E-Flite's Super Airliner DF ARF Review

Exploring this GREAT looking superb flying twin-EDF AIRLINER!

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Introduction


Wingspan:55" 1400mm
Wing Area:505 sq. in. 3245 sq. cm
Weight:3.25 lb 1.5 kg
Length:57" 1450mm
Wing Loading:15 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 micro (S75's) 1 full size (JR Sport ST47bb)
Receiver:JR Sport RS600
Battery:2 - ThunderPower 2100 3s LiPoly
Motor:2 - E-fliteBL400 DF Outrunner, 3500Kv
ESC:2 - E-flite 20 AMP ESC
Manufacturer:E-Flite
Available From:Horizon Hobby

While strolling through the forums it just so happens that I found a post with a new Horizon Hobby ARF offering - the Super Airliner. But this is no ordinary plane it is a twin electric ducted fan ARF! Needless to say it caught my eye.

The Super Airliner ARF is made from molded white foam. The plane comes fully painted with decals already applied. It also includes the fan units pre-installed on the wing. This is a true almost ready to fly airplane.

E-flite Super Airliner

The shipment from Horizon was quick, although when the large box arrived it was clear that it had a rough ride. The contents were well packaged using bubble wrap, cardboard separators and individual parts bags.

All parts arrived with no damage except for the wing. Thankfully the damage was very minor where small foam pieces that extend beyond the trailing edge of the wing had both broken off. These are just moldings to simulate the flap pod jack screw assemblies and are for looks only. They were easily re-attached with a drop of plain white glue.

With paint and decals both factory applied, the Super Airliner looks great right out of the box. Plan on complete assembly and radio installation in about 6-8 hours.

Kit Contents

Kit features:

  • Fully molded and painted for quick assembly
  • 65mm ducted fan units are included and pre-installed
  • Shock-absorbing landing gear and wheels pre assembled
  • Molded aileron servo pockets
  • Flight control surfaces come pre-hinged glued and ready to go
  • Control horns are installed on all surfaces and nose gear
  • Large size, generous wing area, and light weight

Kit includes:

  • Fan units, blades and spinners
  • Shock absorbing landing gear
  • Molded foam wing nacelles
  • Pre-installed fuselage pushrods with connectors attached
  • Aileron pushrod wire and connectors
  • Battery strap
  • Hook and loop tape

Kit requires:

  • 2 - Brushless fan motors 150-210w
  • 2 - 20 AMP ESC's
  • 4 - Micro Servos
  • 1 - Full size standard servo
  • 3 - Y cables (rudder/nose steering/ESC's/ailerons)
  • 3 servo extensions (1-6"/2-12")
  • 4 channel minimum transmitter
  • 4 channel minimum micro receiver
  • 2 - 3S LiPoly battery 1500-2200 mAh capacity

Assembly

Assembly is aided by the use of the assembly manual with step by step instructions and plenty of pictures.

Aileron Servos

We start with the installation of the EZ type connectors on the aileron servo arms. These included connectors make control surface setup a snap.

Aileron servos are placed in pre-molded sockets one for each aileron. Before gluing the servos I prefer to cover them with stranded packing tape. This makes it easier to remove the epoxy from the servo for re-use. Make sure you roughen the outer surface of the tape to increase adhesion.

Next comes installation of the servo to horn connection and here I noted an issue with the included wire and clevis. The clevis pin would not “click” into the keeper. I pushed hard enough that I inadvertently bent the plastic clevis pin. Not good. I tested these three (two for aileron one for nose gear steering) and none of the pins would click. (The elevator and rudder pins snapped perfectly.) I drilled one out very slightly and the pin now clicked in, but not securely. Horizon suggested I bend the side of the clevis at the base if needed to hold over the pin. Instead, I chose to use music wire with Z bends on the horn end.

It should be noted – I checked all the other clevis connectors on the plane (two for elevator and one for rudder). All of these were fine and clicked with a secure lock. They also include a small piece of tubing for securing the clevis in the closed position. This is a practice I have used for 20+ years now, it is nice to see vendor supplied hardware doing the same.

