The Italian Aerospace Information Web
by Aeromedia - corso Giambone 46/18 - 10135 Torino (Italy)

First Flight of the CFM Air Dardo

In April 2014, at the Aero Friedrichshafen 2014 air show, a number of new high performance ultralights made their first appearance. In particular, the first Dardo, designed by CFM, a company based in Cirič, near Turin, was on static display. The same design group was also responsible for the Millennium Master tandem two-seat in 2006, and the side-by-side MCX-01 in 2011. The Dardo is a clear derivation of the latter model.
As a matter of fact, at Friedrichshafen there were no less than four ultralight models clearly derived, in various degrees, from the original Millennium Master project: the Blackshape Prime (built in Monopoli, South Italy), the Pelegrin Tarragon (Ukraine), the Shark Aero Shark (Slovak Republic) and the TL Ultralight Stream (Czech Republic).
On July 10, 2014, the Dardo prototype arrived, by road, at the Turin Aeritalia airport, to undergo the flight test phase and fine tuning. Four days later, the graceful two-seater successfully performed its first runway taxi test. A few days later, on July 16, the aircraft made its maiden flight in the hands of C.dr Maurizio Cheli, former astronaut and ex-Chief Test Pilot of Alenia Aeronautica.
The general layout of the Dardo shows its commonality of design with the MCX-01 project, which was sold to OMA Sud in 2011. But on closer inspection, the new aircraft shows many differences with respect to its predecessor.
The Dardo is a clean-line, side-by-side two-seater mainly built in carbon-fibre. The tapered, two-spar, high aspect ratio wing is fitted with ailerons and flaps. The new aircraft differs also from the previous MCX-1 having no winglets, unnecessary for this category of aircraft. The Dardo prototype has a ballistic parachute in the left of the engine bay, but in the series production aircraft this safety device will be relocated to the left side of the central fuselage section.
The integral, jettisonable bubble canopy is hinged forwards via two large curved clamps, making contact with the rear fixed window when closed. The Dardo features one of the roomiest cabins in the UL/LSA sector of airplanes, measuring 130 cm in width. The conventional tail unit has a strong rearward sweep. The retracting tricycle landing gear has aluminium spring struts and is operated by electro-hydraulic actuators.
The conventionally-located engine of the Dardo prototype is the Rotax 914 UL which, coupled with EPA Power electronic fuel injection system, delivers 130 hp continuous power. It drives a two-bladed Alisport Idrovario HS variable pitch propeller. The Turin-based DigiSky company was responsible for the integration of the digital avionic suite. Flight data are shown on two large LCD displays, but there is a plenty of space for some electromechanical instruments as a back-up.
During the final days of July, 2014, the Dardo prototype, bearing Experimental Identification Number I-X004 (the same as the MCX-01), made further test flights to expand the flight envelope. It is reported that CFM Air, as an alternative to selling the project is also contemplating setting up series production of the new aircraft for itself.
It is worth remembering that the name “Dardo” was already assigned, in 1943, to the clean-line, ill-fated SAI.403 lightweight fighter developed by Societŕ Aeronautica Italiana Ambrosini, in the months just preceding the Italian armistice. Armed with cannon and machine guns and powered by a 750 hp Isotta Fraschini Delta RC.40 12-cylinder, inverted-V, air-cooled engine, it was the last of the wooden lightweight fighter models designed by Prof. Sergio Stefanutti.

Design specifications and performance of CFM Air Dardo released by the manufacturer 97 kW (130 hp) Rotax 914 UL (with EPA Power electornic fuel injection system)
Wing Span 8.40 m (27.55 ft)
Length overall 7.40 m (24.28 ft)
Height 2,50 m (8.20 ft)
Maximum cabin width 1,30 m (4.26 ft)
Wing area 10,60 m2 (114 ft2)
Maximum take-off weight (including ballistic parachute) 600 kg (1,323 lb)
Maximum Speed (VNE Never-Exceed Speed) 184 knots (340 km/h, 211 mph)
Cruising Speed at Max Cont Power at Sea Level (VC 100%) 151 knots (280 km/h, 174 mph)
Cruising Speed at 75% Engine Power at Sea Level (VC 75%) 135 knots (250 km/h, 155 mph)
Maneuvering Speed (VA) 97 knots (180 km/h, 112 mph)
Speed (extended flaps) (VFE) 81 knots (150 km/h, 93 mph)
Clean Stall Speed (retracted flaps) (VS1) 45.8 knots (85 km/h, 53 mph)
Stall Speed (extended flaps) (VS0) 34,5 nodi (65 km/h)
Maximum Gust Intensity Speed (VB) 134 knots (250 kmh, 155 mph)

In the picture: CFM Air Dardo prototype I-X004 lands at Turin/Aeritalia airport after an early test flight, in July 2014. C.dr Maurizio Cheli, former astronaut and ex-Chief Test Pilot for Alenia Aeronautica is at the controls. Wool tufts for aerodynamics tests are taped on the aircraft rear fuselage and tail unit. (Aeromedia)

(Aeromedia, July 2014)