May 13, 2021

Remembering Chris Heintz, Designer of the Zenith


Chris Heintz, who designed the Zenith aircraft platform, passed away at age 82 on April 30 at his home Southern France. He completed his professional aeronautical training at one of Europe’s most prestigious engineering schools, the ETA in Zurich, Switzerland, and would become known around the world for his aircraft design and development.

He began his career with Avion Pierre Robin, a manufacturer of wood and fabric low-wing aircraft. During his free time, he would also design and built his own personal two-seater, which would become the Zenith CH 200.

Heintz then immigrated to Canada in 1973 with his wife, Annemarie, and five children, taking on a job with De Havilland Aircraft of Canada in Toronto, working with the engineering crew for the Dash-7 (tail section). Heintz would found Zenair in 1974, working with his friend Gerry Boudreau in Richmond, Ontario, before moving into a commercial building in the town of Nobleton.

Zenair from the beginning of its existence offered drawings and kits to enthusiasts to assemble their own recreational aircraft. As CEO and chief engineer, Zenair explains Heintz would introduce a new aircraft design every few years, while Zenair manufactured the airframe kits for it. The Nobleton location would become home to Zenair for the next 10 years, and the birthplace for the CH 100 series, the CH 300 and the Zipper ultralight series.

Zenair is now one of the most experienced and well-established light aircraft manufacturers in the world, with many kits now also produced in the United States by Zenith Aircraft Company, which purchased the rights to do so in 1992. As noted by the company upon his passing, “Chris has touched the lives of thousands throughout his exceedingly productive professional life.”

(Photo: Zenair)