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Colomban Cri-cri

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French-built homebuilt Cri-Cri at Airexpo 2007
Role Homebuilt recreational aircraft
Designer Michel Colomban
First flight 19 July 1973
Introduction 1973
1984 Colomban MC-15 Cri-cri in England

The Colomban Cri-Cri, also spelled Cricri, is the smallest twin-engined crewed aircraft in the world, designed in the early 1970s by French aeronautical engineer Michel Colomban.

The name Cri-Cri comes from the nickname of Christine, one of Colomban's daughters.[1][2][3] 'Cri-cri' 'or 'cricri' is also the French term for the sound of a cricket or a cicada, or an informal name for the insects themselves,[4][5] but it is unclear if this double meaning was intended by Colomban himself.

Design and development[edit]

Colomban designed the aircraft to be easy to build and fly, and the closeness of the two engines to each other, around the centreline, meant that it could be flown by pilots only qualified to fly single-engined aircraft because even with the complete failure of one engine, with hands and feet off the controls, the only effect would be a gentle turn. The cockpit canopy was carefully designed to direct effective airflow over the tail surfaces in this situation. The plans-built aircraft was also designed to be easy to store in a garage and tow on a trailer, with assembly and disassembly each taking only five minutes.[6]

The Cri-Cri features a cantilever low-wing, a single-seat enclosed cockpit under a bubble canopy, fixed tricycle landing gear and twin engines mounted on pylons to the nose of the aircraft in tractor configuration. The aircraft is made from aluminum sheet glued to Klegecell foam. Its 4.9 m (16.1 ft) span wing employs a Wortmann 21.7% mod airfoil, and has an area of 3.1 m2 (33 sq ft). The aircraft is also capable of aerobatics within the limitations of twin-engined aircraft.[7][8][9]

The first flight of the prototype was made on 19 July 1973 and within a few days it had proved to be easy to fly and capable of aerobatics, being stressed to +10g and -5g. It was powered by two Rowena 6507J single cylinder two-stroke engines, each giving 6.7 kW (9.0 hp) and weighing 6.5 kg (14.3 lb).[6]


MC-10 Cri-Cri
Prototype and early examples
MC-12 Cri-Cri
Model with a cruising speed of 185 km/h (100 knots, or 114.9 miles per hour) and range of 500 km (310.6 statute miles, 270 nautical miles).[citation needed]
MC-15 Cri-Cri
Model powered by two JPX PUL 212 15 horsepower (11 kW) engines.[7]
MC-15 Cri-Cri Jet
Model powered by two PBS VB TJ20 210 newtons (47 lbf) turbojet engines.[10]

Operational use[edit]

As with any homebuilt aircraft, the existing Cri-Cri planes have often been modified by their builders, departing from the original design to a varying degree, resulting in varying performance. Most versions can climb with one engine inoperative.[11]

In June 2010, EADS partnered with Aero Composites Saintonge and the Greencri-cri Association to present an electric-powered Cri-Cri at the Green Aviation Show in Le Bourget. The modified airframe with composite components can fly for 30 minutes at 110 km/h. The aircraft uses four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers, which makes the aircraft one of the world's smallest four-engine aircraft.[12]

On September 5, 2010 Electravia accomplished a world record speed of 262 km/h (162.33 mph) for a lithium polymer-powered aircraft using a Cri-Cri with two electric motors (each producing 25 hp) during the attempt. The company claimed engine and cooling drag reductions of 46 per cent versus the conventional combustion engine arrangement.[13]

Cri-Cri (F-PRCQ), the first all-electric four-engine aircraft under an Airbus A380 at the 2011 MAKS airshow.

On 9 July 2015 the electric-powered Electravia version of the design flew across the English Channel hours before the Airbus E-Fan,[14] becoming the third electric aircraft to do so. It was pulled aloft by another aircraft and did not take off on its own.[15][16] The first was the MacCready Solar Challenger in 1981[17] and the second used electric motors powered by hydrogen.[18]

Specifications (MC 15)[edit]

Data from Michel Colomban[19]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
  • Wing area: 3.1 m2 (33 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: Wortmann 21.7
  • Empty weight: 78 kg (172 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 170 kg (375 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × JPX PUL 212 single-cylinder piston engines, 11 kW (15 hp) each
  • Propellers: 2-bladed


  • Maximum speed: 220 km/h (140 mph, 120 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 190 km/h (120 mph, 100 kn)
  • Range: 460 km (290 mi, 250 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 3,700 m (12,100 ft)
  • g limits: +4.5 -2.5
  • Rate of climb: 6.6 m/s (1,300 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 55 kg/m2 (11 lb/sq ft)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ "MC-15 Cri-Cri". free.fr. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Le plus petit avion du monde – Cricri, un moustique sur l'aile des géants". parismatch.com. August 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Le MC-15 "Cri-cri" – Ailes Anciennes de Haute-Savoie". ailesahs.com. Archived from the original on 18 August 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  4. ^ "CRICRI : Définition de CRICRI". cnrtl.fr. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  5. ^ Swanson, Molly (28 May 2006). "Cri-Cri Homebuilt Aircraft". aerospaceweb.org. Retrieved 12 March 2017. Colomban dubbed his unique aircraft the Cri-Cri, French for "cricket", after the nickname of his daughter.
  6. ^ a b Taylor, John W.R. (1979). Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1979-80. London: Jane's Publishing Company. p. 471. ISBN 0-354-00589-8.
  7. ^ a b Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011–12, page 110. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  8. ^ Lednicer, David (2010). "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Archived from the original on 20 April 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  9. ^ Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015–16, page 116. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  10. ^ První brněnská strojírna Velká Bíteš, a. s. "TJ20 Turbojet Engine". Archived from the original on 8 May 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Big fun in small package". 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
  12. ^ EADS (18 June 2010). "Cri-Cri, the all-electric aircraft". Archived from the original on 29 June 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  13. ^ "Cri Cri sets electric speed record". Sport Aviation. January 2011.
  14. ^ "French pilot in tiny one-seater beats Airbus to first electric cross-Channel flight". telegraph.co.uk. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Did Duwal Beat Airbus Across the Channel?". AVweb. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  16. ^ Bertorelli, Paul (9 July 2015). "Airbus' Asterisked Record". AVweb. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  17. ^ "First Electric-Powered Channel Flight Was 34 Years Ago". AVweb. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Man of La Manche". CAFE Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  19. ^ Cri-Cri MC 15 Information Pack – Michel Colomban

External links[edit]