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Thread: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

  1. #676
    Registered User Hot Wings's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by bmcj View Post

    There may be a broad line between easy and tough lawsuit decisions, but we tend to give big awards based on absurd claims. That has to stop for the sake of the industry and for all of us.
    This isn't just limited to manufacturers. You shouldn't be able to sue private contractor controllers that gave permission for someone to do something stupid when the pilot was told before hand by locals that what he was going to do was stupid.
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post

    The confusion for you here is common and hard to explain.
    Apparently so.


    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post

    But only those that get approved using ASTM standards can be manufactured ready to fly. Since no ASTM approved small engines exist yet, it follows that no small light airplane have been approved yet.
    My intent is to change the rules if possible.

    So simple question, that no one has logged an engine or single seater under ASTM makes it ASTM's fault how?

    It couln't possibly be as simple as a cost exersize proving to manufacturers that it isn't a profitable arena to enter?





    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Wings View Post
    Cheapracer:
    The fact that the FAA found it necessary to crack down on the "hired guns" building Experimental planes for those with $'s shows that there is demand for airplanes other than those offered by existing manufacturers. Not all potential aviators have the ability, time or space to build their own planes. LSA was to fill at least some of that demand. The reasons it hasn't are still being debated.
    So hang on, people are assembling other people's planes for them just like LSA manufacturers do but the LSA manufacturers don't/can't fill that demand?? - so I figure see the difference see the reason and of course money immediately comes to mind.

    Maybe the sytstem ain't broke, maybe it's just impossible under the current industry's fragmantation, poor management, hopelessly outdated production methods and too many manufacturers aiming for a higher level market? Throw in CMA (cover my ass) margins for the liability issues as well. That's certainly how I see it anyway.
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    Registered User Rienk's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post
    But only those that get approved using ASTM standards can be manufactured ready to fly. Since no ASTM approved small engines exist yet, it follows that no small light airplane have been approved yet.
    My intent is to change the rules if possible.
    Indeed, appropriate engines for single seat S-LSA is definitely the primary bottleneck in the process of getting certified. We are getting ready to resuscitate our 'Solo' single seat design, using two different mass produced engines. Even when we get the prototypes flying and then optimized, we will only be able to sell them as E-AB until we go through the process of getting the engines ASTM certified (probably a one to two year process). Practically, this means we are up to three years away from selling a ready-to-fly single-seat S-LSA. The current ASTM regs allow for a single seat airplane to have a single ignition system, which is the saving grace of being able to use OTS engines, with minimal modifications for flight.
    In the meantime, we will take advantage of as quick of a "build center" program as we can (ala Glassair's "two weeks to taxi"; hopefully ours will be no more than a week). Even IF we obtain ASTM certification for our engines and aircraft, in practice, many of our potential customers may choose to pursue E-AB anyway. Not only for the freedom to modify the aircraft, but also for the simple fact that our larger engine has a factory installed option for a turbocharger, allowing for over 120 hp. For a modest price increase, this model of the Solo will be able to turbo-normalize up to decent flight levels, and handle density altitude issues with no problem. Of course, the potential speed of this model will significantly bust the top end speed limit of the LSA category... oh darn!

  4. #679
    Registered User Rienk's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapracer View Post
    So hang on, people are assembling other people's planes for them just like LSA manufacturers do but the LSA manufacturers don't/can't fill that demand?? - so I figure see the difference see the reason and of course money immediately comes to mind.

    Maybe the system ain't broke, maybe it's just impossible under the current industry's fragmantation, poor management, hopelessly outdated production methods and too many manufacturers aiming for a higher level market? Throw in CMA (cover my ass) margins for the liability issues as well. That's certainly how I see it anyway.
    LSA manufacturer's can't do this for anyone else - just like Cessna can't.
    In actuality, the problem arose with aircraft well out of the LSA category - mostly in high end kit turboprops (Lancair, Epic, etc). Granted, people have been paying others to "help" build their E-AB's for quite a while, but apparently it was several Epic's that were the "straw that broke the Camel's back".
    My understanding is that the people who can afford those types of aircraft (but didn't want to spend two or three times more on a similar certified plane) didn't have the time or inclination to go through a legitimate "builder assist" program. I know of people who actually sent "owner representatives" through such programs, the true owner (builder) never even showed up to the factory.

