Modern Canard Configurations

The 1903 Wright brothers’ Flyer was of course a canard airplane, with its hori­zontal tail in front. However, in the years that followed, up to quite recent times, canard configurations were definitely a curiosity, out of the mainstream. Conservative stability and control engineers think this is just as well.

17.1 Burt Rutan and the Modern Canard Airplane

Elbert L. (Burt) Rutan is an original thinker, a classic inventor, who left jobs at the Edwards Air Force Base and with Jim Bede in Kansas to build experimental personal airplanes at Mojave Airport, California. His Rutan Aircraft Factory, in a barracks-style building, became the home of the VariEze and Long EZ fiberglass canard airplanes. These designs have been built in large numbers from Rutan Aircraft plans by home builders. The excellent speed and climb performance of these little machines, compared with mass – produced, all-metal general-aviation airplanes, led to several major canard projects by Scaled Composites, Inc. One of these was the Beech Model 2000 Starship 1, an 8- to 11-seat business aircraft.

Rutan’s successes with the VariEze and Long EZ, with the canard round-the-world Voyager, and with the Beech projects have inspired many new canard home-built sport aircraft projects in the United States. Among them are the American Aircraft Falcon series, the Beard Two Easy, the Co Z Development Cozy, the Diehl XTC Hydrolight, the Ganzer Model 75 Gemini, and so on. What can we say about this trend? Some corrective notes on the supposed advantages of the modern canards, and on canard stability and control pitfalls, seem in order, in the hope that future designers will be fully informed.

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