# Airplane for the Common Denominator

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#### Bigshu

##### Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
That’s not really true and I think you know it. The populated parts of the continental US have a paved airport, what, every seven miles? That’s nearly door-to-door on a continental scale and flying there yourself allows the choice of the closest airports at each end while also trimming off an hour worth of security at departure and a half hour of bag carousel tomfoolery at the destination.
Yeah, I was being facetious. But still, I think the idea that recreational flying is the best rationale for all those airports is as persuasive as any other. I like going to airshows. Flying in to meet folks is fun. Flying out to breakfast is fun. Flying just about anywhere is fun, but bunches of short or medium legs on really long trips makes it more of a chore. Add in weather uncertainty and once you get to around 500 miles, I'd rather fly commercial.

#### J.L. Frusha

##### Well-Known Member
Same old story. Refiance property, buy a tractor, make all kinds of money specialty farming, living off the grid when currently connected to grid. Appears no conception of local ordances and regulations. Cost, cost, cost, dream on.
Nope, I don't expect to get rich, didn't say anything about specialty farming. getting off the grid is the only way I can really afford this place after the refi. Right now the utility bill is something like $600 because the city sticks us with about$300-$500 'fuel delivery charge' on$200 worth of electricity... Yes. I'm saying the bill runs between $500 and$700 most of the time. Because of the way it's done, the only way to kill that charge is to eliminate that bill by disconnecting, or supplying excess power to the grid, through grid-intertie, that they have to buy.

When I was learning to fly in 1973 I checked the Cessna dealer to see what a new 172 would cost. It was $23,000. A new three-bedroom house was the same price. A new house now is about the same price, or more, as a new 172, in the same city. 172s have always cost about the same as a new 172. But the new airplane is far better equipped. Cessna marketing bots surely work. Even the -brilliant- liability coverage... Your post confirms a theory: "If a lie is several times poured into a an honest person, eventually this person will repeat it as the genuine truth." Been there, got bitten... Consider the follow-up theory: "If the honest person finds out, the initial liar will have vanished while the honest person becomes wiser but also suddenly older." Thinking of it: been there too. The "major modifications" to the original C172 are self-evident on a 70 year production run, linked to new regulations, tooling needing remplacing, new technologies etc. In the automotive industry similar facelifts occur at each third of the projected model-lifespan and mostly refund themselves by processes more efficient. Have you *ever* seen a facelifted model at a lower price than is predecessor? The 50kUS Cessna 172 *is* commercial viable and if need for disruptive market-intervention arises, can be implemented on short notice without any outlandish new equipment, good old humans , available by the millions, will do just fine. FYI: Cessna justified production allocation to China by confirming a cost reduction of 71000 US$ on an aircraft proposed at end-user-price 100.000 US$When that folded , "goodies" (auto-pilot etc) were thrown in to justifie severe price-increases. Sounds familiar? What the "flexibility" in pricing allows, another US-aviation company demonstrates Piper PA28 Pilot100 ± 250.000 US$ >< Piper PA 28 Archer TX ± 400.000 US$Note : identical engine , identical airframe. 50k =/=250k? Well it is and no: it ain't . Some "overhead", "R&D on other models" and "management expenses" need ventilating. We often replace original equipment because the OEM-parts simply do not exist anymore. If the TBR parts are mechanical, than the new/reconditioned/ remanufactured parts can cost their weight in gold or make that the machine gets scrapped. In the latter case the "new" machine will *never* be of same quality as the old one because the client just does not accept the pricing related. And so we make not things for eternity, we budget for 15 years, 3-5 times more what our competitors propose. If the part is electronic or the mechanical part can be replaced by electronics, than the upgrade cost is close to zero while our profit margins are "likeable" #### Dan Thomas ##### Well-Known Member The 50kUS Cessna 172 *is* commercial viable and if need for disruptive market-intervention arises, can be implemented on short notice without any outlandish new equipment, good old humans , available by the millions, will do just fine. FYI: Cessna justified production allocation to China by confirming a cost reduction of 71000 US$ on an aircraft proposed at end-user-price 100.000 US$When that folded , "goodies" (auto-pilot etc) were thrown in to justifie severe price-increases. Sounds familiar? I am forever amazed that people outside the aviation industry are experts on the costs of it all. I was, too, until I went to college to upgrade from a Private ticket to Commercial, instructor, IFR, and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, and ended up as Director of Maintenance for the flight school. Reality tends to set in really hard. You would not be permitted to build and sell new versions of the 1956 172. The FARs would prohibit it. Cessna was forced to beef up all the weak areas that showed up in the first 30 years of the production runs, and they also had to meet new rules, like the massively strong seats I mentioned. Cessna ran into the same hassles that EVERY new aviation manufacturer runs into when they came out with the Skycatcher. Costs just keep mounting, and it's not because of monopolies or the evil intentions of some people. Some of it is ever-increasing regulation; the regulation book in 1956 was a lot thinner than it is now. Much of that is the government's reaction to accidents: they try to make pilot idiocy impossible, and the world just comes up with better idiots. In the early/mid-1970s there was a huge surge in graduates from law schools. Some say it was due to TV shows of the time glorifying lawyers and courtroom battles. At any rate, there were a lot of lawyers chasing lawsuit jobs, and they managed to convince people that their problems were all someone else's fault, and that they should sue. Cessna and Piper and Mooney and Beech all started getting sued, big time, and many cases were won by the plaintiffs because the Pilot Operating Handbooks didn't warn the pilot about all the terrible things that could happen to him if he did or didn't do something. So the POH for a 172L was 84 pages, including the cover, and the 1976 172M was 117 pages. The 172 SP is 359 pages. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Someone has to write all that stuff, insert lots of pictures, and lots of endless warnings, and that costs time and money, and then the lawyers have to go through it and find the weaknesses and then it has to to be revised to satisfy them, too. And the Service Manuals are the same. They got a lot thicker, not just because of all the systems that the earlier airplanes didn't have, but because of the warnings of injury or death on every page if you didn't disconnect the battery before touching anything else. It's ridiculous, but that's where this society is at now. Not Cessna's fault. Legendary lawsuit: in the early 1990s or late '80s the owner of a Cessna 185 floatplane took off. just after liftoff the pilot's seat slid back, and the natural reaction is to pull oneself forward, and the pilot did this by pulling the control wheel back, stalling the airplane under full power and diving, hard, into the water. He died, and the estate sued Cessna. Cessna's defence was that the owner had not properly done the AD-mandated inspections and repairs to the seats and seat rails, inspections that ensure that the seat is positively locked against any movement. The investigators found the stuff all worn out. It didn't matter: the jury awarded the estate$450 million, in the dollars of that day, probably twice that now. For an accident due to negligence on the part of the owner?!! Textron appealed and it's probably still in the courts.

