# Cheap aircraft are simply impossible? :(

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#### Victor Bravo

##### Well-Known Member
I don't have the time or energy to address everything that you said that was just plain factually incorrect.
Oh c'mon... I did it for you

When I was 30, I knew a lot more than I did when I was 15, and when I was 15 I knew a lot more than when I was 10. You can probably say the same. I hope that concept does not offend you.

Why is it so disgusting to think that the 20-25 years more life experience I have may be worth something? Or the 40 years of aviation experience? Is it just impossible that I might have learned something in aviation that you might not be able to see from your perspective? If people like me are trying to transfer that knowledge to the next generation of pilots, does it automatically make us luddites that you can wrap up in Depends and send us off to the rest home?

BJC

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
About 12 years ago I built a little autopilot that controlled roll and pitch with trim for each and R&L standard rate turn. Would hold altitude to within 25'. Installed it in my SSSC with giant scale model airplane servos to control large trim tabs on the ailerons and elevator. The autopilot made the pulse train for the RC servos. I could have plugged a RC receiver into the plug on the autopilot and flown the airplane with the RC transmitter while setting in the airplane. Never did in the 2 years the autopilot was installed. But I did fly the airplane using the trim knobs on the autopilot. Guess that was fly-by-wire , with cable back-up.
The autopilot worked good but it was having all the fun so I took it out. Would I have taken the control cables out and flown the airplane? I would not trust my life on electronics. ( Went to a school called DeVry ) The smoke comes out without warning. Already used to many of the 9 lives up.
Picture of trim tabs on elevator and aileron.

#### lr27

The problem is low volume, but I see a way around that. For the price of one B2 bomber, you could probably get 40,000 C-172's at a discounted volume of $50,000 each. Remember that this is the only aircraft that penetrated ALL of the Soviet air defenses. I'm sure Cessna would throw in some kind of autopilot for nothing. Put a bomb on every tenth or hundredth plane, send thousands, and some of them will get through. Now Cessna only has to run up a few hundred more at low cost to cover the civil market. #### Toobuilder ##### Well-Known Member Log Member Light aircraft infused with consumer electronics/automotive technology are an eventual inevitablity. That's assuming private flying isn't legislated out of existence, of course. But I doubt either is going to happen in my remaining flying years (30 ish). So with that said, flying today is as inexpensive as it's going to get. I see only 3 options for the homebuilder today: 1. Make more money. 2. Develop a paradigm shift which reduces all costs of flying 3. Find a different hobby What we have too much of in this forum is the fourth option: 3A. Devote all available time on aviation forum complaining about my inability to persue aviation on my terms. #### 12notes ##### Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter Log Member Moreover, implementing a triple redundant computer cluster is similarly cheap. Three raspberry pi zeros would be all the computing power you would need, bringing the total cost to...$30? The design and implementation are obviously the expensive parts, but the point is that the hardware is cheap, cheap, cheap.
And if the problem is the software, all three can fail for the same anomalous condition. Also, you might want to google "ECU recalls" before touting their reliability. Toyota, Mitsubishi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, and Audi all had safety recalls in the last year for their ECU. Mitsubishi's is particularly relevant, as most of the recall is for "the software problem could cause some features—such as adaptive cruise control (ACC); forward-collision mitigation (FCM), which is a combination of forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking; and antilock brakes (ABS)—to not work as expected." https://www.consumerreports.org/car-recalls-defects/mitsubishi-recalls-68000-suvs-over-bad-software/

Toyota is correcting a problem causing the engine to stall. BMW's problem shut off the fuel pump. These are not trivial problems in aircraft.

If you're talking about electronics replacing a complicated system or do something new, then reliability goes up. If you're using them to replace a simple mechanical system, reliability generally goes down. As others have mentioned, cables and pulleys can be inspected, they have obvious indicators of failure modes before they happen. Rods and levers are the same. Outside of some cases of physical wiring damage, there are few failures on electronic systems that have indicators which can be determined with inspection. And software can have problems that even experts will miss.