    Anyway, the point is that there seems to be a lot of demand for "value" in aircraft (price-performance) at all levels of aviation, and people are willing to pay others to help them get there, a cost that is obviously factored in to the value proposition.
    What the FAA and certified aircraft manufacturers' (and even the EAA) are saying is that these "professional builders" are not certified "manufacturers", and that the E-AB rules are being bent to the breaking point.

    We designed the Envoy (a six-seat turboprop - prototype built but not yet flying) partly with this in mind. Low cost "high end" aircraft designed specifically to have a legitimately short builder assist program (think "four weeks to taxi"). The reality is that if aviation can be made more affordable - at every level of aircraft - there seems to be a pent up demand for flying.

    LSA aircraft is a great "first step" in getting back to inexpensive flying. The potential for other general aviation aircraft to transition to a similar process (ASTM 44) is also very exciting. The wheels of bueracracy turn very slowly, but even the established manufacturers would like to see these changes happen. Hopefully they will. Ideally, existing Kit Plane manufacturers will team up with "professional builders" and can move up to actual manufacturing of "certified" aircraft.
    BTW, the proposed limit on this new proposal is all light aircraft under 6000 pounds - including complex, turboprop - even jets!

  5. #680
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by bmcj View Post
    No need to eliminate tort laws. A healthy dose of common sense is all that is needed to fix the problem. A manufacturer should be held to task if a well maintained plane folds a wing in normal flight, but let's not give big awards to families whose loved one flies a Piper Cub into a cloud and then into a mountainside, basing the award on the fact that the Cub does not meet the current certification standards (but met all of the standards in place at the time of manufacture).

    There may be a broad line between easy and tough lawsuit decisions, but we tend to give big awards based on absurd claims. That has to stop for the sake of the industry and for all of us.
    This was the goal of the major tort reform we got in the late eighties. Unfortunately, it seems not to have accomplished much at the very light end of the spectrum. The major manufacturers got plenty of benefit - it's why Cessna is producing singles again, for example - but the small manufacturer still doesn't have a lot of protection. I completely agree that aggrieved consumers need some recourse in the court system for adequate redress of damages and loss, but IMHO we're still tilted too far in the consumer direction. Awards are still too unconstrained, and we still get absurdities like awards being based on a fifty year-old design not meeting current certification standards.
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  6. #681
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Rienk View Post
    LSA aircraft is a great "first step" in getting back to inexpensive flying.
    Shirley, you can not be serious? Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Comparison Page | AviationBull

    This is all very confusing, I will have to read up on these things a bit....
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    I found an accident investigation of a Colibri MB2 from 2004..it said the canopy had severed wing and caused an accident where plane rolled along longitudal axis..plane was apparently ditching since one of the eyewitness said engine wasn't running. Brügger Colibri - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I wonder if the pilot deliberately tried to jettison the canopy to avoid ditching around in a bubble canopy plane ? Here is the investigation also in english; http://www.turvallisuustutkinta.fi/S...pplication/pdf

  8. #683
    Registered User Rienk's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapracer View Post
    Shirley, you can not be serious? Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Comparison Page | AviationBull

    This is all very confusing, I will have to read up on these things a bit....
    I should probably have clarified that S-LSA is a great "first step" in bringing about inexpensive "certified" aircraft.
    Remember that all sorts of Kitplanes and homebuilts can qualify as LSA aircraft for use with the Sport Pilot certificate.

    As others have noted, building a safe and capable airplane at low cost (acquisition and operations) is a difficult proposition. It will take people a lot smarter than me to do that with cutting edge design, material and processes.
    My journey to get involved with LSA was rather simple. I was a part of building a plans built version of the Cub as a class in highschool, and always dreamed of designing a plane specifically for that type of building environment. While running into difficulties with developing our high-end 'Envoy', I was commiserating with our 3D designer about wanting to develop a plane that young people (high school and college age) could be able to build - and afford. In the two months before that AirVenture, we developed a proof of concept called the TS-1 (tab in slot, version 1) which was a simple to build wood and fabric, single seat aircraft. Unfortunately, we were looking for schools and/or youth programs to partner with us as a non-profit enterprise, but none showed interest. However, there were a lot of individuals who wanted such a plane... but we realized that it was actually more cost effective (and aesthetically pleasing) to develop a composite plane, than a wood and fabric one. Thus, the 'Solo' was born.

