Zenith 601 XL canopy opened during the flight

Has anyone had the canopy of 601 XL open during the flight ??

My canopy opened in flight at 1500' at 100 kts early this month (May 2013). The aircraft dived towards the land and was hard to control. The canopy stayed up in the air and I could not pull it down. I slowed down to 60 kts and droped down to 500' just in case I had to land on the beach. All the items got sucked out from the back including my head phones. I turned back to the airport, about 2 miles. I  could not communicate with any one so I had to be carefull of other trafic in the circuit. It was hard to see forward due to high wind. I managed to land the aircraft safely.

Since this episode, I have install a safety belt so the canopy can not open if the latches are opened or fail.

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Comment by Ian McClelland on July 1, 2013 at 12:11am

OK. That's good. Anton Myer is another source for some 601 parts from Europe. He has sourced some parts for me on a share freight basis in the past. I purchased his spare canopy and composite U/C leg.

Comment by Shafid Khan on July 1, 2013 at 12:00am

Not yet Ian. I am organising one via Australia to cut the cost of freight. The canopy is around $600 USD and freight is more than canopy unless the Ausies can help me to bring one in their container. The duck-tape is holding the canopy together and I am still flying. Cheers.

Comment by Ian McClelland on June 30, 2013 at 11:50pm

Hi Shafid.

Did you get your canopy replaced OK?

Comment by Les Bolen on May 30, 2013 at 2:04pm

Thank goodness you are OK and had the wits about you to land safely. Phill I like your design so much, im going to copy it and use it in  my 650, got the parts on order.

Comment by Ian McClelland on May 26, 2013 at 12:06am

I have designed and installed a 601XLB canopy securing device. I believe that most canopy open in flight occurrences are caused by:

1. failure to secure the canopy before flight

2. inadvertently knocking the handle during turbulence in flight

3. incorrect rigging of the latch mechanism.

Therefore I have come up with a canopy handle locking guard that physically holds the handle in the latched position. One significant advantage of this design is that this handle guard can be opened from inside the cockpit OR from outside the aircraft.

Comment by Jerry Griego on May 16, 2013 at 6:14pm

Glad to hear you landed safely.

Comment by Michael Herder on May 13, 2013 at 12:29pm

@ Phil,


I like that your design will afford some protection against damaged canopy assembly while parked and opening your canopy with a strong tailwind.  I always open mine with extreme caution on the ground paying attention to the windsock.  I'd suggest making sure that your rope length be a few inches short of your max opening so you don't ever allow stress on the plunger mechanism.  Two things happen when you open the canopy with  a tailwind: 

1) It can get away from you quickly and if it does it'd be pretty easy to damage the hinges and hydraulic plunger.

2)  You now have a very nice spinaker sail on your Zodiac, and your Zodie will very gladly roll into anything in it's path if you haven't set a parking brake.  With my luck it would find the nearest Cirrus :)

Comment by Patrick Hoyt on May 10, 2013 at 3:13pm
Mine opened in flight. There's a write-up in the Zodiac forum dated January 13th on that.

A secondary latch is mandatory, IMHO. I installed the same one Phill did. In my case, I accidentally unlatched it when pulling a backpack from the baggage compartment, after which the canopy opened. One other time it started to come open, but the secondary latch stopped it. I triple-check it before every flight.

I also modified the 650 latches to take more "bite", and haven't had any problems since.

- Pat
Comment by Phill Barnes on May 9, 2013 at 3:38am

Hi Shafid

A secondary latch is mandatory in Australia. Here is what I did using a sailing boat rope cleat. It's model is a Spinlock PXR0206 and a 6mm rope. Flick the rope firmly rearward to lock and forward to release.





Secondary latch on 650 canopy


Secondary latch on 650 canopy


Secondary latch on 650 canopy


Secondary latch on 650 canopy



Comment by Bob Pustell on May 8, 2013 at 2:45pm

Nice job on staying focused on the primary job -- fly the airplane!

A secondary latch of some type is certainly a good idea, especially if you have the original 601XL latching system. I plan to fit the 650 latch system to my XL when I build that part of the plane, several people have done this already. I ALSO plan to have a secondary latch, just to be sure.

Try to design and install a secondary system that is easy and fast to unlatch. You do not want a cumbersome, slow process in case you need to exit the aircraft rapidly. I sometimes fly a friend's 601XL and his secondary latches (one on each side, adapted from window latch hardware) works very nicely but it takes two hands, some practice and some patience to unfasten it. Speed sometimes matters. My tentative design involves a single rope or strap from the rear canopy bow that is secured into a cleat or bracket between the occupant's shoulders with some type of quick release connection. This is not a final design but I believe several folks have variations of that idea already in use.

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