Early 2019 Christmas Wish - RV-7HW...Are you listening, Richard?

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TarDevil

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The -12 is the dog of the fleet with a 912 hung on the nose. The -12 that showed up at Oshkosh last year with Mark Kettering's AM15 up front cruised 145 true at 65% power. That's getting dang close to RV6 performance using an O-320.

But that's not my point...
 

rv7charlie

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The -12 is a mission-specific design. 'Total Performance' (Van's slogan/motto/etc) isn't really possible within the constraints of Light Sport. And with over 700 flying, it doesn't sound like they've had many problems selling them in the past. Biggest problem for it today is Basic Med, which lets most of the 'Sport Pilot' candidates continue to fly their -9A, -7A, -14A, etc instead of downgrading to Light Sport performance. Besides, the high wing -12 is already available, complete with sensibly priced engine...

The RV community has been begging Van's to do a high wing metal bush plane for years, but so far, no response. There's obviously a market, but there's also obviously a quite extensive supply. There are probably a half dozen metal designs already available, and dozens of more 'traditional' variations. Quite a few RVers are now building Rans S-21s for their '2nd a/c'.

Charlie
 

gtae07

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I’ve followed a lot of this discussion over on VAF, where DR (the proprietor) has been promoting a petition/movement asking for an RV bush/STOL plane.

As noted, very common requests are (1) Prepunch/quick-build RV-3, which won’t happen due to lack of a business case, (2) bush plane/STOL, (3) a high-wing that mostly duplicates something in the existing lineup, (4) a four-cylinder four-seater (or 2+2) with/without aerobatic capability. Less common are six-seaters, twins, jets, turboprops, and other more “out there” ideas.

Personally, although the bush/STOL gets the most attention (probably thanks to DR’s promotion of it), I think a lot of the demand for a Van’s version is basically being driven by existing Van’s builders/owners. I don’t think there’s enough push from the rest of the STOL/bush builder community for Van’s specifically to be in that market, and I think it’s deviated far enough from their usual specialty/performance category that it doesn’t really fit—not that they couldn’t make a good airplane for it, just that it’s not really their “thing”. I also think that there’s enough variation in what these folks say they’re looking for in such an airplane—some want a simple lazy low-and-slow day flier, and others want an actual bush plane—that I don’t think they’d get enough sales with one or the other.

The advanced-kit -3 just doesn’t have the market demand to justify what’s essentially a complete redesign. And anyone who wants something in that performance category but isn’t dead-set on an RV can probably look to the Panther.

A high-wing that duplicates an existing model’s performance—probably the -9, -10, or -14–might sell fairly well on its own, but with the low-wing “competitor” still in production they’d probably cannibalize each other’s sales. I think most of the market here would be those considering the existing models but want a high wing for ease of access reasons.

A four-cylinder 2+2 would have been a real interesting choice for the RV-14 (and had Van’s gone that way while retaining aerobatic capability with two on board, or offered a back seat/jumpseat option in the 14, I’d have chosen that instead of a -7). But I think now, such a model would mostly eat into 10 and 14 sales. Of course, done as a slight stretch of the -14, it could probably also be done at minimal additional cost, using the same wing, tail, FWF, etc. and just some mods to the cabin area and canopy.

There is the interesting case of the RV-5, which was a single-seat (half?) VW-powered demonstrator. It was recently restored and flown to Oshkosh 2019. Now, I don’t expect Van’s to put it in production, but I could possibly see something in that vein with the target being something like a Sonex or maybe Saberwing—lower cost, lower but still respectable performance, and with the Van’s reputation. Power choice would be that rumored O-200 class engine. Perhaps non-aerobatic, so think RV-9 / RV-12 handling. LSA legal but not E-LSA eligible, to save on paperwork, and leveraging existing parts/components as much as possible. Prefabrication and documentation probably more in line with 7/8/9 than 12/14. Quite possibly an offshoot of an employee pet project. Would probably impact some -12 sales, but not sure how badly.

The MOSAIC project might be driving the next model, too. Although nobody really knows what the proposal will actually be, I suspect some of the established manufacturers might have a decent idea, and are working on designs that will most likely be eligible when it goes into effect. I could see Van‘s working on something here, and that might be the above 2+2 although I suspect the aerobatic capability and cruise speed would probably take hits. Something more like a Sportsman but probably low-winged and using some existing parts.

