A aviation & planes forum. AviationBanter

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » AviationBanter forum » rec.aviation newsgroups » Home Built
Site Map Home Register Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Are composite homebuilts dying out?



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old August 12th 09, 11:57 PM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
rich[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 43
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore. It's like the word is out on how much work and how long
it takes to build the things, and it's becoming a thing of the past. I
just wonder if that trend is just in that area, or nationwide? I know
in the present economy, homebuilts are probably down anyway, but what
he said about that trend started before the economy tanked.
If not many are building composite planes, then the only other ones I
would think are being built are metal (RV designs) and tube and
fabric. I doubt wood designs will come back, they're just as much work
as composite designes are, or more. (I've got one of those too
Rich
Ads
  #2  
Old August 13th 09, 02:20 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
Peter Dohm
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,754
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

"rich" wrote in message
...
I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore. It's like the word is out on how much work and how long
it takes to build the things, and it's becoming a thing of the past. I
just wonder if that trend is just in that area, or nationwide? I know
in the present economy, homebuilts are probably down anyway, but what
he said about that trend started before the economy tanked.
If not many are building composite planes, then the only other ones I
would think are being built are metal (RV designs) and tube and
fabric. I doubt wood designs will come back, they're just as much work
as composite designes are, or more. (I've got one of those too
Rich


Just as one person's observation as an onlooker--since I have yet to embark
on on my own airplane building project--composite kits never really provided
their anticipated advantage over plans.

From what I have observed from a short distance, the composite kits that
were popular in my local area required nearly as much work to build as a
comparable built aircraft. They appear to be a little lighter, and to fly a
little faster, but the advantage would not justify the price if I was the
builder. Therefore, if I chose to built a composite aircraft, I would build
it from plans (or even as a custom built) rather than purchasing a kit.

Meanwhile, the metal kits manufactured with their stamped ribs, spars and
stringers--and precision drilled rivet holes--provide a TRULY DRAMATIC
improvement and plenty of real value for the money spent. You also end up
with an aircraft with which most mechanics will feel comfortable and
familiar--which could be an advantage if you grow weary of performing your
own maintenance or decide to sell the aircraft.

I can offer little opinion regarding wood or cloth, except to say that there
are still some that I might consider. Most of a wood and/or fabric project
involves far less fumes to breath than composites!

Just my $0.02
Peter




  #3  
Old August 13th 09, 03:12 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
Robert Barker
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 73
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

"Peter Dohm" wrote in message
...
"rich" wrote in message
...
I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore. It's like the word is out on how much work and how long
it takes to build the things, and it's becoming a thing of the past. I
just wonder if that trend is just in that area, or nationwide? I know
in the present economy, homebuilts are probably down anyway, but what
he said about that trend started before the economy tanked.
If not many are building composite planes, then the only other ones I
would think are being built are metal (RV designs) and tube and
fabric. I doubt wood designs will come back, they're just as much work
as composite designes are, or more. (I've got one of those too
Rich


Just as one person's observation as an onlooker--since I have yet to
embark on on my own airplane building project--composite kits never really
provided their anticipated advantage over plans.

From what I have observed from a short distance, the composite kits that
were popular in my local area required nearly as much work to build as a
comparable built aircraft. They appear to be a little lighter, and to fly
a little faster, but the advantage would not justify the price if I was
the builder. Therefore, if I chose to built a composite aircraft, I would
build it from plans (or even as a custom built) rather than purchasing a
kit.

Meanwhile, the metal kits manufactured with their stamped ribs, spars and
stringers--and precision drilled rivet holes--provide a TRULY DRAMATIC
improvement and plenty of real value for the money spent. You also end up
with an aircraft with which most mechanics will feel comfortable and
familiar--which could be an advantage if you grow weary of performing your
own maintenance or decide to sell the aircraft.

I can offer little opinion regarding wood or cloth, except to say that
there are still some that I might consider. Most of a wood and/or fabric
project involves far less fumes to breath than composites!

