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Rik-

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The Budget: Our plane can meet several goals that people have. If you are looking for a budget plane then a finished SABERWING can be accomplished for less than $40,000.00 (engine and instrumentation included) Most will see a final cost of $50,000.00 with nice extras. We plan to provide the kit in sections as well to spread out the costs where that may be desired.
Here’s an exercise, and please realize I’m not picking on you, nor trying to be disrespectful in any manner here.

Let’s take the 40k base model.

Please show us the allocation for an engine, then the prop, adapter and spinner cost in your budgetary plan.

Next, tell us your FWF price, engine mount, exhaust, cowlings and baffling

Let’s move onto rigging.

Fuel pumps, gasconator, lines, fittings, Adell clamps, screws, bolts, nuts and washers.

Fuel tank, fuel filter

Instrumentation, are we using gauges or are we going for the IPad setup incorporating a series of sensors and such for roughly $3500 plus the iPad?

Static port system, gotta have this for either setup.

Lighting, strobes

ELT

Battery, battery cables, clamps and battery box.

Interior, seats, seatbelts and such

Tires, wheels and brakes?

Dare we mention a paint budget?

Labor. Being as everyone’s a CPA, financial analyst or such what’s the opportunity cost that’s built into the 40k price?

Does the “builder” need to have a garage full of used items that they have scrounged over the years to outfit the build with in order to meet this budget? Is the 40k build a new airframe but used/secondhand everything else?

And finally, what’s the cost to (budget) purchase for your aircraft kit? Are you making at least a 20% margin on this kit? After all the builders will need you to be around for spare parts and technical assistance.

Will you carry some sort of liability insurance that is factored into your kit price?
 

TarDevil

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Yup, and so are the others I could round up.

Still missing your point, or you are missing mine, we are looking for someone to tell us how they make a sub $20K composite craft, not a $40K one.
Where did the $20K threshold come from? From one of Matthew's earliest post in this thread...

the Sonex, which can be built for under $40,000. Is it really impossible for a composite kit to be sold at a price point that would allow a flying aircraft at that price or less?
Sorry, I thought I was in the OP's price ballpark.
 

cluttonfred

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I said earlier in this thread, " How many potential customers are there at each level of a pricing ladder, say $100k/$80k/$60k/$40k/$20k for a complete and flying homebuilt aircraft? I don't know if it's an exponential increase with each drop in price, but it's certainly a pyramid."

I would absolutely love to see a bare bones VFR fun machine, that 21st century VP-2 at least in concept, brought to life, for $20k all in. I do believe that a I could build an actual VP-2 for that much despite the price of spruce spars and longerons and I hope to tackle such a project in the next few years.

I am at a point in my life where I could certainly invest more than that in a project, but I like low and slow and cheap and simple. Glasairs and Lancairs and RVs never appealed to me, but Flying Fleas and Volksplanes and Aircampers do. Lamborghini Diablos and Porsche 911s have never appealed to me beyond a certain vague appreciation, but a nice Morris Mini or Citroën 2CV catches my eye.

I think a composite design with preformed parts (no layup) glued together like a big model airplane could be that 21st century VP-2 and attract a whole new generation of homebuilders. Regardless of construction method, I believe that a safe, simple, easy to fly aircraft at that price point would attract many people who might not otherwise take the leap into aircraft building.

All that said, even under $40k would be a big improvement in terms of making a composite kitplane more accessible.
 

Kyle Boatright

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I think a composite design with preformed parts (no layup) glued together like a big model airplane could be that 21st century VP-2 and attract a whole new generation of homebuilders. Regardless of construction method, I believe that a safe, simple, easy to fly aircraft at that price point would attract many people who might not otherwise take the leap into aircraft building.
I think the Sonex and its derivatives best fill that role. The Onex supposedly can be done for $30K, right? Consider that > 2/3 of the cost of that airplane is all of the non-airframe stuff. The engine, prop, panel, brakes, etc. There's not a lot left for actual airframe - aluminum, composite, or paper mache'.

Now, I sort of get your point - a kit with an easy to build airframe, done inexpensively. I can see a composite approach being easier to build, and (properly done) require less time, but I can't see it being less expensive than a simple all-metal, pop-rivet airplane like the Sonex.
 

cheapracer

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The product has to make the market.
You have to convince people they want/need the product and they can afford the product.
.
Yup, that's one of the reasons I steered away from composites, I didn't believe I could come in under the $15K point I previously mentioned.

Marketing is also about slotting the right product in the right price point, a boxy aluminium craft will be looked at, the cheap price matched to it psychologically, while a sleek composite craft that's cheap would have people questioning "There's something wrong here, you can't typically buy that craft for that price, it just doesn't compute...".

Strange but true.



Where did the $20K threshold come from? From one of Matthew's earliest post in this thread...
Sorry Mate, I may have convinced myself of it from a few notations of it in various posts, and my own post talking about what happens after $15K.

Still, a $40K craft ain't going to help most.
 

