Has Advanced Aero priced themselves out of market

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by will44s, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. will44s

    will44s Pre-Flight

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    Looking at kits again now that I am in a position to build and my searching has narrowed to the same suspects as years past. Such as Velocity, Tango, Rv8, and Glasair II. All of these were reasonably priced with the Rv8 being significantly cheaper.
    Anyway come to find out you can't actually buy a Glasair I, II, or III any more since Advanced Aero bought the line up. In the process of ditching fiberglass for carbon fiber the price has skyrocketed to around 100 thousand dollars for the airframe only.
    This is probably old news to most of you but I just don't understand why they would do this. Used to have a niche for fast and cheap, now they have to compete with the likes of Lanceair in a much smaller market.

    I guess its more rambling than a question... Is Velocity the last affordable retract kit out there?
     
  2. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I don’t follow kit planes, but I can’t believe they weren't carbon all along. If you understood the differences between carbon fiber and fiberglass you would understand why they did this.
     
  3. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Nice answer.
    If everyone understood everything, then we would have no need for questions.
     
  4. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Glasair went out of business with the old non-CF lineup, so the market has spoken.

    What the market will say about the upgraded kits, who knows.
     
  5. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    He didn’t ask any questions regarding Advanced Aero, I was just commenting.
     
  6. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    I'm curious about what you believe the issues are.

    My 1998-2017 homebuilt accident database shows 4041 total accidents, including 94 involving the Glasair. About 1.9% of the overall accidents involved structural issues...but none of the Glasair ones.

    Is there some other issue other than safety you're alluding to?

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  7. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I'm questioning my understanding of your answer. ;)
     
  8. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    No, the issue is these are a premium kit and I would have thought they were using premium materials all along. Lighter and stronger is a rather common quality desirable in an aircraft. With this change in materials and other mods they are going to get a few more knots out of some already fast airplanes.
     
  9. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Hmmm. I dunno.

    The Glasair III has 81 square feet of wing area, which means there's about 160 square feet, top and bottom. Let's assume the entire aircraft has 500 square feet of surface. We don't know what weight of cloth they use, but let's assume it's 16 oz (basically a pound for each square foot). That's 55 square yards, so if we're talking two plies of fiberglass both inside and outside, that's a total of 220 square yards, or 220 pounds of fiberglass cloth in a 1600-pound airframe.

    How much could carbon fiber cut that down? Once source I found says that CF is about 60% stronger than fiberglass. So, engineering issues aside, we can assume it saves roughly half the weight. 110 pounds using the above assumptions...but let's double-down and assume the aircraft empty weight is reduced by 200 pounds. Roughly the weight of a passenger.

    So... is the Glasair III *that* much faster when it's not carrying anyone in the right seat?

    Sure, speed will be improved to some extent, as will climb. But then we get to the cost of the whole thing.

    Doing some quick research, looks like there's a 5:1 ratio in cost for carbon fiber to standard cloth. In addition, you have additional engineering to accomplish. If nothing else, parts made with fewer plies of CF will be thinner, which will affect the way things fit together.

    So...how much additional performance are you getting for how much additional cost? Again, we're talking the difference in performance between a solo and a loaded standard Glasair. You're not going to see that much.

    The biggest detriment to Glasair performance is that that design is about forty years old. It would probably see more benefit from a Lopresti-style drag reduction program than limited use of lighter materials.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
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  10. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I believe a clean up was what they were doing, maybe not.
     
  11. will44s

    will44s Pre-Flight

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    Thanks for the answers guys. I had no idea Glasair bailed because it wasn't profitable.
    Now I'm wondering how these home gamers are building with carbon fiber. As an A&P we generally don't do field repairs on carbon fiber.
    1. It's a specialized trade skill most mechanics don't possess.
    2. The resins have a very short shelf life so materials are never on hand.
    3. Requires special expensive tools like vacuum bags and autoclaves.
     
  12. Fastglas

    Fastglas Pre-takeoff checklist

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    CF can be repaired with normal fiberglass if needed. Vacuum bagging is not necessary since the “factory” will pre-form all surfaces. As a home builder, you are generally doing normal binding of surfaces like leading edges, seams, or brackets, that sort of thing. And you are mostly using normal fiberglass with the CF kits when doing so. It is the same thing you would do actually with a normal fiberglass kit too. Just the major surfaces are carbon fiber and not fiberglass. Surprisingly, the resins used are all the same too. So no change there either. EAA has these composite classes that are great. 2 days each class and are held all over the place.

    https://www.eaa.org/Shop/SAW/Workshop_Details.aspx?workshop=composite_construction&id=2701758

    I think that Glasair went out of business because their kits were too difficult to put together relative to the other options out there. They suffered from the same lament that builders say about Lancair too. You need 3500 to 5000 build hours to put one of these things together. Compared with Vans RVs that are reputed to be a 1500 to 2000 hour builds, some even less. And this is the slow build estimate.

