An accomplished aeronautical engineer, Chris Heintz is a graduate of the E.T.H Institute of Switzerland. After serving in the Air Force, Heintz worked for Aerospatiale on the supersonic Concorde jetliner, and later became chief engineer at Avions Robin (in France) where he designed several fully-certified two and four seat all-metal production aircraft.
In his spare time, Heintz began to design and build his own aircraft, which he named the ZENITH, anagram of Heintz. Being an engineer and not a craftsman, his all-metal homebuilt aircraft incorporated simple construction methods throughout. After a little more than a year’s work, the two-place low-wing Zenith was rolled out and successfully flown in 1969. Soon after, detailed blueprints and construction manuals of the aircraft were drawn up and offered to the growing number of interested builders and flyers.
In 1973, Chris Heintz, his family and the Zenith moved to North America, where Heintz worked for de Havilland (in Toronto) as a stress engineer on the Dash 7 commuter. Chris decided to form his own aircraft company in 1974, and under the name of Zenair Ltd. started to manufacture Zenith kits himself from his two-car garage. Through the company, Heintz has introduced more than twelve successful kit aircraft designs over the years. In 1992, Heintz licensed the kit manufacturing and marketing rights to Zenith Aircraft Company for the STOL CH 701 and the ZODIAC CH 601 designs, and subsequently developed the STOL CH 801, the ZODIAC CH 601 XL, and the new STOL CH 750 light sport utility airplane.
As founder, president and chief engineer of Zenair Ltd. since 1974, Heintz designed and developed more than 12 new aircraft models, which have been marketed as kit aircraft around the world. More than 800 aircraft are presently flying around the world in 48 different countries. Heintz designs have earned an excellent reputation among pilots, builders, the press, and aviation authorities for their durable all-metal construction, normal flight characteristics, reliability, and low maintenance requirements. With a career-long dedication to aviation, Chris Heintz is a past recipient of the EAA’s coveted Dr. August Raspet Memorial Award "for outstanding contribution to the advancement of the design of light aircraft," and his designs have been honored with numerous awards around the world. In 1995 the Federation Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) awarded Zenair Ltd. the prestigious Honorary Group Diploma for "greatly contributing to the progress of aviation" and Chris Heintz was inducted into the EAA "Hall of Fame" in 1999. Heintz was awarded the Light Aircraft Manufacturers' Association / KITPLANES magazine 2001 President's Award For Outstanding Individual at Oshkosh AirVenture in 2001. In 1996, Chris Heintz and Zenair Ltd. obtained FAA type-certification for the ZENITH CH 2000, a two-seat low-wing aircraft based on Heintz' kit aircraft designs.
A leading authority on light aircraft design and market direction, Heintz has worked closely with aviation authorities and organizations in developing new aircraft regulations and has been actively involved in promoting aviation (and industry) in developing countries. Chris Heintz directly participated in promoting, developing and implementing the standards for the FAA's Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft category. While Heintz is officially retired, he is still active as a designer and engineer.
- Previously published articles by Chris Heintz
- Video Clip: Chris Heintz candidly discusses learning to fly and more...