Airplane for the Common Denominator

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Lucky Dog

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I think the RV8 is a good pick for this moment in time, but it does not fit the foreseeable future. Airfields will neither be affordable nor will there be adequate or affordable hanger space as metropolitan areas close airfields and fail to build replacements. There's also the reality that airport crime is soon going to a be popular vocation. If I were going to write the spec, it would be a trailerable tri-gear, high-wing two-seater with a center stick and touch-screen instruments on both sides of the panel which operated on redundant electronics. it would have an autopilot that used drone technology - with a "go to home/nearest airfield" button and a panic button which would stabilize the aircraft into a two minute turn, clear of obstacles, to allow the pilot to recompose and assess an overwhelming situation. Until engine makers reconfigure their products to run on unleaded fuel, Rotax would be the engine that the airframe would be designed around. That would eliminate the RV and similar performers for the moment. I also believe that the common man's airplane would have an available "assist" function in the controls that fed inputs into the pedals and stick to coach the pilot's control reactions with a small amount of force, while allowing him or her to smoothly override those suggestions. "Assist" could be switched off at any time, but it might be prudent to tie it into the autopilot in a way that would engage the function anytime the aircraft entered the yellow zone. Inspiring looks, priced somewhere around 100K, safe and easy to fly, and parked in the garage when it's not flying regularly.
 

BJC

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Interesting wish list, but ...
it would be a trailerable tri-gear, high-wing two-seater with a center stick
Good so far, ...
touch-screen instruments on both sides of the panel which operated on redundant electronics. it would have an autopilot that used drone technology - with a "go to home/nearest airfield" button and a panic button which would stabilize the aircraft into a two minute turn, clear of obstacles, to allow the pilot to recompose and assess an overwhelming situation.
That raises the cost to 2.5 times the basic flying airplane ...
an available "assist" function in the controls that fed inputs into the pedals and stick to coach the pilot's control reactions with a small amount of force, while allowing him or her to smoothly override those suggestions. "Assist" could be switched off at any time, but it might be prudent to tie it into the autopilot in a way that would engage the function anytime the aircraft entered the yellow zone.
Now you are up to at least 3 times the basic airplane cost ...
Inspiring looks, priced somewhere around 100K,
Never happen.


BJC
 

TFF

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Rotax will not be the de facto engine for any US plane. Fuel for US Homebuilt, I can go put E85 in mine any time I want. It’s an experiment. It’s the true reason experimental planes are allowed. The denominator will be county based as much as personal cost based. European answers will be Rotax. Lycoming and Continental will be US. There will be plenty who rally on either side of what they want their engine to be, but getting the job done will be split on those lines. The LSA plane is mostly a necessity in Europe because of cost. It costs more to fly one, with less utility a US pilot is use to; that’s why they don’t work here except the medical issue. Even then you have to lie. One size does not fit all.
 

Bigshu

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So as one example, let's say we are trying to come up with an "everyman" 2 seat airplane that has the best combination of minimum 175mph cruise speed and the ability to scratchbuild the airframe (less engine and avionics) for less than $20K.
Is that really an everyman aircraft? Most pilots I know learned in 172s or Cherokees. Not gonna get 175mph cruise out of those. I like two seaters, but I think the everyman will look for something with the payload of a 4 place. I know when I look at used certified aircraft, I look at the useful load first, and never really worry about speed. It gets me there faster than a car in most cases, which is good enough. It's not hard to find 2 place kits in the range of $20K for the airframe, and even easier (often cheaper) to find them for sale partially built by folks who timed out or lost interest.
 

Bigshu

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If I were going to write the spec, it would be a trailerable tri-gear, high-wing two-seater with a center stick and touch-screen instruments on both sides of the panel which operated on redundant electronics. it would have an autopilot that used drone technology - with a "go to home/nearest airfield"
This might be unnecessary capability: look at the guy who recently landed with an incapacitated pilot, just from instructions over the radio. I like fancy touch screen instruments too, but I also know older pilots who hate going away from steam gauges. I agree with trailerable, and tri gear, and am open to center stick, though.
 

Hephaestus

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I made my common denominator build revolve around making visible daily progress.

1-2 hours a night and be able to see clear results from that time invested. Even if it's just "yeah I sliced that mold and printed it. Which is my driver I find - if I can't tell what I accomplished after a few hours in the shop - I loose motivation rapidly.

