Any nonbuilder/non-gearhead owners?

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by DMD3., Jun 17, 2021.

  1. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    According to research (including past threads on here), it’s not that much more affordable to own and maintain an experimental if you don’t perform the maintenance yourself. Although I believe it can be somewhat cheaper in some cases. Also, it’s the opinion of some that it’s better to own a certified aircraft if you’re a first-time buyer, as there is more of a ‘learning curve’ with an EAB.

    But one reason I’m interested in EAB is simply the performance. You can buy a used Cessna 172 or Piper 160/180 for around $60-80k. However, you can also find a (presumably) good used two-seater Vans RV within the same price range. The RV will have the same engine and same fuel burn, but will cruise 50+ kts faster. I know which aircraft I’d rather have. Yes the Spam Cans have four seats, but that’s not a necessity for me.

    I realize it’s crucial to have an A&P who is familiar with the aircraft to do a pre-buy inspection of any aircraft I’d consider purchasing, and equally important to have someone qualified to do the maintenance, which I like to think shouldn’t be too difficult for a Vans.

    In summation, if it were going to be more expensive and unsafe (be it physically or financially unsafe), I guess I’d settle on buying a certified Spam Can. But it the costs were in the same proverbial ball park, I’d much prefer the experimental.

    Anyone else have experience owning an experimental who is a non gear-head? And it can be any experimental, not just a Vans.
     
  2. Marshall Alexander

    Marshall Alexander Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Experimental will be cheaper to maintain.
     
  3. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’ve figured it be at least a bit cheaper as parts aren’t so astronomical, even if you have someone to do your maintenance.
     
  4. kmacht

    kmacht Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Price out a panel upgrade for an experimental vs a certified plane and you will see where the cost savings start to come in. Also, you only need an A&P to do the yearly condition inspection. They do not need to have their IA. Many EAA chapters have a few A&Ps that are willing to work with you to get through the condition inspection or do any repairs/upgrades necessary and it is usually much cheaper than bringing a certified airplane to your regular A&P/IA
     
  5. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    I have one of each. If I had to pay an A&P to do my condition inspection I'd expect it to be level with my Cessna's annual inspection.

    Parts aren't cheaper if you use like parts. Exp has more options, like in glass panels, but if you want a G3X? At the end of the day the prices are pretty similar.

    In the area that I'm most familiar with, the Supercub world? The most expensive airplanes in the fleet are experimental. More expensive by a large margin in many cases. It isn't about economy, it's about freedom to do what you want without regulatory restriction. To me that opens the horizon to more ways to spend more money.
     
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  6. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not my opinion. Too much of a learning curve with all the PMA / STC / 337/ AARP paperwork and limitations associated with parts and fixing stuff.

    Cost wise - type certificated vs E-AB - if you hire out the work to an A&P, no difference for labor for the most part. Engine parts - ain't no difference for the most part. You can find lower cost avionics. A lot of the little stuff - you can buy some stuff off the shelf instead of paying $XXXX.XX for some used part that has been obsolete for 30 years or more. Hoses, switches, door latches, similar wear items. Airframe parts - depends. Overall, E-AB parts are likely to cost less, but may be much harder to find if you want to buy them off the shelf. But, if you are willing to fabricate (or have a buddy fabricate...) a lot of E-AB parts are more straight forward than, say, a forged main spar carry through. In many cases it comes down to deciding between spending time or money.

    RVs vs. other designs: You are going to pay a significant premium for an RV something as compared to, say, a T-18 or Tailwind of similar performance. On the other hand, it will be easier to find airframe parts for the RV if you were to do something like taxi into a telephone pole. On the other other hand, parts for more traditional designs may be easier to fabricate - a T-18 is pretty much built up from plain sheet stock and extrusions that are easy to find at your corner metal store.

    In the end, it's your money, and your butt on the line. That pretty much makes it your decision.

    edit: I am a non builder, but not a non-gearhead.
     
  7. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    as an A&P I would give a bit of a price break on an RV vs certified on the inspection for the simple reason that the RV is a lot less work to do, there are 3 inspection plates on my RV-4, thats it. tubes for the control system, not a ton of pulleys and yards of cable to clean and inspect. most RV's have simple to no interior parts to remove and replace. ect, ect.
     
  8. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Maintenance itself is what you have to pay. The thing that a non-wrenchy pilot gets is being able to use non-certified parts if he choses.

    My mechanic always divided her customers into two categories: those who'll turn a wrench on their plane and those who are "just pilots." We were eating lunch one day taking a break from the owner-assist annual when a pilot came in and said he thinks his battery needs replacing. Bobbi tells him to go bring it inside and she'll bench test it. Deer in the headlights look. "Oh, yes. You're just a pilot. Ron, go help him get his battery out."
     
  9. tsts4

    tsts4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Bobbi Boucher?
     
  10. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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  11. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep.
     
  12. tsts4

    tsts4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Small world. She did the tech counselor visits on my RV-10 build.
     
