The CH 640 is a conventional four-seater, with a 2+2 seating configuration. The design features a fixed tricycle landing gear, large dual gull-wing doors, a wing span of 31.5 feet and an overall length of 23 feet. The prototype aircraft is powered by a 180-hp Lycoming O-360 engine.
The ZODIAC CH 640 was designed by veteran aircraft designer Chris Heintz and was available as a kit aircraft from Zenair between 2001 and 2020. The design is a four-place, low-wing, all-metal aircraft design: "While a new model, the CH 640 was heavily based based on the proven type-certificated CH 2000 production aircraft design; it was also influenced by the ZODIAC CH 601 series kit designs as well as by my earlier Zenith CH 300 design from the 70s" stated Chris Heintz.
For economic reasons, kit production for the CH 640 aircraft was discontinued in early 2020. Zenair will continue to provide necessary parts and sub-kits to existing builders to complete their projects and for owners to maintain & repair existing aircraft.
Heintz developed the CH 640 design in response to requests by kit builders for an affordable and simple four-seater. While there are literally hundreds of two-seat kit aircraft designs available for construction, there are remarkably few modern four-seat designs on the market: The available designs are either complex high-performance planes (Lancair IV), expensive (RV-10), or "utility" designs such as Murphy's Super Rebel and Heintz' own STOL CH 801. The ZODIAC CH 640 bridged the gap between the utility designs and the high-performance and expensive ones - making it a practical and useful aircraft for the "average" pilot/builder. The CH 640 has a useful load of 1,000 lbs., making it a "true" four-seater.
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Based on a production aircraft, the CH 640 has the handling characteristics that conventional pilots are most familiar with, and even comes with a dual yoke control system instead on the control sticks found in most kit aircraft. The heavier weight of the aircraft makes it well suited for pilots transitioning from Cessna or Piper designs. The increased room and payload make the Zodiac CH 640 a truly travel-friendly aircraft, well suited for long cross-country trips.
Heintz used the FAA-certificated Zenith CH 2000 as the basic platform for this design since the aircraft already boasted a huge cabin area, and the type-certificated design could easily be "stretched" into a four- seater. Starting with a basic CH 2000 fuselage assembly, the CH 640 started to take shape by "stretching" the cabin area and adding the rear seat. New wings and horizontal tail sections were also developed; the firewall-forward side was borrowed from the Heintz’ STOL CH 801 design which utilizes the same engine.
"Based on the ZENITH CH 2000, the new four-seat airframe for the prototype was really quite simple to build, taking just three months to put together," stated Mathieu Heintz. The CH 640 is unmistakably a Heintz design – with its conventional all-metal construction adapted for quick and simple kit construction. While a larger aircraft, the CH 640 kit build-time, complexity and cost is very competitive with most two-seat aircraft designs.
"We’re probably the only kit aircraft manufacturer that also has a FAA production certificate," stated Mathieu Heintz. "Customers benefit from the quality control program we have in place while not having to pay the higher cost of a production aircraft." The standard kit required approximately 1,250 assembly hours to complete, a figure that compared very favorably with many two-seat kits on the market today, while the quick build kit requires just 750 hours to complete.
"It's a tremendously stable little airplane and a fair amount faster than what you might think.
It's a VERY pilot/family friendly prototype and I'm looking forward to further flight testing."