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After reading this article, Eric Giles, agent for ICP Savannah in the USA, contacted Max Tedesco, and they have now formed a partnership to market Max's latest design, which they've named the 'Spirit'. They'll be at booth 260 at Oshkosh 2011.

Have a look at their website http://www.worldaircraftco. com/Spirit.html

I’ve known the 701<>Savannah part of this story for many years, but only recently has the full story emerged.  It needs to be told.


The Origins of both the 701 and the Savannah aircraft designs


We keep hearing the accusation that the ICP Savannah is a rip-off copy of the CH701. 

Well, that’s not true at all.

This is the true story of how it all happened.


At Sun’nFun 1983, Chris Heintz and Max Tedesco, who had first met in 1980, started considering the possibility of designing an all-metal ultralight using conventional aircraft construction.  At that time most ultralights were very basic tube and fabric construction. 


First sketches started on scraps of paper and napkins right then, at a Lakeland café, one evening from 6 pm to midnight, with Max’s younger daughter sleeping on a chair…   This was followed by six trips from Columbia to Canada by Tedesco, to work on the design with Heintz, and  to check the flying characteristics of the plane, Max being a very experienced pilot, and a good test pilot.  Several modifications were incorporated to the design following these test flights.  That’s a considerable involvement!  Max is a very modest man, so when he emphasizes to me that he contributed a lot to that process, I take that to mean a whole lot. 


So the 701 itself wasn’t designed only by Chris Heintz, it was already very much a joint venture.   Now that’s a surprise to all of you, eh!!! 

But as Max says, “An aircraft design needs only one ‘father’, so Chris took on that roll and Max stayed in the background.


At this point we need to introduce Max Tedesco.  Born in Colombia, he went to a Technical High School in Italy, studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT, then Aeronautical Engineering at McGill University, specializing in monocoque and semi-monocoque construction.  He set up an aircraft factory in Colombia and built a variety of aircraft under license, often modified for agricultural spraying.  These are ideal qualifications and experience to work on the design of an aircraft such as the 701.  To learn more about Max have a look at


When the prototype 701 was flying, Heintz began selling plans and kits from Canada, while Tedesco returned to Colombia and commenced manufacturing ready-to-fly 701s under license to Zenair.  By 1990, when I first met him at Sun’nFun, Tedesco had built 112 701s for the South American market, and had introduced in 1989, the first 80% ready kit as a world exclusive.  


In those days, Zenair used to assemble a 701 during the week of Sun’nFun and fly it at the end of the air show.  I noticed that the quick-build kit that we assembled at Sun’nFun in 1990 was one of those made in Colombia, not Canada....  


Max is an innovative and experimental engineer, and couldn’t help seeking improvements to the 701.  Any designer will know that a first prototype can almost always be improved, and evolution leads to better and better results.  The 701 prototype had lots of aspects that could be improved (and it still does....)  Max was never satisfied with the cutaway over the cabin and the inverted airfoil horizontal stabilizer.  So Max redesigned the 701 to become the first MXP 740 in October 1992, with a longer wing, and a different cockpit construction to accommodate the carry-through centre wing section instead of the cut-away.  Also, a different tail section, with a symmetrical horizontal stabilizer instead of the inverted airfoil of the 701, larger elevator, and conventional rudder on a fixed vertical stabilizer. 


In Kitplanes Magazine December 1997 there’s a photograph of Chris and Max in Colombia looking over an MXP 640, Max’s derivation of the 601 which was completed in November 92.  This was a month after the first 740, so Chris saw and experienced the 740 at that time.  Chris had a chance to incorporate those mods, but chose to stay with the original 701, while Max went on to produce the 740’s.

At Sun'nFun 1993, Max displayed his MXP 740 and his low-wing 650, in cooperation with Zenith on their display.  There was a lot of customer interest in Max's designs!  But Chris and Max decided not to continue that cooperation.  The 650 was equipped with a 912 with a turbo of Max's design, which attracted a lot of interest from Rotax representatives.  A couple of years later Rotax came out with their 914 turbo model.


Max was exporting 740’s to an agent in Italy for the European market, and had shipped 142 ready-made aircraft there.  Little did he realize that the agent had set up a factory nearby, which became ICP, and who then disassembled a 740 and copied it into a CNC machine. 




Credit where credit is due, eh........

Full credit must go to Max Tedesco! 

He designed a great aircraft, for which others are now reaping the benefit...... 


Max couldn’t find any protection from patent law, and so his company ended up in bankruptcy and he lost his house as well........ 


Then, how about the twisted irony that, when BRM in Portugal copied the Savannah, ICP tried to sue them!  I’m told that lawsuit failed, and so it should have.....


But the sad story doesn’t end there at all, read on........



To see the series of airplanes that Max has been designing since, have a look at

All of those aircraft are Max’s designs, including the MXP model numbers he assigned them.  That deal also ended in a mess, and now Max gets no return for his work in those designs...


But to demonstrate how good Max’s aircraft designs are, have a look at this -

That’s not only brilliant piloting, but also demonstrates the slow speed handling of that beautiful, sleek, graceful, aircraft that’s good for near 100kts (125mph) cruise, and STOL performance pretty much equal to a 701.  Evolution in action!


Aero-East posts that video on their website as if it’s their work, but this is the real story as told by Max –



“....The film of the MXP TUMACO landing "around the corner" is an airplane built by us in Colombia..... but the Serbs took advantage of it. The Pilot is Valentino, a friend of mine and the film was taken in my presence at Castelletto Stura in Italy, headquarters of our distributor for MXP Aircraft at that time "bankrupted" on purpose by the Serbs.  Definitely this world is full of sh.....!”






