LSA Motorglider concept

Discussion in 'Soaring' started by Rienk, Aug 26, 2010.

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  1. Aug 26, 2010 #1

    Rienk

    Rienk

    Rienk

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    My dear Smee - I've had an epiphany!

    • I've heard (but not yet verified) that you can get a glider rating with less hours than an LSA.
    • A glider rating does not require a medical (similar to LSA).
    • A factory built LSA can be a glider (ready to fly S-LSA).
    • Gilder pilots do not have as many restrictions as Sport pilots (though I don't yet know how they compare)
    • A motorglider can tool around chasing thermals, or stay under power all its life, cruising cross country.
    • There are only two types of LSA that can use retractable gear; an amphib - and a glider.

    Therefore:
    • Design an LSA as a motorglider, and you can include retractable gear.
    • Offer trainng for either Sport pilot or glider ticket.
    • Motorgliders do not necessarily need stellar climb rates.
    • Design with an engine more suited for cruise power than climb power (within reason).
    • With retractable gear, you can attain the maximum level speed with much less power/fuel required.
    • A lower cost engine is thus viable.
    • Chase thermals or travel distances with power - freedom of choice!
    • Be able to sell such a ready to fly (two seat) aircraft for under $40k.

    At max LSA weight, stall speed with a high AR wing could probably be met with a wing loading of 11-12 psf.
    To be able to fit in a sta ndard T-hangar (even though the wings will be removable) the span should be no more than 38-39'.
    An AR of 12 gives a span of 38', with a chord of 38", and a wing area of 120 sf (11 psf).

    Questions:
    • What qualifies as a "motorglider"?
    • Are there certain criteria that need to be met?
    • Does this idea seem plausible?
     
  2. Aug 26, 2010 #2

    Dana

    Dana

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    AFAIK there are no set criteria for a "glider", but long skinny wings and attention to drag reduction are pobably the main thing that would convince the FAA you're not trying to make an end run around the regulations (though I believe at least one guy managed to register his Quicksilver ultralight as a motorglider). Too long, though, and it gets hard to handle around the airport. Definitely feasible, though, and there are some real neat existing motorgliders, some of which are even aerobatic.

    Problem is, you need a glider rating with self launch endorsement... which most pilots don't have. This may not be a problem if you're selling to new pilots with a way to get the rating, but it severely limits the sales to existing power pilots.

    -Dana

    But if we LEGALIZE it, we can't take your HOUSE!
     
  3. Aug 26, 2010 #3

    Hot Wings

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    This should answer most of your questions and lead to the other answers.

    Sonex -- The Sport Aircraft Reality Check!
     
  4. Aug 26, 2010 #4

    Topaz

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    Dana covered most of it.

    For certified aircraft, there is a span-loading standard, amongst other things:
    Small Airplanes - Categories and Design Characteristics

    For experimental (E-AB), there is no such standard. A motorglider could, theoretically, be anything you point at and say "motorglider" for purposes of obtaining a flight certificate for that airplane. However, the airplane pretty much has to pass the "giggle test" of the particular examiner inspecting the airplane. If the wings aren't at least nominally "long and skinny", you might have some issues. The guy who (finally) got his two-seat ultralight a motorglider flight certificate took the better part of a year and many letters and visits to the FSDO to badger them into giving it to him, IIRC.

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody has yet tried to do an LSA or E-LSA as a motorglider. So you're treading in unknown territory. My own suspicion is that the FAA will lean towards the span-loading standard for regular type-certification, even in an LSA implementation. However, I tend to be conservative in such things, and might be entirely wrong.

    The big hitch is the one Dana points out. If an aircraft holds a type- or flight-certificate as a motorglider, you MUST hold a glider rating with a self-launch endorsement to fly it. Doesn't matter what other certificates or ratings you hold - you could be multi-jet ATP and you still need that glider rating and self-launch sign-off. Getting a glider rating is pretty darned easy. Getting the self-launch endorsement is the tough part. There are relatively few CFI-Gs around that hold the endorsement themselves (so as to be able to give one to you) and even fewer FBOs with motorgliders for rent to make it possible. You can't do it with a ground check-out, and you can't do it in some other type of aircraft.

    And this presents the big problem for a commercial operation building "fast" LSA-motorgliders. The resale value sucks rocks, because so few pilots can actually fly one. You can sell the thing to a customer, but the odds of him/her ever being able to sell it to someone else later are "slim" and "snowball in the hot place."