That's what you're dealing with here. Don't be naive about it.

I have about a 3K sq' house and 3K sq' hanger and my grid usage is about 300 KW a month at most. Most of my supply is from my solar system. DO NOT grid tie. The cost of the equipment and inspections, etc is very, expensive. Most of my grid usage is the house central air and the fan on the NG heating furnace and the air compression and welder in the hanger. All LED lights, TV's. Have a 17 cu ft DC freezer on solar. 2 super insulated refrigerators. I heat the house, hanger and gas hot water heater, dryer and cook stove from a NG well about 300' from the house for about $90 a month. Water is$28 + about $35 for electric +$90 for the NG for a total of $153 for everything. Notice a couple weeks ago my 8 + year old batteries are not holding a charge like they used to do when our grid electric was off for 3 days. Need to plan on replacing the batteries in the near future. First time I have had to use the little 5K NG standby generator in the evening after dark to help the batteries. My solar system paid for itself in a little over 5 years from what my electric bills used to be. #### Pops ##### Well-Known Member Supporting Member I am forever amazed that people outside the aviation industry are experts on the costs of it all. I was, too, until I went to college to upgrade from a Private ticket to Commercial, instructor, IFR, and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, and ended up as Director of Maintenance for the flight school. Reality tends to set in really hard. You would not be permitted to build and sell new versions of the 1956 172. The FARs would prohibit it. Cessna was forced to beef up all the weak areas that showed up in the first 30 years of the production runs, and they also had to meet new rules, like the massively strong seats I mentioned. Cessna ran into the same hassles that EVERY new aviation manufacturer runs into when they came out with the Skycatcher. Costs just keep mounting, and it's not because of monopolies or the evil intentions of some people. Some of it is ever-increasing regulation; the regulation book in 1956 was a lot thinner than it is now. Much of that is the government's reaction to accidents: they try to make pilot idiocy impossible, and the world just comes up with better idiots. In the early/mid-1970s there was a huge surge in graduates from law schools. Some say it was due to TV shows of the time glorifying lawyers and courtroom battles. At any rate, there were a lot of lawyers chasing lawsuit jobs, and they managed to convince people that their problems were all someone else's fault, and that they should sue. Cessna and Piper and Mooney and Beech all started getting sued, big time, and many cases were won by the plaintiffs because the Pilot Operating Handbooks didn't warn the pilot about all the terrible things that could happen to him if he did or didn't do something. So the POH for a 172L was 84 pages, including the cover, and the 1976 172M was 117 pages. The 172 SP is 359 pages. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Someone has to write all that stuff, insert lots of pictures, and lots of endless warnings, and that costs time and money, and then the lawyers have to go through it and find the weaknesses and then it has to to be revised to satisfy them, too. And the Service Manuals are the same. They got a lot thicker, not just because of all the systems that the earlier airplanes didn't have, but because of the warnings of injury or death on every page if you didn't disconnect the battery before touching anything else. It's ridiculous, but that's where this society is at now. Not Cessna's fault. Legendary lawsuit: in the early 1990s or late '80s the owner of a Cessna 185 floatplane took off. just after liftoff the pilot's seat slid back, and the natural reaction is to pull oneself forward, and the pilot did this by pulling the control wheel back, stalling the airplane under full power and diving, hard, into the water. He died, and the estate sued Cessna. Cessna's defence was that the owner had not properly done the AD-mandated inspections and repairs to the seats and seat rails, inspections that ensure that the seat is positively locked against any movement. The investigators found the stuff all worn out. It didn't matter: the jury awarded the estate$450 million, in the dollars of that day, probably twice that now. For an accident due to negligence on the part of the owner?!! Textron appealed and it's probably still in the courts.