Glen Maxwell

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The great thing about small business can be...being small. Small boat building shops still exist here and there, selling mostly locally by word of mouth and through regional boat shows. My Dad is in his 70s and has a Sturdee Dory (http://stur-deeboat.com/amesbury-dory/), a boat built by a little family business in Rhode Island that operated mostly as a one-man shop. When he died...his daughter and granddaughter took it over. That was, I think, 6-8 years ago. The granddaughter did all the layup on my Dad’s boat and he volunteers at boat shows for them in exchange for free entrance just talking to people about the boats. I think a similar approach could work for a small airplane company.

PS—If you click on the photos button at the link above, that’s my Dad, brother and two nieces in the one with the red stripe. ;-)
As a retired professional boat builder I can say that building boats is more a labor of love than a means to amass a fortune. You are lucky to generate a good income. Frank over at Performance Props summed up for me the other day when he said "If you want to make a small fortune building propellers, start with a big one". Pretty much the same is true of boat building.
 

Aviacs

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Oct 21, 2019
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85
The great thing about small business can be...being small. Small boat building shops still exist here and there, selling mostly locally by word of mouth and through regional boat shows. My Dad is in his 70s and has a Sturdee Dory (http://stur-deeboat.com/amesbury-dory/), a boat built by a little family business in Rhode Island that operated mostly as a one-man shop. When he died...his daughter and granddaughter took it over. That was, I think, 6-8 years ago. The granddaughter did all the layup on my Dad’s boat and he volunteers at boat shows for them in exchange for free entrance just talking to people about the boats. I think a similar approach could work for a small airplane company.

PS—If you click on the photos button at the link above, that’s my Dad, brother and two nieces in the one with the red stripe. ;-)
Part of that model requires buying what is now $million real estate when it cost a few $hundred, and keeping it in the family until they get tired of it; or until the taxes kill them. :^) You can work cheap if the tooling is all well proven & amortized, grandfathered zoning regs are favorable, & you know there is a sound personal exit strategy. It's why when they do sell out, the business won't survive new owners for more than a few years.

That said, the example is also intriguing per some of your posts on the wood forum - the evolution of a proven design, a wooden lapstrake boat, into a fiberglass facsimile as the original (wood) materials become scarce and non-competitive in price. The labor comparison has to favor composite construction, too.

Apropos of not quite what, the vestigial lapstrakes must make molding more complex and difficult in fiberglass, and look sort of "stupid" on a fiberglass boat, like non-operational vinyl shutters on a house or modern "woody" cars. However, the form promotes stability, so is actually functional.

smt
 

cluttonfred

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There are quite a few assumptions in there, Aviacs.

I have been to the Sturdee workshop, which is not on the water and definitely not worth millions, just a small commercial building on a minor state road in a rural area. Yes, we have those in Rhode Island, Tiverton is a booming metropolis of about 16,000 people. Yes, I hear you on the tooling, but then again you are also stuck with old hand-layup methods that may not be very efficient.

Screenshot 2019-12-29 at 1.50.30 PM.png

My point was that this small business has survived over 70 years, made a transition from wood to fiberglass, and now passed to a new generation (two, actually) interested in keeping it going. I understand your point about "faux" lapstrake but the style is actually practical in uncored fiberglass as it provides stiffening corrugations.

As has been said, aircraft homebuilding is never likely to make you a fortune, but there are many examples of successfeul small family businesses (Grove landing gear, Great Plains engines, Evansair (6000+ sets of plans over 50 years), etc.).
 
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tspear

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I think we need to find a benevolent billionaire who wants to die poor.
Only way the cost of manufacturing these limited run vehicles could ever be sold at a low enough price to get the kind of perceived market people believe exists.

Tim
 

BJC

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Matthew:

When will you retire from your day job? Florida, Georgia and Alabama are good locations for a new small business. I can see the sign now, “Matthew’s Manufacturing; VP-2’s For You”.

BJC
 

Erik Snyman

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Oct 9, 2019
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I have no dog in this fight, but I think one of the problems is as old as mankind itself: You always expect more. Or get more that what the price suggests. People want to pay Rabbit money and expect a hand-built Merc to stand behind the door. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Erik in Oz.
 

Aviacs

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Oct 21, 2019
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Cluttonfred -
My big assumption was that their promotional materials somehow suggested a waterside location.
Beyond that, i was merely ruminating on the ironies. Including that faux lapstrake not only stiffens the construction (as you point out) but that it actually adds stability to a boat of that type (as i noted) which feature is a selling point of their product.

I appreciate the family-ness, the work ethic, the unique product with has transitioned several ages & generations.

There is synchronicity with your ruminations on the cost and availability of good clear solid wood. So why has that not driven airplane construction to composites & "cheaper" as with boats?

Closer to (my) home - before about 15 years ago, the guys who built wooden airplanes or parts for same around here went over to Babcock Ladder ("Standing on Quality") in Bath for their spruce or doug fir. Matter of course. But now ladders are all fiberglass or aluminum, Sitka spruce and Port Orford cedar became too costly and the sources less reliable. Perhaps incongruously, wooden ladders are still preferred and rebuilt by some fire companies on hook-n-ladder trucks because they are safer & more durable in a fire than Al or fiberglass.

