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! PoA Supporter

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    Nice answer.
    If everyone understood everything, then we would have no need for questions.
     
    Shuswap BC, TCABM and hindsight2020 like this.
  4. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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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