That's what you're dealing with here. Don't be naive about it.

You go and either try to build and affordable, sellable airplane for $50K, or else get some education and experience in professional aviation. Either one is enlightening. Well said. #### TerryM76 ##### Well-Known Member Supporting Member I am forever amazed that people outside the aviation industry are experts on the costs of it all. I was, too, until I went to college to upgrade from a Private ticket to Commercial, instructor, IFR, and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, and ended up as Director of Maintenance for the flight school. Reality tends to set in really hard. You would not be permitted to build and sell new versions of the 1956 172. The FARs would prohibit it. Cessna was forced to beef up all the weak areas that showed up in the first 30 years of the production runs, and they also had to meet new rules, like the massively strong seats I mentioned. Cessna ran into the same hassles that EVERY new aviation manufacturer runs into when they came out with the Skycatcher. Costs just keep mounting, and it's not because of monopolies or the evil intentions of some people. Some of it is ever-increasing regulation; the regulation book in 1956 was a lot thinner than it is now. Much of that is the government's reaction to accidents: they try to make pilot idiocy impossible, and the world just comes up with better idiots. In the early/mid-1970s there was a huge surge in graduates from law schools. Some say it was due to TV shows of the time glorifying lawyers and courtroom battles. At any rate, there were a lot of lawyers chasing lawsuit jobs, and they managed to convince people that their problems were all someone else's fault, and that they should sue. Cessna and Piper and Mooney and Beech all started getting sued, big time, and many cases were won by the plaintiffs because the Pilot Operating Handbooks didn't warn the pilot about all the terrible things that could happen to him if he did or didn't do something. So the POH for a 172L was 84 pages, including the cover, and the 1976 172M was 117 pages. The 172 SP is 359 pages. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Someone has to write all that stuff, insert lots of pictures, and lots of endless warnings, and that costs time and money, and then the lawyers have to go through it and find the weaknesses and then it has to to be revised to satisfy them, too. And the Service Manuals are the same. They got a lot thicker, not just because of all the systems that the earlier airplanes didn't have, but because of the warnings of injury or death on every page if you didn't disconnect the battery before touching anything else. It's ridiculous, but that's where this society is at now. Not Cessna's fault. Legendary lawsuit: in the early 1990s or late '80s the owner of a Cessna 185 floatplane took off. just after liftoff the pilot's seat slid back, and the natural reaction is to pull oneself forward, and the pilot did this by pulling the control wheel back, stalling the airplane under full power and diving, hard, into the water. He died, and the estate sued Cessna. Cessna's defence was that the owner had not properly done the AD-mandated inspections and repairs to the seats and seat rails, inspections that ensure that the seat is positively locked against any movement. The investigators found the stuff all worn out. It didn't matter: the jury awarded the estate$450 million, in the dollars of that day, probably twice that now. For an accident due to negligence on the part of the owner?!! Textron appealed and it's probably still in the courts.

That's what you're dealing with here. Don't be naive about it.

