Plans built composite aircraft

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Markproa

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Besides the Rutan types I can only find two composite aircraft built from plans, the Vision and the Krsuper2. Are there any others? Both of these designs seam to have petered out, the Krsuper2 plans not even finished, the website hasn't been updated for 3 years. Have any of this design flown?

Does this mean that most people aren't interested in a composite aircraft unless it comes in kit form? Why is that?

Mark
 

TFF

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Composite planes are very complex to make from scratch. To build a molded style airplane requires you to tool up to build one "kit"; once you make the kit, you build it the kit. That is only of someone already designed it. Molds are hard to do well. Quality control is harder. Im sure the satisfaction it high when done well. A friend who has built 2 RVs, quick and non quick build says to build a Lancair, which he looks at a lot, he would have to go builder assist or turn it into a 10 year project. He built his last RV in 3 years. There is a lot of hurry up and wait; put something together and then you have to let it cure before next step, where pounding rivets or cutting metal can be done all the time. I have watched a guy struggle putting together a Glasair 1 which is more raw a kit than the later IIs and IIIs; if you had to start from zero would make it a very very large project.
 

BJC

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Symmetry, Savor, which, IIRC, is a mix of composite and traditional, (designed, built and flown by former HBAer Chris Christiansen) were both scratch built. Search for videos by Chris for info on his methods.

Chris, if you still visit here, please add some details of your airplane.


BJC
 
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cluttonfred

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I suppose it depends how you define composites and whether or not you are willing to accept some pre-molded parts complementing what is still largely a materials kit. Spacek SD-1 is a wood/composite blend and comes in various models in various degrees of "kit" starting with a set of plans and a few key vacuum-molded spars. Colomban Luciole is also a plans-built wood aircraft with quite a bit of composites. I am sure that there are more out there, largely European.
 

wsimpso1

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Sad but true, only a few composite scratch building designs out there.

Scratch building in composites usually means moldless methods, and there are just not many folks willing to do that any more. You have the Rutan LongEZ clones (Open EZ, Cozy line, Aero Canard), Dragonfly/Quickie2/Q200, and the Vision line. I believe the Symmetry and Savor are both one-offs, but excellent examples of that direction. Designing it yourself is WAY outside the capabilities or intent of most potential builders.

Scratch building with molds? That is me, and there are very few folks willing to do that.

The molded composite airplanes, there are a few of them, but the tooling investments to do them right are huge. Market is not big either, making viability tough.

Even in sheet metal, most are quick build, with the major assemblies jigged and square with many of the rivets already in them.

Rag and tube is the big place for scratchbuilt. And airplanes do not get much better than some of those. Steve Wittman's Tailwind and Buttercup are simple airplanes and terrific flyers.

Billski
 

Victor Bravo

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Symmetry was built by Cory Bird, one of the guys at Scaled Composites. Definitely a one-off, from a clean sheet. If you ever get to see this airplane in person, trust me it is worth the time to go see it. "Work of art" is not enough of a compliment.

"Rutan method" moldless composite (carved foam) is not that enormous of a project as many people think. There have been thousands of EZ's built, most of them by "average Joe" amateurs. That has to tell you something. It is a large amount of time for sure, and admittedly not for the faint of heart, but it is not actually difficult work. It's disgustingly messy and always some level of toxic. The resin toxicity and allergic reactions are much more under control now. Not being around sanded glass or carbon fiber dust is the primary advancement that molded kits represent.
 

cheapracer

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I don't think it's hard. The ones that are built are complicated, that's the problem.

People who build in composites try to take advantage of multiple and complex compound curves that can be achieved, but you don't have to, there ain't any law says you can't lay up sheets on a piece of glass and build with flat panels as you would with aluminium.
 

cluttonfred

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I have said for many years that I'd love to see someone design a plans-built composite aircraft for simplicity, ease and speed of building, and low cost--swoopiness and cool curves be damned! It might end up looking like a big cardboard model of an airplane (or a Volksplane, pretty much the same look), but it might also attract new people to homebuilding in general and composite building in particular.

Inspirations...? ;-)

card526x361.jpg Cardboard-Plane-Homemade-Flight-Video-2.jpg webcb500.jpg
 

TFF

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The composite dreamer wants the coke bottle fuselage and the razor thick wings. They are not looking for a faster way to put a VP together. Its the sticker shock the dreamers get. If you want one pick up a project. There is a Glasair II project for less than $10,000 on Barnstormers. No way you can build one scratch that cheap.
 

cheapracer

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Inspirations...? ;-)
Pretty much any plans formed from flat aluminium.

There is no reason it couldn't be mostly done from 'glass panels, and simple angles strips that the flat panels can be molded into easily, angle iron for example. Mostly glued together with a few anti-peel and locating rivets here and there.

Advantage of cleaner, smoother looking surfaces, less damage from small bumping, and no rattles.