Motors

The motors mount on the wing in the fan units. It was here I noticed another temporary setback. Both of the fan housing units are pre-installed on the wings. The solid wood used for the fan pods had twisted during shipment. I thought it would be a simple task to just cut new pieces out of aircraft plywood since the fan mounts were both just screwed on. This proved impossible as the glue or thread locker used was not easily removable. Since the wood was solid, a friend suggested re-wetting the wood and twisting them to remove the warp. This worked perfectly!

Motors installed into the fan mounts with ease. The suggested E-flite motors bolt right in with no fuss, fitting perfectly. The fan blades also cleared the fan housing with no rubbing.

The ESC’s are cleverly placed in a molded area on each side of the wing. I had to solder the 3.5mm connectors (supplied in the E-flite ESC's) on the motor wires and connect to each ESC. It was necessary to extend the wires on the battery side of the ESC’s. It was important that I added this wire FIRST, then route the wire through the small holes already in place in the wing. Once the wire was through the wing, I added my choice of battery connector.

Fan nacelle

Next I needed to place the foam motor nacelles over the fan mounts. One half of the nacelle had to be marked and a small amount of foam removed for the motor wires. A rotary tool and small sanding drum made quick work of these wire channels.

Landing gear

Installing the pre-assembled landing gear assembly is very simple as the structure is pre-assembled. I simply took the gear assembly and placed it on the wire leg post already installed on the wing. I had to you file a flat spot on the gear leg post to help prevent the large six wheel gear structure from rotating.

The nose gear system is equally impressive. The nose gear structure is mounted on a light ply tray. This tray slides into a hole on the bottom of the fuselage and it locks into an accepting structure already in place inside the fuselage. One screw fixes that nose gear assembly. So this structure remains removable.

Winning ultra cool points is the fact that the main gear and nose gear struts are all spring loaded. So the landing gear has a shock absorber system! The model weight actually compresses the struts slightly.

Installation of the nose gear steering servo was simple. A quick "Z" bend in the wire goes into the servo arm and I used the included clevis and wire to attach to the steering arm. Again this smart design remains affixed by one screw -- easily removable for nose gear steering adjustments! This is a very smart design feature.

All the landing gear equipment was easily removable for adjustments as needed. A very smart design feature!

Elevator servo

E-flite recommends a standard full size servo. The pre-installed servo tray has a cutout for the recommended full size servo. My JR ST47BB dropped right in.

Each elevator half has its own pushrod and horns. The ends of these pushrod tubes must be secured for proper elevator function. It was necessary to disconnect the clevis, pull the wire out and cut the plastic pushrod tubes to the correct length. I also had to roughen the area where the tubes were to be glued with sandpaper -- this aids adhesion.

Vertical stabilizer and rudder

I used 30 minute epoxy to secure the vertical stabilizer and rudder to the fuselage. When gluing the vertical stabilizer note that it is not perpendicular to the horizontal stabilizer. This is due to the dihedral in the pre-installed horizontal stabilizer. Measure from the tip of each elevator to the top the rudder to assure this assembly is perpendicular.

IMPORTANT: Note that the horizontal stab has dihedral built in, so the rudder is NOT perpendicular to the stab.

The rudder pushrod was also pre-installed. The servo tray required a slight trim to accept the recommended S75 servo. I had to be sure to attach the rudder servo arm to the proper side of the servo for correct left / right operation of both nose gear steering and the rudder.

Hatch

I found my hatch arrived firmly attached to the fuselage and was initially difficult to remove. It appeared that the hatch assembly was placed in the fuselage when the glue for the hatch lip and lock were not fully cured. The excess glue had actually glued the hatch to the fuselage! If yours does not free easily take a hobby knife to the gap area just around the hatch lock and this should free the hatch.

Assembled weights

With the Super Airliner assembled I wanted to see what the final weight would be. All Up Weight (AUW) was listed at 3.25 pounds (1.5K). The review model was exactly that -- 3lb 4oz(!) -- with the recommended 3s Thunder Power 2100 packs. WOW! This is impressively light for a plane of this size. I am impressed with ARF’s that weigh what the box indicates when using the recommended equipment.

