Klar, of course it’s a classic car, says the first look. Corrugated iron structure and open cockpit, so it would have to be an early Junkers. But something is wrong. The engine – a radial engine should actually be stuck in the nose of the fuselage. And the propeller? Much too modern. Exactly. There was already a Junkers A50 Junior. Unlike the world-famous Ju 52, Aunt Ju, the junior was not a success. Only 69 copies of the single-engine two-seater were built in the 1930s. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, people had other things to think about than a propeller airplane with an open cockpit.
A good 90 years later: The new Junior is presented as a modern ultralight aircraft on the last weekend in May in Oberndorf, Baden-Württemberg. It is the youngest project of the still young Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG. The company, founded in Switzerland in 2018, is already producing a replica of the historic Junkers F13 in small series. This low-wing aircraft from 1919 is considered to be the first mass-produced passenger aircraft made of metal. It was a global success for the company that was once founded by Hugo Junkers. In Oberndorf on the edge of the Black Forest is presented because this is the location of Kaelin Aero Technologies. Dominik Kälin runs the company, he and his team built the prototype of the Junior for Junkers Flugzeugwerke AG.
Junkers Flugzeugwerke is based at the Swiss airport St. Gallen-Altenrhein and the nearby Widnau. New buildings for the aviation company are also being built there. In the future, delivery of the Junior and the larger F13 will take place at Lake Constance Airport.
The maker behind all projects is the German entrepreneur Dieter Morszeck. He is the head of Junkers Flugzeugwerke and also a long-time aviation enthusiast and pilot. He used to be the owner and chairman of the luxury suitcase manufacturer Rimowa in Cologne. Morszeck is an avowed fan of the Junkers construction method made of corrugated iron, more precisely duralumin, and an admirer of the skills of aviation pioneer Hugo Junkers. Incidentally, this was known long before his aircraft production for the invention and construction of gas bath stoves.
The fact that the new Junior could even be realized based on the historical model is due to the still young 600-kilogram class of ultra-light aircraft in Germany and Europe. In the past, these were only allowed to weigh a maximum of 472 kilos upon departure. The Junkers two-seater would not have been possible with that. Because the junior weighs around 320 kilos empty. In addition, there is the pilot with an assumed 85 kilos, a passenger of the same weight and fuel for at least an hour. But since there is now a new class with more take-off weight for heavier microlight aircraft, the Junior fits perfectly into this class.
But it is by no means enough to simply want to adopt the 92-year-old Junior design one-on-one according to the original plans. Today’s ultralight aircraft must have a total rescue system. In this case, a parachute shoots out of the fuselage, on which the aircraft then falls to the ground with the brakes. In addition, the system must be installed with the correct focus. Otherwise, in an emergency, the fuselage could collapse when the parachute is rejected. The rescue system is located in the new building between the pilot’s seats. There used to be space for a luggage compartment.
25 km / h more than in the original
The prototype is also subjected to numerous manual load tests to determine whether the wings can withstand the required load. This is because this has an impact on the aircraft structure later in the flight of series aircraft, for example through heavy gusts or strong turbulence. The limit values specified for microlight aircraft must be precisely adhered to in these tests.