Selling Aircraft Plans - what is required?

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by nzdavo, May 22, 2014.

  1. May 22, 2014 #1

    nzdavo

    nzdavo

    nzdavo

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    Hello All

    I realize that I am a dreamer but I was thinking about what would be required if you were to try and sell plans for your own design?
    I'm mainly thinking about the USA - does the seller/designer assume liability normally? Or in homebuilt's does the builder build at his own risk?
    Is it something people consider doing or is it a nightmare of red tape and hoop jumping?

    Just dreaming!

    David
     
  2. May 22, 2014 #2

    Marc Bourget

    Marc Bourget

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    You are liable for any negligence arising out of substandard design work or failure to inform/disclose virtually anything involved in the build of the aircraft. The designer's diligence standard was much more relaxed, for example in the 60's and 70's in Southern California due to the huge knowledge base residing in the fellows that had literally "grown up" building WWII aircraft, continuing thru the 70's. Now days, I get "push back" for the most minor advice/recommendations to do a better job. I suspect some would want to punch me if I insisted on a level of quality that was just average in the 70's.

    I'd recommend working for Vans, Glassair, Kitfox, and the like to gain an awareness of what level the "playing field" is at - while you are pursuing your degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

    FWIW,

    mjb
     
  3. May 22, 2014 #3

    Aerowerx

    Aerowerx

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    I would say a good lawyer.;)

    More seriously, I have seen some plans that contain a disclaimer that the seller assumes absolutely no liability.

    Of course, there are plans and then there are Plans.
     
  4. May 22, 2014 #4

    D Hillberg

    D Hillberg

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    1 build it, 2 test it 3 make revisions in construction,strength & mantabability 4 build a prototype document the building, maintenance & limits, then sell your plans knowing some fool has better ideas ( ignores the plans ) & tosses all your hard work designing it out the window.
     
  5. May 22, 2014 #5

    TFF

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    There is no red tape. Government has nothing to do with design in the US. All build agreements are really disclaimer statements. In the 60's people would just sell you plans; now you have to protect yourself. If you dont build one and become the pied piper for your design, no one will buy your plans.
     
  6. May 22, 2014 #6

    Starman

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    That doesn't matter in the US, if your dog had money they would sue the dog too.
     
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  7. May 22, 2014 #7

    JamesG

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    Legal liability disclaimers are just to set the basis of your defense WHEN you get sued... :(
     
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  8. May 22, 2014 #8

    Turd Ferguson

    Turd Ferguson

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    A printer and paper, envelopes and postage, maybe an advertisement or internet web page making a bunch of ridiculous claims.

    There is no regulatory red tape and no hoops. You can sell whatever you want.

    I would think the challenge would be convincing people to buy your product, although in the past people with zero airplane design experience have managed to build a plane, make drawing of their product and sell it. Some have become quite popular even though they don't really have very good flying qualities - some are outright dangerous. So make it look cool with a snazzy paint job. Tug on those emotional strings. If you get sued, go out of business.
     
  9. May 22, 2014 #9

    Pops

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    That is why I will not be selling plans for either of my 2 designs. Been flying one for 7 years and have the other about ready to cover. Maybe my sons or grandson would decide to sell plans of my designs, but I doubt it. To much headache for a little money. Dan
     
  10. May 22, 2014 #10

    Hot Wings

    Hot Wings

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    As TFF noted here in the US there are no requirements, other than the EAA asking for evidence that at least one plane built from the plans has flow successfully before you can advertise in their publications.

    On the practical side there is liability associated with any product. Unless you have assets in the US that can be attached by the courts this is probably not as much of a concern as it would be to those of us that live and work here. Even then there are ways to protect your assets.

    Customer service is another consideration. 30 years ago it was considered normal to sell a set of plane with only the essential information, dimensions and specifications. Today's builder needs an extraordinary level of "hand holding", instruction in basic construction methods, and expect construction photos and builder workshops. You can still sell basic plans, but there will only be a few planes built. Profit will be low because sales will drop off when there are no new planes flying.

    Profit from only plans sales alone will be low. If you get lucky and manage to sell a few thousand plans for a very popular, or very cheap, plane then you might break even on the time spent to properly design a plane and prepare good plans. The real money today is in selling kits and parts.

    Which brings up a further consideration - Intellectual property protection. In the old days when a simple copy was something only large companies could afford if someone wanted a set of plans they had to buy a set from the designer. Today with the ease of creating a PDF of almost anything it's just a matter of time before you will start seeing boot leg copies of your work posted on the internet. Don't even think of offering your plans electronically. The best way to protect your IP is to sell construction manuals that need one of your kits to assemble the plane. This way you are the only one that knows the how to build the various little bits that make up the kit. (you have control of the quality of the critical parts with this method as well) Even these kit supplied parts can eventually be reverse engineered, but as long as you are making the parts there probably isn't any financial incentive to someone trying to make copies.
     
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  11. May 22, 2014 #11

    BBerson

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    The June 2014 Kitplanes has an article by Richard VanGrunven about plans sales.
    Essentially, his advice is: sell kits not plans.
     
  12. May 22, 2014 #12

    JamesG

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    Yup. Plans alone you might as well call open source and post them (here) for free.
     
  13. May 22, 2014 #13

    Pops

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    I agree, selling plans only would be a waste of time. To make it worth your time, you would have to sell kits. Beside that, people today as a whole do not know how to do much of anything without someone holding their hand and telling them how to do anything. Very little problem solving skills. Very few people today want to scratch build because of that. That opened up a can of worms. Dan
     
  14. May 22, 2014 #14

    Aviator168

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    What about Open Source plans? Any liability?
    You can make money by printing the Open Source by charging for media.
     
  15. May 22, 2014 #15

    kent Ashton

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    You only get sued when you have money or insurance. Are you rich? Do you have a million in insurance? No? You have nothing to worry about.

    Disclose your qualifications. I sold about 25 sets of wing plans for a small airplane. I told my buyers I have no qualifications as an engineer and had never actually tested or flown the wing, which is all true. No one has sued me yet.
     
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  16. May 22, 2014 #16

    Aviator168

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    Can you tell us how were able get these 25 lunatics to buy your plan? :)
     
  17. May 22, 2014 #17

    JamesG

    JamesG

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    The world is full of lunatics.
     
  18. May 22, 2014 #18

    Aerowerx

    Aerowerx

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    No.

    You can still get sued.

    Now collecting the money is a different issue entirely!
     
  19. May 22, 2014 #19

    Hot Wings

    Hot Wings

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    Kickstarter? :gig:
     
  20. May 22, 2014 #20

    Aerowerx

    Aerowerx

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    Or....

    Just find a bunch of free open source plans, burn them to CD, and sell on ebay at $5!
     

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