But the sad story goes on even further......


There’s an aircraft marketed in Australia, named the ‘Magic’, produced by ‘Ibis Aircraft’ in Colombia. 

I immediately recognized it as Max’s design, and assumed that he was back in business.  But when I contacted him after many years to wish him well, he told another story of sordid betrayal......


Quote (Dec 2010)-

“....After the bankruptcy of my factory here, following the ICP debacle, my ex workers, worst of all captained by my two highly trained technicians, (18 years of training..!!) established their own "facility" twenty miles from ours, in a secondary road (rather hidden!!) and of course without us knowing a thing...Something like ICP did to us some eleven years ago..

My ex workers established the IBIS ...... WITHOUT MY COOPERATION (hidden manner!) and with what they had learned at the "University Agrocopteros".. When I first started Agrocopteros in 1971, there were no technicians in
Colombia, I trained all of them....  When you go to the university usually you have to pay to learn..... At Agrocopteros we paid to teach them....


Initially the Ibis "Magic", named like that as a consequence of our MXP 745 named at that time "Fantasy"... had our wing, tail empennage, interior, landing gear, engine mount and others. Along this past years they have copied several wings from others until what the Ibis Magic is today. If you ask who is the engineer behind the thing ???? Nobody can tell.!!!  No paternity!! As there is no paternity in ICP….. and no paternity in Aero East products…..


So I don't have any economic benefit whatsoever from the Ibis ‘Magic’!!....


It seems to be my destiny ... maybe because we design very successful and good airplanes?????  So we have a lot of copy-cats...........”






But now a more recent and hopeful note from Max himself:


Quote (Feb 2011)-

“....So again I was forced to design NEW airplanes that will be unveiled in Italy next spring. The MXP 150 KIMBAYA- 2, a super performing high wing, the MXP 680 CALIMA LW, a low wing very beautiful, high performing and easy to fly airplane, and the MXP 100 EMBERA high wing tandem entry level. By the way all the names correspond to pre-Colombian Indian entities of our country.... Colombia.


We work today with a few of my old and faithful technicians, some new guys and my very "peculiar" way of producing our airplanes, product of 38 years of experience in aircraft manufacturing.. with absolute repetitiveness and without CNC machines… and faster,  thus being able to offer good finished airplanes at very competitive prices.

Yes, I am still friends with Chris Heintz, who is retired and lives with his wife in
France. I have not seen him for quite a while.


By the way, while we are still in the “road of truth”, I must also relate my last experience with Zenair.  In 2005, twenty five years after I first met with Chris, his sons Mathieu and Sebastian visited us in Colombia because they needed a high wing aircraft that would truly comply with the LSA regulation that was soon to be unveiled by the  FAA.

So we came to an agreement on the KIMBAYA (previous model of today’s KIMBAYA-2), totally manufactured and finished in Colombia, that was to be distributed by AMD (Aircraft Manufacturing and Developing) of USA).

The  first KIMBAYA airplane was then shipped and presented by AMD as the “PATRIOT”(!?!?) at Lakeland with great success and interest among visitors.

Mathieu then decided they wanted a more performing and “better looking” (??) wing, so six month later the new wing was tested and  unveiled, and  the first KIMBAYA-2 with the new wing was sent to AMD.  I must admit that we were somehow lucky with the performance results of this new wing: stall speed of 36 mph and cruise speed of 125 with Rotax 100HP- the best wing ever!!. The KIMBAYAS sent to USA were with Continental 100HP.


Parallel to this event, unfortunately, the wings of the Zenair Zodiac low wing airplanes, that were assembled by kit builders….. and elsewhere…., started having serious and fatal problems, thus affecting the economic  stability of AMD,  that together with other problems, ended up in the liquidation of the same two years ago. So that was the end of our late and last economic venture with Zenair, and the unveiling of the “Patriot” in the USA

Eastman Aviation took over the remaining assets of AMD company, and responded to old AMD Zodiac customers fixing their problem.


Recently Eastman Aviation contacted us, and we are now in the process of developing a Law Enforcement airplane, (to substitute helicopters) that will be called the ‘Guardian’. At the moment all the law enforcement equipment, for testing and promotion purposes, is mounted on a Zenair 750, part of the assets of the late AMD.  In the near future the platforms will be derived from the latest version of the KIMBAYA-2.


Last but not least…. On my recent visit last month (Jan 2011) to Eastman Aviation factory, in Georgia, I saw the first Kimbaya we had shipped to AMD (no engine); so I asked about the Kimbaya-2 with the new wing. I was told then that before foreclosing of AMD, the airplane was disassembled and sent to Zenair in Canada…. Nobody knows more…. Is history repeating itself…??  Hope not!     

Thank you for your interest...  I really appreciate this.....”




Well, Max, we sure do hope that history isn’t repeating itself......

Surely you’ve had enough of that sort of history.....



Note - This expose' does not cast any doubts on the ownership of the the design of the CH701 by Chris Heintz.  It is not meant cast aspersions on Chris Heintz or Zenair.  It only attempts to give credit where credit is due, and detail the path of how the Savannah design came to be.


To confirm any of this story, and find out more about his new MXP 160 Kimbaya-2 and MXP 680 Calima LW designs, you can contact Max direct at

See also - 701<>Savannah Comparisons


After reading this article, Eric Giles, agent for ICP Savannah in the USA, contacted Max Tedesco, and they have now formed a partnership to market Max's latest design, which they've named the 'Spirit'.  They'll be at booth 260 at Oshkosh 2011.

Have a look at their website http://www.worldaircraftco. com/Spirit.html