Just my $0.02
Peter


Our club has both composite and aluminum. Frankly, the composites get more
air time. A lot of our members have built and bought planes. At least the
consensus of our membership is this... It seems to take about the same
amount of time to complete either type of aircraft. With the composites,
you get the advantage of getting to a point more quickly where you can sit
in something that resembles an airplane and make plane noises but it will
take you longer to do the finish work. With the aluminum planes, it takes
you longer to make plane noises, but the finish work doesn't take as long.
Finished price seems to be fairly equivalent for similar capacity and
performance. You might see more aluminum planes because there are a lot
more aluminum companies. I would also guess that, from a manufacturing
standpoint, it would be less expensive to set up shop to produce aluminum
kits than composite kits. Having never bought equipment for either, that's
just a guess. But metal working machinery has been around for a long time
and you can get some good deals on used equipment. You can also produce a
lot of different designs with the same equipment. For composites, there are
the autoclaves and forms, and all the other stuff. The material handling
needs are a lot more exacting with composites and quality control may be an
issue that adds expense.

For a builder, it all comes down to preference on airplane style you prefer
and the materials you're comfortable working with. Personally, I've always
been intrigued with flowing lines and compound curves - they just seem more
organic to me - which makes me lean to composites. I've also spent a lot of
time in my youth working on the family boats. I got really tired of
hammering rivets after a long day of skiing. And when we made the switch to
fiberglas boats, I learned other lessons. For instance, I learned that you
don't want to try to lay fiberglas when you're swimming in the water and the
boat is suspended over the boat well in a sling. Resin floats and WILL
harden while floating on the water...DAMHIKT... ;-)


  #4  
Old August 13th 09, 03:24 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
Jim Logajan
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,958
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

rich wrote:
I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore. It's like the word is out on how much work and how long
it takes to build the things, and it's becoming a thing of the past. I
just wonder if that trend is just in that area, or nationwide?


The observation may only apply locally.

Here's a different observation:
I notice that a newer composite design like the Arion Lightning appears to
be enjoying very fast builds (relatively speaking.)

They also appear to have a fairly high fraction of completions (44 flying
of 78 kits delivered, as of August 6. For perspective, the prototype first
flew in March 2006. So no one has struggled for years - yet.)
  #5  
Old August 13th 09, 09:10 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
Philippe[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 37
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

rich a écrit:

I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore.


For me, composites are the best for homebuilt .
When a part is completed, , no corosion protection needed, no more
moisture protection. No special storage requirement too for resin and
fabrics.


by
--
« Si tous les poètes voulaient se donner la main, ils toucheraient enfin
des doigts d'auteur! »
Philippe Vessaire Ò¿Ó¬

  #6  
Old August 13th 09, 03:35 PM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
BobR
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 356
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

On Aug 12, 5:57*pm, rich wrote:
I'm just finishing mine, it's in the paint shop finally, but after 18
years fo work. (Glasair) I keep up with another homebuilder friend of
mine out on the west coast in Stockton, which is a good GA airport.
Lots of homebuilts under construction, good infastructure for GA on
the field, etc. He told me no one is building composite planes out
there anymore. It's like the word is out on how much work and how long
it takes to build the things, and it's becoming a thing of the past. I
just wonder if that trend is just in that area, or nationwide? I know
in the present economy, homebuilts are probably down anyway, but what
he said about that trend started before the economy tanked.
If not many are building composite planes, then the only other ones I
would think are being built are metal (RV designs) and tube and
fabric. I doubt wood designs will come back, they're just as much work
as composite designes are, or more. (I've got one of those too
Rich


Rich,

First I would like to congratulate you on finishing your plane. I am
also building a KIS Cruiser and have been working on it for almost 14
calendar years. I suspect that life has gotten in the way of your
completing your project earlier as it has with my project. The fact
that you continued to completion says a lot about you and your
dedication to seeing it through.

There are several issues that I have repeatedly seen with composite
aircraft that I have not seen as frequently with the RV's which seem
to be the dominate kit on the market.

The first has to do with quality of the supplied molded parts.
Because of the low volumes most kit manufacturers have to deal with,
they have little incentive to invest in the best quality molds and the
refinements needed to make parts that require little additional work
prior to assembly. This means that the builder must spend substantial
time in cleanup, fit and finish. Every composite kit company that I
know of still has extensive labor involved and can not automate their
processes like Van's has done with much of his fabrication process.

The second is builder enhancements (modifications) to the original
design. These changes can be anything from a minor change to some
major redesign to the entire airframe. I have seen hundreds of RV's
over the years and few of them make anything beyond cosmetic changes
and those that do are usually experience builders on their n'th
build. I know in my own case that I have made dozens of changes,
mostly minor, that have cumulatively added several hundred hours to my
build time. If I had exactly followed the original plans...I would
have been flying already.