    The goal is to have a basic single-seat Sport Aircraft to be available for under $30k, and a two-seat variant for under $60k. As mentioned before, they will start off as E-AB (with a very short "builder assist" program to qualify as home built) until certification is obtained.

    There is nothing earth shattering about how we intend to go about this. The three major areas of expense are labor and materials, engine, and avionics. with modern electronics, the last is virtually a moot point. To reduce engine costs, mass-produced powerplants need to be used (we intend to use two different types). And as far as materials and labor are concerned, we have reduced those with using "outside the box" design and manufacturing concepts (relying on simpler fit and finish techniques, not cutting edge materials). Frankly, a number of people on this forum can probably do a better job of developing such an airplane - I just wanted to have some fun trying.


    Ironically, we wanted to start with a part 103 legal airplane, but didn't know how to build a safe, modern looking aircraft that met the weight limit. Just as relevant, an ultralight would cost as much as a more capable LSA - so we went with that. More important to us, the Solo is also a POC for the two-seat Duet, so we needed to work out the design and manufacturing issues of a more complicated airplane - though we still dream of designing a modern ultralight someday!

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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapracer View Post
    Shirley, you can not be serious? Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Comparison Page | AviationBull

    This is all very confusing, I will have to read up on these things a bit....
    No, it's not. The niche served by LSA is tiny. It's the "Well I didn't get my medical revoked" and "I want to fly on less training" niche.

    It's much closer to the "lets orbit the patch" than the "I want to travel on my own, comfortably." people.

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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Been following this thread for a while. Everyone wants cheap ACs. Can we have the price + targeted performance defined? Personally, cost of "parking" is definitely an issue.

  11. #686
    Registered User BBerson's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    Quote Originally Posted by cheapracer View Post
    Apparently so.





    So simple question, that no one has logged an engine or single seater under ASTM makes it ASTM's fault how?

    It couln't possibly be as simple as a cost exersize proving to manufacturers that it isn't a profitable arena to .
    It's not that easy for any small engine company working with limited funds to comply. Sure, a major company like Rotax has obvious advantage to eliminate any competition.
    For example, one engine standard requires that the engine have a crankshaft vibration survey to determine torsional and bending characteristics at all rpm, and for each propeller model. Then you have inspection of raw material conformity, process control......etc.
    I don't think off the shelf parts will work for this, as far as I know.
    Last edited by Topaz; July 8th, 2013 at 08:53 PM. Reason: Fixed quote code. No change made to text.

  12. #687
    Registered User mcrae0104's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    I'm trying for a new TLDR record...apologies...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Wings View Post
    LSA is in a very real way standing in the way of getting reduced regulations for the standard private pilots certificate such as eliminating the medical requirement. Having the LSA option allows the critics to use the same argument that you just used - the one that there is an option to the medical requirement, even if the LSA option is not really a practical or real world workable one.

    OK, I see the point. But the fact remains that SP rules are a step in the right direction. The disagreement seems to be a matter of where we draw the line on reducing regulation & required training. What is the consensus here on where the line should be drawn? For example from the pilot side, should a sport pilot be allowed to fly anything short of a complex or high-performance aircraft (essentially doing away with the SP certificate and lowering the requirements for PP certificate to the current SP standard)? As another example from the aircraft design side, should manufacturers be allowed to use some lesser standard than FAR23 for planes up to 12,500 lb? I'd really like to hear what those who don't like SP/LSA are ultimately after.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rienk View Post
    BTW, the proposed limit on this new proposal is all light aircraft under 6000 pounds - including complex, turboprop - even jets!

    Now that's a start. Let's propose something instead of just ripping on ASTM, LSA rules, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Wings View Post
    Yes, existing manufactures are using the LSA standards to protect their own non-innovative products. I can think of at least 2 instances I've encountered while a member of the ASTM F-37 committee that were, to me at least, rather blatant examples of changing the standards to accommodate or protect one particular manufacturers product.

    Tell us more, please. I'd be interested to learn about this.


    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post
    The real solution is to simply let the airplane designer have the freedom to choose his standards. Any standard.
    Who knows better than an airplane designer how to choose compromises to balance safety with performance?
    Safety is a full time effort for serious designers.

    We do have that freedom as EAB builders or owners in the US, and I'm glad for it! We can even use no standard and break our necks if we choose; it's more a matter of what standard a manufacturer should have to meet, whether SLSA or "standard" GA category.