Actual weights
Complete wing (Motors/servos/ESC’s/Fans/Landing Gear)25oz
Fuselage/Tail surfaces/Nose gear/Servos/RX17.3oz
Total assembled kit weight42.3oz
Total AUW3lb 4oz 1475g

E-flite BL400 DF

Motor statistics:

  • Recommended Prop Range: 65mm Fan Unit (3 blade)
  • Voltage: 10 - 12
  • RPM/Volt (Kv): 3500 (rpms per volt)
  • Resistance (Ri): .065 ohms
  • Idle Current (Io): 1.60 @ 10V
  • Continuous Current: 19 A
  • Maximum Burst Current: 23 A
  • Cells: 6 - 10 NiCd / NiMh or 3 Li-Po
  • Speed Control: 20 Amp Brushless
  • Weight: 2.0 oz (56g)
  • Overall Diameter: 1 in (25mm)
  • Shaft Diameter: .9 in (2.3mm)
  • Overall Length: 1.2 in (31mm)

This is a large airplane and I was very pleased with the in flight performance of these motors and fans.

My thoughts on the motor: The motors both ran perfectly out of the box. These specialized high KV out runners fit the included fans perfectly. I can say that these motors are a perfect combination for the Super Airliner.

Amp draws

The motor produced the following results using the following 65mm fan blades:

Motor statistics (each motor)
Amps Watts Voltage
18.2 201 11.6v

In a static condition you can see the 65mm 3 bladed fan units and motors draw 201 watts each. With 200+ watts per motor a total of 402 watts gives the Super Airliner a 124 watt per pound power rating. This power system flies the Super Airliner with authority.

The recommended 3s TP 2100 batteries performed very well with no issues encountered. The capacity easily allows for 10-11 minute flights, but I use 8 minutes to assure I have time for a missed approach and to be kinder to the batteries. Batteries come down warm but not overtaxed.

CG

The recommended CG is 5.5” from the LE. This CG was difficult to attain when placing the recommended packs in the pre-installed trays. I added one ounce of weight to the nose, allowing the packs to remain placed (very forward) in that tray.

Rates and transmitter setup

Rates were set exactly as recommended in the manual.

Surfaces rates
Surface Low Throws (in) Expo High throws (in) Expo
Aileron 1/2" 10% 3/4" 25%
Elevator 7/8" 15% 1 1/8" 25%
Rudder 1/2" 15% 3/4" 25%

Remember ducted fans do not have significant propeller wash over the flight surfaces. This requires larger throw rates, these are not an error but are required for proper control authority.

The flight timer was set to count down from 8 minutes.

Flying

I always snap some pictures before first flight. Here are a few of this amazing Super Airliner. It is large and has a great presence while sitting on the runway.

First flight

The Super Airliner is no park flyer so flights are at the paved club field. I had no idea what to expect of this large bird. I actually had a few first flight jitters. That all proved to be for nothing.

Ground handling

Ground steering is very sensitive so I changed the servo connection to a hole nearer the center to provide less deflection. This inner connection still provided excellent ground control.

Takeoff

Takeoff must be done from a hard surface. The model has a lot of wheels, but they are all very tiny so they have a fair bit of rolling resistance. Takeoff roll on the concrete surface with full power took about 150 feet. The Super Airliner lifted off with the application of up elevator. The manual has an excellent first flight recommendations section and I recommend that you read that carefully.

The Super Airliner required no rudder correction to keep it straight down the center line. A slow realistic rotation had the Airliner off the ground!

Climb out

The climb out was very impressive. I intentionally kept the rotation very slight. Once the model is off the ground it picks up speed very quickly. It easily maintains a comfortable 30 degree climb rate. Make sure you have about 100 feet of altitude before making your first downwind turn. The model is light and the wind will have a tendency to lift the high wing even higher, so make sure you maintain airspeed here.

Stalls

This plane stalls predictably with a nose drop. It is controllable right down to the last second. The plane recovers very quickly once power is added. It slows very well before it stalls.

Landing

The landings on the Super Airliner need a bit more attention than a typical sport propeller aircraft. I was initially flaring the Airliner too much and the model would return to flight! It does not need much airspeed to fly. Another helpful note is keeping the fans running...as the instructions explain in full detail. If you shut them off they will become large drag inducers. Use throttle to control the correct sink rate, remembering not to shut the motors off fully.

I handed the sticks over to my friend Doug. He tried a fairly high approach and just nosed the big airliner right at the runway. He did not flair much and the resulting wheel type landing was very smooth. He used down elevator as soon as the mains touched. The second video shows his technique and his skill!

