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Affordable flying?


Bruce Tuncks

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If the RAAUs was developed to foster affordable flying, I reckon the stupidity of the population has beaten them.

First, a digression:  Gliding was once the cheapest way to get into the air, and it still can be if you will accept winch launches in a wooden glider. Very few do this.

The result is,  if you look at glider sales nowadays, you will see a tiny number of 1/2 million dollar things being imported by the rich.

The scene I grew up with, where working guys could buy a syndicate glass 15m glider, has also gone by.

 

When I bought my Jabiru kit, it was cheaper than the sales tax on a self-launch 17m glider.... so now RAAus had the cheapest flying for me.

But the new aircraft mainly seem to be factory built 1/4 million things for the rich.

What is happening?  Why do the younger generation seem to only want things they can't afford?

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As I have said before, we need a low budget, foundation aviation sector to foster interest and affordability. The U.S. FAR Part 103 system is going ahead in leaps and bounds, factory built and kit aircraft are flying out the door.  It embodies all the aspects of Recreational Aviation. Would RAAus support this?   They were happy to see the old AUF gone, maybe we need to recognise what was old, can be new again. Given the good and modern airframe designs, why not?  Or are we only interested in hanging off the skirt of GA?

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1 hour ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

If the RAAUs was developed to foster affordable flying, I reckon the stupidity of the population has beaten them.

First, a digression:  Gliding was once the cheapest way to get into the air, and it still can be if you will accept winch launches in a wooden glider. Very few do this.

The result is,  if you look at glider sales nowadays, you will see a tiny number of 1/2 million dollar things being imported by the rich.

The scene I grew up with, where working guys could buy a syndicate glass 15m glider, has also gone by.

 

When I bought my Jabiru kit, it was cheaper than the sales tax on a self-launch 17m glider.... so now RAAus had the cheapest flying for me.

But the new aircraft mainly seem to be factory built 1/4 million things for the rich.

What is happening?  Why do the younger generation seem to only want things they can't afford?

Overselling by the preceding generation.

Just look at the slobering over the 760 kg, and consider what the retaliation will be from the GA light end.

Almost certainly we will  see LAME maintenance, then a decision might be made on where the crossover will be because the aorcraft specs are the same, then people will want to do what the two seat GA does, so training will have to increase, so certificate cost goes up by a few thousand.

Then you might hear people wishing they could go back to the days of buying a $100,000 plastic fantastic.

 

It's a common theme; last time I looked you could buy a 320 hp Jetski.

 

Take the Formula 500 Class in Speedway. They started out as TQs, Three Quarter scale speedcars, where you scrounged around the wreckers  for light car rear axles fitted Mini wheels and 10" tyres, found a 500cc motor in a wreckers for a couple of hundred dollars, worked it over and you were racing for a couple of hundred dollars. Then wide tyres became popular on Sprintcars and the 10" tyres became as wide as they were high, cost about the same as the car, and you would burn a set off on a single chanpionship night, so the costs became about the same as building ten new cars for the season. The specatacular performance attracted cashed up plumbers etc, so they bought rolling chassis from the USA for ten times what is cost to build. The locals were still winning but had to have the lastest.........and so on for decades until today you buy one ready to go for $30,000 - $40,000. Not surprisingly the entry guys shifted to old Sprintcars with Chev 350s.

 

It's really in the perception and the concept being sold by the President and Committee (in RAA Directors) who quite often have a totally different outlook to the younger members of the group.

 

The irony is that in all these groups there is nothing pushing them away from affordability except themselves.

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13 minutes ago, APenNameAndThatA said:

I keep mentioning this, and nobody agrees or disagrees: isn’t weight-shift the new rag and tube? That is, don’t people who want cheap flying now do weight shift?  

Not at all, take a lot at the engines going into trikes and the sophistication and the price.

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1 hour ago, APenNameAndThatA said:

I keep mentioning this, and nobody agrees or disagrees: isn’t weight-shift the new rag and tube? That is, don’t people who want cheap flying now do weight shift?  

One simple answer - engine availability.  The R912 is the killer of low cost airframes - and its ubiquitous.  They make operating sense to a school with high utilization hours on an airframe but are just MASSIVE sunk costs in an airframe used a few dozen hours a year.  

 

Slightly extended simple answer - you fly what you are taught in - 2 strokes and low performance airframes are not used in. 

