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Liability insurance for a self designed bird?

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Pops

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My original design is a one seater. 1M liability is about $400 a year. Pilot experience will be a factor.

When I finished my strip in 92, I was told the Feds wanted to know about it. They sent me a buncha mostly info requested type forms. Length, obstacles, open to the public type things. I sent it all in and they came back with this "approved" reply. And then they put it on the chart! I didn't want that.
So the neighbor, one of those who can't be outdone by anybody; decided he had to have a strip. Right next door and obviously conflicting traffic patterns. They "disapproved" his. I got a kick outa that. It's still in operation today.
I don't know the "rules" concerning that but what I got out of it was they didn't care about it other than they wanted to know it's there. That was the JAN FSDO.
We have our strip about 10 years before filling out the FAA paper work so it would be on the chart. I was having 2 fly-in cookouts each year with about 200 people flying in and people were complaining about not being able to find the grass field strip.
Neighbors--- Neighbors in the area loved the invite for the free food at the cookouts and free airplane rides and free music. Neighbor farmer even sold us some land to extend the runway.
 

pfarber

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You would think that would be the case, wouldn't you? A year and a half ago, I worked on a customer's Aerocanard aircraft. This is a 4-seat canard pusher, that from 20 ft. away looks to the marginally trained eye to be identical to a COZY MKIV, and in reality, it IS 98% identical to a COZY MKIV - I've worked on COZY MKIV's that were more different from COZY MKIV's than an Aerocanard is (and this was the original Aerocanard). When the time came to get insurance for the plane, it was almost impossible to even get a QUOTE on the thing, and there are 5 - 10 of these flying - it's NOT a one off. After a lot of arm twisting, and favor gathering, we were able to get insurance on the thing (liability AND hull), but even asking for liability only was a PITA.

We even considered deregistering it and re-registering it as a COZY MKIV, because getting insurance for a COZY MKIV is NOT a nightmare - I pay $550/yr for liability only on my plane, and with a few hundred flying, there's enough of a history that a couple of underwriters are willing to write policies. Doing that would have been only slightly more painful than what we had to do to get insurance.

So, for a new design, for which insurance companies have zero history or information, I would NOT say it's a given that one could get either hull or liability insurance, and as others have pointed out, the more seats you have the harder, and who knows what the situation will be 5 - 10 - 15 years down the road.
Don't confuse 'abilty to insure' with the COST to insure. You can simply have $100k in cash in escrow and you are 'insured' for $100k. There are companies that do high risk insurance, and also product liability. If you are a manufacturer, having a product that is not readily insurable means that your sales will reflect that fact. So usually there is a vigorous flight test and engineering study by a third party to validate the design.

As a manufacturer, your corporate structure would be one of the vital means of protecting individuals from liability.
 

Riggerrob

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Welcome Ahlgrenator,

Yes, you can fly off the family farm. You can fly from almost any field or lake as long as you have the owners' permission and use a bit of common sense (e.g. keep noise to a minimum). The best way keep noise down is swinging a large-diameter propeller at low rpms.

As for choice of engine ... you can save thousands of hours and thousands of dollars by using a proven automotive-to-airplane conversion ... e.g. Chevrolet Corvette LS, V8 engine. Whether you install a turbo-charger depends upon how many mountains you want to fly OVER. KITPLANES Magazine, April 2020 has a cover-story about a Murphy Moose powered by a General Motors LS3 engine.

Secondly, identify your airplane as a "Bearhawk" ... mumble ... mumble .. minor ... mumble ... mumble ... modification ... mumble ... mumble .. change topic.

Thirdly, consider how few bushplanes can carry 6 people, plus full fuel and full baggage. Most Cessna 205, 206, 207 and 210s only fly with 3 or 4 people, plus full fuel and some baggage. Ergo, build and register your airplane with two seats ... plus a large baggage compartment ... with plenty of cargo tie-downs .... Funny how those floor "cargo tie-downs" are perfectly placed to attach seat-belts??????
Odd how the wall-mounted "cargo tie-downs" are perfectly placed to attach soft, sling seats ... ??? We don't know how that happened ??????
Bush pilots can show you a few light-weight seats that quickly fold up against cabin walls.

You can save thousands of hours by studying Bearhawk plans. Maybe even ask the designer about folding wings.
 

rv7charlie

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You might want to tread carefully with that kind of 'deviation' advice.The FAA cares how many seats are in the paperwork for the plane, and the insurance companies *certainly* care. If there's a major claim, insurance companies can, and some [cough.avemco.cough] will use any detectable deviation from 'as insured' to deny a claim. Some insurance policies won't cover off-airport operations, either, and every one I've ever dealt with wants to know the runway surface the plane operates off at its home field, in addition to whether it will be hangared.
 

Ahlgrenator

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FWIW, I can't imagine hauling around 6 people with any regularity, more that it would be nice to have room for 3-4 people plus gear for a camping trip or something, but even that unlikely to be the norm. In my experience, it's usually nice to stay away from max capacities in general so having some margin for typical operations would be kinda nice. Is this typically true of these flying machines or are weights typically pretty conservative?

The LS3 Moose article was a great read. The claimed numbers, mostly cruise speed and weight capacity despite the massive engine, add to my suspicion that the published bearhawk specs are a bit optimistic. Anyone have any thoughts or experience there?
 