Electronics are used in automobiles when they can do a function better or cheaper. ABS allows quicker braking in slippery conditions, brake assist (which I hate) is to protect idiot drivers that don't know how hard to hit the brake pedal when they want to stop, engines have ECUs to extract more power with better efficiency. But there is little to no improvement to be found in control systems of small aircraft. Many (probably most, I lack the data) do not have autopilot. The vast majority of pilots of small planes just want the elevator to go up when we pull back on the stick, no more. We want predictability and consistency in this (why I hate brake assist). We do NOT want it to interpret what we tell it to do and sometimes do something different. There's nothing to gain by introducing electronics into it. The entire control system can be cheaper than one servo. And it would be trivial to add redundancy with a second cable/rod, but most planes don't have this because it control failure is an uncommon problems and it is trivially easy to inspect the mechanical linkage.

There are undoubtedly people who feel as you do and want full electronic control of a small plane for various reasons. But they are likely an extremely small percentage of the small plane pilot population. Probably not enough to justify calling it a "market". Reliability will likely be difficult to prove with a small sample size. But if you feel differently, go ahead and build one and see if you can get some interest. If you think you can build a "safer" plane with the electronics, you're definitely not the first one to try it, just remember that several hundred people recently died because of one of those systems was modifying their control inputs and the pilots didn't know how to turn it off.

Also, the aircraft would most definitely not be more "fun to fly" with electronic control systems. Ask anyone who has flown a Pitts.

#### dsigned

##### Well-Known Member
Oh c'mon... I did it for you

When I was 30, I knew a lot more than I did when I was 15, and when I was 15 I knew a lot more than when I was 10. You can probably say the same. I hope that concept does not offend you.

Why is it so disgusting to think that the 20-25 years more life experience I have may be worth something? Or the 40 years of aviation experience? Is it just impossible that I might have learned something in aviation that you might not be able to see from your perspective? If people like me are trying to transfer that knowledge to the next generation of pilots, does it automatically make us luddites that you can wrap up in Depends and send us off to the rest home?
Lol, fair enough. But I meant it literally. I'm working two jobs, going to grad school full time, and parenting my three little girls and trying to be a decent husband.

The short version is that nearly everything you said about auto engines vs. aircraft engines is demonstrably false. While it's true that aero engines run at more of less constant velocity at 75-90% power, its absolutely false that that's why we have massive air cooled flat sixes in aero and liquid cooled relatively tiny engines in automotive applications. It has everything to do with the process for getting new engines certified and the chicken and egg problem for integrating non-flat engines into spaces designed for flat, cantilevered engines. For most auto engines, peak power (not redline) is around 6000 rpm, which puts 75% around 4500 rpm. That's well within operational limits for auto engines. Our RAV4 wasn't geared tall enough to do 80 without winding up the engine. It had 250k miles on it.

But perhaps more importantly, liquid cooling and EFI is probably more important in aero applications than in auto. You need the reliability way more in aero than in a car. I'll not waste space trying to convince you that EFI is more reliable. We're 30+ years into the tech. I've spent enough time around carbureted stuff (relying on it to get to and from school, rebuilding them, etc.) to feel like anyone who denies it at this point is just not paying attention. But liquid cooling is also significant. Aircraft have issues with heat buildup and icing. Air cooled engines simply don't do well with temperature fluctuations, and certainly not when compared to liquid cooled engines. Pair EFI with liquid cooling and all reasons for using leaded gas evaporate.

As for your life experience and flying experience: I think you're taking offense where none was intended. I don't doubt at all that there are things that you've learned in your experience that I can't see. I just don't think they're relevant to whether general aviation needs to embrace late 20th century technology. More to the point, keeping up with the pace of technology is exhausting for all of us, not just those of us who wear depends and belong in old folks homes . So me, who has greater familiarity with the actual state of "current" (by which I mean past 20 years) tech, insisting on accuracy with what is actually safe and reliable from a technological standpoint (which admittedly is not the same as what has been implemented), isn't supposed to be a dig at your expertise. It's simply pointing out that we all need to be cognizant of where the limits our expertise actually lie.

#### dsigned

##### Well-Known Member
And if the problem is the software, all three can fail for the same anomalous condition. Also, you might want to google "ECU recalls" before touting their reliability. Toyota, Mitsubishi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, and Audi all had safety recalls in the last year for their ECU. Mitsubishi's is particularly relevant, as most of the recall is for "the software problem could cause some features—such as adaptive cruise control (ACC); forward-collision mitigation (FCM), which is a combination of forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking; and antilock brakes (ABS)—to not work as expected." https://www.consumerreports.org/car-recalls-defects/mitsubishi-recalls-68000-suvs-over-bad-software/

Toyota is correcting a problem causing the engine to stall. BMW's problem shut off the fuel pump. These are not trivial problems in aircraft.