Last option might be a slicked-up, high wing, four-seat traveling machine, though it would probably hurt sales of the -10. Same payload/space, but trading field performance for speed. Then again, that sort of deviates from the all-around performance model Van‘s has always stuck to in favor of a more point design.
 

Toobuilder

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I've wondered at the "demand" among the VAF horde for a bushplane. With the plethora of excellent, current models available today, I have to conclude most of the noise is coming from repeat RV builders who just want to build another RV. And the truth of it is, ANY new model will do - Jet, twin, bushplane - just so long as the Vans "brand" is affixed. Van has picked a sweet spot in performance requirements and delivers a product that satisfies these requirements at a fair price. That is the textbook example of satisfying the customer with a favorable "value proposition". The current Boeing executives could take a lesson or two.

That said, the VAF customers are cult like in their devotion to all things Van, and are willing to compromise their own requirements to "back into" a mission that they really don't need. IMHO, if Van tries to take on Rans, Bearhawk, Murphy, Zenith or Carbon Cub on performance, he's at best only going to equal his competition. So his only hope is to leverage his considerable manufacturing capacity to offer a significantly lower cost product. Good luck with that - especially considering he can't compromise his existing product line.

The VAF cult will drive some sales on name alone, but is that a sustainable position in the long term? Considering the NRE of the new design and the capital expense of added capacity for manufacturing, I'd like to see the market analysis that shows a viable Vans "bushplane".
 
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Hephaestus

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See, now that's an innovtive freakin' idea!

A Vans version of the Tin-Wind, using RV construction methods, and having it be sort of a tribute to Steve Wittman. EAA would get behind it, and even the Tailwind community would get behind it.
It would probably drag a few Wichita spam can owners into the homebuilt world. They drool over the tailwind performance until they see fabric. Sort out a yoke scenario as an option for them... Suddenly you've got a high speed spamcan... 320/360's are already in the VAF inventory, so that works.

Keep it largely backwards compatible to the Wittman design - so some of the speed mods and other suppliers parts are possible upgrades/mods and you'd get buy in from the whole tailwind crowd...

I'd say O&O special as a 2+2 offering but, I don't think they are there yet.
 

Toobuilder

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See, now that's an innovtive freakin' idea!

A Vans version of the Tin-Wind, using RV construction methods, and having it be sort of a tribute to Steve Wittman. EAA would get behind it, and even the Tailwind community would get behind it.
It's an interesting concept and is supported by precident - the direct analog is the Piper Cherokee replacing the Tri-Pacer. The Cherokee is for all intents a sheet metal PA-22 and was built at substantially lower manufacturing cost. Assuming a Vans Tailwind is available at a similar cost to the RV line (say, 40k), is there a market?

Before you answer, consider how easy it is to pick up an existing Tailwind restoration project. My neighbor's example is interesting:. One can purchase this airplane, sandblast and paint the fuselage/tail (bringing it to "new" condition), strip and varnish the wings, have the entire "finishing kit" included (all parts required to assemble and fly) - essentially the entire "kit", assembled on the gear and ready for cover for WELL under $10k.

But wait, there's more... The airplane already has an AWC and registration AND comes with a 0TSMO Lycoming!

...yet no interest. WTF?

It's no wonder some make it and some don't in the kitplane business - the customers are insane!
 

Hephaestus

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It's the fabric man... Between not being able to store outside and the feeling of all that's between you and a multi thousand foot fall to earth is a thin layer of cotton/polyester :)

People don't like rag&tube, haven't for decades... Replace that fabric with a soda can thick layer of aluminum and suddenly people buy in.

That's just the way it is...
 

Toobuilder

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It's the fabric man... Between not being able to store outside and the feeling of all that's between you and a multi thousand foot fall to earth is a thin layer of cotton/polyester :)

People don't like rag&tube, haven't for decades... Replace that fabric with a soda can thick layer of aluminum and suddenly people buy in.

That's just the way it is...
Two words: Carbon Cub

The basic kit is $180,000 and the builders assist version is $249,900.

