Metal vs fabric, experimental vs production aircraft

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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N701RB
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Metal vs fabric, experimental vs production aircraft

Postby N701RB » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:24 pm

Hi all,
Within the next few months, I'll be in the position to purchase an LSA-elegible production or homebuilt airplane. I have spent many hours on the net, studying "name brand"aircraft such as the Luscombe, Champ and T-Craft. I have also entertained the thought of buying a pre-owned experimental. At the top of my kit plane list would be the CH701, Kitfox, GT500 and the Xair H model. I'm hoping not to spend over $40,000.00.
Whatever I end up with will either be hangared or kept at home in an enclosed cargo trailer(if it's equipped with folding wings). Any advice on these issues would be most appreciated! :wink:

rsteele
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Postby rsteele » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:49 am

I think weather you go experimental or production is matter of how comfortable you feel about doing your own maintenance, and if you feel the need to do upgrades to the plane. If you just want to buy it and fly it, there is little advantage to experimental. If you want to do your own maintenance, and have some capability to do it, you can probably save some money on your operational costs by going with an experimental.

If you feel the need to have fancy new instruments (EFIS etc) then the cost in an experimental is about 1/10 the cost of certified.

You will have many more aircraft to choose from if you include experimentals. In either case, make sure you know what you are buying.

Ron
(building a Zenith CH650)

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CharlieTango
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Postby CharlieTango » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:15 pm

ron,

don't you have to be the builder to do your own maintenance on an experimental?

if you buy a completed experimental can you still do the maintenance?

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rfane
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Postby rfane » Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:35 pm

CharlieTango wrote:don't you have to be the builder to do your own maintenance on an experimental?

if you buy a completed experimental can you still do the maintenance?


Anyone can do the maintenance on an experimental. The original builder gets the authority to sign off the annual inspection on the aircraft he built.
Roger Fane
Former owner of a 2006 Flight Design CTsw

rsteele
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Postby rsteele » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:51 pm

rfane wrote:
CharlieTango wrote:don't you have to be the builder to do your own maintenance on an experimental?

if you buy a completed experimental can you still do the maintenance?


Anyone can do the maintenance on an experimental. The original builder gets the authority to sign off the annual inspection on the aircraft he built.


Exactly. The annual must be done by the original builder or an A&P. But anyone can do the work. It's also worth noting that while anyone can get a repairman certificate for an LSA, with relatively minimal training, it takes factory authorization to make changes to an LSA, for instance instruments different from those installed at the factory.

And a caveat. If you are thinking of buying a nearly completed experimental, be aware that only the original builder can get the airworthyness certificate, so unless the seller is willing to do this, you are buying a pile of parts that can't be certificated for flight.

Ron

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N701RB
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Postby N701RB » Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:09 pm

Although I would never buy someone else's half finished "headache", That is good advice Ron! Never knew that! :shock:

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Postby Cub flyer » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:03 am

They all have pros and cons.

Taylorcraft has exhaust system that requires you to remove the engine to remove. Has AD's on the wing attach fittngs. hard to get in and out. Mickey mouse brakes and poor visibility. yoke throw is huge and wheels are small. Very odd.

Luscombe has an amazing variety of structures and model changes. If it is a light one with fuselage tank you need to take off with carb heat to keep from starving the engine. Watch for corrosion issues. Flies well. Cabin is a little small.

Champ almost every one has some wing spar problem or crach somewhere. Oleo struts need the correct pistons and parts, good cabin room, there are quite a few SB and some AD's but most have been complied with years ago. Some versions are hard to drain water from the tank. Great visibility.

Chief has odd yokes in the way. needs more attention on the ground handling, lots of pitch changes with power. same troubles as the champ above. Watch gross weight if changes have been done. check vertical fin size if larger engines are installed.

Cub is hard to get in and out of the cockpit. Has nice handling and little adverse yaw or rudder needed on takeoff. Before 1946 the gross weight goes down and you have wood spars. The late metal spar airplanes are best. Most have been ridden hard and need a good inspection. Sealed struts are good. The originals are safe but the inspections can get tiresome. New strut forks are expensive . Tires and brakes are very expensive. Structure is tough.

X air H. Built one. Flew two years. It was a disaster. Not sure what improvements were done on the factory built airplanes but be careful. Lots of variations per serial number. Parts support was questionable. Check advertised performance figures and weights against real airplanes.
CHECK WING ATTACH FITTINGS. make sure they are the latest type.

X air standard. Flew one. Interesting visibility. Flew like Sh#$^ Probably was that particular airplane but if the importer could not make it fly well who can? Hard to get in and out of cabin. Easy maintenance but quality control problems with fiberglass parts. Good gear shocks.

