# Wood vs. metal in Europe

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#### Autodidact

##### Well-Known Member
Are wooden (airplane, of course) designs more popular for homebuilding in Europe? If so why would that be?

#### DangerZone

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Are wooden (airplane, of course) designs more popular for homebuilding in Europe? If so why would that be?
Better, faster, lighter, more beautiful. With the right design and quality epoxy, they might last forever.

The down side is that quality wood is hard to find and expensive, it takes long hours to build an airplane and requires craft/knowledge.

#### Jan Olieslagers

##### Well-Known Member
It differs from country to country. The one country with a solid tradition of homebuilt aircraft is France, and wood is much used there. Remember the Jodels, Pou du Ciel, the Junqua Ibis canard, and many more. UK has a lot of home-builts too, I think there is more aluminium in use there, with a sizeable fleet of RV's for example. But the UK also originated the kit-built epoxy Europa. In many European countries, however, homebuilding aircraft is almost inexistent.

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
I like flying a wood aircraft. Smooth and quiet and warm in the winter. My Falconar F-12 felt like I was flying a light twin.
Dan

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
You are going to design for materials you can get for building. Now with the Internet we know about everything real time. In the 60's when most planes were designed, mail order catalog and if you were rich, you called long distance. Most designs are legacy in a new world.

#### Chris Young

##### Well-Known Member
A big difference between France and the US is that here, very few airplanes are left outside. All airfields have enough hangars for all airplanes based. I think the main reason for most American designs to be built in aluminum is that they need to stay outside for a while without damage.

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
I have never seen a homebuilt permanently parked outside in the US; I know there are. Certified, Yes. Now when they are left outside there is less worry of aluminum, but I think aluminum is favored because it is the way certified planes went. I think people get confused with all these VANs planes. Although they are homebuilts and most are built by the owners, those owners had their kids grow up so they could get rid of their C182 and build something sporty without giving up utility with the wife. They are a more centered user. User not really builder. Eliminate them and build materials are all over per % of finished airplane. I would bet there is just as many scratch built aluminum planes as rag and tube. Hobby planes tend to be hangared no matter the type.

#### Autodidact

##### Well-Known Member
but I think aluminum is favored because it is the way certified planes went.
That sounds like a very plausible factor; I think there are still certified aircraft in France that are built of wood?

The ASSO kits from Italy are mostly wood too, aren't they.

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#### DangerZone

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
It differs from country to country. The one country with a solid tradition of homebuilt aircraft is France, and wood is much used there. Remember the Jodels, Pou du Ciel, the Junqua Ibis canard, and many more. UK has a lot of home-builts too, I think there is more aluminium in use there, with a sizeable fleet of RV's for example. But the UK also originated the kit-built epoxy Europa. In many European countries, however, homebuilding aircraft is almost inexistent.
There's a flip side to that story. Countries like France, Italy, Czech and Slovenia might statistically have more homebuilts because their administration is much simpler and cheaper than in some other European countries. Since we all live in the EU, it makes sense to register the aircraft in a country with simplified administration rather than your own. Thus a Belgian would be registering his aircraft in France, an Austrian in Italy or Czech, a Croatian in Slovenia, it goes on and on... The amount of money differs also, a Belgian told us he registers his aircraft in France for 75 Euro while the same registration in Begium would cost him 2000 Euro.

A big difference between France and the US is that here, very few airplanes are left outside. All airfields have enough hangars for all airplanes based. I think the main reason for most American designs to be built in aluminum is that they need to stay outside for a while without damage.
Bear in mind that people in the US are usually practical, they want to fly as soon as possible so long building hours are not that popular. Time to build an aluminum/metal aircraft - 500 hours. Composite one - approx 2000 hours, a wooden one up to 4000 hours. Plus, you have to know a lot about building an aircraft out of wood. Sure, flying a GP-4 is fun but the idea of epoxying for a couple of years really requires a patient personality.

