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Home Building An Aircraft.

Old 7th May 2017, 23:56
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Home Building An Aircraft.

Hopefully the Gods and Ppruners will forgive me for posting this, I hope it might prove useful to anyone thinking of building their own aircraft from a kit or scratch built.

Attitude: I started building a kit aircraft as "therapy" - something pleasurable and useful to do while my late partner was undergoing treatment for cancer - the endless round of hospitals and waiting rooms was depressing. You need a good reason to build your own aircraft, it is not for the faint of heart, nor the over confident. You need a vision. and a mission to remind yourself why you are doing this for when the going gets tough. In my case I want to do more outback touring, my typical mission; fly Arkaroola to the Dig tree and back via Innaminka and similar.

Help: The SAAA members who have supported me are fantastic. You need help and encouragement from some source or eventually your wellsprings of enthusiasm will dry up. I read somewhere that only 50% of original builders make it to completion and flying.

Technology: I thought I knew enough to be modestly confident of building something useful. Time at Ansett, HdeH and the ability to fix most vehicles suggested this to me. Wrong! Nothing can prepare you for your first work with 25 thou 6160 Al, air drills and rivets. Nothing is what it seems. Almost everything works 'backwards" compared to car engineering. The fastening systems, rivets, AN Bolts etc., are consistent but have their own logic which is not the same as. modern automotive or structural principles.

Conservatism: Building your first aircraft is not the time to indulge in your new ideas of how things should work. Build it like the designer says. There are even cork strips and rubber bungees called for in my aircraft. They are old technology but reliable.

I elected for technology - glass cockpit, autopilot, electronic fuel injected engine and an electronic constant speed prop - this stuff is seductive. I think I would have been flying by now if I had elected for steam gauges and a Lycoming. I am also hoping that the stuff I've bought is reliable. I hope that the benefits in ease of use, performance and safety outweigh the cost and complexity of the installation. This I still to be determined.


Mountains still to climb: Surface preparation and painting, ground testing, a mountain of regulatory paperwork, retraining for the MPC, pilot selection and preparation for the first flight.


The easy bits: building the basic airframe.

The hard bits: fitting out the airframe, bracketry, seats, instruments and controls the engine installation and then a mountain of paperwork.

Problems: There is almost nothing available for building an aircraft in Australia that does not have to come from the USA, this applies right down to raw materials, drill bits, consumables and tools.

Cost: The airframe is maybe 25% of the cost of the project. The engine another 30%, the rest you spend on endless orders for stuff from Aircraft Spruce.

Time: So far it has take me Five years , with a complete interruption of one year for other reasons. During that time I have done very little flying, which is not good.
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Old 8th May 2017, 00:32
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what is the aircraft?
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Old 8th May 2017, 00:50
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Sunni...less time here...more time on the tools! Don't believe the bs, just do it!

Now, where was that last thread I wanted to have a rant on...was it Australian land rovers or was it catylaxy?

......having said all that, why the hell have hire rates skyrocketed in the last twelve months? Is it because flying schools are trying to recover costs over less students flying? That alone would make me seriously look at a kit plane, Sunfish.
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Old 8th May 2017, 02:16
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Originally Posted by OZBUSDRIVER View Post
......having said all that, why the hell have hire rates skyrocketed in the last twelve months? Is it because flying schools are trying to recover costs over less students flying?
as much just trying to keep up with the avgas price, hanger fees or rent and movement charges...

If you can get cheap hangerage that makes a big difference on operating costs.

Avgas where I am is up 10c/l since Jan.
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Old 8th May 2017, 08:07
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I have just finished an 11 year build of an RV7. Dont start unless you are prepared to go the distance and if you have to sell it at the end of the build, expect to get about 60% of what you put into it financially. The hours spent building it are, ofcourse, a complete loss.
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Old 8th May 2017, 08:54
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Originally Posted by jonkster View Post
what is the aircraft?
Zenith CH750.
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Old 8th May 2017, 09:05
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Keep going, I have been at it for 10 years.
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Old 9th May 2017, 06:58
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Some people are just 'meant' to build their own aircraft, they love the process. One mate made a comment to me 'I enjoy building aircraft more than flying them' wtf?.............

I struggled, got to admit it on my second one now. Get help occasionally to smash the progress forward then settle back into the groove. Worth it in the end
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Old 10th May 2017, 02:55
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Originally Posted by Arnold E View Post
if you have to sell it at the end of the build, expect to get about 60% of what you put into it financially. The hours spent building it are, ofcourse, a complete loss.
Gee, I'd be happy with a bid as good as that...
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Old 14th May 2017, 14:10
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Thanks Sunfish
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Old 15th May 2017, 10:51
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I have a mate who let me in on the secret formula. When looking at a project, double the number and go to the next highest unit.

For example - if a job looks like about 10 mins work, it actually takes 20 hours to complete to ones satisfaction. If it looks like a 2-day job, it will take 4 weeks. You get the idea.

The problem is the actual job doesn't take up an enormous amount of time. What takes up the time is;

1. Finding you're stymied by conflicting information/wrong parts/assembly matching problems/etc., that means work on the job has to stop, and the problem sorted, before continuing.
2. Going to use a tool that promptly breaks down and needs to be repaired/replaced before you can continue.
3. Going off on a search for the correct part that takes up an interminable time and much to-ing and fro-ing before the correct part is finally sourced.
4. Waiting for crucial parts/components to be delivered. Usually sent the long way, via camel pack train through the desert, before it finally arrives.
Also delayed by multitudes of delivery system depts along the way that all need to inspect said part to ensure it is not a bomb/gun part/drugs.
Not to mention the time spent by the part occupying bins in said delivery systems, before anyone gets to handle it and process it for ongoing travel.
5. Filling out the "necessary" paperwork and records associated with the entire project. Omitting one step in this process leads to more delays and frustration.
6. Having "mates" turn up, who have little to do, except BS and "shoot the breeze" and generally waste your valuable time, when you have set a completion stage for the project for that particular day.
Generally, and unfortunately, those "mates" often can't be trusted with helping with the project, for fear of setting it back by days, due to their incompetence with tools.
Not that they are usually inclined to assist with jobs anyway, their job is just to talk.
7. Having to leave the project to attend to pressing family matters - things such as MIL's birthday party, usually held 400kms away and necessitating 3 totally lost days on the project.

Keep at it, Sunfish - "projects" require stamina, perseverance and total dedication (and probably "fixation"), beyond many mortals ability. The end result is usually worth it, if you can see it through to completion.
Enduring the sickness and loss of a loved one is certainly a major burden one doesn't need, when trying to complete a major project.

It also helps to remember that only one bloke is putting the project together - when factories usually dedicate a team of people to the project - which still takes months to complete, anyway, despite the numbers on the team.
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Old 16th May 2017, 05:03
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The problem is the actual job doesn't take up an enormous amount of time
You forgot the six or so "test" pieces before you get an acceptable version you can actually use.
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Old 16th May 2017, 06:23
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
You forgot the six or so "test" pieces before you get an acceptable version you can actually use.
And lets not forget the time lost walking to the bathroom to get band-aids after you've drilled into your finger. Or sliced it open trying to deburr the edge of a sheet of aluminium. Or stood up from working on the nose gear and whacked your head into the engine baffling.

From picking up the crates containing my RV to rego certificate in hand: 4 years, 9 months, 19 days....
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Old 16th May 2017, 22:52
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Onetrack your mate forgot one large Homebuilt project handbrake.
A.I.D.S*

* Aircraft Induced Divorce Syndrome
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