If you're talking about electronics replacing a complicated system or do something new, then reliability goes up. If you're using them to replace a simple mechanical system, reliability generally goes down. As others have mentioned, cables and pulleys can be inspected, they have obvious indicators of failure modes before they happen. Rods and levers are the same. Outside of some cases of physical wiring damage, there are few failures on electronic systems that have indicators which can be determined with inspection. And software can have problems that even experts will miss.

Electronics are used in automobiles when they can do a function better or cheaper. ABS allows quicker braking in slippery conditions, brake assist (which I hate) is to protect idiot drivers that don't know how hard to hit the brake pedal when they want to stop, engines have ECUs to extract more power with better efficiency. But there is little to no improvement to be found in control systems of small aircraft. Many (probably most, I lack the data) do not have autopilot. The vast majority of pilots of small planes just want the elevator to go up when we pull back on the stick, no more. We want predictability and consistency in this (why I hate brake assist). We do NOT want it to interpret what we tell it to do and sometimes do something different. There's nothing to gain by introducing electronics into it. The entire control system can be cheaper than one servo. And it would be trivial to add redundancy with a second cable/rod, but most planes don't have this because it control failure is an uncommon problems and it is trivially easy to inspect the mechanical linkage.

There are undoubtedly people who feel as you do and want full electronic control of a small plane for various reasons. But they are likely an extremely small percentage of the small plane pilot population. Probably not enough to justify calling it a "market". Reliability will likely be difficult to prove with a small sample size. But if you feel differently, go ahead and build one and see if you can get some interest. If you think you can build a "safer" plane with the electronics, you're definitely not the first one to try it, just remember that several hundred people recently died because of one of those systems was modifying their control inputs and the pilots didn't know how to turn it off.

Also, the aircraft would most definitely not be more "fun to fly" with electronic control systems. Ask anyone who has flown a Pitts.
Like I said, luddites.

#### dsigned

##### Well-Known Member
Light aircraft infused with consumer electronics/automotive technology are an eventual inevitablity. That's assuming private flying isn't legislated out of existence, of course. But I doubt either is going to happen in my remaining flying years (30 ish).

So with that said, flying today is as inexpensive as it's going to get. I see only 3 options for the homebuilder today:

1. Make more money.
2. Develop a paradigm shift which reduces all costs of flying
3. Find a different hobby

What we have too much of in this forum is the fourth option:

3A. Devote all available time on aviation forum complaining about my inability to persue aviation on my terms.
I think that 3A is actually 2A. And I think you mistake my criticism for complaining. I think of complaining as simply pointing at the state of things without offering an alternative, or a way forward. I don't think that's what I'm trying to do at all. I'm trying to point to the way forward.

For example, fly-by wire isn't just because I like the idea. Being able to control the plane remotely means you can fly it from anywhere, including the safety of the ground. While clearly this is undesirable if you simply want to go flying, I hope you can see how this might be valuable if you were testing a new [insert system here] for aviation. Being able to put 1000 hours on a new airframe, or engine, or flight control system in the air seems to me to be a clear advantage over having to risk a pilot on an unproven system. While flying the latest design FPV might not be 100% as valuable as having a test pilot, and certainly would be less fun, it would also be 100% safer. Once the systems are verified, then you can move on to some of the stuff that you might still need a test pilot for. And then once all the testing is complete, you can give it to a regular pilot. The net effect would be a dramatic reduction in the cost of experimentation because the cost of failure doesn't involve losing a pilot.

#### Hot Wings

##### Grumpy Cynic
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Like I said, luddites.
Luddite is probably the wrong word. Most of the 'objections' presented are based on fear of change or how that change will negatively impact their lives. Most are simply satisfied with the way things are. I have no objections to that way of life but some of us look for something "better". Even within our Experimental niche this dichotomy can be observed. My favorite analogy is that if we just kept doing things the way we did yesterday we would all still be jabbing our next meal with a sharp stick. Who needs to spend all that energy and time chipping away at that like rock? See you just cut your self! To me an RV is little more than an easy to sharpen stick. But if you are still throwing rocks at your food ..............

I object equally to change for the sake of change and resisting change because 'that is the way we have always done and it works. You, I and others see a "better" way. We can't complain if others don't share our vision. We certainly can't expect them to create our vision of the future for us. That is our job. But we can ask that they let us try to prove our concept(s) in a way that doesn't endanger them.

