Kitplanes for Africa began producing the Bushbaby in 1993. The initial aircraft was modelled on the popular and very successful Kitfox 4. The design philosophy was not to reinvent but rather to refine and try to produce as much as possible locally, keeping production costs to a minimum.
The fuselage is constructed from tig welded tubular steel. The wing spars are extruded from 6061 T6 aluminium. Composite parts are the fuel tanks, flaperons, seat and cowlings. Bungees form the standard suspension but other systems are also available. The wings, fuselage and tail control surfaces are fabric covered.
Seating is dual, side by side with both seats having access to all engine and flight controls. Fuel capacity is 70,100 or 115 litres in the wings and a 5 litre header tank.
Very early Bushbaby models were limited to a MAUW of 450 kgs (not due to design but due to pilot license restrictions) and popular engine choices were VW, Rotax 912 UL/ULS and Rotax 582. After further wing load testing the MAUW was increased to 500kgs then 550kgs. 160 plus Bushbaby airframes were produced with small structural upgrades along the way but no major changes took place.
In 2003 the airframe benefited from some significant upgrades and the Explorer was born. Structural changes to the fuselage and spar carry-through truss allowed a higher maximum takeoff weight of 600kgs, the cockpit was widened, the roof truss raised, the vertical fin including rudder raised and widened.
In 2008 the Safari was developed and like the Explorer this is also a further development of the original Bushbaby. The Safari has an 8 inch wider cockpit and firewall, longer fuselage, higher tail fin, larger elevator and rudder. Upon final type acceptance it is expected that the MAUW weight for the Safari will be 700kgs. All 3 models use exactly the same wing profile and size though the Safari has the lift strut attachment some 300mm further outboard and a aluminum doubler inside the spar at the lift strut attachment points.
Stefan Coetzee acquired 100% ownership of the company in 2011 and has grown the business to a stage where expansion in infrastructure became necessary. It was decided that it would benefit the company to move closer to the main South African hub of Johannesburg rather than invest further in Komatipoort. A search started for the perfect venue and it was eventually decided that the Petit Airfield (FARA) would offer the best of all worlds.
Development and refinement of the product is ongoing, engine choices tried and tested with excellent results are Rotax 582, 912UL and 912ULSS,Jabiru 2200, 3300, Rotec radial 2800, UL 260i, Lycoming and Verner radial. Options are actively explored with spring gear, Berringer Alsakan Bushwheel and landing gear, EFIS instrumentation, dual hydraulic brakes, LED strobe lighting and full airframe fairing kits offered.
To date Kitplanes for Africa has produced in excess of 300 airframes, some of which have been exported to Australia, USA, UK, Netherlands, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.