ATOL 650 -amphibian aircraft from a pilots perspective

Test Pilot Ari Saarinen wrote a review of ATOL 650 flying characteristics and Test Pilot Ari Tolonen wrote his additions to it, which can be seen in Italics letters.

 

Taking a closer look at the ATOL 650 -amphibian aircraft from a pilots perspective

 

The overall behavior of the plane is straightforward throughout the flight envelope. No bad habits shown during the test flights I have flown (excluding a few minor snags related to the prototype status). The ATOL 650 is easy to fly and forgiving. The control feel/effect of the three axis is similar to most of the mainstream basic aircraft like Cessna 150, Pipers etc. The controls are light and responsive and the elevator (again with the prototype) even slightly over sensitive. Aileron are very good and responsive, rudder normal. Rudder is very effective.

The cockpit ergonomics are modern and seats are “sporty comfortable”. All switches, levers and controls are situated well, easy to operate. The main flight control (pitch, roll) is with the center stick, which is slightly tilted to give a good arm angle and support. Primary flight instruments are in large display attached to canopy. When canopy is opened the display is not in the way while climbing out. Engine monitoring is at center consol.

Before starting the Rotax- engine, the checks are as with any other similar powered aircraft.
Starting the engine is easy.

 

Taxi:

The ATOL 650 is tracking straight and is easily controllable with differential braking/ steerable tail wheel. Good visibility out. Pilot may taxi canopy open in ground operations and in water as well, if not exeeding set speed.

 

Before take off:

Checks are easy to perform.

 

Take off:

The aircraft accelerates rapidly and the takeoff run is quite short, controls are effective from low speeds. The directional control needs some caution as the speed builds up. Visibility from the cockpit is good. No trim chance while the gear is retracted.

 

Air work:

The handling of the aircraft is pleasant and the aileron turns are fast.The roll-rate is better than for example with Eurostar and C150. The electrical trim change speed is quite good. There are no big trim changes throughout the flight envelope.The low speed characteristics are easy to cope with and the stall is gentle and recovered rapidly by releasing back pressure of the control stick (gentle push).

There is no spin tendency.

As a pusher aircraft and as most of the amphibians the ATOL 650 has the power plant above the center of drag, out of the water spray. As with many of them, loosing power means nose up movement and loosing speed rapidly (nearing stall) , while with the ATOL 650 the engine/ thrust line is pointing downwards a few degrees. This way the ATOL 650 behaves like the normal tractor designs. Loose power and the nose will drop maintaining adequate speed.

 

Water operations:

I had my seaplane rating with a float plane. Comparing these to the ATOL 650 I found it to be easier due to the fact it has much lower center of gravity and no tendency to “dig in” a float under side loads. The “step” is right on and with the power to weight ratio high, it accelerates fast and starts to “glide” easily. No porpoising tendency noticed. Landing likewise, “flying” to the water gradually reducing power while gently adding pack pressure with the stick and the plane lands ever so smoothly.

My seaplane flying experience is modest but I find the ATOL 650 is truly a lot of fun operating from water.
Agree fully and same with seaplane experience.

ATOL 650 amphibian has a clear character of positive nature.

 

Ari Saarinen
Test Pilot, 12 000 flight hours total
Flown 70 aircraft types from Corby Starlet, the Air Force Saab Draken to Bae RJ 85/100

Ari Tolonen
Test Pilot, 1500+ flight hours total
Flown 30+ aircraft types from ultralight to twin-engine jet