The rudder is remarkably effective. The Super Airliner slows down very nicely, just remember to keep the power on and do not try flaring the landing much.

Flight #2

Here we had the chance to explore more of the Super Airliner's flight envelope.

Loop

The Super Airliner actually loops well from level flight. It does tend to fall off at the top so down elevator in the top of the loop helps this. Full power is needed for loops. I thought I heard some of those tiny airline passengers losing their lunch!

Roll

The large wing and barn door type ailerons yield fairly quick but graceful rolls. You will need to apply a touch of "down" elevator in the inverted portion of the roll to keep the nose from dropping. Once again the airliner handled rolls well, but boy did it look strange seeing an airliner roll!

Inverted flight

Inverted flight is possible, but it requires almost full down to keep the plane in level flight. This really looks out of place for the airliner however.

Thank you so much to Johnathan for these amazing in flight pictures. He came out without an airplane but thankfully he had his amazing digital SLR system.

3D flight

This ship has very "scale" sized tail surfaces and throws so it really does not lend itself to any 3-D flight, obviously. It is intended to be flown "on the wing".

Recommended power system

The recommended total 400 watt EDF brushless system gives excellent results. The high Kv outrunner EDF motors provide excellent power for flight. I was amazed at how fast the airliner was flying. I was outpacing many planes at the field. I found myself flying at 50-70% throttle settings for nice looking airliner appropriate flybys. The twin fans sound amazing – they really catch the attention of the fellow flyers.

Is this plane for a beginner?

NO! Ok, that said, while not a first time trainer the Super Airliner was surprisingly easy to fly. It should be noted that the Super Airliner is not self correcting, something that any first time flyer needs. Landings are not hard, but it doesn't land like a trainer. Do not try flaring too much as it will start flying again! Wheel landings are best. This might be a fun first scale project or a first EDF for a modeler whose got a reasonable amount of low wing flight experience.

Flight Video

Downloads

Conclusion

Assembly of the Super Airliner was very simple. Anyone with a bit of building/assembly experience would be comfortable with the assembly required. Nothing was difficult or time consuming, and there were only a few small issues, detailed above. The parts fit was perfect.

This airplane is large and impressive. Even though the Super Airliner is big it is also very light for its size. The applied finish looks fantastic in the air and on the ground. It really turns heads at the field.

Reliable electric power has opened the market to many twin aircraft that we have not been commonly modeled. Also, advances in light weight power systems and electric ducted fans make the Super Airliner an impressive performer. This large plane is not a park flyer and is suited for flight at the club field with a paved or hard surface.

The flight performance of the Super Airliner is truly impressive. In flight it is calm and sedate with no bad habits. The massive plane looks amazing in the air and better than that it sounds very realistic with those twin fans roaring!

Surprisingly, basic aerobatic maneuvers are no problem for the Super Airliner. I can just imagine those passengers grabbing the in flight sickness bags while the loops, rolls and inverted flight occurs. Touch and goes are a blast! Understandably advanced aerobatics are not this plane's design or intent.

Flying the Super Airliner puts a big smile on my face every time I take the sticks. It attracts a great deal of attention at the field from everyone. This large, great looking, amazing plane will make an excellent addition to your hangar, I highly recommend it.

Hits:

  • Excellent looks
  • Super fast assembly
  • Easy to fly
  • Powerful part-throttle flights
  • True twin electric ducted fan operation that sounds amazing!

Misses:

  • Warped pylon fan mounts
  • Problems with included clevis connectors
  • Nose gear bends fairly easy

Check out the full line of E-flite models available from Horizon Hobby. They have increased their electric flight offerings dramatically in the last year. They offer brushless motors, ESC’s and batteries. The Super Airliner is a great example of this lineup -- easy to assemble, great flying, and looks fantastic in the air.

Again a special thanks to Johnathan and Dawnron1 for the amazing in flight pictures and video!

Last edited by AMCross; Sep 01, 2006 at 10:24 AM..
Thread Tools
Nov 23, 2006, 08:48 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Mike,

Great review as always! Sorry for the in-video comments about the "sick passengers", it was very windy as you noted. I still couldn't say who was the better pilot Nothing like 3 successful maidens on a windy day Good times!