Kitfox. Not earlier than a model IV. Many changes were made. Try to get the larger vertical fin. No true firewall is installed. Not well sealed to passenger compartment. Check number of balance weights on flaperons. Mig welded airframe tubing. Use tall tailwheel spring with bungee gear. Check all kitfox bulletins. There is a little bolt in the elevator pushrod that needs to be changed every 50 hours on the early ones. flies pretty good. Cabin is tight. many variations of gross weight and parts. Check what is installed carefully.

Avid. Watch for wood rot in the earlier models with wood flaperon hinges. Mostly the same things as Kitfox above.

Skyranger I have not flown one but the structure looked like something I did not want to get in. They have been successful so I'm probably all wrong.

Cub crafters cub. Flew like a mini PA-18. Had strong vertical vibration on downwind. With wood prop and O-200? Not sure why. No part or fittings exchange with J-3 so you are on your own if something happens to cub crafters. Nice built airplane. Some things seem needlessly complicated in construction.

Legend cub. Seems like the left door is just extra weight and complicates the controls. The wing attach fitting was similar to Wag Aero's fittings as just a flat tab. Piper built them different. Time will tell how it holds up. Structure appears copied from the PA-18-95 with the small tail. But wider and left door. I have not flown one. Quality looks nice.

Kappa. Has firewall mounted engine shock mounts. Worked great and the smoothest 912 I have flown. Real firewall but some aluminum parts are not fireproof. Common error on most LSA I have seen. Canopy might be trouble in high wind. Ailerons were a tad heavy in flight. Cabin room and elevator response were good. Stall characteristics had no warning and were scary. Flaps were needlessly complicated.

Tecnam. The latest EAA sport pilot has a good review of the Tecnam Eaglet. I wish all reviews were done in this fashion to give a good idea of how it flies. Why they would give an airplane for review with known rigging problems is beyond me. Stall characteristics did not sound the best. Stabiliator response in the flare sounded a little fishy too.

CT has been gone over many times.

The vagabond and PA-11 would be my top picks for certified. The PA-11 with add on nose gear has enough drag to keep it from floating. The stock PA-11 can float if approaching too fast. It is an easy tailwheel airplane to master. Flying qualities are excellent with great visibility and handling. Trim control location, carb heat and cabin heat are awkward locations. panel space is limited. heel brakes take getting used to. Cabin is easier than the J-3 to get in and out but not by much. Front seat solo and one 18 gallon tank in left wing. Don't go with the balanced elevators (PA-18 tail) watch the useful load with modifications. They add a lot of unneeded stuff. 85 hp does really help.

Vagabond is very compact with good cabin room. Quick precise handling and good stall characteristics. 95 mph on 65 hp. Main gear is slightly too short so it is easy to land tailwheel first. A little range limited with only 12 gallons. Light ones fly better. Many for sale have more tanks, adjustable seats, lights, larger engines, more stuff. Fly like a heavy tank with all that. The light stock PA-17 flies great. The PA-15 is also a vagabond but with a lycoming engine and no frills. Like no shocks, single controls, no heater no stripe. It flies well also but the lycoming is getting harder to support. Most have had a A-65 installed but they are limited to 1100 lb gross with no way to increase. The PA-17 is 1150 gross. Great tough little airplanes. Don't get too slow on landing. Sink rate increases fast. Use at least 65 mph. Visibility over the nose rivals some tricycle gear airplanes.

Most of the tailwheel airplanes above are hard to fly if the wheel is setup wrong or worn out. tailwheel springs wore out. Bent gear. We see it all and it makes a real bear out of some. Properly setup they are easy.


Hope it helps.

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Postby N701RB » Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:12 am

Thanks CF! Very useful info! I will definately look seriously at the PA11/15/17 series. I would also look hard at some experimental with folding wings. I alreadt own a 24' cargo trailer for storage and transport. Not too thrilled about having to rent a hangar for 2-3 hundred bucks a month!

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Postby flyboy2007 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:05 am

Hi, Just thought I would put my two cents in the mix. I have flown the skyranger about 20 hrs or so, and it is a very nice plane. Good cabin room, (I am 6'4") very nice performance and handling. Flies very nice, the one I flew had a 912ul and it was very impressive! Also for the price I think this has the most value for the dollar. Check on barnstormers or just look around at prices and compare to others of the same type, like the 701 or rans s-6 you get the idea. I am going to add one of these to my hangar this summer. Just my opinion. Happy flying!
"Keep on Draggin"

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Postby Cub flyer » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:24 am

One big advantage was the price over the S-6. I looked hard at the Skyranger and the X air initially. I went with the X because you were more inside the frame when seated. Both are enclosed cockpit but the cage shape is what counts in a crash. Both had the root tube supporting the nosewheel but not much protecting your feet. Also the aft fuselage was braced with tubing on the X air instead of cables in the skyranger. Both work ok but I liked the tubing better.