I would gladly go back into instructing if an local school had the airframes I PREFERRED training students on - Drifter 503, T500 thruster and a 582 GT500.   Also I NEVER taught to make money - I did it because it was fun for me and I enjoyed it more than watching sport on TV with a pie on a Saturday.

 

Logical extension to the simple answer - once you have 25K sitting in the engine you can 'justify' adding 10k for a constant speed prop and then a glass cockpit make sit all look modern ... oh and everyone LOVES speed to it will be composite  ... and to keep within MTOW limits for operating it will be carbon/kevlar not old S glass. $$$$$$

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I got into RA for a pretty basic reason. I'd been flying Hang Gliders for 20 years from 1974 & got my GA licence while still Hang Gliding & that was more than 30 years ago. I retired the first time in 2005 & planned to build an aircraft but I was never interested in basic rag & tube. I flew a few in the 80s to 90s belonging to other people & it was just not my cup of tea. The first was a weight shift Quicksilver. By 2009 I'd made my mind up that sooner or later I would not pass the class 2 medical & there were plenty of RA kits available so I started conversion in a Skyfox Gazelle at Caloundra which was a breeze to fly but too slow for me to go anywhere. Bought the Sierra Kit in 2011 & installed a Jab 3300 & by 2015 I was away. I finished the conversion to RA at Coffs in a Jab 170.

 

Compared to NZ where I had flown most of my life the regulations were a bit more draconian but the RA side was pretty basic & anyway I had a PPL so could fly in CTA & although I never renewed my class 2 I still transit CTA with permission. There are probably plenty like me & I have no desire to return to GA. I only ever flew with more than 1 passenger on club trips or when family came to stay.

 

760kg doesn't interest me  but some of the stupid regulations annoy me, like No access to CTA, Class D changing to class G with the click of a minute hand, ASIC cards & ramp checks. Only in Australia.

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14 minutes ago, jackc said:

I am tipping there will be a rash of engine development with the demise of the Rotax 2 strokes……Rotax have made a big mistake in my opinion.

The person who can design a simple four stroke engine meeting current emission standards (none exist for aviation, but automotive indicates responsibilty) which will put up with the rigors of flying and self-maintenance, has a chance of making big money, even if they just pick a bike engine, convert it for aviation, and open up the clearances to make it bullet-proof (motor bike engines are not constant power engines but can be converted to that mode.)

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RAA has at least four markets in my opinion, GA has at least four and the costs of everything connected with aviation is increasing. That creates a great deal of friction as associations and businesses try to find a "one size fits all" value proposition that doesn't exist. Lets catalogue them:

 

RAA:

 

- the ultra cheap home built rag, stick and two stroke market for people who just regard getting airborne as the achievement.

- the " shiny new toy" market for those who want an airborne jet ski - price is no barrier.

- the home builder who wants a little touring.

- refugees from GA without class 2 medical certificates or who have no money for GA.

 

SAAA:

 

- Home builders

- The "I can do 180 knots" RV 99 home builders 😜

 

GA:

 

- the airline stepping stone crowd.

- private business users.

- well healed recreational flyers

 

Then you can add the aerobatics guys and the techno fetish guys who just want to polish their flying Ferrari, be it a glider or powered.

 

All of these good folk are on display if you visit enough airports. To be fair to CASA and the associations, trying to balance all those competing interests is difficult if not impossible.

 

In the yacht clubs you see the same tensions - the family cruisers at one end and the ultra racing crowd at the other who budget for half a million in sails for each new season

 

 

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Weight-shift aircraft operated from Gawler some years ago. They flew at dawn and dusk, making our neighbors upset, because they didn't like the wind and turbulence and thermals of the main day. I am pleased to say that their importer has moved onto expensive but real planes. His real planes only cost about 130,000 but I bet that is not the end of the payout you would be making.

Besides, the weight-shift planes were not that cheap, although I can't give an actual price. But I would bet you could buy a Boomerang ( Schneider wooden glider of 30:1 performance) for about $6000. You could still do a 500k flight in one of these.

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5 minutes ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

Weight-shift aircraft operated from Gawler some years ago. They flew at dawn and dusk, making our neighbors upset, because they didn't like the wind and turbulence and thermals of the main day. I am pleased to say that their importer has moved onto expensive but real planes. His real planes only cost about 130,000 but I bet that is not the end of the payout you would be making.

