri-Cri made its first flight on 19 July 1973 and the prototype was powered by two Rowena 6507J single cylinder two-stroke engines, each giving 6.7 kW (9.0 hp) and weighing 6.5 kg (14.3 lb).

Since then the Cri Cri continues in widespread use as a private sport aircraft. Its normal propulsion is from two 15-hp JPX PUL 212 single-cylinder engines driving twin-bladed propellers which give it a top speed of 140 mph, a cruising speed of 120 mph, and a range of 310.6 miles. Maximum altitude is 12,000 feet. The aircraft weighs just 172 pounds empty and 375 pounds loaded, allowing a useful load of 203 pounds (92kg).

In June 2010, EADS (partnered with Aero Composites Saintonge and the Greencri-cri Association), presented an electric-powered Cri-Cri at the Green Aviation Show at Le Bourget Airport, France. This Cri Cri was fitted with four brushless electric motors, making it among the smallest four-engine aircraft ever built. It also featured a highly modified airframe using newer composite materials. To show scale, they parked the aircraft under an Airbus A380.

Later in the same year, September 5, Electravia used another modified, lightened Cri-Cri powered by two lithium polymer-powered 25-hp electric motors to set a world speed record for its category of 162.33 mph (262 km/h).  

The company claimed engine and cooling drag reductions of 46 percent versus the conventional combustion engine arrangement.

The modified airframe can fly for 30 minutes at 110 km/h in cruise or 15 minutes of adrenaline aerobatics.

On July 9, 2015, the Electravia Cri-Cri became the third electric-powered airplane to fly across the English Channel, hours ahead of its then-rival, the Airbus E-Fan. Unfortunately the Cri-Cri had to be towed aloft before setting off on its own.

Yet another Cri-Cri variation features two PBS VB TJ20 jet engines generating 47 pounds of thrust each. Given its homebuilt status, performance varies among all the Cri-Cri’s.

Of interest is another Cri Cri based in Australia. Also powered by two small jet powered turbines, this aircraft is flown by a South African pilot (ex-pat) and is often displayed at airshows.

Almost all Cri Cri’s are capable of climbing with an engine out. Colomban not only designed the aircraft to be easy to build, but also to fly.  The two engines are located close to each other and around the centreline, which means that it can be flown by pilots qualified to fly single-engine aircraft.  Even with the complete failure of one engine, with hands and feet off the controls, the only effect would be a gentle turn to the side of the failed engine.

Clever aerodynamics play a major role with the cockpit canopy carefully designed to direct effective airflow over the tail surfaces, especially in this situation.

Another major advantage of the plans-built aircraft is the ability to store the Cri Cri in a standard single-garage.  Additionally the Cri Cri can be placed on a single axle, normal-width trailer for easy towing. Assembly and disassembly only takes five minutes for either task.

A sight to behold, and a very popular airshow act with the world’s smallest twin-engine aircraft.