The Tailwind restoration gets you a brand new, high performance two place airplane for $25k all in, the CC is 10 times that for essentially the same materials cost.

The math makes my head hurt.
 
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Hephaestus

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Cubs are a different breed. :) They get special exception for some unknown reason.

But the Wichita spamcan yoke holders above all want a thin aluminum exterior.

RV does a W10 clone - likely its a bit heavier than a Wittman, but accepted by the masses. Profile increases ,interest increases. RV guys start getting upset the original can outrun them by 10ish kts in cruise (unfounded guesstimate just on ballpark rag&tube vs aluminum). Interest in the older w10s increase - some people will make the trade to the original Wittman design because more speed/payload... Benefit - everyone really.
 

gtae07

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Why don’t people snap up Tailwinds? I think a big part of it is as Hephaestus says—right or wrong, most people don’t like rag and tube or wood. Some perceive it as ”old” or “quaint”, others are uncomfortable with something they feel would be easily damaged, others don’t know how to work with it (more a concern in homebuilts). This goes for buyers and builders. Besides familiarity with metal from Piper/Cessna products, most people seem to relate better/faster to working sheet metal than tube and fabric. Welding especially seems daunting to people, whereas drilling, deburring, dimpling, and riveting seem to meet greater acceptance with newcomers.

If you’re talking about a restoration, people are probably also daunted by the scope—most people have probably seen enough DIY/home improvement shows or done enough restorations themselves to know that a cheaply-purchased restoration project can turn into a money pit. A rag-and-tube airplane with good but dirty structure, and a cover in bad condition, looks bad. It screams major rebuild (even if it’s not actually true). To some, a new build of something else (even if more expensive and time consuming) may almost seem easier, as you’re probably also working with virgin material and better instructions, not trying to figure out what someone else did on an aged airframe.


A lot of it too comes down to the fact that, much as we like to claim otherwise, buyers of personal airplanes are not rational. We do not simply come up with a “cost vs. performance” graph and choose the product off that. You don’t much care how screaming of a deal you might have in front of you if you’re not interested in that type of airplane. By example, you could give me a certified airplane right now, and I wouldn’t take it unless I could just turn around and sell it. I don’t want it, no matter how good a deal it is on paper. People looking to buy/build an airplane in the Tailwind performance category might not want a high wing, might not like tube/fabric, etc.

When I was shopping for an engine, I came across a flyable Tailwind in Florida with a low-time engine and prop I could use, for the price of just a new engine alone. (I actually ran across a couple of restoration/flyable donors but didn’t bite). I thought about it for a while and it was even suggested by some to buy the airplane and fly it a while until I was ready to move the engine over. But I realized that buying and flying the airplane would eat my entire build budget and I’d have an airplane I didn’t really want. Buying it and pulling the engine would mean writing the airframe off (nobody would want an engineless Tailwind and the A&P schools around here are just pipelines for turbine aircraft maintainers) so I’d have to dispose of it, and I didn’t want to do that either. That’s why I basically abandoned the “buy a project for the engine”.

Finally, there’s the part that some people don’t want to buy an already-flown airplane. In my case, I never even considered it, as I wanted the build experience and I just rebelled at the idea of having to get someone else to do my condition inspections. By that criteria alone, flyable Tailwind projects were out of consideration.
 

rv7charlie

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I've flown several Tailwinds, and even considered purchasing one. Performance (speed) is impressive, but the downsides for typical GA pilots go well beyond 'fabric'. They are 'honest' planes, but low speed performance shouldn't be equated with RVs or any factory a/c. Cockpit room is very limited, given today's typical Bubba-sized pilots and passengers. Struts are, well, struts. If considering the purchase of a flying a/c, a wood wing is difficult to inspect, at best. Many years ago I passed on a great deal on a wood wing Mooney, for that very reason.

Let's say you fix all those things, and go into production with the kit. Is it a Tailwind?

Lots of people still like tube & fabric. But they're not the same people that like aluminum, and they're not the same people that want to go 200 mph.

The weirdest thing to me is that the T&F guys are willing to pay 250mph money for 100mph performance, when it can be bought for 80mph money.

Charlie
 
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