  13. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    I have looked at experimental, and priced it out. For the moment, it does not meet my mission requirements and save me money.

    With that stated, you generally save money on experimental in the following places:
    1. Capital cost. From a buyer perspective, the builder labor is almost free.
    2. Avionics, upgrades and new versions. The delta has come down with G3X and others STC on some spam cans.
    3. Some planes can use non certified props which are much cheaper.
    4. Engines, you can install EFII with dual systems. Much more efficient in everything but cruise, easier start with less wear on the engine.
    5. Many EAB are easier to perform conditional inspection than an annual. Also much less annual paperwork reviews which reduces labor.

    I think others covered a lot of the other points. The downside of EAB, you are experimental. As such, there is a theoretically smaller or no body of knowledge to help when you run into some issues. These issues can get expensive.

    In terms of prebuy, I know velocity does factory inspection for prebuy or the annual condition inspection. There are shops that do the same for RV, one near Boston but I cannot think of the name offhand.

    Lastly, find your AP or IA who will help/do the condition inspection before you by. And if not on your home field, find out who will help you do local MX.

    Tim

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  14. Juliet Hotel

    Juliet Hotel En-Route

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    I could see this being true if the experimental in question was one of those where the original kit manufacturer is no longer in business AND very few kits were ever completed. Then yeah, you'll probably have more of a learning curve because very few people exist who will be familiar with the design. If you're talking something like a Vans RV or a Glassair, your learning curve will be just about exactly the same as any other common certified airplane.
     
  15. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I see where it’s been stated that avionics upgrades can be cheaper in EABs. Is this true even if you hire a pro to do the installation for you? And how much cheaper, if you had to guess? I realize the answer could vary, depending on the panel size, the brand/size of the avionics, etc.
     
  16. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    The boxes themselves may be a little cheaper but labor is the same. I’ve got an exp Cub with a G3X Touch. End of project cost isn’t much different from a friend’s 206.

    What’s fun with exp is the variety of cool parts that you can use, and the exp parts market is strong and growing fast. R&D gets applied to our planes immediately instead of waiting for years for FAA approval. Like we saw with the G3X!
     
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  17. pfarber

    pfarber Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lots of A&Ps won't touch an E/AB because of liability. If your EAA chapter has a local A&P then definitely use them, but walking up to a GA A&P with an E/AB and expecting help might turn out much less favorably. A&Ps are liability shy for good reason.

    As for costs, if you stick with a certified engine (and AVGAS) I don't see the huge cost savings. If you want to keep the engines value you need to keep it 'certified'. The second a non-A&P does work, there goes your value. The real savings is using a conversion and MOGAS... but it also increases the hassle factor a bit.

    Dollar for dollar you should save quite a bit of money if you pick up a good E/AB at a decent price. It will be up to you as to what level of funding you want to commit to keep the value of the E/AB up.
     
  18. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Some. But I didn't have any issue finding an A&P to do my condition inspections.
    I wouldn't have paid 10 cents more if my E-ABs engine had been maintained by an A&P.
    And, for what it's worth, my ride was supposedly "A&P built" - but I have since sorted out the odd and end issues with the build - mostly electrical and fuel system related. Again, not something I would pay extra for.
     
  19. pfarber

    pfarber Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Most people (even builders) don't have the ability to maintain an aircraft. If you can 'sort it out' great. But most certainly cannot.

    As for all these A&Ps so willing to work on E/ABs... that just not what I have found. Most common reason is that they don't know anything about the specific airframe. If you are paying for a bare bones Part 43 Appendix D inspection then you are getting ripped off and most likely flying with some issues that were never checked.

    As for a motor, the value is more in the logbooks than the metal. There is a reason why you can buy an airboat IO-360 for a few grand vs $30k+
     
  20. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Once a “certified” engine operates on an experimental it’s no longer a certified engine.

    Finding A&Ps to work on exps is easy in my area.

    To build an E-AB is supposed to be educational. It has been in my case, but building a standard category plane was, too. The difference is that I can sign off my condition inspection on my exp. Nobody is more invested in my safety than me.
     
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  21. Ravioli

    Ravioli Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    @DMD3. - you have a companion thread to this one over on VAF. Linked here for the lazy: https://vansairforce.net/community/showthread.php?t=196497&highlight=gear+head

    Are you going to correlate the data from both sites and let us all know?

    I am mechanically inept and own and RV6A. All of the work is done by an A&P. Parts are cheaper. And he can make the part if needed, so there's some savings to be had.

    Mostly I think the old adage holds true for exp and certificated planes: "Don't worry about what to do with your extra money. You have a plane now. There won't be any extra money."
     
  22. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    Most builders certainly do have the ability to maintain the aircraft they have built. No one knows the aircraft a builder has constructed the way they do.

    For my build I have the plans, wiring diagrams, part numbers, receipts, alterations, photos, builder's log, and any research papers that were used in the construction of the aircraft. I have the phase one testing info for various speeds, loadings, & flight envelopes. Even with that having another set of trained eyes look it over will sometimes find things that could have been missed or need to be changed. EAA has some very talented folks that assist builders and do follow ups along the way. I was blessed to have a mentor that was an airplane builder that was very knowledgeable walk me through my second build (the plane I have now).

