Why so expensive??

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dragon2knight

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Lots of people here think that various planes and kits are priced to have exorbitant profit margins. Those people usually don’t have any industrial business experience, expect others to do things that they haven’t or can’t do, or expect to get something for nothing.

What do you think that you could build Adventura kitplanes for? Then how many would you need to sell per year, and at what price, just to break even? Is there a market for that many, on an ongoing basis? Is the market enough to keep you in business? How would you price technical support? How many man-hours per year would that take? How much profit would you need to justify getting into the business? And a thousand other questions.

A recurring theme here is that aviation is expensive, and somebody should do something about it. Well, it is, by some standards, but accusing a company that has, for over a decade, produced a kitplane for a particular market, as being out for the quick buck, demonstrates a lack of understanding about the business.

BJC
Well I obviously don't know about the economics of the kitplane field, but I do see lots of companies do a good job of keeping their prices at a lower price point pretty well. The prices for aluminum fluctuate wildly and that seems to be the main metal used in most kit production. Zenith, as an example, uses it almost exclusively in their kits. Yet they manage to keep their kit prices fair, you never get the feeling you;re overpaying for what they offer. I take companies to task, not just in aviation but everywhere, when I think that they are overpricing their products. The Adventura is one. Searay is another. I can't see how they justify their asking prices when the materiel's used just don't cost that much. I saw the factory tour, there really isn't much to them. Yes they are still in business, but that's more because folks want that plane and will pay the premium to get it. I'm not one of those types. I don't like overpaying for anything and will continue to take a company to task if I feel their prices are wrong.
 

Himat

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While I was looking through my recommended YouTube video list, I came across a tour shop of Adventura showcasing their wares. It showed what went into building one of their amphibious 2 seaters....and the thing that struck me the most was that it didn't look like much more than aluminum tubes bolted to a fiberglass hull with simple Dacron skins, not too far off from the myriad of ultralights I've flown over the years(minus the hull, of course). The repositionable gear seemed simple and inexpensive to produce as well....why then does one of these, minus powerplant, cost upwards of $38,000.00 for a kit? That seems excessive for what you get to be honest. I'm not picking on the Adventura, btw, the Searay also comes to mind here with much of the same construction, but a bit upgraded with standard aircraft covering and some additional thought put into it....but still way overpriced to me for what you get. Am I wrong here? Am I missing something?
There is a question about what the materials cost and what the kit contains. A look at the few pictures at the manufacturers site, https://www.walstromaviation.com/aero-adventure-kits, it look like the parts are machined, packed and maybe labelled as is the hardware like fasteners, odds and other. Not mentioned, but are the Dacron skins ready sewn? If so the amount of work of sourcing materials, prefabricating the parts and packing them may add up and justify the kit price. The basic aluminium and Dacron are a small part of the overall price. Making a “quick build” kit out of the raw materials is where the cost is.
 

lr27

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A Lake airframe is mostly just aluminum sheet and rivets, isn't it?

I'm not sure how one defines "fair" prices. Do these guys have a monopoly? Are they, along with potential competitors, engaged in price fixing?

My intuition says that they don't have huge profit margins. There's a lot more stuff there, enough, apparently enough to handle 118? hp.
I see a lot of fiddly bits here. It seems possible to me that someone of sufficient talent could design something comparable that was cheaper to produce, but such a person would have many other, more lucrative opportunities. Find 10,000 people who would put a deposit down on one of these, and that person would magically appear.
 

Kyle Boatright

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I rejected it because it assumed I was talking about kitplane prices in general but I meant that plane in particular. My answer is that they are ripping you off apparently as its nothing more than a spruced up ultralight......unless I'm the only one who thinks that....
The row of multi-millionaires selling their wares in fat ultralight booths at Oshkosh agrees with you.
 

dragon2knight

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There is a question about what the materials cost and what the kit contains. A look at the few pictures at the manufacturers site, https://www.walstromaviation.com/aero-adventure-kits, it look like the parts are machined, packed and maybe labelled as is the hardware like fasteners, odds and other. Not mentioned, but are the Dacron skins ready sewn? If so the amount of work of sourcing materials, prefabricating the parts and packing them may add up and justify the kit price. The basic aluminium and Dacron are a small part of the overall price. Making a “quick build” kit out of the raw materials is where the cost is.
Ok, I've bought several ultralights brand new over the years(Quicksilvers mainly) and, despite the great engineering that went into them, the cost was FAIR. Not cheap, not outrageous, but fair. And simply because of their relative simplicity they built rather fast. These kits (both Adventura and Searay) aren't too complicated or even use materials any better than a modern ultralight aircraft, boat hull notwithstanding. Dacron skins, bolted together aluminum tubing, engines hanging out back in the breeze...no real difference at all. I honestly do not see why they demand such a huge premium. Again, this isn't saying all kits from all makes are overpriced, not at all, just these two stick in my craw so to speak. It's why I started this thread, to hope someone could explain to me how or why these companies need to overcharge so much. It can't possibly be helping their bushiness. The Adventura has gone through many owners and that really doesn't surprise me at all. Searay is a more advanced version, but it too has jacked the price to match that. If these companies really can't do any better, than so be it. I wasn't interested in them, just sad to see a decent product price itself out of business.
 