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
If you have the cash, Bellanca will make you a new Viking, and a new Pitts S2 will still have wood wings. One of the reasons Mooney got rid of the wood wing M20s was aluminum was selling. The problem with the wooden tails and neglected rot in wings from plane left outside for years was well after they stopped making the wood parts. As for a 500hr build aluminum kit, maybe for a professional with the right kit. It takes 1000 hrs to put together a quckbuild RV, and a regular one will be 2500 easy, and that is no pretending to daydream fly while build.

#### FritzW

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
...Time to build an aluminum/metal aircraft - 500 hours. Composite one - approx 2000 hours, a wooden one up to 4000 hours. Plus, you have to know a lot about building an aircraft out of wood. Sure, flying a GP-4 is fun but the idea of epoxying for a couple of years really requires a patient personality.
It's the design, not the building material that determines how fast an airplane can be built (eg. Volksplane vs. Cri Cri).

#### DangerZone

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
It's the design, not the building material that determines how fast an airplane can be built (eg. Volksplane vs. Cri Cri).
True. And also on the person building it, some might spend 900 while others could need more than 2200 hours for a 2000 hours construction time airplane. When some homebuilt aircraft start to be mass produced the building time can go down by more than 50%.

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
True. And also on the person building it, some might spend 900 while others could need more than 2200 hours for a 2000 hours construction time airplane. When some homebuilt aircraft start to be mass produced the building time can go down by more than 50%.
True. A friend of mine and myself built 4 Bearhawks. We made all of the tooling, steel jigs, for almost everything including the fuselage. A little extra time in making all the tooling but saved a lot more hours in building all 4 airplanes. On working on the steel tubing, we cut and fish-mouthed 4 tubes at one time. Lets say, building the rudders, the first part was made and fitted to the jig, then 3 more were made to the same dimensions. #1 rudder was welded pulled out of the jig and then put the pre-made tubing in for the #2 rudder and weld. Same for #3, #4. Saves a lot of time.

Same for cost. When ordering material for 4 aircraft at the same time we almost always got at least 15% off on the order. Also saves on the total shipping cost.

Dan

#### Jan Olieslagers

##### Well-Known Member
There's a flip side to that story. Countries like France, Italy, Czech and Slovenia might statistically have more homebuilts because their administration is much simpler and cheaper than in some other European countries. Since we all live in the EU, &c &c
All that may be very true - the Belgian homebuilt register is surprisingly limited, and there's a reason for that, or perhaps several - but this thread is about choice of materials.

Even then, some countries have severe limitations on registering "Annex II" aircraft. Germany never allowed them to non-residents, neither does Danmark. The UK LAA are getting more and more difficult on the matter, too. Since EASA explicitly delegated this matter to individual countries, European law is no more relevant, sadly enough.

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#### PTAirco

As far as welded tube designs are concerned there was the additional complication of having to get certified to weld them, at least in the UK and I suspect Germany too. If you can weld, it's no big deal, but it does cost you money. I think my tests etc cost around $500 way back when. AND it was good for only one year! Naturally all my welding on a three year project occurred in the first 12 months... #### DangerZone ##### Well-Known Member HBA Supporter As far as welded tube designs are concerned there was the additional complication of having to get certified to weld them, at least in the UK and I suspect Germany too. If you can weld, it's no big deal, but it does cost you money. I think my tests etc cost around$500 way back when. AND it was good for only one year! Naturally all my welding on a three year project occurred in the first 12 months...
Couldn't a homebuilder weld it himself according to specs and then take it to an aircraft service company to inspect it and attest it as corosionless/crackless for certification? It might be cheaper than letting certified people weld it entirely in UK/Germany. A friend of mine has done so for two Piper Cubs, the first one had two microcracks which were rewelded in this company, tested for corrosion and then sprayed with anticorrosion primer to prepare for painting. He got all the computer tests and paperwork data to certify the aircraft but spared some money which he would otherwise pay them to do it. It is a legal and sound option to reduce costs in homebuilding.