Many of you know of my main project, a two-seat motorglider. While that project is moving along, the various "cheap aircraft" threads keep catching my eye rather severely. It sure would be nice to have a very small single-seater to use as an experience builder, a testbed to try out some of my ideas before committing to them on the larger project and, when it's done, a simple fun-flier while the two-seater is in the build process. The low-cost aspect especially interests me, much as it does many of you.
We have much disagreement on that score, with some people opining that it's impossible to design and build an airplane for less than "X" dollars, with X ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 and higher.
Well, that's absurd, folks! This little glider was built for $500 dollars a few years ago, according to its designer/builder. And it most certainly is "an airplane".
So the real question isn't "Can you build an airplane for $X?".
The real question is, "How much will it cost to build Y airplane with Z capabilities?"
And that's what I want to do here.
A conceptual design study, according to Dan Raymer, answers the following questions:
What requirements drive the design?.
What should it look like?
How much should it weigh?
How much should it cost?
What technologies should be used?
Do these requirements produce a viable airplane that can meet the requirements in the real world?
The purpose of this study is to see if I can come up with a viable conceptual design for a cost-conscious single-seat motorglider, and then to have a rough estimate of what it might actually cost to build. Those answers are the results. I won't have plans. I won't have structural analysis or even loads analysis. But I'll know enough about the airplane to make an informed decision as to whether it's worth moving forward with those efforts, pointed towards actually building one.
Next post: Developing a viable set of requirements.