Dana

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Ah, but the ultralight folks don't charge $38,000.00 for an airframe.....just sayin'... ;)
Did you look at the M-Squared price list?

Quicksilver was cheaper... and went out of business five years ago.

Raw materials are a minor part of the cost. There's labor, insurance, rent, taxes, electricity, heat, advertising, engineering, office costs, employee health and retirement benefits, etc... and maybe a little profit left over...
 

davidb

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I’m not seeing anyone involved, employed or invested in SeaRey getting rich off the customers. They spend virtually nothing on marketing. If their price is too high it’s probably due to inefficiency rather than greed. I imagine it’s hard to increase efficiency when demand is low.

There’s nothing magical or proprietary about the design and a lot of the components are outsourced so you could theoretically hire someone to produce an identical kit. I doubt that cost would come in under what SeaRey charges.
 

dragon2knight

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I did something I should have done from the start, I contacted the companies I've been complaining about via emails. I point blank asked why they cost so much in relation to other kit aircraft, being nice about it of course. I got an answer back from Adventura, a man named Alex(owner) got back to me with a very honest answer. He stated that he hated asking so much for the airframe but he's a very small operation that doesn't sell as many kits a year as the bigger companies like Rans and Zenith. His overhead is as low as he could get to without making customers wait for parts. He told me he honestly does more restorations of older models like the Buckeneer than selling new kits but that he's happy for the income stream that brings. After a few back and forth's via email, I really got to like the man and his honesty....pretty rare these days. Then I realized after digging into his website and and watching more than a few videos last night that he has partnered with another company I've got tons of respect for, Aeromomentum also located where he is. I screwed up here, for real. As a business owner(well, former, retired) myself I should have taken into account volume of sales as opposed to just looking at the final price. Many on this thread have been trying to say this and I've just ignored them, I can be a bit of a pig headed sort, and for that I'm sorry.
 

BJC

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After a few back and forth's via email, I really got to like the man and his honesty....pretty rare these days.
I have to remind myself not to judge everyone by the misdeeds of a few. Most kitplane business leaders, like most small business owners in general, are trying to do a good job. Over the years I have had the privilege of knowing several of the key players in the kitplane / custom airplane business. All are / were well-intended, hard working people. Even the capable engineer / pilot who led his company into bankruptcy had good intentions; unfortunately, his business skills were inadequate.


BJC
 

aeromomentum

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$38,000 - This is what you get in the Kit Car World for $13,000..

https://www.factoryfive.com/roadster/mk4/base-kit/

The aviation is expensive excuses start in 3, 2, 1 ....
Yes but Factory Five sells 100 times as many kits as a typical kit aircraft company. This higher production allows for much lower costs. Plus the aircraft kit uses things like aircraft bolts that cost 10 times as much as bulk automotive bolts. The aircraft kit also has many more parts and most are of higher quality. For example in the Aventura the hull is vacuum infused with Soric core and epoxy resin.

Both are great kits and considering everything they are both priced right. If Aventura could sell 1000 kits a year the price could be much less but the market is not there.

How did I do for excuses?
 

cheapracer

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How did I do for excuses?
Standard fare.

But I am quite worried for you seeing as those Rotax engines made in their thousands are half the price of your low volume product. I know this because you just told me that's how it is.

(PS: I am very pleased to see your engine on that craft).

.......

90% of businesses don't make it past the first year.

90% of the 10% don't last 3 to 5 years.

90% of the remaining 1% struggle along with no more than a month to month living.

So please excuse me as to why I do not listen to 99.9% of the advice offered from people, while in the meantime I do reasonably well with my own strategies.



If their price is too high it’s probably due to inefficiency rather than greed.
Ah ha! A statement with foundation! Refreshing.
 

Dan Thomas

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Lots of people here think that various planes and kits are priced to have exorbitant profit margins. Those people usually don’t have any industrial business experience, expect others to do things that they haven’t or can’t do, or expect to get something for nothing.

What do you think that you could build Adventura kitplanes for? Then how many would you need to sell per year, and at what price, just to break even? Is there a market for that many, on an ongoing basis? Is the market enough to keep you in business? How would you price technical support? How many man-hours per year would that take? How much profit would you need to justify getting into the business? And a thousand other questions.

A recurring theme here is that aviation is expensive, and somebody should do something about it. Well, it is, by some standards, but accusing a company that has, for over a decade, produced a kitplane for a particular market, as being out for the quick buck, demonstrates a lack of understanding about the business.

BJC
Add the liability. Aviation in any form presents awesome liability, and it drove Cessna out of the piston singles market for ten years, and when they went back to work the selling price was still much bigger even with the 18-year liability limit. And the price kept going up because fewer were made because the market couldn't afford them, and so even fewer were made, driving the price up even more. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Cessna simply gave them up altogether. They make more money off one Citation airplane (as in one serial number) that they do off their 172/182/206s each year. No profit at all in piston singles, basically. They couldn't make the Skycatcher pay, either.
 

