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Extracted from CFI France (cfi.ifrance.com/cfi/anhist.htm)

FOURNIER PLANES HISTORY

Since the early 1960's, the Fournier aircraft have been known under the RF logo, throughout all countries where light and sports aviation is in practice. Their flying caracteristics, their low operating maintenance cost, their extensive life cycle are universally recognized and are the basis for a well deserved reputation confirmed by very high reselling prices on the second hand market.

At all, René Fournier has designed and built 12 prototypes which are described in the list below :

  • RF-01 : This aircraft is the first prototype designed by René Fournier as early as 1947 but built in 1960. This aircraft won a French Government award for its flying characteristics.

  • RF-2 : Improved version of the RF-01 designed in 1962. One aircraft of this type is now part of the Air Museum's collection in Paris.
  • RF-3 : Designed in 1963, this one seater aircraft was manufactured in series in France by Alpavia, a company owned by René Fournier and his Belgian partner Antoine d'Assche. Between 1963 and 1966 this company manufactured and sold about 100 aircrafts of this type.
  • RF-4 : Aerobatic version of the RF-3, designed in 1966. At all, 173 aircrafts of this type were manufactured under licence by Sportavia, a company created by Alfons Putzer in Dahlem (West Germany) and which became part of the VFW-Fokker Group.
  • RF-5 : Tandem two-seater aircraft designed in 1968 and manufactured under licence by Sportavia. About 200 aircrafts of this type were produced until 1975.
  • RF-6 : Three seater designed for Sportavia in 1970.
  • RF-6B : Two seater, side-by-side, aerobatic and training aircraft designed in 1973. At all 45 aircrafts of this type were manufactured under licence in France by Avions Fournier. The Slingsby T-67M 'Firefly' is a development in composite of the RF-6B, which is now used as a basic trainer by different Air Forces, including the US Air Force.
  • RF-7 : Experimental aerobatic one-seater designed in 1970.
  • RF-8 : Experimental metallic tandem two-seater, designed in 1973 for the military market.
  • RF-9 : Motorglider two seater side by side developped in 1976-1977 and manufactured under licence in France by Fournier Aviation.
  • RF-10 : Plastic and carbon fiber extrapolation of the RF-9. Designed and developed in 1985, it is currently manufactured under licence by Aeromot in Brazil and called : Ximango
  • RF-47 : Two seater side-by-side aircraft for low cost schooling. This aircraft was certified pursuant to standard JAR VLA in october 1995 and shall be put into production one day.

The first Fournier aircrafts were characterized by their long wing aspect ratio and a single wheeel undercarriage used for gliders. Hence, the name of 'avions-planeurs' given by their designer. Since its creation in 1960, this new formula has been largely exploited by the competition under the name of 'motorglider'. Alike, the Wolkswagen engine used by most of these motorgliders was first certified for avion after demonstration by René Fournier of its high reliability on his aircrafts.

It is as fram this moment, when the whole motorglider movement could developp worldwide.

But the Fournier aircrafts are not only 'avions-planeurs'. During the past 30 years, René Fournier has also designed more classical aircraft for training, such as the RF-7, the RF-8 and the RF-6B which is now manufactured in composite under the name of Slingsby T-67M. The latest Fournier aircraft, the RF-47, is designed as well for basic schooling at low cost by air clubs or private schools.

At all, about 800 Fournier aircraft were manufectured and sold in 35 countries around the world.

It should be also notet that the Fournier aircrafts are amongst the most silent and economical in the world. Hence, these were purchased by many private pilots for leasure flight at low cost. The Fournier aircrafts can also be used in a large number of sectors such as, among others :

  • Basic training and improvement for private, commercial and military pilots.
  • Surveillance for civil purposes (eg. Watching of animal reservations, fire forests detection, etc…) or military missions as their wood and fabric structure makes them hardly detectables by radars.

Several challenges or world records were taken on a fournier aircraft.

- Wave flight altitude record (11.200 meters) on a RF-3 in 1965.

  • Crossing over the North Atlantic from West Germany to California on a RF-4 in 1968 and return flight in 1969 by Mira Slovak. This RF-4, mounted with a 39 hp Wolkswagen engine, is still now the smallest aircraft which was ever flown accross the North Atlantic. It is now part of the Museum of Flight's collection in Seattle (USA).
  • Crossing of the Americas in 1971 on a RF-5, from California to Cape Horn and return.
  • Crossing over the North Atlantic from Hamburg to Oskosh (USA) on a RF-5 in 1980.
  • 17.000 km trip from Porto Alegre (Brazil) to Oskosh (USA) and return in 1990 on a RF-10.
  • 2001. World tour by Gérard Moss of Swiss origin, living in Brasil. The first to fly alone in a motor glider around our planet. With the RF-10, n° 11, built in France in 1986.The wings have been reinforced to support the plane increased load (video/tv equipement and 290 liters of petrol). A 55000 km circle over 40 countries. A real achievement, fantastic, for the pilot and his plane.

René Fournier is the sole French aircraft designer who can sign his aircraft with his own name which is still today very well reputed in aviation. In close cooperation with his engineers, he remains highly involved in aircraft engineering and continues to design and study aircraft.

His latest model, the RF-47, was considered by the French Fédération Nationale Aéronautique as the best schooling aircraft to be used by Air Clubs.

Copyright ©  2005 Club Fournier International UK

Page last updated: 20 May 2006

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