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Europa XS monowheel

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Europa XS monowheel

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Old 17th Jun 2009, 10:35
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Ah irony, a rich seam if carefully mined!
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Old 17th Jun 2009, 10:37
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I own a Europa TriGear XS with the Rotax 914 engine. The 914 is basically a turbocharged 80 hp 912 that will give 100hp in "normal" usage but with a max of 115hp for a max of 5 minutes when needed

With 2 up and full tanks the take off run is well under 250 metres on dry grass (never accurately measured it) WITHOUT using the extra 15 hp, the "book" says 150meters or so - but that is on a hard runway.

I do have a CS Prop (Arplast) which gives superb performance and economy - cruise at 110 knots on about 12-13 lph. That's about 45 mpg in real money

The monowheel is more slippery through the air and should give about an extra 5 knots over the trigear all other things being equal. HOWEVER ground handling is, how shall I put it, "interesting" with the monowheel in any sort of significant cross wind.

I have personally never flown a monowheel but been a PAX in one and to say the landing roll was "squirelly" is to defame squirrels - rudder inputs were close to bicycle riding in a low gear up a steep hill - fast and firm.

Those who fly the monowheel tend to love them - they are cheap to fly, have excellent performance and handling as an air-craft, as a land-craft they are not the easiest in the world.

I like my trigear even though the Europa traditionalists refer to them as he "one's with the training wheels" - at least the TriGear doesn't have those silly little baby stabilisers.

Summary - I wouldn't recommend the monowheel for a newbie PPL with no tail dragger experience - a ground loop (or worse) waiting to happen.
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 09:31
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Go for the Europa. Second hand prices are very low compared to similar type and performance. Choose the 912s preferably with a wobbly prop. Running costs will be a fraction of the 172. If you don't like the mono you can always convert it to a trigear.
Don't worry to much about the handling as long as you get good conversion training and follow up. Pm me if you wish further info.
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 23:03
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As others have said, the Europa can be a much cheaper aircraft to run than say a 172. With the proper training, it is a most rewarding flying machine with excellent handling characteristics in the air.

However, the ground handling can be a real challenge. Take off was invariably a very busy time. As an ex owner with many hundreds of hours on type, and having coached others onto Europas through the (then) PFA coaching scheme, may I offer some insights into the challenges?

The 80hp 912 can be considered rather under powered for the take off, especially with a fixed pitch prop, grass, at Max all up weight etc. As mentioned, take off with gear down by definition meant full flap was obligatory also, so plenty of drag there. With a variable pitch prop, it was usually set as fine as possible for best acceleration, which as you will soon see, would cause its own set of problems later...

Increasing the throttle for take off caused a slight swing to the left, easily corrected by a small amount of right pedal. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the rudder, rather it was by virtue of the powerful steering from the rudder-linked tail wheel, with significant weight on it giving excellent traction. Once over 25 kts, the tail could be gently raised, causing 2 immediate challenges:

First, the wings must now be held level using ailerons (up until now, they were held level by the struts which are mounted on the wings BEHIND the monowheel). By lifting the tail, the struts are now off the deck, so the wings need to be flown and held level using aileron.

Secondly, no there is no longer any tail wheel steering, only rudder can keep you straight, and believe me, full rudder movement was usually required at this low speed, especially if there was any crosswind from the left. Any left crosswind over about 7 knots, and it was worth considering a tailwind take off to put the crosswind from the right. Look how many monowheel Europas went left off the runway and groundlooped straight into the accident statistics on the take off roll.

By now, all being well, the Europa is still on the runway, and accelerating to flying speed. Any small bump would now launch you airbourne, at critically low speed, and it was a 50 / 50 whether you bumped back on, or she just managed to claw her way through the air, nose very high, just inches off the deck. Floating just inches above the ground, with an airspeed which is taking what seems like an eternity to increase, the engine would likely be at max RPM by now, so a quick jab at the electric prop pitch switch would trim off 200RPM or so to keep the revs below redline, but still just enough revs to keep the gradual acceleration coming. All this, whilst holding her as low as possible to the ground, wings level, as she struggled to gain an extra knot or 2 against the full flap. Now we're ready for the big one - lifting the flaps to a half way setting to reduce the drag from the full flaps, and to have some chance of better acceleration. This also lifted the big monowheel half way up too, further reducing drag - so far so good.