Dan Thomas

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I'd take a Lake over one of these any day of the week ;) Infinitely better in every way.
Ah! The voice of experience, huh?

I did a whole lot of work on a Lake. They're no fun to work on. Access is very limited, it's awkward in many ways, and there are numerous weaknesses to the design that demand good inspections. To get under the floor to inspect all the controls and hull structure, you have to get the floorboards out, and to get them out the whole interior has to come out. This takes nearly a day's work. At shop rates. Only then can the inspection begin. There are numerous Service Bulletins addressing the weaknesses and sooner or later you can't just keep ignoring the stuff, like wallowed-out bolt holes in the pylon side brace struts. There's a very expensive AD on the horizontal stabilizer mounting brackets, and another for cracks in the wing spar doublers. Numerous other ADs as well. The hull takes a pounding on the water and the bulkheads crack. The hydraulics need a lot of care, and if you don't you end up with some serious failures like the gear refusing to come all the way down or go back up, or the trim stops working (it's hydraulic, too, and so are the flaps). I found the powerpack reservoir full of thick sludge. Water getting in there through the vent will do that. Corrosion is a constant hassle. That contant-speed prop adds a bunch of cost. Getting at the fuel injection system to rig controls can be a three-day nightmare. At shop rates.The wheel bearings must be done every year to get the water-contaminated grease out of them, since the seals in aircraft wheels aren't up to the job, and even then the bearings are corroded most of the time. Older Lakes used the Gerdes wheels and brakes that are not available any more. Not even parts for them. The hydraulic cylinders are Gerdes, too. As far as that goes, Lake production has been shut down for a long time and the factory has been for sale, and the place has one guy with a few parts left. You're faced with having parts made from drawings. BTDT. You have to want one of these things real bad to buy one and keep it.

There are too many naive folks who buy an "affordable" airplane without consulting someone with experience as to the maintenance costs of the model. I had always wanted a Lake, too, but that one airplane cured me. It was the only Lake I ever worked on, but one of the other fellows had done a few and he said they were like that. A Searay or Aventura would avoid so much of that hassle. At least you can do the work yourself, make your own parts, and save a lot of money.
 
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aeromomentum

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Standard fare.

But I am quite worried for you seeing as those Rotax engines made in their thousands are half the price of your low volume product. I know this because you just told me that's how it is.

(PS: I am very pleased to see your engine on that craft).

.......

90% of businesses don't make it past the first year.

90% of the 10% don't last 3 to 5 years.

90% of the remaining 1% struggle along with no more than a month to month living.

So please excuse me as to why I do not listen to 99.9% of the advice offered from people, while in the meantime I do reasonably well with my own strategies.





Ah ha! A statement with foundation! Refreshing.
Well, we start with a Suzuki base made in the millions. Or are you talking about those Rotax engines for sale from Indonesia? The small volume parts we add to the engine cost way more than the engine and the small scale production adds a huge amount to our assembly cost.

I do think that you can make a kit for a lot less money than the Aventura and I think you will. But I don't think you can make the Aventura kit for much less in the scale it is being produced. The Aventura has a lot more to it than a Zenith 701 kit ($17,500) like reposition-able landing gear, a boat hull, flaps, pre-covered wings and a lot more pre-done work for a lower build time. The 701 also uses less expensive flat sheet aluminum construction. If you are looking to make the least expensive kit possible flat aluminum is about the best method. It looks like your aircraft designs have similar construction materials but with maybe more advanced design. So what engine are you going to use?
 

cheapracer

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So what engine are you going to use?
I'm considering a few options, but of the common available engines, your's is Number One on the list, and with some ease too. I've been doing a good job for you pushing them recently on Facebook, I think very highly of them.

Long way to go yet though, got to build a plane first.
 

wsimpso1

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OK, you seem to have missed the whole point of this, I have no intention of buying this, I don't even want one. I'm just stating that based on what this aircraft uses for it's base(mostly ultralight parts/philosophy) it really is over priced. This isn't a new design by any means, it comes off the decades old Buckaneer design. The tooling and such is paid for many times over. The boat hull is the only part I see here that has any real cost to it...and even that is something that has a mold to make it and can be done in house to save some cash for the company. Comparing this to other ultralight types makes this look very overpriced for what you get. That was my original point. The price is just too high for what your getting.
If the product (any product) was over priced, few would buy it and the maker would fold the business;

If the product is not worth the money you would have to pay to get, then don't buy the product;

If somebody out there thinks they can build a product similar in performance, quality, and value and get it to the customers for less money with a decent profit left over every year, then they are welcome to try... There are a lot of companies that failed in this arena. My money is staying in stocks and bonds, no kitplane companies in my investment portfolio. I do not begrudge anyone who stays in the business their bottom line.

Billski
 

cheapracer

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If somebody out there thinks they can build a product similar in performance, quality, and value and get it to the customers for less money with a decent profit left over every year, then they are welcome to try...
Cool, thanks!
 
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