There are many more differences but the last that I will hit on is
Finish. That is where almost every time gain a composite builder may
have achieved in the construction process is wiped out. The standards
for finishing a composite aircraft are unreal and really totally
unnecessary. With a few notable exceptions the builders of the RV's
will complete and fly their planes with no paint or will spend little
time and effort beyond having a paint shop spray them. That's not
saying they aren't great looking planes but they don't get anal about
a rivet showing or a slight ripple in the wing or fuselage surface.
That is expected when working with metal. The glass builders seem
obsessed with producing a finish that has the quality of a fine
mirror. Gawd forbid that the fabric weave should happen to show
through.

Having said that, I must admit that I have already got a couple
hundred hours into the fill and sand process that preceeds the primer
and more fill and sand. I just can't help myself.

Finally, there are still a lot of composite kits being built.
Lancair, Glassair, Velocity, TeamTango, CompAir, and a host of others
come to mind. They will continue to be a major player in the market
but lets also admit that when it comes to great, affordable, and
buildable aircraft...Van's Aircraft are the dominate company as of
now.
  #7  
Old August 14th 09, 04:50 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
rich[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 43
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

I agree with all you said. And I didn't enjoy breathing the fumes
myself all those years. Plus, after a few years of building, I
realized how little work the kit maker did compared to what I was
doing. Making the big parts in molds is easy. The builder does all the
hard work.
Rich

On Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:20:24 -0400, "Peter Dohm"
wrote:


Just as one person's observation as an onlooker--since I have yet to embark
on on my own airplane building project--composite kits never really provided
their anticipated advantage over plans.

From what I have observed from a short distance, the composite kits that
were popular in my local area required nearly as much work to build as a
comparable built aircraft. They appear to be a little lighter, and to fly a
little faster, but the advantage would not justify the price if I was the
builder. Therefore, if I chose to built a composite aircraft, I would build
it from plans (or even as a custom built) rather than purchasing a kit.

Meanwhile, the metal kits manufactured with their stamped ribs, spars and
stringers--and precision drilled rivet holes--provide a TRULY DRAMATIC
improvement and plenty of real value for the money spent. You also end up
with an aircraft with which most mechanics will feel comfortable and
familiar--which could be an advantage if you grow weary of performing your
own maintenance or decide to sell the aircraft.

I can offer little opinion regarding wood or cloth, except to say that there
are still some that I might consider. Most of a wood and/or fabric project
involves far less fumes to breath than composites!

Just my $0.02
Peter




  #8  
Old August 14th 09, 04:59 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
rich[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 43
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

Good observation. I also realized that the Glasair 3 I built was a
"first generation" composite kit, with later labor saving ideas mostly
developed by other kit companies. I also bought a Glasair TD kit back
in the early 80's and they were even more work, but not by that much.
Now I could build another one in a fraction of the time it took me to
do the -3. But I've only got so many years left, and starting a
project that size again isn't in the cards for me.
Now, if I had unlimited money, I'd order AeroSupercharger Solutions
$16K bolt on supercharger kit for the Glasair 3 and take out to Reno
for a run around the pylons. But I'm spent, so that ain't gonna
happen.
Rich

On Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:24:34 -0500, Jim Logajan
wrote:


The observation may only apply locally.

Here's a different observation:
I notice that a newer composite design like the Arion Lightning appears to
be enjoying very fast builds (relatively speaking.)

They also appear to have a fairly high fraction of completions (44 flying
of 78 kits delivered, as of August 6. For perspective, the prototype first
flew in March 2006. So no one has struggled for years - yet.)


  #9  
Old August 14th 09, 05:18 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
rich[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 43
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

I did some of the body work myself as I built, and when the parts were
all done, I took it to a body shop. The guy's painting it complete for
$4K. And I'm real happy with that. He's done a great job of doing the
finish work, and it's ready for paint now. At first, they sanded right
through my wing fillets. But I took some of the cloth out there and
showed them how thin it was and from then on they did good work. And
one nice thing about composites is they repair easily. I started
building the 3 in 1991, afterwards the kids came into my life, plus
working full time, but I kept at it. But one thing I did find kind of
strange is with the parts all out at the paint shop, I've been so used
to being able to walk out to my shop and work on the plane, it's
strange having no project to work on. I'm sure once it's flying, going
out to the airport and tinkering with it will keep me busy.
I know what you mean about the mods, I've done some of those too.
Most from the advise of other builders I'd talk to at LAL and OSH.
The thing is with a Glasair, the final assembly can't be completed
until the thing is painted. Unless it's put together complete, then
taken to an aircraft painter. And they all charge $12K to paint a
composite plane. Good luck finishing your KIS Cruiser....
You know, when I started the Glasair 3, I thought it would take me 5
years to build. Now 18 years later I see I made a big miscalculation!
Rich




On Thu, 13 Aug 2009 07:35:50 -0700 (PDT), BobR
wrote:



Rich,

First I would like to congratulate you on finishing your plane. I am
also building a KIS Cruiser and have been working on it for almost 14
calendar years. I suspect that life has gotten in the way of your
completing your project earlier as it has with my project. The fact
that you continued to completion says a lot about you and your
dedication to seeing it through.

