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Crossfire 3 Insights

Words by Lesley Gale

Flying together
Crossfire 3s, Flying together — Image by Chris Stewart
Julien hard at work at the old NZ Aerosports factory

The much-awaited Crossfire 3, by New Zealand Aerosports, is now available to order. NZA promised “A truly unique design. Now completely redone in the new Crossfire 3. This is how we do justice to the Crossfire legend.”

We weren’t just going to take their word for it so we asked Julien Peelman, Aerodynamics Engineer at NZ Aerosports, to explain

What is different about the Crossfire 3 to the earlier Crossfires?

We used Catia V5 to design the Crossfire 3. This is one of the most advanced 3D CAD softwares available. It gives us more freedom to design the canopy down to the finest details and helps generate the most accurate panels possible. The result is a more accurate shaping, a smoother surface, and better aerodynamic efficiency.

One of the most noticeable changes is the Crossfire 3’s new line set which, thanks to a slightly steeper trim designed completely in 3D, will make the recovery arc longer.

We used Catia V5 to design the Crossfire 3. This is one of the most advanced 3D CAD softwares available. It gives us more freedom to design the canopy down to the finest details and helps generate the most accurate panels possible. The result is a more accurate shaping, a smoother surface, and better aerodynamic efficiency.
Catia V5 CAD software was used to design the Crossfire 3
For the first time in the industry, the panels on the Crossfire 3 have been designed directly in the shape they will have during flight by taking into account the Zig-Zag distortion. This spreads the load evenly through the fabric and makes the wing more structurally efficient.
Crossfire 3 panels with Zig-Zag distortion

Can you give us an example of specific improvements?

Crossports have been strategically placed in the Crossfire 3 to have the least influence on the upper surface shape. They have also been designed with an elliptical shape that optimizes their area while reducing the upper surface distortion.
Elliptical crossports in the Crossfire 3 reduce upper surface distortion

For the first time in the industry, the panels on the Crossfire 3 have been designed directly in the shape they will have during flight by taking into account the Zig-Zag distortion. This spreads the load evenly through the fabric and makes the wing more structurally efficient.

Crossports have been strategically placed in the Crossfire 3 to have the least influence on the upper surface shape. They have also been designed with an elliptical shape that optimizes their area while reducing the upper surface distortion.

What is similar to the Crossfire 2?

The aspect ratio and taper have not been changed dramatically from the Crossfire 2. This was to keep the Crossfire 3 in the same class of wings, suitable for intermediate to advanced pilots. The planform has been optimized to follow an ellipse as accurately as possible in order to reduce induced drag. 

The aspect ratio and taper have not been changed dramatically from the Crossfire 2. This was to keep the Crossfire 3 in the same class of wings, suitable for intermediate to advanced pilots. The planform has been optimized to follow an ellipse as accurately as possible in order to reduce induced drag.
Similar aspect ratio and taper to the Crossfire 2
The Crossfire 3 has benefited from research on rib shaping that was originally used to design NZ Aerosports' new range of hyper-performance wings, Petra and Leia.
Rib shaping research was used from the Petra and Leia

Has the Crossfire 3 design drawn from experience with your other canopies?

Definitely. It's benefited from research on rib shaping that was originally used to design NZ Aerosports' new range of hyper-performance wings, Petra and Leia.

The split leading edge ‘Powerband’ was pioneered with Petra. It allows better control of the aerodynamic shape in the nose area, which prevents parasitic drag.

The split leading edge Powerband was pioneered with Petra. It allows better control of the aerodynamic shape in the nose area, which prevents parasitic drag.
The split leading edge Powerband was pioneered with Petra
While most ribs are perpendicular to the lower surface, the end rib is rotated inward to reduce the size of the end cell and prevent it from losing its shape. This reduces tip vortices and induced drag.
The Crossfire 3's end rib is rotated inward
The shape of the stabilizer has been modernized to prevent it from flapping too much in flight. It also helps the slider to sit in the right position.
Tapered stabilizer for better aerodynamics

Tell us about some specific design features in detail

While most ribs are perpendicular to the lower surface, the end rib is rotated inward to reduce the size of the end cell and prevent it from losing its shape. This reduces tip vortices and induced drag.

The shape of the stabilizer has been modernized to prevent it from flapping too much in flight. It also helps the slider to sit in the right position.

So, what’s the big deal with the ‘Power Moustaches’?

The power moustaches are the distinct moustache shaped miniature panels on the lower Powerband. It sounds like marketing bullshit but without them, we couldn't get the exact shaping we want on the nose, because it wouldn't be possible to flatten the lower panels. So with the moustaches we are able to design the canopy in the actual shape it's gonna fly in. This means fewer wrinkles, less tension in the fabric and a more efficient wing.

The power moustaches are the distinct moustache shaped miniature panels on the lower Powerband. Without them, we couldn't get the exact shaping we want on the nose, because it wouldn't be possible to flatten the lower panels. So with the moustaches we are able to design the canopy in the actual shape it's gonna fly in. This means less wrinkles, less tension in the fabric and a more efficient wing.
The Crossfire 3's 'power moustaches'
Mountainflying over Mt Hutt.
Mountain flying over Mt Hutt — Image by Chris Stewart

What sort of wing loading do you recommend?

She's fun at wingloadings between 1 and 1.4 for a confident intermediate pilot, but we recommend a wingloading between 1.5 and 2 for maximum performance.

Who is the Crossfire 3 suitable for?

It’s a versatile all-round canopy for intermediate to advanced pilots, especially those who want to upgrade from their Crossfire 2 or Safire.

For more detail, watch the video below or see NZ Aerosports website

Showing off the Powerband feature of the Crossfire 3. The split leading edge Powerband was pioneered with Petra. It allows better control of the aerodynamic shape in the nose area, which prevents parasitic drag.
Showing off the Powerband feature of the Crossfire 3

Aerodynamics Engineer Julien, test jumper Chris, and NZ Aerosports founder Jyro talk about the design and development of the Crossfire 3.

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