I think we all saw what happened to the multitude of 6 weeks of sanding jail in the variez/longez projects.
 

DaveK

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The common denominator is pilots are an odd bunch. Nothing personal about that statement. The vast majority of people are not pilots. Most people can’t afford it, most have no real exposure to it, and most people can’t glue two pieces of wood together without hand holding. So you have a small group of weirdos (from the majority’s perspective) who have time, money, and inclination to do this thing called flying against all the pressures not to. You aren’t going to have a common personality in that type of group. The RV crowd is about as close as you can get for the handy, but mostly assembly crowd. Get into scratch building and you are in a subset of a subset. I’m one of the nuts designing my own, because I want to, and that’s truly a subset. I admit it, I’m weird.

Common pilot, well let’s see C172, Cherokee, and the like . Useful enough, easy enough to fly on low time. Just bring down the price to less than a house. Keep it simple. Doable with the right production if you could sell 1000 a year, but hard with so few pilots.

I’d say for the common person to actually buy a plane you’d need to create the following. 1. Useful, 4 seats, baggage, faster than a car. 2. Easy to use. No steam gauges or complex procedures, single lever throttle, with nav, radio, etc. integrated and automated (frequency handoff, transponder codes, nav automated). Would take a true revamp to ATC and how we do things. Likely would require autonomous operation to happen. 4. Cost $100K or less. 5. More airports. 6. Any training to included in the purchase price. Tall order.


To merely increase pilot numbers it’s all about cost and access. When you have employees that can’t find more than a garage to rent for $2000 a month they aren’t going to start flying. I know people are going to start going on about making sacrifices and they could do it if they really wanted, but with zero exposure to flying they aren’t going to start. Be realistic. Hell, most teenagers don’t want to learn to drive these days and most parents would be freaked out if their kid wanted to fly.
 
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Dana

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There's also the reality that airport crime is soon going to a be popular vocation.

Why?

it would have an autopilot that used drone technology - with a "go to home/nearest airfield" button and a panic button which would stabilize the aircraft into a two minute turn, clear of obstacles, to allow the pilot to recompose and assess an overwhelming situation....
I also believe that the common man's airplane would have an available "assist" function in the controls that fed inputs into the pedals and stick to coach the pilot's control reactions with a small amount of force, while allowing him or her to smoothly override those suggestions.

That's not aircraft design, that's software design.

Until engine makers reconfigure their products to run on unleaded fuel, Rotax would be the engine that the airframe would be designed around. That would eliminate the RV and similar performers for the moment.

Lotsa people running Lycomings on unleaded moogas. My brother in law has a 275 gallon tank of mogas in his hangar for his RV-8.
 

Tom DM

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[QUOTE="

Lotsa people running Lycomings on unleaded moogas. My brother in law has a 275 gallon tank of mogas in his hangar for his RV-8.
[/QUOTE]"

It suffices to look up the initial fuel-specifications where the engine was designed for. It quickly turns out that actual Mogas outperforms the orginal specs of fuel by a hefty margin.

AvGas is not a scam, yet it is (too?) interestingly conveniant for all those in the supply chain, not in a small degree the Tax Man.

In any AvGas-debate one steps quickly on toes and it -from experience" follows always the same pattern: first they try to ridicule you, then they will claim "safety", then you will be threatened ("It is against the Law!") and finally they will try to cut you in if you keep your mouth shut.


As to storing 275 Gallons of Mogas: such carries indeed a risk but then: no risk, no fun/ no pain, no gain.
On the other hand: a few filled airplanes in a hangar, all having tanks with nice vents, contain quickly a sizeable amount of go-faster-juice.
 

Toobuilder

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I think the RV8 is a good pick for this moment in time, but it does not fit the foreseeable future. Airfields will neither be affordable nor will there be adequate or affordable hanger space as metropolitan areas close airfields and fail to build replacements....

This same doom and gloom sentiment is prevalent in the aviation magazines of the 1960's. Has not happened yet, and as bad as things look today, I think one can still look forward to flying the "typical" lycoming powered homebuilt for the foreseeable future.

One thing is for sure, the doom and gloom predictions will eventually come true if you wait long enough. Better get flying now, because TODAY is the "good old days".
 