There are several issues that I have repeatedly seen with composite
aircraft that I have not seen as frequently with the RV's which seem
to be the dominate kit on the market.

The first has to do with quality of the supplied molded parts.
Because of the low volumes most kit manufacturers have to deal with,
they have little incentive to invest in the best quality molds and the
refinements needed to make parts that require little additional work
prior to assembly. This means that the builder must spend substantial
time in cleanup, fit and finish. Every composite kit company that I
know of still has extensive labor involved and can not automate their
processes like Van's has done with much of his fabrication process.

The second is builder enhancements (modifications) to the original
design. These changes can be anything from a minor change to some
major redesign to the entire airframe. I have seen hundreds of RV's
over the years and few of them make anything beyond cosmetic changes
and those that do are usually experience builders on their n'th
build. I know in my own case that I have made dozens of changes,
mostly minor, that have cumulatively added several hundred hours to my
build time. If I had exactly followed the original plans...I would
have been flying already.

There are many more differences but the last that I will hit on is
Finish. That is where almost every time gain a composite builder may
have achieved in the construction process is wiped out. The standards
for finishing a composite aircraft are unreal and really totally
unnecessary. With a few notable exceptions the builders of the RV's
will complete and fly their planes with no paint or will spend little
time and effort beyond having a paint shop spray them. That's not
saying they aren't great looking planes but they don't get anal about
a rivet showing or a slight ripple in the wing or fuselage surface.
That is expected when working with metal. The glass builders seem
obsessed with producing a finish that has the quality of a fine
mirror. Gawd forbid that the fabric weave should happen to show
through.

Having said that, I must admit that I have already got a couple
hundred hours into the fill and sand process that preceeds the primer
and more fill and sand. I just can't help myself.

Finally, there are still a lot of composite kits being built.
Lancair, Glassair, Velocity, TeamTango, CompAir, and a host of others
come to mind. They will continue to be a major player in the market
but lets also admit that when it comes to great, affordable, and
buildable aircraft...Van's Aircraft are the dominate company as of
now.


  #10  
Old August 14th 09, 05:19 AM posted to rec.aviation.homebuilt
cavelamb[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 257
Default Are composite homebuilts dying out?

rich wrote:
Good observation. I also realized that the Glasair 3 I built was a
"first generation" composite kit, with later labor saving ideas mostly
developed by other kit companies. I also bought a Glasair TD kit back
in the early 80's and they were even more work, but not by that much.
Now I could build another one in a fraction of the time it took me to
do the -3. But I've only got so many years left, and starting a
project that size again isn't in the cards for me.
Now, if I had unlimited money, I'd order AeroSupercharger Solutions
$16K bolt on supercharger kit for the Glasair 3 and take out to Reno
for a run around the pylons. But I'm spent, so that ain't gonna
happen.
Rich

On Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:24:34 -0500, Jim Logajan
wrote:

The observation may only apply locally.

Here's a different observation:
I notice that a newer composite design like the Arion Lightning appears to
be enjoying very fast builds (relatively speaking.)

They also appear to have a fairly high fraction of completions (44 flying
of 78 kits delivered, as of August 6. For perspective, the prototype first
flew in March 2006. So no one has struggled for years - yet.)



Building an airplane involves many different kinds of jobs and develops a
whole host of new skills.

But the last job is the funnest one...

The job now, rich, is to fly your beautiful new airplane!


Enjoy


Richard
 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Why GA is Dying Kyle Boatright Piloting 420 August 1st 06 09:50 PM
Early Composite homebuilts - was Need help please [email protected] Home Built 12 January 25th 05 05:24 AM
Too many soldiers are dying in the "War on terror" !!!! MLenoch Military Aviation 0 March 26th 04 12:14 PM
Is this newsgroup dying? vzlion Military Aviation 22 February 7th 04 04:24 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 03:50 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004-2022 AviationBanter.
The comments are property of their posters.