Rockiedog2

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The neighbors can be a big problem. Most of them don't know or care about anything concerning airplanes. I had to make adjustments at my airport to accommodate the neighbors. It actually needed doing. Too much outlawing back then and the complaints gave me the reason I needed to close it to all but one particular PIC. I fly a specific quiet departure route and soon as clear of the trees pull it way back and level off. Then at a certain point push it partially up and start a gentle climb. We been ok ever since.
Little airports always lose especially if they get the politicians involved. Best to accommodate with a smile.
 

rv7charlie

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Which specs look suspicious about the Bearhawk vs Moose?

BTW, the LS3 FWF probably weighs less than the original FWF on the Moose (Russian radial). IIRC, the flat engine on the Super Rebel iteration resulted in lower empty weight/higher payload than the original Moose.
 

Ahlgrenator

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It just seems to have a really impressive empty weight, max payload, stall speed, cruise speed compared to just about anything else I’ve seen. Especially impressive when considered in combination. Almost seems too good to be true.

Was wondering if they really pushed it to obtain the max takeoff weight or maybe the design is just that good?

Is there a standard payload used when specing the takeoff/landing distances and stall speed?
Or maybe some specify near empty weight while others spec near or at max takeoff weight?
No disrespect to bearhawk intended in my question. So far it’s my front runner for emulation, so I want to make sure I’ve chooses wisely and not basing the decision on apples to oranges specs.
 

Riggerrob

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All performance figures are normally published at gross weight, sea level, standard atmosphere, etc.
Bush-pilots sometimes overload when flying from long runways, at sea level, in cold weather, strong wind blowing down the runway, etc.
OTOH when flying from short air strips, in the mountains, in summer time, high humidity, no wind, etc. smart bush pilots prefer to fly at less than gross weight.
 

rv7charlie

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The original Bearhawk (4 seat) seems to have hit all its targets. Then they upgraded the wing, using the airfoil from the LSA, and gained a few knots in cruise without sacrificing the low end. I believe that the 6 seat uses the same wing, so stall should go up a bit. The website should format data on the planes in the same way, but doesn't. Stall on the 6 is 40 mph; the touchdown speed of the 4 is 40 mph. That indicates that stall speed of the 6 is higher. Top speed of the 6 is higher, but it has a lot more HP (315) and the same size wing (weight has little effect on cruise speed).

Cruise/top speeds look very similar among the 3 planes, in the context of the different HP engines and the more efficient wing on the Bearhawks. (143-150 with 250-400 HP in the Moose, and 160-165 on 250-315 HP for the Bearhawks.) Note that the Bearhawks are listed as 2500 & 3000 lbs gross, and the Moose is 3500 lbs gross, all with basically the same wing area. That extra 500 lbs *will* make a significant difference on the low end.

FWIW,

Charlie
 
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Pops

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I have flown the prototype 4 seat Bearhawk and its as advertised. I began flight instruction in a 150 Hp Super Cub and as much as I like the Super Cubs, I like the Bearhawk better.
 

rbarnes

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Hi Austin, regarding your suggestions for reading material. If you have any physics, math, or basic engineering knowledge, skip all the others and get Snorri Gudmundson's book. I have and have worked through virtually every design book, including both of Raymer's books, Nicolai (early and later version), Heinz, etc etc and Snorri's is the best for GA. It's not perfect and I've had to reference most of the others for various things but you'll know when you need a supplement as you go through Snorri's books.

One thing to note is that a lot of these design books are copied directly out of some earlier work so there's a lot of crossover but with a lot of symbol switching so it can get confusing ("a" used to mean 3D lift slope but now CL alpha is more common, etc.). Good luck!
Justin
Just got my copy of that 1,000 page phone book sized Bible of all things related to designing a GA airplane from start to finish. If he left anything out I can't imagine what it would be.
 

JohnB

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Just a data point for you for planning, next door neighbor spent 4000 hrs building a NICE Bearhawk, only thing he bought were the wing tips. He was an experienced builder having scratch built 2 T18s and several rebuilds.
I have abt 15hrs pic in that airplane and if I had the time left I'd build one.
 

Pops

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That is about right for scratch building from plans. We built 4 Bearhawks in my hanger. Less assembling the wing parts.
We built steel jigs for almost everything including the complete fuselage.
 

Ahlgrenator

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Pops, you’d take a 4 place bearhawk over a carbon cub? Need the capacity or just based on flight characteristics and such?

The timetable is good to know. I’m thinking I’d shoot for a super utilitarian build, nothing fancy at all. How much time could be shaved out by keeping things as simple as possible?Obviously not looking to cut corners on the airframe or anything.
 

Map

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To go back to insurance, besides pilot experience, the thing that influences the cost a lot is the category of airplane. My planes are both experimental 2-seaters. Liability insurance for the proven model (>400 kits out there, taildragger) costs almost 2x of what it costs for my motorglider (one-of-a-kind).
To learn someting about airplane design starting from scratch I would recommend my video
and subsequent ones and the initial design spreadsheet that goes with it.
 

Pops

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Pops, you’d take a 4 place bearhawk over a carbon cub? Need the capacity or just based on flight characteristics and such?

The timetable is good to know. I’m thinking I’d shoot for a super utilitarian build, nothing fancy at all. How much time could be shaved out by keeping things as simple as possible?Obviously not looking to cut corners on the airframe or anything.
I like the size and load hauling of the Bearhawk and also like the flight characteristics, but I haven't flown a Carbon Cub. My flight training started with a 150 hp Super Cub so that is the closest to the Carbon Cub that I have flown.
Follow Bob's Barrow's lead on building a Simple barebones Bearhawk and it will take the shortest time, the lightest weight, and lowest cost.
 
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