    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post
    I joined ASTM simply because the current oppressive ASTM standard has prevented any single seat from entering the marketplace these past 9 years. That's a tragedy, that needs to be reversed.

    And good for you for getting involved with ASTM. But what exactly are the oppressive parts of the standard? Weight limitation, stall speed, etc? Is ASTM more oppressive than the de facto alternative, part 23? (It's not a rhetorical question--I'd like to know.)


    As for the single-seat SLSAs, what's driving that more than ASTM standards is probably the fact that more people buying a plane want an extra seat. Add to that the fact that a 2-seater is not that much more expensive than a single seat, and there just isn't enough incentive for manufacturers to get in the game. Other than aerobatic planes, I'm hard pressed to think of many certified single-seat planes even if we reach way back in history. They've almost all been E-AB. Maybe someone can point out some counterexamples.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Wings View Post
    I tend to disagree with BBerson that the ASTM standards are too hard to comply with...
    They're not too hard to comply with. They just haven't resulted in planes that are as inexpensive as we'd hoped for. Aluminum costs a certain amount. Labor costs a certain amount. Loads make certain structural demands. Unfortunately, it just ain't cheap. I don't think this is because SLSA manufacturers are making a killing. If they were, there would be incentive for more to enter the market. Maybe one area for exploration is ASTM's engine standards for SLSAs. I'm not familiar with those rules, but the ubiquitous 912 is a big chunk of the purchase price.


    Quote Originally Posted by BBerson View Post
    Since no ASTM approved small engines exist yet, it follows that no small light airplane have been approved yet. My intent is to change the rules if possible.
    I don't get it--do the SLSAs currently for sale not meet the ASTM standards? I thought they had to in order to be offered as SLSAs. Can you clarify?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rienk View Post
    the Solo will be able to turbo-normalize up to decent flight levels, and handle density altitude issues with no problem. Of course, the potential speed of this model will significantly bust the top end speed limit of the LSA category... oh darn!
    Actually, the “speed limit” is sea level/standard day, so if you’re only turbo-normalizing and not boosting above ordinary sea level MAP, that shouldn’t disqualify the plane.
    ​simplify.

  13. #688
    Registered User Hot Wings's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    OK, I see the point. But the fact remains that SP rules are a step in the right direction.

    I agree it's a step in the right direction but it's just one step.

    What is the consensus here on where the line should be drawn?

    I suspect that none of us totally agree on this. The FAA did at one time apparently thing that anything with 4 places or less and under 2700 pounds was the dividing line. They called it Primary category.

    Tell us more, please. I'd be interested to learn about this.

    I can't really say more without real proof, but lets just say that honey makes a better fly catcher than a big stick.

    I don't get it--do the SLSAs currently for sale not meet the ASTM standards? I thought they had to in order to be offered as SLSAs. Can you clarify?


    I believe he is thinking about single place SLSA's. I don't think there are any yet. There have been SLSA's sold here that technically met the standards but bent them so far we had to tighten up the language. Some companies really shouldn't (IMHO) be building LSA's considering the kind of mistakes they make would make a freshly minted A+P giggle.
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    LSA rules do not limit aircraft capability. Instead, they allow you to fly certain planes with less training and no medical. If you want to fly something bigger or faster, you still can. LSA/Sport Pilot reflects a decrease in regulation. Now, if you want to argue that there's too much training required for a private certificate, that's fine, but it's not standing in the way of innovation or more affordable aircraft. If anything, LSA/SP has created a larger market, and a larger, open market is conducive to more innovation.
    Incorrect. The LSA regulations do not allow for an LSA certified pilot to fly an aircraft of more than a certain weight, horsepower, and complexity. It also does not allow them to carry more than two people, including themselves. Any LSA certified aircraft have to fit within these criteria.

    No, they're not taken out. If you want to fly a heavier airplane that can carry more people, get a PP ticket. Still think that's too onerous? Lobby your congressman and organize a campaign to reduce the private pilot training/medical requirements. In any case, LSA/SP isn't limiting innovation or increasing the cost of aircraft.
    It's certainly not helping. I recall that it was supposed to.