I find aviation phenominal: a digital clock - all 50 cents worth of it- in a cockpit just becomes a 300 US$clock!! And those people ask me why it does not sell, while the first thing I do is crack it open... When the situation is proven, when some self-evident measures are given (most of the time already suggested by own personnel) a person from another planet says: "Yes, making it more affordable, cutting useless expenses is the way to go... but investing in a racer to enter a competion that does not yet exist, that has far more chance of getting us out of this mess!" And that is what they'll do. Money and management in aviation are strange: I just had a shop-owner explaining the reasoning behind a 16000 Hr (six teen thousand) restauration of a pre-WOII Fokker fighter and how they are going to recuperate that investement. When I told him that on labor alone that plane reprensents about a 800.000 Eur , he said "surely not, we worked on it when we had time". On the other hand in the same shop: the very new RV9 with collapsed nosewheel, three bladed prop in splinters and a dent in the wing will get invoiced at 50-60 Eur per hour as did the disassembly of a Continental C-90 ( the 24 hours required do do so). About the stupid C90: "Ohhh , we may not revise it? You have a price 5 times below ours? But we can do that too! Pleaseeee." Need I really to state the finding of a 4.4 Eur -hydraulic piston in a PA-28-front seat, invoiced at the Piper-price?? Conclusion: aviation is a very unhealthy environment, it lives by approaching the limits in any field and then some. Luckily form time to time they can tap at the milk-tits of some government and replentish. In the 20 years stated I came across 1 aircraft company, exactly one, a low-cost airliner with a bad reputation concerning consumer satisfaction and who got a lot of flak about safety (dispite having new planes and a virgin incident record) . Their boss understood beancounting, especially when served by a non-beancounter. I sat before him, took the calcs, showed the figures, 1 A4-sheet . I told him flatly not to invest in aircraft maintenance, but instead to buy new airplanes once those big inspections came up. He went on to buy the *total* Boeing production-slots for several years. I worked for him on several projects with every time performance payouts exceeding the fixed ones by the proverbial mile. Made me a pretty penny and -him- a small fortune. And yes , Mr Dan Thomas, I am the son of a b***h who suggested to instruct pilots not to use the brakes on landing but to take full advantage of the length of the runway. Luckily their Head of Pilots was not armed (this is Belgium , not the US) or I had it coming... but "the insane idea" was tested and later implemented. Somehow on top of my fee a very nice sportcar appeared in my garage. #### Tom DM ##### Well-Known Member Supporting Member Very sorry: we have this saying: "voor het smeer likt de kat de kandeleer" Roughly translated : the cat licks the candle holder for the grease. When I am asked and paid for, I will not necessarily go but I will evaluate it. And as most hired guns I can be convinced in an easy way. Besides that: being picked up at home by a larger limousine, driven 5km to EBBR where a business jet awaits... with all due respect: it does wonders for one's ego. I am -I guess- but human. #### challenger_II ##### Well-Known Member All this talk about how much you make, and all the benefits, and you wonder WHY those little insignificant airplane parts cost so much? Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees! #### challenger_II ##### Well-Known Member Once again, I nearly wet myself laughing! #### Hot Wings ##### Grumpy Cynic Supporting Member I think I found the answer: Similar problem here as many of us have with hangar space, and I couldn't keep it at home....even with the wings folded. Zoning prevents keeping them on less than 5 acre lots and even then it has to be the correct zone and there are limits on the number per lot. And some of them bite! #### Dan Thomas ##### Well-Known Member From a worthless part lingering in the attic which in 5 minutes becomes a 6000 US$ part, to an engine needing *immediate* overhaul while the next shop found it totally in spec.
There are no worthless aircraft parts. The seller will check to see what it will cost to replace it, and price it accordingly. Sure, there are some crooks in aviation, just as there are crooks in the auto industry, the legal industry, the home renovation industry, and so on. Humans in all of them. And two different shops can indeed find different things in an engine. One will do a compression check and maybe check the oil filter, and find nothing wrong. Another will pull the magnetos off, like we did off a very low-time Lycoming, and find the internal gearing in the crankcase all rusted from ground-running the thing. Cylinders all pitted. It had to be overhauled. Compression and filter were both good, but the engine was shot. Depends on how thorough you are. If you were a mechanic you'd know that.

Aircraft parts, especially for old airplanes, are crazy expensive. It's because they're not made in any quantity anymore, and there are few or none in stock. So sometimes you have to have the OEM make you one, and it costs plenty. Economies of scale, again, and it sure isn't worth setting up a CNC machine for one part in most cases. Would you expect Mercedes or general Motors to sell you a steering wheel for a 1964 car at the same price as the wheel for a 2021 car? Or do you know how expensive parts are for any Ferrari, old or new? Same thing. Low numbers, high costs.