Besides, the weight-shift planes were not that cheap, although I can't give an actual price. But I would bet you could buy a Boomerang ( Schneider wooden glider of 30:1 performance) for about $6000. You could still do a 500k flight in one of these.

You can’t compare old wooden glider second hand price to new weight shift. But a modern 912 weight shift can fly as a real plane.  12-15knt cross wind is possible (not fun) and cruise at the top end is 80knts.  But it comes with the cost.  
 

compare 

first weight shift I bought was second hand and OLD and I paid under $2k to buy and get registered - did 40knts and was fair weather machine.  

second weight shift second hand was an 8yo 912 powered.  Great fun and much more capable but cost me $20k before I upgraded it for full CTA flying in the UK.  The panel cost an additional $10k

 

a new high performance weight shift would be in excess of $65k starting plus electronics.

 

show me any factory glider for under $65k available today then there is a comparison to be had. 
 

but until then comparing an old wooden glider to a new weight shift is apples and pears. 

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I want 3 axis control with ability to be upside down and fly out of it. The weather is getting more extreme so I want a strong plane with emphasis on control rather than stability. Realistically you can't afford to fly with anyone but your wife.

 Regarding bike and car engines. We keep hearing of this but it never really happens. An aero motor should be built for purpose from the ground up . RACE engines don't make good aero engines and vice versa. Aero engines sit around a lot. That's not good for engines

 There's NOTHING special about Rotax 2 strokes. When you work on them you find that out, but 2 strokes are finished really. They DO have the best power/weight ratio.  Nev

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3 hours ago, kgwilson said:

I got into RA for a pretty basic reason. I'd been flying Hang Gliders for 20 years from 1974 & got my GA licence while still Hang Gliding & that was more than 30 years ago. I retired the first time in 2005 & planned to build an aircraft but I was never interested in basic rag & tube. I flew a few in the 80s to 90s belonging to other people & it was just not my cup of tea. The first was a weight shift Quicksilver. By 2009 I'd made my mind up that sooner or later I would not pass the class 2 medical & there were plenty of RA kits available so I started conversion in a Skyfox Gazelle at Caloundra which was a breeze to fly but too slow for me to go anywhere. Bought the Sierra Kit in 2011 & installed a Jab 3300 & by 2015 I was away. I finished the conversion to RA at Coffs in a Jab 170.

 

Compared to NZ where I had flown most of my life the regulations were a bit more draconian but the RA side was pretty basic & anyway I had a PPL so could fly in CTA & although I never renewed my class 2 I still transit CTA with permission. There are probably plenty like me & I have no desire to return to GA. I only ever flew with more than 1 passenger on club trips or when family came to stay.

 

760kg doesn't interest me  but some of the stupid regulations annoy me, like No access to CTA, Class D changing to class G with the click of a minute hand, ASIC cards & ramp checks. Only in Australia.

You've mentioned your CTA before, but your guys are using discretion based on work load.

At one time I got a call at Mangalore where at the time I was the only one inbound in the circuit to say they were on the 123 radial 2 miles dme inbout fr RWY x , in a Fokker Friendship F27 probably student pilot under the hood.  I'd done my CTA training, but that's what I had to unscramble to know whether I was directly in front of him or not.

 

On another day had a visit from a friend from the opal fields and his mate. He owned a C150 so I offered to show the Moorabbin with a quick circuit. By the time we got there it was about 5 pm. The taxy and take off and circuit were fine until late downwind where we had to get  flap on and squat the aircraft back to slow down enough to hold out place and avoid a go round. This was about the time they marvelled that I could understand anything the tower was saying, they had never had to slow down, then we turned final, and we were No 5 with full flap and hanging on the prop sinking our way down ready to go round if an aircraft didn't vacate the runway fast enough. Only three of us managed to get a landing.

 

It's a different world and requires training. If your training is in a CTA, effectively there's no extra time to pay for; if you didn't add enough hours to get it right for all the airports you will be visiting, ie not just Coffs if one day you want to go into Bankstown.

 

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I did some due diligence on the outfit, supposedly developed a V Twin motor.