    I don't know any manufacturers that are standing in the way of innovation, but I do know that 90% of aircraft manufacturers don't have the competition to justify rapidly innovating. The evidence is as plane as one can see; engines that are basically from the 40s but cost more than a brand new car, slow, expensive acceptance of personal digital devices in the cockpit, and an almost oblivious posture to design finesse and styling.

    Quite simply, through a combination of events; people, politics, geography, money, etc, flying and aviation has stalled, and will continue to fall until it stops trying to go back up and instead points down; I believe that aviation's salvation will lie in exciting, new ventures that put more people in the cockpit of aerobatics-capable aircraft.*

    *The immediate reaction of almost all pilots I know (which I think 95% are 50 and above) is "oh but the safety!". Relax. I've thought about it; there are ways to do it and make it safe with more advanced technology. But we need to accept that flying, like living, is dangerous, and we can't obsess over safety to much or we're going to make the activity not fun to do anymore.
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    Re: Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

    The conversation has taken an interesting turn. I'm enjoying this discussion.

    As in the past, I tend to agree with Inverted Vantage more than not regarding many of sport aviation's ills. IMHO, there are quite a lot of attitudes in aviation that stand in the way of growth and, actually, my be actively throttling the pursuit. Some of the following come to mind:

    1) "We've always done it this way." Certainly an ill of mankind in general, but aviation seems to have it in spades. I understand why the impulse is so strong in the flying community - "new" equals "untested" (or, at the very least, "no significant track record"), and that is usually translated as "unsafe." And this affects aircraft design as well. Manufacturers build what they think pilots want. Pilots want (so it seems) a new "same old same old." Sure, there are other pressures keeping 60 year-old designs on the showroom floor (tooling and certification costs, torts, corporate risk-aversion, etc.), but if the pilot community were really clamoring for something different, we'd see something different from manufacturers. It's a vicious cycle and it's going to take extraordinary circumstances to change it.

    2) "Safey first, last, and everything." I'm not against safety. I'm not against being conservative about safety. But "safety", as an absolute, is not only an unattainable goal, it's an illusion. We've made flying "safe enough" that the most dangerous part of any flight is the drive to the airport, and yet we still have a near-paranoia about "safety". While it's gotten us to where we are today, it's also the number-one excuse given to never change anything (see #1). Talk about changing anything in aviation, and the first cries you'll hear is how that change will compromise safety. What we're doing - and I'm going to say this explicitly, as my opinion - is starting to sacrifice the sport itself on the altar of "safety". Aviation, like anything else, will die if it stagnates. It is dying, because it has stagnated. When even introducing blatant safety improvements like digital instruments and flight displays is met with "NOOOO! It'll be UNSAFE!!!", how do we ever change aviation for the better? How do we save it when we aren't allowed to actually change anything? New and better training methods never get a chance, because "I don't want half-trained idiots in MY sky!". Ugh.

    In short, Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us.

    I don't think the ASTM process is a negative for sport aviation. Frankly, after living through decades of seeing light aviation being strangled (and yes, I mean strangled) by the ever-growing monster that is Part 23 and the certification standards necessary to comply with it, I think ASTM is a really positive development. Unfortunately, the people in the market right now, who are developing and building to the ASTM standards developed for LSA, for example, are horribly afflicted with the two diseases I've mentioned above. Nobody is really innovating. Right now, they don't see that the LSA system hasn't saved light aviation the way that was promised, or they simply don't care. Nobody wants to stick their neck out.

    The reason I focus on "inexpensive" aircraft is that I think that's where the breakthrough can actually happen. The larger manufacturers are moribund. They're building tried-and-true designs and (one assumes) making a profit, and they're happy to simply roll along doing that, the perfect corporate heaven. Someone willing to take the risk on the bottom segment of the market and build the airplane and marketing/training/dealer system necessary to actually sell airplanes might actually pull it off. The airplane probably won't look like a Cub, or an RV-(X). To me, that's a good thing. A necessary thing. We've "been there done that" with those designs. They'll always be there for those that want them, and I don't begrudge those people their choice.

    What I hope is that those people will have the open mind to allow someone else to make a different choice, and resist the all-too-common pilot urge to ridicule and pronounce "unsafe" anything that's different than what they like themselves. I see far, far, FAR too much of that in the pilot community. If there's one really repulsive attitude/behavior I see amongst pilots, it's that. I like to think that we're better than that kind of grade-school behavior, but again and again I'm proven wrong.
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