    Your point is a good one; especially for those that buy instead of build. Yet it's also true that some people are just not mechanically minded. That's OK too as aircraft mechanics need to earn a living too ...
     
  23. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    The one thing I haven't seen mentioned is the additional cost for insurance on an E/AB. My last quote was $6,000 for $160 hull coverage. $5,300 for $100K hull.

    The 182-RG that I had before was "only" $1,200.

    That additional $4-5K could pay for a lot of maintenance.

    Then again, the only certificated single engine piston airplanes that can meet/beat my Velocity TAS cost a LOT more to purchase. So there's that.
     
  24. pfarber

    pfarber Pre-takeoff checklist

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    1. No, once you remove the data plate its no longer certified. If an AD lists your engine by SERIAL NUMBER you have to comply. If an non-A&P works on the motor, it can 100% be signed off for installation in a certified airframe once the previous work is signed off by an A&P. Take off that data plate, its never going back unless as a core. Please see AD 39-7D for clarification.

    2. Your place is not every place. My place is not your place.

    3. 'Recreational' or 'educational'. The repairman cert for E/AB makes complete sense, something the FAA did right. Sadly, most people are not much smarter about airplanes after building one that I believe the repairman certification should only be awarded after some sort of training. Maybe not as in depth as an the E/LSA, but definitely at least 16 hours of 'this is not right' kinda training and actually doing a full Part 43 Appendix D inspection.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
  25. DMD3.

    DMD3. Pre-takeoff checklist

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  26. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    From a legal perspective, you are correct. From a practical perspective, you are wrong. No mechanic I have asked will install an engine in a certified plane, even with perfect logs by an A/P. The answer provided was, send it to an engine shop and treat it as an engine core for trade in.

    Tim


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  27. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    I guess its good to be me!

    I love my exp. I love my Cessna, too. I have a very clear vision of pros and cons of E-AB vs standard category!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2021
  28. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    To be specific, an engine can only be considered “certificated” if it has been maintained in accordance with par 43 and conforms to the TCDS for the engine. So, to install an engine that has been on an EAB on a standard category aircraft requires a conformity check and entry in the log. So to me that means every nut and bolt on it had better have a paper trail.
     
  29. tspear

    tspear En-Route

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    I agree, and disagree with @pfarber position. And like I said from a practical perspective, I was told send it to an engine shop and get an overhaul and treat it just as an engine core.

    Tim
     
  30. pfarber

    pfarber Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not that drastic.. its fairly easy to see if a bolt has a AN/NAS/MS stamping. An A&P could easily do a IRAN and sign off. Now if the MX simply doesn't want to touch it that's not the same thing as how hard it would be to get it back into legal status.

    But once that data plate is gone.. its 100% a mystery
     
  31. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So, who is removing data plates, and what are they doing with them?
     
  32. pfarber

    pfarber Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Its the only way you could legally get out of an AD that would be issued against an engine by serial number when that engine is used in an E/AB. Otherwise, if there is an AD issued against Lycoming IO-360 SN range 1000-2000 and you have a data plate with IO-360 SN 1500 you must comply. Yes, ADs do apply to E/ABs under specific circumstances.

    Data plates are discussed in AC 45-3A.
     
  33. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Ask your insurer about your experimental. From what I understand they're pricey. Oh, and how are you going to get any training? The FAA bolluxed that pretty badly not that long ago. I think the biggest advantage to experimental aircraft is if you buy a completed example the labor to make it is essentially free.
     
  34. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Insurance is no big deal. No problem with training, either.
     
  35. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    You obviously haven't been paying attention lately.
     
  36. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Paying attention to what. The experimental airplane I own? How does my experience differ from your experimental ownership experience?
     
  37. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The FAA has issued a letter stating that if an instructor is getting paid in a experimental it's contrary to regulations or something like that - details coming soon. A literal reading of the letter says commonly accepted stuff- getting instruction in an airplane you own, allowing "sport" instructors to give instruction in any aircraft without a commercial ticket, and probably a bunch more are not allowed.

    https://download.aopa.org/advocacy/2021/0604_FAA_letter_to_AOPA_GAMA_EAA.pdf

    THread here: https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...-training-policy-change-experimentals.132753/
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
  38. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    I know about that but it won’t concern me until somebody gets prosecuted for providing actual flight instruction. And then I’ll blow off getting any flight reviews because of it. But I expect the FAA will get it straightened out before it becomes a problem.
     
  39. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    What kind of experimental aircraft do you have where insurance "is no big deal"? Or are you saying that you don't carry insurance so it's no big deal? Or that you have so much money that the additional cost of insurance is no big deal?

    Because every single person I know flying an E/AB is paying significantly more for insurance than they would for a comparable certified aircraft.
     
  40. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Exp Supercub. Avemco. Rate appears to be similar to that for my Cessna when adjusted for insured value.