But easy tiger! Just this slight flap retraction caused - yes, you guessed it - two more challenges! First, it allowed the Europa to drop, significantly, whilst we're already as low as we can be to gain maximum benefit from ground effect, with the nose already very high from the very low airspeed. And secondly, with the monowheel half up, now there is nothing to stop any sink back down to Mother Earth from causing a propstrike, and inevitably the end of the show for today.

If all has gone to plan so far, with airspeed now beginning to rise, keeping as low as possible to maximise ground effect to reduce induced drag, the flaps can be raised fully, along with the monowheel, and another sink downwards hastily corrected with further judicious aft stick to prevent propstrike. But at last some proper acceleration can begin now that we're finally clean, for the climb out at 85 kts. Of course, by now the RPM is nudging the redline again, requiring further attention...

By now, some considerable distance has been covered, often well over 1,000m, before any safe climb can even be considered, especially at MAUW, meaning that long runways without obstructions on the climb-out path were required for safe operation.

Please don't get me wrong, I loved the Europa monowheel, it had real character, and was delightfully rewarding to fly, but she was a handful on or near the ground. Obviously a 172 is far simpler in almost every aspect, but most pilots would learn to cope with the Europa's quirks and foibles with the right training. But you could never take you eye off her for a take off or a landing - she was already to remind you that she needed constant attention and a delicate hand in a split second.

Possibly the Europa monowheel is best summed up by a most highly experienced pilot (an instructor since the 70s, ATPL, TRE, biz-jet owner, helicopter pilot, glider pilot) friend who once commented to me that he would never own one... because he could never own an aircraft that required such absolute concentration on every single take off, and just wouldn't let him relax.

Enjoy - but PLEASE be sure to take plenty of training, take time and care to learn her quirky ways in gentle conditions, and never become complacent with one near the ground.
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 23:46
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Simon M

Having read two pages of this thread my original understanding that the monowheel Europa can be a bit of a handful on or near the ground seems to be confirmed by many experienced Europa pilots with many more hours than you will have when you have your PPL

IMHO you would be nuts to go for the Monowheel.

Cusco
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Old 22nd Jun 2009, 01:00
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OK for the monowheel, it saves you some weight (possibly), but coupling together gear and flap operations was really one of the smartest ideas in the history of light aircraft design... not!
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Old 22nd Jun 2009, 13:57
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Question for Pilotmike:

To what degree does the story change for a 912S (100HP) or 914 (115HP) engine with a CS prop and with the extended wheelbase Europa XS..?

I thought I'd heard that take-off becomes a less fraught affair than with the 80HP / fixed pitch prop / short wheelbase Classic.
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Old 22nd Jun 2009, 14:53
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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The 100HP and 115HP variants improved the situation considerably, as all of the extra 20(or 35)HP is available to accelerate the aircraft through the 'close-to-the-ground' flap retraction sequence. It would also allow the flap retraction to be carried out a few feet higher, ie. by allowing a small climb away from the danger zone close to the ground, without sacrificing acceleration.

The CS prop is ideal, as it keeps the engine at optimum RPM without the requirement of somewhat haphazard jabbing at the prop pitch switch. This removes the distraction of doing the tricky balancing act between having enough RPM to accelerate, yet not so many as to risk hurting the engine, allowing you to concentrate on the other main balancing act of keeping the prop off the ground through the flap retraction and acceleration phase.

I have no experience of the extended wheelbase (other than the early mod to move the tailwheel aft, as already mentioned by others). However I must assume that it improves the situation, as compared with the original monowheel with fixed pitch prop and 80HP Rotax 912.