    I think the low wing Glasairs actually got kind of squeezed in the middle. They had a kit took too long to put together and were mid-priced, as compared to Lancair. Lancair went towards the more expensive end of the market where many buyers could afford to hire builders. And, Vans took the lower end of the market away. You were left with a shrinking mid-market that was being sniped.

    I personally don’t think there are many individuals left out there willing to put in the 4000 hours of effort to build a plane anymore. It is a significant undertaking. Even Vans is moving to more simpler build kits — look at the RV12s — 800 hours or less. That is a walk in the park by comparison.
     
  13. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Line Up and Wait

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    Actually, you can also look at the AeoCad AeroCanard. You can buy pre-built sub kits so you build as much or as little from plans as you want. And, several different versions are available. They are on my “eventually “ list.

    Also, there are a lot of flying Glasairs for sale, and the POA consensus is a flying experimental plane gives you the most bang for your buck. Just do a thorough pre-buy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  14. Natti Notti

    Natti Notti Filing Flight Plan

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    Looking at their FB page (Advanced.Aero), the last update they had was Aug 3rd, 2919. Hardly any excitement about their new CF G2/G3. Agree, their kit is way too much overpriced and better is to look elsewhere ( ex: DarkAero1 :) ), their kit is 30K cheaper.
     
  15. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    It may be $30k cheaper, but I don't think it actually exists.
     
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  16. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    I don't think you can compare a proven design that has been flying for many years with 3 guys making CAD videos.
     
  17. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    I’ll sell you an even better design that never flew for only $10k.
     
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  18. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    Now don't forget the Raptor. That's going to have a 300 knot cruise speed and cost $130K....
     
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  19. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach

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    When buying a kit the carbon fiber vs fiberglass debate would be the last thing on my mind. After working on transport category aircraft for 10 years its pretty obvious the cost of CF easily doesn't pan out for all the applications where it could be used.

    Personal airplanes cost enough and saving what less than 5% weight for another 20% higher costs doesn't make sense to me.

    Homebuilt --sloppy built carbon aircraft could easily weigh more than a proper built FG airplane. I've played with more resin and FG and CF than the average Joe and it really is an art, and the most concerning aspects of building an airplane would be environmental factors, temp and humidity impacts resin in huge ways, how it lays down, wets out the fabric etc. The temperature swing in my part of the country made it hard enough to build trims pieces and small fairings, can't imagine trying to build an entire airplane with it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
  20. donjohnston

    donjohnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    And we have really good example of that with the raptor.

    I did all the composite work on my plane while I lived in the Chicago area. True, you can't do it outside or in an unheated garage, but I wouldn't want to buck rivets at 30 degrees either.
     
  21. Stan Cooper

    Stan Cooper Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    If I were 20 years younger, I'd jump on the Falcomposite Furio-RG. It's a CFRP recreation of Stelio Frati's F.8L Falco with airframe kit executed in pre-manufactured CF pieces that are bonded together by the builder, greatly reducing completion time. The CF airframe kit is US$64k (NZ$94,225).
    Furio-RG.jpg
     
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  22. Natti Notti

    Natti Notti Filing Flight Plan

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    I was watching them too, and it is interesting kit. My only concern is not too many of them flying either and hard to find any opinions on them. As far as DA1 goes, I would put them leap and ages in front of Raptor guy. Yes, the kit doesn't fly yet, but it will. The build quality is superb (as far as one can judge based on YT videos) and shop setup in a hangar is clean, well organized. It is not about "making videos" it is about building a plane.
     
  23. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    They're 3 very smart brothers. One is an aerospace engineer. My problem with them...when we first heard about them the first flight test was supposed to be 2018. We're days away from 2021 and they just got a prop. Theyre probably 12-18 months away from getting it in the air. Raptor guy at this stage still had help, and it showed promise. Then help left and his engineering prowess took over. The specs on dark aero are probably pie in the sky numbers. I don't like the theoretical. Now, I'm not saying I don't think it will fly. I just would like to see it in the air before I put a deposit down. And numerous prospective kit options never materialize for one reason or another. Usually money related. After years of not having a normal income after quitting their day jobs...making videos is their income.
     
  24. Natti Notti

    Natti Notti Filing Flight Plan

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    I have few problems with them too:
    - I don't like their idea to use split rudder. They somehow think if they borrow every sexy thing from B1 or Space Shuttle, it will make it happen. But it adds more risks and complexity for such a small airplane.
    - They build crazy speedster (according to specs), and it will be very small niche for them further limiting their upside.
    - I don't like tadpole designed airplanes. Not only it looks ugly in my eyes, somehow I feel this adds to a risk of flutter.