The S-6 has a welded steel front frame which encloses your feet and legs. That would be my preference. All the older airplanes are built this way.

Anybody fly a Highlander, apollo fox or Euro fox? The Eurofox seemed nice for the money.

Cub Crafters has a 180 hp sport pilot cub now.

http://www.cubcrafters.com/news_item.aspx?id=200

Maybe they'll make a version with lighter gear and lighter tires with tight fitting pants. Clip the wings three feet each side to get some useful load and remove the flaps. put the non balanced tail on, one 18 gallon tank. aerobatic capability? It would be a rocket.

Or just make a lighter version of what they have for fun flying. Price is expensive.

The 340 cu in engine fuel burn in cruise is comparable to the 912 with 2400 hour TBO. Check the engine tab. 80 hp continous seems low but might be for the LSA speed. A very different approach to LSA anyway.

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Postby LightSportFlyer » Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:17 pm

Cub flyer wrote:
Cub Crafters has a 180 hp sport pilot cub now.

http://www.cubcrafters.com/news_item.aspx?id=200

Maybe they'll make a version with lighter gear and lighter tires with tight fitting pants. Clip the wings three feet each side to get some useful load and remove the flaps. put the non balanced tail on, one 18 gallon tank. aerobatic capability? It would be a rocket.

Or just make a lighter version of what they have for fun flying. Price is expensive.

The 340 cu in engine fuel burn in cruise is comparable to the 912 with 2400 hour TBO. Check the engine tab. 80 hp continous seems low but might be for the LSA speed. A very different approach to LSA anyway.


Do you, or anyone, know anything about the engine they use in the Super Sport Cub - the ECI CC340 ? I haven't seen it used in any other LSA yet the manufacturer claims they have roots going back to 1943.

Would you feel comfortable trusting this engine as much as a Lyco or Conti ?

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Postby Cub flyer » Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:47 pm

I've not seen this engine in person. It is pretty interesting.

Here's some guesses from what info I've seen.

I am assuming they started with the Lycoming O-320 and modifed the crank and rods to stroke it to 340 cubic inch. Judging by the prop diameter in the prototype it is limited to 2700 RPM. The engine is 180 hp for takeoff limited to 5 min. then 80 hp continuous. By limiting to 80 hp you get longer TBO and less fuel burn. Also it may allow them to get away without an oil cooler. The airplane climbs 2100 FPM so long climbs are not needed.

The electronic ignition replaces one or both mags. Since they increased the compression ratio you need some form of spark advance and detonation sensing to protect the engine and for better fuel economy. I'm not sure if the empty weight of under 250 lbs includes the spark control box.

If it is truly 5 to 6 GPH in cruise near the LSA limit, with exposed struts, cables, bungees, old airfoil design, round tail brace wires, 29" off airport capable tundra tires and air cooling, what's the point of laminar flow and the associated complications?

It's a pretty neat and different approach to an LSA. I'd trust the engine. The aerobatic guys have done this for years with the IO-360 and seem to have found any problems. ECI has built parts quite a while and the experimental market has been a good testing ground. Will it last 2400 hours? Lycoming really derates their engines for longevity and this ECI engine is doing the same with the 80 hp max continuous. A Lycoming O-320 is rated for 150-160 hp continous. You can cruise redline RPM all day long. Stock O-320 TBO is 2000 hours. The Lycoming O-235 TBO is 2400 hours at 108 hp. or 115 depending on model. 80 hp for 2400 on the ECI seems easily possible.

I'm not sure how Cub Crafters identifies the 80 hp limit. Probably and altitude VS rpm chart. How this will work as the props wear is unknown. No ground adjustable allowed unless they include a manifold pressure guage and power setting chart. I imagine they'll be pretty specific on prop diameter and pitch.
"Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away." Antoine de Saint Exupery

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N701RB
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Postby N701RB » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:14 pm

Found this little gem on Barnstormers.com! Odd thing is, originally it had a bogus registration mumber 14PRZ! :shock: http://titanaircraft.com/gallery_pics/7 ... a58cdb.jpg Now it has an actual N number N624PZ.. http://images.barnstormers.com/tmp_imag ... CF1755.jpg

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Postby Cub flyer » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:06 am

A local guy has a Tornado II with 912S installed. It is a real rocket. Really performs. Not quiet with his current exhaust system. He's had it two years now with no problems that I know of.

I have not flown it yet. He says it is easy to fly and responsive.

There are some variations of models. Check with the factory for specs.

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N701RB
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about the rating itself

Postby N701RB » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:15 pm

I have all the hours required for the LSA ticket. I just need to purchase an LSA elegible aircraft, find a instructor that even knows what this "new" rating is and get current and pass the written and oral exams, right? Can any local CFI help me????


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