Having the doubters keep listing the potential problems just makes our job that much easier.

A Pitts with full fly by wire - Only if it has an option to bypass ALL of the FBW filtering!

#### 12notes

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
Like I said, luddites.
Not using technology for technology's sake is not being a Luddite. You're approach is fixing something that is not broken with a less reliable system because "technology", while ignoring the significant problems with that technology because your particular car hasn't had that problem.

#### dsigned

##### Well-Known Member
Not using technology for technology's sake is not being a Luddite. You're approach is fixing something that is not broken with a less reliable system because "technology", while ignoring the significant problems with that technology because your particular car hasn't had that problem.
The whole thread is about how GA is broken, and you're responding to my suggestions by saying that it isn't broken?

#### Hot Wings

##### Grumpy Cynic
HBA Supporter
Log Member
The whole thread is about how GA is broken, and you're responding to my suggestions by saying that it isn't broken?
For a lot of people flying it isn't broken.

For me if we went back to the old Ma Bell the phone system my phone service wouldn't be broken. There was a time I'd have paid a bunch for a modern cell phone. They didn't exist. I carried a cell phone and my Palm. Today I have need* of neither on a daily basis. Put me back in the days of a 300 baud modem? Yea, that was broken even then. It got fixed. Good old fashioned capitalism did that.

*edit: Or want. Telemarketers and scammers must be the lowest form of human ever conceived - at least the most annoying.

#### 12notes

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
The whole thread is about how GA is broken, and you're responding to my suggestions by saying that it isn't broken?
No, I'm responding to your ridiculous proposal that cables and rods are unreliable and unsafe and that ECUs, servos, and wiring are a more reliable, cheaper solution. The subject of this thread is "Cheap aircraft are simply impossible", and your solution is to make them more expensive while ignoring reliability concerns with the proposed "improvement". This is a step backwards for technology's sake.

I'm not against all improvements, aircraft engines for example, as you know, leave a lot of room for improvement. But some changes don't make any sense.

Build it if you want it, build more than one if you think there's a market for it.

#### Toobuilder

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
The whole thread is about how GA is broken, and you're responding to my suggestions by saying that it isn't broken?

And no, GA is not broken. It does exactly what it needs to for me. Sure, Id like to see a lot more airports, but there is nothing in the world that would prevent me from signing off this post and walking out to my hangar, selecting an airplane, and flying across the country to catch Sun n Fun. Fuel, airports, hotels, in cockpit weather, food, ground transportation... All available on demand and in copious quantity.

Some PEOPLE might be broke, but GA sure isn't.

#### BJC

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
There is a difference between flying a full motion simulator and actually experiencing stalls and spins, and emergencies. My point was not to discount simulator training, but to stress that there already is too little actual effective flight training. Replacing what there is with simulator time, as you suggested, would be a mistake. Adding simulator training for procedural training could be a benefit, but would add to the cost of getting a pilot’s license.

Both Apollo and the shuttle program used flying simulators.

How much, and what type of piloting experience do you have?

BJC
Some data about fatal training accidents here: https://www.aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/pilot-resources/safety-and-proficiency/accident-analysis/fatalflighttrainingreport20002015.pdf

Note the stall / spin info.

BJC

#### pwood66889

##### Well-Known Member
Note the stall / spin info.

BJC
Which is why I like what I like - see avatar.
Gathered 15 of em at X60 for lunch 30 March this. About 30 people. Hangar flew (aka told war stories and other lies) and looked at the pretty planes.
They can be had for 15 to 25 K$. Yeah, not as cheap as a sail boat, and you have to buy gas. #### Pops ##### Well-Known Member Log Member Not much not to like in the Ercoupe. Have owned 2 . #### pwood66889 ##### Well-Known Member I'm on my second one, Pops. #### BJC ##### Well-Known Member HBA Supporter Which is why I like what I like - see avatar. Gathered 15 of em at X60 for lunch 30 March this. About 30 people. Hangar flew (aka told war stories and other lies) and looked at the pretty planes. They can be had for 15 to 25 K$. Yeah, not as cheap as a sail boat, and you have to buy gas.
My first airplane ride was in an Ercoupe. I was 7 days old. Spent a few hours with Fred Weick at a dinner meeting when I was 16. Interesting man.

BJC

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