Experimental Aircraft

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by brien23, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Experimental aircraft make up almost 10% of all general aviation. Experimentals also accounted for about 15% of the accidents and 21% of fatalities. Is their one that stands out, I have noticed Lancair and RV-8 seem to be listed a lot in the NTSB is that because their are so many of them.
     
  2. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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  3. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ron Wanttaja (as HB points out) has done a lot of stats. Yeah, lots of RV's out there.
    My recollection is that once you get past the first few flights (we've speculated a number of reasons for this) where the Ex-AB crash record is egregious (I believe there's a statistic of about 1-in-4 involving injury or substantial damage), the safety rate is about the same as for comparable factory aircraft.
     
  4. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Cleared for Takeoff

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    Might want to note that your statistics are 5+ years old. More current safety record information can be found in numerous EAA articles. You'll be challenged to find a particular airframe that is inherently more 'dangerous' than another. The category of experimental is much more broad than kit planes flying for leisure. You'll find race planes, prototypes, kit planes and scratch build one of a kind designs all lumped together. Can't statistically back it but I would be prone to say that kit planes that have the most examples flying would be a safer bet than scratch build planes with only a few models out there.
     
  5. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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    10% in numbers, or 10% in hours flown?
     
  6. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

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    I can tell you from experience, going from Cessna and Pipers to a little experimental that is so much more responsive, and is so much less forgiving requires a very steep learning curve, very strict attention to detail and a lot of planning (and flying the plan)! You can't just hop in one and go fly during those first few hours. My first flight in my Sonerai lasted 45 minutes and scared the bejesus out of me. Even though I thought I was ready for it, the landing and roll out was very dramatic. I could easily imagine myself losing control and heading off the runway for a violent ground loop. I think the only reason I didn't was shear luck that first time.

    Before, flying Cessnas, I couldn't imagine getting too slow and stalling in the pattern. Now, in the little Sonerai, I have to be a lot more attentive to airspeed. It takes a little bit to get it slowed down. But, once its at pattern speed, it can slow to Vs0 in a heartbeat. I've niggled at the stall unintentionally once; it was quite an eye opener.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
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  7. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Don’t know anything about a Sonerai but I find the Vans airplanes to be incredibly easy to fly and not really any more difficult to land than my Cherokee.
     
  8. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    If one doesn't want increased risk, the old pilot's adage of "Never fly the 'A' model of anything!"
    is a good policy no matter whether it's Experimental or Certified. For first and early home built Experimental flights, add to that the typical increased risk scenario of a builder/pilot that has for one or more YEARS forgone much if not all of their flying for the sake of spending the time in their shop to finish the new bird. I know I did.
     
  9. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've only flown an RV once, years ago. Did the demo ride in the RV-6 demonstrator before they moved to Aurora. Haven't been able to finagle any RV time since. So, I really wouldn't know.
     
  10. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Yea I guess my point was there are a lot of experimentals out there that are just as easy (or close to it) to fly as a 172/Cherokee
     
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  11. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    I can't speak for the rv8 but the lancair is nothing like the certified general aviation planes I have flown.
    The lancair instructor taught me to cross numbers at 90 kts landing. sitting on the ground I can barely see over the nose; in the flare, the nose blocks all forward visibility. I have to use peripheral vision to stay aligned with the runway. The tires are tiny and absorb little impact. The gear is rigid and the wheel travel is only about 2 inches. touchdown must be smooth or you will bounce. The elevator of my small tail lacks the authority to hold the nose off once the mains touch. slips are completely ineffective in my lancair. These characteristics are unlike any certified plane I have been in.
    The low drag means a lancair will pick up speed very quickly when pointed down. The small tail likely contributes to the reputation of Lancairs being unrecoverable in a spin. I hear they don't recommend stall recovery training in them anymore considering it unnecessary risk.
    The faster stall and landing speed means more energy in a crash.
     
  12. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    [​IMG]
    I'm actually in a middle of major analysis for a series of magazine articles. Don't want to steal too much of my own thunder, but.....

    As Cap'n Thorpe points out, the basis for the accident rate computation...as in accidents per flight hour or the fleet rate alone, is key. The estimates provided by the FAA are very coarse....They estimate the annual flight hours for GA aircraft based on the number of seats, with a separate estimate for experimental aircraft. So, according to the FAA estimate, all the Aero Commander Larks out there fly the same number of hours per year as the Piper Malibus.

    Using that method, EAB aircraft have an accident rate per 100,000 flight hours about 2-3 times higher than overall GA.