 

https://www.aeromarine-lsa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Merlin-Lite-Vtwin-Oshkosh-2021.pdf

 

Then searching around found this, seems it’s a side by side ATV motor they are fitting a reduction drive to it?

 

http://synergyoffroadvehicles.com.au/product/dominator-x2-800/

 

Has the same Delphi ECU.

 

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I have often wondered why 2 strokes are not better than 4 strokes. The flimsy valve business with 4 strokes should wipe them out in comparison. The failing of some 2 strokes has been the need to mix the oil in the fuel, but this is not a 2 stroke thing but a cheap thing. Yes, the fact that crankcase compression systems cause some of the incoming charge to go straight out the exhaust is a downside. But the extra mixing of fuel/air is an upside.

What about a diesel 2 stroke? It sure has been done and it should have taken over but it didn't. I have never understood why not.

   

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9 minutes ago, Bruce Tuncks said:

I have often wondered why 2 strokes are not better than 4 strokes. The flimsy valve business with 4 strokes should wipe them out in comparison. The failing of some 2 strokes has been the need to mix the oil in the fuel, but this is not a 2 stroke thing but a cheap thing. Yes, the fact that crankcase compression systems cause some of the incoming charge to go straight out the exhaust is a downside. But the extra mixing of fuel/air is an upside.

What about a diesel 2 stroke? It sure has been done and it should have taken over but it didn't. I have never understood why not.

   

2 stroke diesel is off the table these days. Can’t achieve emission standards.

 

2 stroke issue is probably not enough cooling time between power strokes.  
 

For something practical within a 3 year design budget you need to start with a current engine.

 

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The Sydney ferries-cat,s were powered by two stroke diesel motors.

They seem reasonably efficient,  l have seen the ' black ' diesel smoke when pushing the throttle too far, making the engine struggle for air.

Something diesel drivers have to learn. Heavy foot doesn't excellerate any faster than a light foot.

spacesailor

Edited by spacesailor
Missed word
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12 hours ago, turboplanner said:

You've mentioned your CTA before, but your guys are using discretion based on work load.

 

It's a different world and requires training. If your training is in a CTA, effectively there's no extra time to pay for; if you didn't add enough hours to get it right for all the airports you will be visiting, ie not just Coffs if one day you want to go into Bankstown.

 

What is needed is access to CTA for RA pilots who are rated or endorsed to do so. This is the case in NZ. I trained in and flew out of a towered airport (Hamilton) with GA, then in the early noughties various new RA aircraft began to appear mostly with an instructor going through the CTA rating for the RA student. Our clubhouse was on the opposite side of the main runway right next to the tower & we had a grass east-west cross strip and parallel grass strip next to the main RPT strip. We mixed with International  flights of up to 767 size and domestic RPT and there was a British training school with 40 Diamonds training 6 days a week. It was busy but you sure learned how to deal with lots of traffic and instructions and make correctly constructed radio calls. Proper use of the radio is very poor these days not only amongst RA but also GA and especially training of foreign students with accents so thick they are virtually unintelligible.

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1 hour ago, kgwilson said:

What is needed is access to CTA for RA pilots who are rated or endorsed to do so. This is the case in NZ. I trained in and flew out of a towered airport (Hamilton) with GA, then in the early noughties various new RA aircraft began to appear mostly with an instructor going through the CTA rating for the RA student. Our clubhouse was on the opposite side of the main runway right next to the tower & we had a grass east-west cross strip and parallel grass strip next to the main RPT strip. We mixed with International  flights of up to 767 size and domestic RPT and there was a British training school with 40 Diamonds training 6 days a week. It was busy but you sure learned how to deal with lots of traffic and instructions and make correctly constructed radio calls. Proper use of the radio is very poor these days not only amongst RA but also GA and especially training of foreign students with accents so thick they are virtually unintelligible.

City students are learning in CTA in Melbourne and Sydney.

If there was a CTA rating for RA, what are the other impediments?

Pilot loses rating after training?

Engine?

 

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No reason for it not to happen in more sparsely populated areas though.  Right now there are many flying in Western Qld and no doubt other places with no rego and no pilot certificates.   Only people they can hurt is themselves unless they have a PAX on board.  I see no reason why a FAR Part 103 system can’t work with proper training and geographical area limits etc, along with approved aircraft meeting a standard.  The only reason it can’t work is because of ego driven fun Police 😞 

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