BJC

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AvGas is not a scam, yet it is (too?) interestingly conveniant for all those in the supply chain, not in a small degree the Tax Man.
Total (state plus federal) taxes on 100LL in Florida are less than half that of auto gasoline.
As to storing 275 Gallons of Mogas: such carries indeed a risk but then: no risk, no fun/ no pain, no gain.
On the other hand: a few filled airplanes in a hangar, all having tanks with nice vents, contain quickly a sizeable amount of go-faster-juice.
I insist that my 150 gallon storage tank is less of a leak / fire risk than the tanks in the airplanes. The insurance company does not agree.
Better get flying now, because TODAY is the "good old days".
Amen.


BJC
 

gtae07

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but if you were to change the focus of this thread and come up with the single homebuilt that appeals to the broadest possible bell curve of pilots, I'm thinking RV-8. If I had to pick just a single airplane from here on out, that would be my choice.
I'd expand that to the entire 6/7/8 line, and add the 9 for those not interested in aerobatics. They're so close in capacity/performance that you can lump them together. And that's why I'm building an RV-7, because it can do just about anything I can realistically want to do with an airplane.

Hell, most teenagers don’t want to learn to drive these days
I think that really depends on where said teenagers live. It's certainly not the case around here.

VB, you mean one airplane can’t be all things to all people? I am shocked.
Sure it can! It just needs to be a turbine-powered roadable VTOL aerobatic pressurized four-seat amphibious motorglider that can fold to fit in a shipping container. And have cupholders.
 

Daleandee

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Many suggest that the aircraft in question needs be a four seater. Perhaps ... but I'd be interested in how many pilots actually fly more than two people in their aircraft on any kind of a regular basis.

We see a variation of the same thing with the business man that drives an SUV with third row seating to work everyday and can't use the express lane because he's in there alone.

Yes there are times when you may need more than two seats but I think it may be quite a rare thing for most pilots. There are a few that travel extensively with their families but most of the planes I've seen come in & out of the local airports are single pilots and sometimes they bring a friend.
 

Bigshu

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Many suggest that the aircraft in question needs be a four seater. Perhaps ... but I'd be interested in how many pilots actually fly more than two people in their aircraft on any kind of a regular basis.
For me, it's not the seats, it's the useful load. Most two seaters just aren't set up to carry big folks. If I need four seats, I can rent an arrow, or 182.
 

Daleandee

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For me, it's not the seats, it's the useful load. Most two seaters just aren't set up to carry big folks. If I need four seats, I can rent an arrow, or 182.

That is a limitation in my small plane. I have to limit passengers by width and weight. Some folks are not necessarily too heavy but short and wide folks make a long flight in a 40" wide cockpit a bit too cozy for my liking. 😧
 

gtae07

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I think half the draw of four-seaters is not just size for bigger folks, but also the ability to load up and go places. Take the dog(s), take suitcases, etc.

There's a part of me that kinda wants access to a four-seater but I think the only use I'd have for it would be dropping our son off with his grandparents on the way out for a trip with the wife, or giving rides to him and his friends at the same time. To me, that's not worth the extra expense and loss of aerobatic capability.
 

Lucky Dog

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Many suggest that the aircraft in question needs be a four seater. Perhaps ... but I'd be interested in how many pilots actually fly more than two people in their aircraft on any kind of a regular basis.

We see a variation of the same thing with the business man that drives an SUV with third row seating to work everyday and can't use the express lane because he's in there alone.

Yes there are times when you may need more than two seats but I think it may be quite a rare thing for most pilots. There are a few that travel extensively with their families but most of the planes I've seen come in & out of the local airports are single pilots and sometimes they bring a friend.
I agree. After about three years or so most pilots run out of family and friends who want to occupy those extra seats. Two is enough. BTW,I wasn't projecting doom and gloom, but trying to foretell the future. Beginning from Millennials, the people who will be entering aviation after us won't want to spend time learning the nuances of flying, nor will they be interested in buying used or trading up. They'll want to buy into the sport at the level where they can the latest tech at whatever price their generations are used to paying. It's the "app mentality" we will be marketing to.
 

Pops

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I sold my beloved 2 seat side by side hotrod called the Falconar F12 after wife and I traveled in it for almost 5 years. She wanted more room and more baggage. Everything except for the kitchen sink :). All I need is a small bag with a change of clothes and a toothbrush. ( don't shave that often ).
Have had 4-- 4 seat airplanes and will have someone in a back seat maybe a couple times a year. Just great for baggage.
 
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