One advantage to homebuilders is on a sheet of glass (with plastic liner), you can squeegee almost as much excess resin out as vac bagging without all the hassle of that setup. If you want, throw another sheet of plastic on top and another sheet of glass on top again and you'll have 2 smooth sides.


The composite dreamer wants the coke bottle fuselage and the razor thick wings. They are not looking for a faster way to put a VP together.
It's the other way around, the dreamer see's the coke bottle fuse and desires one, the only way to achieve it is through composites.

That does not mean that they wouldn't take an easy build simple composite kit if it was offered, it's not.

There is a very real pigeon holing stigma in aviation of what an aircraft type should be and look like if it's made of 'X' material, and don't you dare mix them!
 
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Pops

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Pretty much any plans formed from flat aluminium.

There is no reason it couldn't be mostly done from 'glass panels, and simple angles strips that the flat panels can be molded into easily, angle iron for example. Mostly glued together with a few anti-peel and locating rivets here and there.

Advantage of cleaner, smoother looking surfaces, less damage from small bumping, and no rattles.

One advantage to homebuilders is on a sheet of glass (with plastic liner), you can squeegee almost as much excess resin out as vac bagging without all the hassle of that setup. If you want, throw another sheet of plastic on top and another sheet of glass on top again and you'll have 2 smooth sides.
I have made several fiberglass fuel tanks that way. Used a large sheet of glass on my building table. Covered with a sheet of plastic bag material, lay down sheets of fiberglass cloth and pour epoxy resin and squeegee ( wet layup for a fuel tank) and a layer of plastic bag material and cover with a wood door or another sheet of glass and stack bricks for weight. My first tank, it was a 28 gal tank so I used 1/2" urethane foam for a core.
 

TFF

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This place proves most people want what they want and flying is secondary. All or nothing; more about ownership. Pilots primarily tend to be street walkers, because ***** is flagged, and will fly anything they can get their hands on.
 

cheapracer

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This place proves most people want what they want and flying is secondary.
I'm a builder of things, it's what I love to do, and indeed it is my primary goal. I finish one project and immediately start on the next. I find a challenge in doing it as simply and as cheaply as possible.... and this forum is about homebuilt aircraft, that implies to me that it's primarily about building, modifications of, and finding a path to achieve your desires.


Anyone can go out and buy a cheap used Cessna 150, it's not the stuff of legends, and there would be no need for this forum if that's what everybody did.
 

Markproa

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I guess it's a sign of the times, homebuilders used to be willing to spend a great deal of time joining intricate structures in wood and fabric using resorsinol glue and dope. Jodels, Minicabs, Taylor monoplanes, Pietenpoles, Piels etc, they all looked different.These days instant gratification has taken over so now we see hundreds of generic kit RV whatevers. I've been involved in plans and kit built multihull yachts for years and have seen a similar history. Homebuilders used to be happy to loft a boat on the workshop floor in chalk from a set of lines, then we progressed to building with strip plank cedar over male frames from simple drawings, whereas now we have to offer CNC precut kits with very detailed, 3d, step by step colour plans.
I too wonder if a simple, easy and relatively easy to build plans built composite plane was offered whether it would be popular or if people these days will only accept sexy lines and luxurious interiors. The Procomposites personal cruiser had a shot at it but it doesn't seam to have gone anywhere. The wing building method seams overly complex and heavy and the use of polyurethane foam is a worry.
Maybe the brains trust of HBA Composites could collaborate to offer the world an affordable minimalist airplane. I would be happy to contribute my experience if others contributed theirs. Of course we could spend years debating which motor to use.

Mark
 

Markproa

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It seems there is nothing new in the world. Having written the above I started reading the thread "21st century Volkplane" started in 2011. Basically the same subject.
It would be cool to have a community designed basic aircraft though. A sort of open source airplane where nobody makes money, preferring to contribute their expertise for the common good. Scott Watts did it alone with the Krsuper2 but he seemed to run out of steam close to the end and disappeared. I doubt if a forum has ever designed an airplane before, a world first! We could call it The Camel after the committee that designed the horse.
I envisage something that would fit the LSA category or whatever your country calls it. In Australia it is a MTOW of 600kg and 450kg in Europe I think. Basic premis: Simple to build and affordable fun plane. They seem to have got the BMW 1200 engine working well as an aircraft engine in Europe.

Mark
 

Turd Ferguson

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These days instant gratification has taken over so now we see hundreds of generic kit RV whatevers
I would hardly call a RV or generic whatever "instant gratification" as one will easily spend ~2000 man hrs of intensive labor toiling over the fabrication and assembly process. Instant gratification would be wanting an RV, finding someone that did the grunt work and exchanging an acceptable form of currency their product. The cultural paradigm has shifted such that the number of people willing to commit to a project like building a plane is very small and will likely remain so. Small numbers means there is not likely to be a proliferation of plane designs for builders.

By today's standards, you have to be sick to want to lock yourself in a workshop for months and years building an airplane but the way I see it is there are worse illnesses to have.
 
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