Cessna built a total of a little over 44,000 172s from 1956 until now. Chevrolet built almost 155,000 Chevy Malibus in 2020 alone. A big difference in scale, a big difference in costs.

And it's not as if we don't find workarounds. McFarlane Aviation has thousands of items for many airplanes, and even Cessna buys from them sometimes.

But even McFarlane doesn't have everything, though they are always tackling even more of the stuff. See the red thing in the picture? That's called a "hinge" and it's the base for the stabilizer trim jackscrew assembly used in the Cessna 180, 185 and the early 182s. There are left and right assemblies in each airplane. Only Cessna has it, and when I retired four years ago it cost $7000 for one side and over$10K for the other. McFarlane has the guts for it, the internal and external screws and the sprocket and chain, all made of stainless instead of the steel that corroded so badly, and I installed a number of the kits, but those hinges tend to get beat up and crack and Cessna just doesn't sell enough to warrant building more than a handful at a time. McFarlane will, someday. Those airplanes were last built in 1985, 37 years ago. How many automakers are expected to keep making parts for their 1985 cars? And there are many such aftermarket makers of light-aircraft parts, but even they cannot make stuff cheaply.
How an aircraft after belly landing resulting in a prop nicely around the cowling flew out a week later from a high-altitude airfield with no mechnanics there.
More crooks. People who don't want to spend the money to do it right. The crankshaft in that engine could easily be cracked and fail in flight sometime. I had that happen to me. Somebody had had a prop strike in the past and were obviously casual about it.
I find aviation phenominal: a digital clock - all 50 cents worth of it- in a cockpit just becomes a 300 US\$ clock!! And those people ask me why it does not sell, while the first thing I do is crack it open...
Any clock that goes into an airplane has to be certified accurate and reliable. A pilot flying IFR needs that clock to time holds and some approaches, and a 50-cent clock is not acceptable to the FAA. Or the pilot. Go argue with them, and then go see what the OEMs have to go through to certify that clock.
I am always amazed when an aircraft manufacturer , flying club, producer of parts, airliner owner, aero-engine overhauler turns towards an mechanical engineer, not especially interested in the commercial side nor working in their field, in order to do an assessment of their business, to find out why/where money is pouring out and why -most often- they are at the brink of collapse.
Do those people really hire mechanical engineers for that. Or do they hire systems analysts to consult the staff, including the engineers? Something wrong with your side of that.
Luckily form time to time they can tap at the milk-tits of some government and replentish.
Textron, the owners of Cessna, Beech, Bell and Lycoming, don't get government subsidies. They build aircraft for the military, but that isn't a subsidy. Bombardier, here in Canada, is famous for begging for more taxpayer dollars, then giving their executives big bonuses. Everybody except the execs hates that.
And yes , Mr Dan Thomas, I am the son of a b***h who suggested to instruct pilots not to use the brakes on landing but to take full advantage of the length of the runway.
So now you're a flight instructor, too? Amazing. Tell us: how often is it practical to go all the way to the far end of the runway to exit it? Do you know what ATC has to say about that at a busy airport? Or the pilots right behind you on final? Do you know why some larger airports have high-speed exits? Do you know about LAHSO? Do you know what the airlines think of eating up runway to save a bit of brakes, then taxiing all the way back to the terminal? Those engines are burning lots of fuel just while taxiing. In the early 1970s, during the OPEC oil embargo, fuel got scarce and expensive, and airlines were towing their loaded airplanes out to the hold-short lines, where the pilots started the engines and then took off. The fuel to taxi was too precious.

Besides that, using the whole runway becomes a bad habit that can bite the average private pilot when he has to land at a short rural strip, or during a forced landing in whatever small area he can find.

#### challenger_II

##### Well-Known Member
Similar problem here as many of us have with hangar space, and I couldn't keep it at home....even with the wings folded.
Zoning prevents keeping them on less than 5 acre lots and even then it has to be the correct zone and there are limits on the number per lot.

And some of them bite!

Well, they would be a "shovel-ready" job...

#### Tiger Tim

##### Well-Known Member
I wonder what a personal airplane mass produced by the half-millions would look like? A Teenie Two with an air cooled V-twin?

#### BJC

##### Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
I wonder what a personal airplane mass produced by the half-millions would look like? A Teenie Two with an air cooled V-twin?
I doubt it; there aren’t that many people who would strap into a Teenie Two look-alike.

BJC