    But there is a problem with that. The majority of the hours in the overall GA hour estimate are business or commercial...while the overwhelming majority of the hours for homebuilts is recreation. That's not a fair comparison for a number of reasons. Here's an example...according to the FAA estimate, if an RV builder owns a Cessna 172 during construction of his airplane, he'll fly that RV only half as much, once it's done.

    So I tend to go on the basis of the "Fleet Accident Rate": The average number of aircraft of a given type that has an accident in a given year. I just recently posted this image of the Fleet Rate for a variety of production-type airplanes.
    [​IMG]
    Where do homebuilts fall in this? Well, that's the analysis I'm currently working on. But I ran it about four years ago:

    Overall: Homebuilts have a fleet rate about 0.73%...roughly about 15% higher than the GA rate. Neither of these numbers reflect the FAA's prediction of the number of ACTIVE airplanes, nor the fact that, due to registration anomalies, the homebuilt fleet is actually 16% larger than the official figure.

    I'm about to run the Fleet Rate for a selection of homebuilt designs. The last time I did this was in 2013, so let me run that data up.

    The Overall Homebuilt Fleet Rate then was 0.75%. Individual types:
    RV-6: 0.68%
    RV-8: 0.39%
    Glasair: 0.85%
    Glastar: 0.81%
    Zenair CH-701: 0.91%
    Lancair IV: 1.33%
    Searey: 1.24%
    Kitfox: 1.06%
    RANS S-7: 0.60%
    Sonex: 0.49% (all models)
    Velocity: 1.21%

    This is rather old data, but like I said, I'll be updating it soon.

    As I've mentioned before, I don't see the Lancair IV accident rate being critically bad. It's a high-performance aircraft with the same performance envelope as a Curtiss P-40. Performing a no-damage forced landing in the event of an engine failure is problematic.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
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  13. Norman

    Norman En-Route Gone West

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    My point of view may differ as I've only flown in one experimental and that was with an airline pilot who built one for fun.Most are conscientious pilots looking for fun things to fly but there are also daredevils.

    Years ago I saw a dust cloud short of Nine Right at my home field. It was a builder trying to determine why an aileron was fluttering. He asked the tower for a fast pass and the result cost him his life. It was not pretty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
  14. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    I think my -9A is actually easier to fly than a Cherokee or 172 in some respects. Virtually no adverse yaw, huge rudder to handle serious crosswinds and stall speed is 39 KIAS at solo weight.

    Hard to make any generalizations about Experimental safety as the range of airframes goes from ultra-squirrely to super-docile.
     
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  15. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I'm sure the data exist but I would be interested in seeing the data broken down further to accident caused. Pilot error, construction error etc.. In general experimental airplanes are going to be more sporty than a comparable certified airplane. Airplanes are pretty robust vehicles even when built poorly. The amount of poor workmanship on most RV's I see is pretty shocking yet they fly just fine for many years.
     
  16. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    My dad really wants a 9A...I’d like something aerobatic capable, but i wouldn’t complain about a 9A! I agree it is silly to generalize experimentals
     
  17. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I like the 9 with a O-235 on it, don't really see the point in it if you are going to run over 150 hp as it doesn't really perform much different than a 7.
     
  18. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Interesting..I don’t know a lot about the -9. Always looked at the other models. They are all nice airplanes
     
  19. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    The I0-320 is the ticket for the higher cruising speed...throttle back and it'll be just as economical as the smaller engine working harder. But we agree that the -9 is said to fly quite nicely with an O-235, and it does reduce the nose gear loading a bit. It's no Questair (!) but it'll do roughly Mooney numbers in performance cruise.

    I went with the -9 because of its low landing speed and slightly more relaxed control response. FP prop for reduced cost/complexity, yet it'll still climb at 1900 fpm on a cool day with me aboard and half fuel. I like aerobatics, but prefer to do them with my rc planes...to me, it's so much cooler to see the maneuver from outside the aircraft, and no Dramamine required.
     
  20. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Wowzers 1900fpm...must be nice
     
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  21. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Data's a few years old, but hasn't changed much. It's from a presentation I give for the DOT.
    [​IMG]


    Ron Wanttaja
     
  22. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    As far as just aircraft handling goes, it's mostly a recent and proper currency in Make and Model by the test pilot and/or owner. If unavailable, the closet thing that flies has to do.
     
  23. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Yep. 1900 FPM at 110 KIAS in my 160 hp Glasair also. It's just not climb rate though. The responsiveness and visibility are huge selling points over certified.
     