(Edited) - It's a digression but I just googled Babcock ladders out of curiosity, looks like someone may have picked up the name and is making some wooden products again. Need to investigate next trip that direction. See what lumber they are using.

(More editing) - "2' to 16' made from Southern Yellow Pine in Type IA, I, II, and III and extension ladders made from Western Hemlock from 16' to 40' in Type IA and I."

Oh, well.
 
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cluttonfred

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Sounds like fun but I've still got a few years to go yet. Our current Northwest Florida (aka Lower Alabama) location is only temporary, after that, who knows?

When will you retire from your day job? Florida, Georgia and Alabama are good locations for a new small business. I can see the sign now, “Matthew’s Manufacturing; VP-2’s For You”.
 

pwood66889

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"Our current Northwest Florida (aka Lower Alabama) location is only temporary, after that, who knows?"
PM me your current, as I should try to catch up with you before you flit to some other interesting place.
 

lr27

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Seems to me that marketing departments have spent billions of dollars for many decades trying to convince us all that we need a whole bunch of bells and whistles. I wonder if, somehow, the equivalent of a '46 Taylorcraft was offered, how many would buy them at, say, $30k or $40k? (I have no idea). People have mentioned the cost of the instruments, but how much does a panel like this one cost?: https://vb.taylorcraft.org/filedata/fetch?id=153200
I realize there are now some FAA required items, and I don't know how much they cost.
Barnaby Wainfan et. al have worked out one way to make cheaper, possibly composite airplanes that perform reasonably well. (like a 152 but on less horsepower):
http://www.wainfan.com/pavreport.pdf
As always, engines are critical. I wonder why we don't see more VW's with redrives. Seems to me one of those could handle a slow, light 2 passenger airplane, although a longer span than a Facetmobile MIGHT be helpful. Great Planes offers one. If that wouldn't work, some other conversion might. Are Corvair engines rare yet? A Facetmobile is ugly to us, but maybe it wouldn't be to someone who grew up with Transformers or an obsession with Star Wars spacecraft.
If batteries get cheap and store enough energy for the weight, maybe future homebuilders will just go to the junkyard for their power. The motors are already cheap, light and powerful enough.

Anyway, it strikes me that the problem is marketing (or demand) as much as anything.

Maybe many of the people who would go for a cheap airplane kit are siphoned off by part 103 ultralights. (And ostensible part 103 ultralights)
 

BJC

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I wonder if, somehow, the equivalent of a '46 Taylorcraft was offered, how many would buy them at, say, $30k or $40k? (I have no idea).
I like the T-craft, but I would put that money into a bare-bones used E-AB before I would a new T-craft, even if a T-craft could be manufactured and sold for that amount.

Putting out-of-production designs back into production to serve the perceived low-cost market has been a recurring idea. Example from long ago include the Champ, the Ercoupe, the Luscombe, the Maule, and, as you mentioned, the Taylorcraft. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylorcraft_Aircraft#Taylorcraft_Aviation_Corporation
None has had much success.

PA-11 and PA-18 clones are being produced, with some commercial success, but they are not bare bones, inexpensive versions of the originals. Just check the cost of a Carbon Cub.

There never has been a good financial return for building light aircraft. Because light aircraft are labor intensive to build, and because the days of cheap skilled labor are long over in the USA, I don’t see any way to produce any cheap certificated aircraft. Note also, that in the E-AB world, Vans kits were sent to the Philippines for assembly into “quick build” status (don’t know if that still is the case), Stoddard-Hamilton tried, unsuccessfully, to do something similar in Mexico (or ?) with the Glasair, Bearhawk fuselages were welded in Mexico, etc.

The best current option for a new, proven, inexpensive sport airplane is to build a Sonex or equivalent. The best option to have a low cost flying airplane is to buy one that someone else built. As always, there are exceptions; a very few people have the time and skills to scrounge and build parts to build a really cheap airplane.

It will take a break-thru in materials and manufacturing methods, a significant change in the regulatory oversight process, and a real market demand to be able to achieve financial success in manufacturing a new, cheap, TC’ed light aircraft in the USA. Hopefully, those things will happen some day ....

This sure sounds pessimistic, but, unfortunately, I believe that it is realistic.

BJC
 

cheapracer

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Stoddard-Hamilton tried, unsuccessfully, to do something similar in Mexico (or ?) with the Glasair, Bearhawk fuselages were welded in Mexico, etc.
Zenith are quite successful out of Mexico.

They are in China too, but from what I can tell, a businessman bought 50 kits and set up to assemble them. Their American test pilot and a passenger were killed in a crash, and I haven't heard much since then, or ever seen them at the major airshows, so I presume the passenger may have been the businessman.


This sure sounds pessimistic, but, unfortunately, I believe that it is realistic.
Just logical conclusions based on what you know. There are people around working on changing what you know.
 
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