Ronnie
Nov 23, 2006, 08:53 AM
The sky is my playground.
Dora Nine's Avatar
Awesome! Thanks for the review!!
Nov 23, 2006, 08:58 AM
Battery Junkie
wrenwright's Avatar
Nice work on the review.

I saw one of these at SEFF and while it's a nice-looking plane, it probably won't stay that way for long as it's just bare foam with some paint on it.

Horizon gets $175 for this kit that doesn't come with motors, servos, etc., so basically one is getting a big piece of foam for their dime with some included hardware. I would say this is a very poor value. The $5 foamie airliner conversions that guys are doing by adding motors and a radio are a much more sane and frugal way to have a foam airliner.
Last edited by wrenwright; Nov 23, 2006 at 11:31 AM.
Nov 23, 2006, 01:15 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Thanks guys for the thoughts.....it sure is a fun airplane that gets a LOT of attention!

Mike
Nov 23, 2006, 02:19 PM
I like foam
mikeythev's Avatar
Sometime in 1998 I built an rc foam airliner from one of those foam planes you buy at Toys R Us. It had a PeeWee 020 strapped to the front and two smaller servos (I couldn't afford the micro servos) with a small 4 cell Rx pack, and a full sized receiver.

I was having a blast getting 2-3 minute flights with the little motor screaming while the whole thing cost me $25 for the motor + $5 for the plane. I used to sit on the roof of my parents house and fly for hours on a few ounces of fuel.

I agree that this plane is quite pricey for what you're getting. It sure looks great and seems to fly well too. Great review! I wouldn't turn one down if they were going to give it to me.
Nov 23, 2006, 05:22 PM
Battery Junkie
wrenwright's Avatar
Me either. Now we just need to get Lanier to make one at a decent price. Their U-2 is only about $20 and is easily converted over to r/c.

Here's a couple of videos of my $5 foamy airliner and $2 worth of Johnson J250 motors:


http://www.wwright.rchomepage.com/Airliner%207.avi

http://www.wwright.rchomepage.com/Airliner%209.avi

I've considered sticking a couple of 480's on it with 3s lipos. It should really scream then.
Nov 24, 2006, 02:05 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
How hand launchable do you think this plane is?

I love the plane but hate the gear hanging..
Nov 24, 2006, 02:12 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Tram - you could hand launch it - but it is big and you would have to be very careful to let the fans get the plane "on the step".

The issue would be the fans on landing! I too thought about making it that way so I could fly it at the close field (grass).

Others have substituted the small wheel trucks with large tires and report good success off grass. But you will still have wheels hanging.

Mike
Nov 24, 2006, 02:44 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Yeh, I may just skip it.. Aircraft with retracts that fly around with their gear in the wind annoy me.. Just not my cup of tea..

Someone needs to do a nice big 727...
Nov 24, 2006, 05:39 PM
Battery Junkie
wrenwright's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
How hand launchable do you think this plane is?

I love the plane but hate the gear hanging..

If it's any help, I used to hand launch a Sr. Telemaster, landing in very tall grass that didn't allow for takeoffs.

I agree about the landing gear. It looks sort of silly with the gear down all the time.
Nov 25, 2006, 10:23 AM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
All I can say is wow! That thing looks amazing and I'd love to actually see it in the air firsthand.

Nice review.
Nov 25, 2006, 12:48 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fokker Ace
All I can say is wow! That thing looks amazing and I'd love to actually see it in the air firsthand.

Nice review.
Thanks it is a fun airplane that is for sure....
Nov 25, 2006, 08:26 PM
No warning points today!!
flyingace451's Avatar
Nice review! I agree somewhat with the others here, it does seem slightly over priced. Mike, what would you rate the durability of the plane to be? It doesn't seem like much. If the wind wasn't blowing so hard, it would have been better. But you guys did great given the circumstances. I would have crashed it in that kind of wind (Im not very good with wind )
Nov 25, 2006, 09:40 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Quote:
Mike, what would you rate the durability of the plane to be?
It is white foam so not terribly durable.

Quote:
If the wind wasn't blowing so hard, it would have been better.
Yes it would have been better, but airplanes don't know it is windy!

Practice flying in the wind and it won't bother you anymore. The plane did not have any issue with the wind trust me. The large rudder is very effective.

Mike


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