As others have suggested, the tri-gear eliminated most of the ground handling difficulties associated with the monowheel, though it did add some of its own. Taxying across, or worse still, up a slope at an angle could be very difficult, without any nose wheel steering to help. It often required application of very high RPM against full 'up slope' rudder, plus jabbing at the top brake to stike a delicate balance between forward movement and braking action to keep the nose from turning downhill. The free castoring nosewheel offered no help here, and any 'stiction' in its movement would invariably allow it to turn downhill, where it opposed the required direction of travel, and then required an even bigger struggle to get it to point back up the hill. But at least the fixed gear allowed the flap to be used as required, without full drag flap being compulsory for every takeoff!
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Old 22nd Jun 2009, 23:06
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Mono

I'd say the Mono is being portrayed as more of a beast than it deserves to be.
Like all homebuilts, there's a wide variation in empty weights, like 140 lbs.
And there are many different powerplant/prop combinations.. So some perform markedly better.
One thing the Mono is very sensitive to is over-zealous footwork. All that does is to set up a sequence of chasing the previous corrections. The rudder/tailwheel steering is quite direct, so usually inputs should be quite small and at the right time. Not after it's gone off heading by 10 degrees !
Operating off grass is much easier than tarmac, as with any tailwheel a/c.
There are plenty of tailwheel aircraft that can be a handful on the ground if you let them get ahead of you.
If you want to see how not to do it, look at Dragon Lady on Youtube !
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 07:41
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Mono

Interesting posts looking at the mono's handling. Perhaps the following consolidate observation's by PM and TTT.

To understand many of the Mono's ground handling characteristics get out your old bike, blow up the tires and go for a ride.

Roll left or right, the bike tracks left or right. Roll left followed by a right steering input the bike will sharply roll more left. Track straight then steer right produces a sharp roll left followed by track to the left. Increasing speed produces greater effect for less input. So as we all innately know, when riding a bike, control of roll controls track direction - the Monowheel is no different.

Slipstream and precession yaw the mono left add in a single left hand seat pilot producing left roll and the net result is track to the left. Coordinated right aileron, producing right roll, and right rudder is required to track straight.

Cross wind take offs demonstrate this point well. Traditional teaching is into wind aileron on take off roll. Left aileron for left cross wind will produce left roll and track, worsening with increasing speed. Right rudder alone will not overcome this and the other factors producing yaw left. Counterintuitively, right aileron is required for left cross wind take offs. Although speculation I think failure to appreciate these issues were the cause of early reported ground loops which were usually to the left.

Landing roll out frequently is associated with small rolls left and right as both outriggers don't touch simultaneously. Dealing with the tracking changes primarily with rudder, not aileron, can easily produce PIO's.
So yes the Mono has distinct characteristics which a good trainer will make you appreciate and handle well, leaving you to enjoy all the other previously mentioned features of the Europa.

As has been said many aircraft have ground handling issues but if they give the flying you want then don't be afraid of getting stuck in, otherwise you may never get to fly a Pitts!
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 14:00
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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I would dispute that a Europa monowheel handles anything like an old bike. I particularly have to take issue with this statement:
So as we all innately know, when riding a bike, control of roll controls track direction - the Monowheel is no different
To suggest that directional control on the ground should be controlled by 'roll' is incorrect and risky. Sure, given the C of G is above the monowheel, when sharp directional (yaw) inputs are made, it can tend to rock the aircraft over to the 'outside' outrigger which would need a small correction with aileron. However this is purely to correct a secondary effect of the yaw and it should not be considered or intended as the 'cause' of the yaw, ie. using aileron rather than rudder for directional control.

In any case, there cannot be significant 'roll' with the tail wheel on the ground, as the outriggers prevent it. Once the tail is lifted, the outriggers are sufficiently well clear of the ground that any contact between them and the ground is highly undesirable, as it would be caused by too great a wing drop to be acceptable on the ground.

If however you are inferring that by digging in an outrigger wheel, this is a suitable way to effect a turn or yaw to correct any directional error, then I must strongly disagree. I would bet that every Europa that has groundlooped off a runway (and there have been plenty of them) has done so DESPITE having the 'outside' outrigger pressed hard into the runway, caused by the secondary roll effect that I have already described. This shows that roll should not be considered for directional control instead of timely application of rudder, as correctly suggested by others.

As with all other aircraft, the ailerons ought to be used to keep the wings as level as possible, and directional control should be effected with rudder.

I must add that your post most certainly did not consolidate any of my observations.

I would urge anyone who is considering flying the Europa monowheel to take instruction from a qualified coach / instructor, rather than to consider the contributions in this thread as instructional guidance.