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  24. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    Once you get a taste of experimental airplanes it's hard to go back to a certified one. Even high performance certified aircraft owners are happy to see 1000 fpm while I get about 3k fpm at max rate and still over 2k at 160-170 knots.
     
  25. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I like doing some mild aerobatics but agree that the hard core stuff is better viewed from the ground. To each their own but if I built an RV some day with 150 hp or more in mind it would be hard to sacrifice the aerobatic capability of the 7 in favor of the 9. If I had an o-235 or 0-290 laying around I would build the 9 all day as I personally think it's a better looking airplane with the longer wing and tail.
     
  26. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    Oh someday I'll get those numbers...it'll be a Glasair III though. :)
     
  27. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    I'll gladly slow down to admire that beauty when you do ;-)
     
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  28. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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  29. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Get a -7 and you'll have the best of both worlds.
     
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  30. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    Touche! lol A Questair has won before as well though! All kidding aside I've always loved the Glasair III. It has huge ramp appeal with it's muscular lines and tall landing gear but once the gears are up I love the more fluid lines of the Venture. I think the Glasair is the better all around airplane with it's stouter build and more aerobatic capabilities. In my opinion the Venture is the better cross country machine with it's more comfortable seating position, faster speeds, lower fuel burn, and side sticks that are out of the way when cruising. I like the all metal construction over fiberglass as well. The Glasair is a much easier plane to work on though.

    http://reports.airrace.org/2010/2010.SuperSport.Gold.Results.Report.html
     
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  31. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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    I'm wondering how Lavelle is getting those kind of numbers from a Glasair III??? From what I've read, he doesn't even have that many mods on it. IIIs have never been that great in the sport class. Always dominated by Lancair.
     
  32. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man Pattern Altitude

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    Lots of HP!! That is all that class is about. There was an article in one of the aviation magazines where they talk about the sport and how it's a wallet race now with who is most willing to grenade an engine in a weekend. Mike Dacey decided to no longer compete because the power levels required to compete were just getting too crazy. They are running big turbos, water meth injection, FADEC controls. The race is as much about engine management as it is piloting skills. Knowing how hard to push your engine so that it last to the last lap. A lot of the guys are running 8 cylinder lycoming engines now with Turbos. The Thunder Mustang's have v12 or v16 engines, I know at least one Lancair is running an IO-720 twin turbo as well as Relentless. Most of them are making over 600 hp in the gold class.
     
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  33. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Easy there Francis... The A models of RV's are nose gear vs tail wheel. That can't possibly be what those old guys meant.
     
  34. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    Probly a typo...
     
  35. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    I’d want a 7 or 14 maybe even an 8
     
  36. CC268

    CC268 En-Route

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    Well I’m happy if my Cherokee 140 even lifts off the ground :p
     
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  37. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Said it before, I started looking at a 4. Ended up with 6A.

    If you're buying a flying RV, the differences in the 6 and 7 are very few. Well, except for the prices :(
     
  38. Llewtrah381

    Llewtrah381 Filing Flight Plan

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    Somewhere I heard the accident rate in Experimentals is quite a bit higher for the later owners than the builder. Can’t remember where I saw that or any specifics. Has your research shown that? Seems plausible, especially for aircraft considerably different from traditional trainers, etc. (i.e. I’d anticipate it would be true for Lancairs, etc. and less so for RVs maybe). If so, it could suggest a focus for reducing accident rates.
     
  39. yakdriver

    yakdriver Cleared for Takeoff

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    A big percentage of the experimental accidents happen in the initial testing phaze. Several years ago the FAA started to allow an experienced pilot to go along with the builder during the test phaze. Most builders want to be the first guy to fly the airplane and I can understand that but a lot of them just don't have the skills. As far as experimentals I have a lot of experience both building and flying and find most to be well within most pilots skill level with proper training. The Vans line of airplanes are the best kits and all have very nice docile flying qualities. I have flown all of them except the 3 and 14. I think the 14 will be the best of all worlds with a roomier cockpit and the flaps from the 10. Don
     
  40. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why would Kitfox be so high, seems like a good design low speed?

    The Overall Homebuilt Fleet Rate then was 0.75%. Individual types:
    RV-6: 0.68%
    RV-8: 0.39%
    Glasair: 0.85%
    Glastar: 0.81%
    Zenair CH-701: 0.91%
    Lancair IV: 1.33%
    Searey: 1.24%
    Kitfox: 1.06%
    RANS S-7: 0.60%
    Sonex: 0.49% (all models)
    Velocity: 1.21%