    But I can't deny their skills, quality and desire to build things. After all not so many folks build their own cure oven in the garage. I'd be happy if they'd just copied G3 in its carbon reincarnation with competitive kit price. But this is a wishful thinking, lol.

    BTW I reached out to Advanced Aero with my questions on their G2/G3 kits about price, options and fast build program and I hear no answer.
     
  25. Justin in Seattle

    Justin in Seattle Filing Flight Plan

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    Regarding the Glasair G3 kits... Last week I reached out to Advanced Aero with a serious inquiry regarding purchasing a G3 kit. So far radio silence, but this is a holiday weekend in the USA, so I'll give it another couple of days.

    The G3 "heritage" kits with the updated windscreen, larger tail, and other modifications look fantastic, IMHO. The Advanced Aero facebook page shows two very nice G3 kits in production, but that page hasn't been updated since 2019. Not a good sign. If they are no longer in production, it would be a nice courtesy for Advanced Aero to post an update saying so.

    With the Lancair Barracuda, formerly "Legacy", moving into non-kit territory, the available kit options for the 300 hp / 300 mph speedsters of yesteryear are growing thin. BTW, the Lancair factory in Uvalde, TX builds the Barracuda for you now starting at $350K, they don't sell Barracuda kits anymore (if they ever did?).

    If you want something significantly faster than a Van's, it seems like the F1 Rocket from F1Aircraft is the only viable choice.
     
  26. Natti Notti

    Natti Notti Filing Flight Plan

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    They priced themselves out for sure. GA trends don't look healthy (based on local airport traffic and gas consumption) and 100K kit doesn't makes any economical sense today. And their silence speaks for it. Thanks for the ideas, but Barracuda is way out of my budget. I am looking into GS2/3, Lancair 360/Legacy. Vans is another option, solid manufacturer, proven design and huge community. I looked at Breezer, those folks didn't reply to my requests. And European LSAs look more expensive than ever. Seems like a dead end w/o no end in sight. And looking at latest Avweb YT video on insurance market just adds more distaste to the whole picture. I hope GA survives before I start flying! :D
     
  27. Datadriver

    Datadriver Line Up and Wait

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    DarkAero: you can't buy one today
     
  28. Justin in Seattle

    Justin in Seattle Filing Flight Plan

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    Sadly, we've seen the end of the Lancair and Glasair II/III kits. There might be some unfinished kits out there for sale, but once those are gone, then they're gone forever. The new Lancair in Uvalde, TX is supporting the existing fleet but is no longer producing kits for sale, as confirmed by their new owner. The new owner of the Glasair II and III designs, Advanced Aero Components, isn't answering phones or email (after the G3 acquisition they shipped two G3 kits with updated tail, gear, and canopy, then disappeared without a trace). The EAA SportAir workshops, which in the past offered a dedicated class on "Composite Construction", don't seem to have a composite class scheduled, although they have pretty much everything else scheduled.

    I'm curious to see how the DarkAero plane shapes up, but the prototype isn't even flying yet, let alone ready for mass kit production. I'd guess it'll be at least a couple of years before DarkAero flies, has all its issues worked out, is productionalized as a kit, and finally starts shipping to customers. I hope they can reinvigorate the composite kit industry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
  29. Natti Notti

    Natti Notti Filing Flight Plan

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    At least they got spinner!

    I was thinking about getting kit for Lancair/Glasair too, and I saw one recently. 26 years old, 3 previous owners, stored under tarp shade on bare ground. Fiberglass skin feels soaked all the moisture it can, rusty gear disks, dust inside closed wings. It is not worth even half of the asking price and dangerous to fly if it would be completed. So, I am saving on Cirrus :D. Or will go RV-14 or RV-10 if I find a way to install turbonormalized engine on it which can take UL94/Swift fuel.
     
  30. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When the Glasair was originally developed carbon fiber was out of reach for mere mortals. As Ron Wanttaja points out, there is no deficiency with the airframe that carbon fiber would cure. Back in the heyday of Glasair I watched Bob Herendeen rip the sky up with a Glasair III in one of the more impressive piston plane shows I've seen in person. Nothing fell off.

    Switching a layup from prepreg glass to prepreg carbon doesn't automatically save weight (7oz/yard cloth weighs the same no matter what it's made of). To save weight you have to re-engineer the entire layup schedule and do a lot of analysis. It's not as simple as just leaving layers of of the laminate because you lose significant stiffness.
     
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