I must add that I agree with Them thar hills that I may have given a slightly dramatised description of the challenges facing the pilot during take off, and some might wrongly consider the monowheeled Europa a beast as a result. This was not my intention; rather I had intended to highlight some of the differences that a pilot who had only ever flown relatively easy tri-gear aircraft, such as the 172, might find on transition to a Europa.

Last edited by pilotmike; 23rd Jun 2009 at 14:23.
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 14:12
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Our experience was that fitting the Airmaster CS prop transformed the takeoff performance of the 80 hp 912 Europa. With the fixed pitch prop, it had to be set so coarse to avoid overspeed in the fast cruise that it was only generating some 60hp for a large part of the takeoff. Now the takeoff is pretty brisk such that the control difficulties in a crosswind are much less apparent and it has a nice combination of takeoff and economical cruise performance, averaging 15 l/hr for 120 kt.
However the landing problems in crosswinds remain, particularly on less than smooth hard surfaces where the tailwheel tends to skip. Each time it does this, a big rudder input is required, then when the tailwheel touches down again, there is a sharp yaw the other way. It's easy to get out of phase and the only solution is to be very conservative about allowable crosswind components until considerable experience is gained (about 5kt left and 7kt right).
With the wind up to about 20 deg off the nose, it's easy to wonder what all the fuss is about and get lulled into a false sense of security
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 23:53
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Buy one and it will make you a better pilot

Rotorfossil and others - I agree this little aircraft does far better with a VP prop - (after going through a couple of warp drive fixed pitch props and an arplast fixed pitch (worst of the lot) mine had an arplast VP prop fitted and I somehow miraculously managed not to break it!
The increased acceleration during the ground roll combined with lower rpm in cruise was worth the spend for the VP prop.

I also agree that cross wind limits (and into wind limits) needed to be closely observed.
25kt on the nose and you are tossed around like a leaf on the wind. touching down smoothly in these conditions could be challenging to say the least (can be in any light aircraft through)
Basically it is such a light aircraft that it lacks inertia and gets picked up like a leaf in the wind in gusty situations.

I still have a soft spot for the monowheel europa - learning to cope with its handling made me a better pilot (just like learning to fly in an R22 helicopter makes you that bit more sensitive in a helicopter when you upgrade later on) - it was so efficient, I remember the days when I was filling with unleaded gas in the USA for pennies. Once we landed for fuel on a summer's evening at Sandusky Ohio and the fuellers had gone home, so we hitched to a gas station a couple of miles away, filled up some cans and continued across the lake to London Ontario, what fun!

I took mine to Oshkosh and sun' n fun - we landed at Meig's field Chicago (before the mayor bulldozed it) and Toronto Island airfield.

The gear-linked-to-flaps design never fazed me.
The aircraft was underpowered at MTOW and needed more runway but learning this was good discipline for later (mine had the 80hp rotax and cruised at 130kts burning a fractiion of what my (by far the most efficient in its class) Mooney Ovation 2 burns to produce 180kts!

The monowheel seemed more at home on grass - the big swing arm and outriggers seemed to ride the bumps out far better on grass than any other aircraft I have flown off grass before or since.

I was sad to see mine go.

SB
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Old 7th Mar 2011, 10:45
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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New PPL Europa Monowheel pilot

Hi All,


Ive seen this thread several times while looking into whether or not I should buy a share in the Europa Monowheel that i really wanted. To be able to go a good distance at a decent speed for a quarter of the hourly cost of hiring a 152 is extremely appealing and for a new PPL a great way to build hours, whether it be towards CPL or just to get experience and get flying.

I went for the Europa Monowheel as my first aircraft, with only a couple of hours post PPL in the schools 152s.

I found the conversion quite tricky and time consuming, partly as I have no experience with taildraggers or complex aircraft at all and partly due to the fact that there arent many instructors that are able to clear me on a Europa Monowheel and do the relevant complex and taildragger ratings, and of course the great British weather!

Already I have learnt so much from flying it, it is quite tricky to handle on the ground, but with proper instruction im doing ok with it. The tricky part is keeping it in a straight line - as part of my PPL training on a 152 I had to do very little rudder work at all, so most of my training has simply been learning to use the rudder properly.