    That last is the big problem with what you're talking about here, Rienk. I think a small motorglider is a very good fit for the "low cost, affordable airplane" goal. But until you crack the resale nut, it's all moot. The only possible solution is to have a flight school with every distributorship for your airplane, so that any owner (new or used) can come in and earn the appropriate paperwork to fly their airplane.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  5. Aug 26, 2010 #5

    Topaz

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    >>>> Never mind. Answered my own question. Delete. <<<<
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  6. Aug 26, 2010 #6

    Rienk

    Rienk

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    That actually is the plan.
    To set up dealerships for the aircraft (whether or not it is a motorglider or standard LSA) that must provide ongoing training - using the plane in question.

    Here's a sample scenario. (though this is your area of expertise, and I would appreciate feedback on this too).
    • A dealer commits to buying at least three aircraft - two for training, the other for sale.
    • The two trainers will be sold at a "special deal", probably some sort of large down payment 'lease' arrangement - but very attractive to the serious dealer (must have at least one full time instructor, qualified in this airplane).
    • National/regional advertising shared by company and dealers.
    • Flight training offered at $1,490 to get sport pilot ticket (or motor glider?). This includes "up to" 12 hours of dual and 12 hours of solo - plus written and practical.
    • Cost breakdown: amortize $35k plane cost over 1k hours equals $35/hr. Fuel at about $8-10/hr (non-road auto gas). Insurance of $5/hr. Instruction at $25/hr.
    • Most/all of flight training applicable to cost of new airplane.
    • Pick your color!

    Make it $1995
    And include 10 free hours hours of rental after they get their ticket... guess how many friends will want rides?
     
  7. Aug 26, 2010 #7

    Topaz

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    That's more-or-less the Cessna model from the '60s and '70s. Not sure if the dealerships were franchises, or 'company' stores. This model worked very well for them. Takes a boatload of money to capitalize in the beginning - dealers won't buy in just on your say-so, you need to show a demonstration operation working successfully - but if you've got the funding, IMHO a better way to sell airplanes cannot be had.
     
  8. Aug 26, 2010 #8

    Rienk

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    So, how many Mil can I put you down for? :ban:


    I'm guessing an $80k investment (or the same line of credit) will get a dealer into three airplanes, including about $10k of supplied materials and TI's.

    At 10 hrs of instruction/rental a week, the trainers will pay for themselves and overhead in about two years. Of course, a dealer would have to sell about one plane per month to make a decent living.
    But of course, I'll be funnelling the Solo's and Duet's to them as well - and they can carry other lines too (that don't directly compete with the company models).
     
  9. Aug 26, 2010 #9

    Topaz

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    0.00000001th of a million dollars.

    Do you want cash, check, or money order? :gig:
     
  10. Aug 26, 2010 #10

    Rienk

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    Geez, I can't even get your two cents worth?
     
  11. Aug 26, 2010 #11

    Topaz

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    You're absolutely right. My apologies.

    0.00000002nd of a million dollars. :)
     
  12. Aug 27, 2010 #12

    Rienk

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    So, here is the weight criteria:
    a 32' wingspan is allowed to carry 634 lbs.
    a 36' wingspan is allowed to carry 777 lbs
    a 40' wingspan is allowed to carry 992 lbs.

    To get the max gross weigh of an LSA, you would need a 46.2' span.
    But for an 103UL, you only need a span of 25-30' (400-550 lbs, respectively).

    There seem to be no additional requirements to meet (?)
     
  13. Aug 28, 2010 #13

    Dana

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    Most T-hangars are only 40' wide...

    Forv 103 ULs, there is no span restriction, only wing loading.

    -Dana
     
  14. Aug 28, 2010 #14

    Rienk

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    I know that, just showing what meets the "glider" spec :)
     
  15. Jun 28, 2011 #15

    henryk

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  16. Jun 28, 2011 #16

    WonderousMountain

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    You already have an engine picked out for it Reink.

    uh-huh, so are we building around a particular engine, or just aiming for best flight qualities modest prices can buy?
     
  17. Jun 28, 2011 #17

    Geoffrey Thorpe

    Geoffrey Thorpe

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    The LSA thing doesn't seem very popular with the glider crowd because, well, there is no point.

    Given that you don't need a medical to fly, say, a Stemme or a Super Xmigiao (spelled that wrong), what would be the advantages to limiting oneself to an LSA qualified motor glider?
     
  18. Apr 18, 2012 #18

    Jay Kempf

    Jay Kempf

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    Anyone know what happened to Rienk and all his projects? I read an article about some financial troubles going back a few years.
     
  19. Apr 18, 2012 #19

    Topaz

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    Exactly. A PPL with a Glider rating is a much more flexible solution. Provided you have access to a motorglider, of course.
     
  20. Apr 19, 2012 #20

    George Sychrovsky

    George Sychrovsky

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    Mr Rienk has left the building
     

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