Most of the first part of my training was on grass, so the tailwheel would slide quite a lot making the controls less sensitive, so when the tail is lifted (30-35 kts) there isnt too much of a change in directional control. When I then moved onto a hard surface I was all over the place (my instructor knew I would be but it was a neccesary step), it became so sensitive but after a few goes and an excellent instructor I got the hang of it and it gave me a better understanding of what the aircraft was doing. I could really feel the difference when the tailwheel came off the ground, it was easier to feel the differences if the wings werent kept level, which made the rudder work so much harder as the drag of the outriggers pulled the aircraft round and is one of the things I need to practice.

Some practice and a good instructor have given me a good start point on the Europa. I still have loads to learn, needs loads of practice, but I'm safely flying a Europa Monowheel having logged just 8 hours of training spread over several months and I have learnt so much more than I could have done in a 152. I will do further time with the instructor from time to time to help develop my skills, but for now Im going to stick to low winds and a crosswind of no more than 6 kts.

But for anyone thinking of getting a Europa Monowheel, do it! It is such a lovely aircraft to fly and is so cheap to run Im glad I decided to go for it and not wimp out hearing the horror stories. Just takes a sensible assement of conditions and I know from experience that it can get quite a long way out of shape before doing any harm, but if your that far out of shape the engine is so responsive you can just put in full power and go around again. Only thing I would say is get a good instructor (Nigel Willson, based at Earls Colne is excellent), and fly it as regularly as possible.

Other members of the sydicate who have considerable taildragger experience and many hours found the transition easier, but it is still quite a unique handling aircraft, so is still a lot to learn for any pilot.
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Old 7th Mar 2011, 15:48
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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Ph1l,

Is your Europa an XS?
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Old 7th Mar 2011, 16:06
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Yes it is, with a 912S.
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Old 12th Aug 2015, 15:29
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Well, reading these threads I am glad I purchased my Europa mono wheel prior to reading them or I might have changed my mind!

I would agree that it is not the easiest aircraft to fly and as has been stressed a slightly different technique is required but once you have got the hang of it it is so rewarding to fly. Vigilance and concentration is required during the T/O and landing phases and an awareness of where the wind is coming from, yes
absolutely.
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Old 13th Aug 2015, 11:16
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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I would agree that it is not the easiest aircraft to fly
I think it's very pleasant and easy to fly.

To take-off and land on the other hand...

G
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Old 13th Aug 2015, 17:59
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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I owned a Europa Trigear 115hp 412 for a few years and loved every minute in the little aircraft. The owner had converted it from the monowheel a few years before after a ground loop and taking out a few runway lights at Leeds Bradford. The undercarriage was a little bouncy but no problems otherwise.

I had a test flight in a monowheel before buying mine, and the owner (3 years experience) bounced it and nearly groundlooped on the demo flight! He too, emphasised the 'keeps you sharp' aspect of monowheel flying.

As someone who frequently has to take a few weeks off flying, I don't need anything that's a real challenge to land and take-off, but appreciate it can be fun if you are up to it and current.
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Old 13th Aug 2015, 20:14
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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I've flown, and instructed in all three U/C versions of the Europa, and most of the engine/prop combinations too.

There's no doubt that a constant speed prop transforms the T/O performance.

Regarding the Monowheel, I was flying with Ivan Shaw just the other day, in his Liberty XL, and the conversation drifted onto the Europa, and the Monowheel in particular.

He was happy to admit that it was not until the accident reports started coming in that he realised, like many test pilots, that he had based his assessment of the 'average PPL holder' on himself, and that, in reality, it required above average ability/experience to fly safely.

The Monowheel Europa is not just another tailwhell aircraft. It has quite a few unusual features and quirks, some of which have already been mentioned, not least of which is it's heavy reliance on it's tailwheel steering for directional control when taking off /landing. In some conditions, this can lead to a small deviation becoming an uncontrollable event in the blink of an eye.

I would thoroughly endorse Pilotmike's parting comment with the following additions.

Enjoy - but PLEASE be sure to take plenty of training,
with an Instructor experienced on the type,
take time and care to learn her quirky ways in gentle conditions, and never become complacent with one
on, or
near the ground.

MJ

Last edited by Mach Jump; 13th Aug 2015 at 20:30. Reason: Punctuation.
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