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Thread: Carplane Developers Criticize BiPod…and Burt responds

  1. #31
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    I think they're using only two legs of the tripod of the truly versatile vehicle the on-the-go person with an adventurous, glamorous lifestyle and huge amounts of disposable income demands .

    Yes, to be successful the "roadable aircraft" must also be a boat.
    Not just a boat, but a SAILboat. Yeah, that's the ticket. Just think how you'll tick off the greenies when you claim carbon credits for your autoboata'plane.

    Darn, that's a mouthful. Let's just call it a, "Gigerplane." Name:  pilot_beer4.gif
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    Ron Wanttaja

  2. #32
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Whiley View Post
    It would be interesting to better understand the reasons for the reluctance of pilots to own their own aircraft.
    I think that one's pretty easy, Nick. The top three reasons are:

    3. Money
    2. Money
    1. Money

    Owning an airplane truly sets you free to fly whereever and whenever you want, but it comes at a serious cost. One can adjust car ownership to match nearly any financial situation, but there appears to be an irreducible minimum as far as owning an airplane. The ability to bring one's airplane home saves on storage costs, but in a lot of the country, tiedown spots just aren't that expensive.

    One has to consider, too, how many pilots actually own garages they can bring an airplane TO. I would not want to park a Gigerplane in an apartment complex's parking lot.

    Maintenance is a major cost driver, and the biggest for uncertainty. My car gets by with an oil change every once in a while, but an airplane requires much more attention. Going Experimental helps, but a lot of folks just aren't comfortable with doing their own maintenance. A&P services are actually a bargain (the local Chevy dealer has a higher shop rate than most A&Ps), but the annual inspection mandates that an owner shell out a big chunk of money each year. Just an annual inspection will probably cost $1,000, plus all the things that have to be fixed.

    (Yes, I know you can do owner-assisted annuals, and there are other cost-saving methods. But we're talking why the *average* pilot doesn't own, not what an individual owner can do).

    Insurance rears its ugly head as well. My Fly Baby insurance is pretty cheap (thanks, EAA!), but I've got only one seat and liability coverage only. Most folks won't want to run "bare" on a $50,000 investment, and that can run your costs up.

    Finally, of course, there's fuel costs. Airplanes get horrible seat-miles-per-gallon, and the gallon costs more than the stuff for the car does (again, we're talking average ownership). Going as the crow flies helps, but the Interstate highway system usually is a pretty efficient route. Here in western Washington state, we often end up following the concrete compass anyway, to avoid trying to cut across some rather nasty mountains.

    Storage cost is just one leg of some rather steep ownership costs. The question is whether the ability to store a Gigerplane at home is an *enabler* for aircraft ownership. Assume a guy flies 100 hours per year at 8 gallons an hour of $6 avgas. Assume the aircraft maintenance cost (including annuals and a set-aside for an overhaul) is $2,000, and his insurance premium is 5% of the $50,000 aircraft's value per year.

    So the airplane will cost the owner roughly $9000 a year. A tiedown at my field is $60 a month, or $720 a year. That's less than 10% of the total cost of ownership. It's hard to justify a carplane at that basis. Sure, nice hangars cost a LOT more than that. But you're going to spend nearly $10,000 a year no matter what your storage approach. You can buy a $60,000 used Cessna 172 and park it outside for $60 a month, or you can buy a $150,000 carplane and save that sixty bucks.

    And, again, CERTAINLY there are things an individual owner can do to greatly reduce costs. But if we're trying to determine the market for a carplane, you have to assume the owners will be the same as most GA aircraft owners, and end up paying "normal" costs.

    Exclusive of my hangar costs, my Fly Baby is about as cheap as they come, for ownership expenses. But I'm thinking I won't be able to afford it when I retire.

    Ron Wanttaja

  3. #33
    I think we're getting closer to the real scenario Ron. My only disagreement with you is with your top three reasons. The money motive is not an absolute; it's ALWAYS balanced against benefit. A pilot who flies 50 hours a year spends money to do so. If he/she chooses to rent an aircraft at a flying school, it's because he/she perceives the flying school to offer the best overall package, in terms of cost/benefit. If we want to really understand the factors which would cause a 50 hours a year pilot to purchase a car-plane, we'd need to break it down to an hourly rate for the flying he/she does. Then we'd need to add opportunity to that equation (would a car-plane allow me to do flying that might not be possible/practical if I hired a flying school plane?).

    I live in Australia, and here we don't have interstates all over the place like you do. In the remote outback (mostly desert) light aircraft represent a cheaper and more comfortable mode of transportation, because travel "as the crow flies" cuts substantial distance out of the journey. But in the USA you may well be right. I guess time will tell, since the first car-planes will be on the market there quite soon from all reports. It will be very interesting to watch.

  4. #34
    One of the reasons that I am intrigued by VTOL is the ability to go "other places" that perhaps I wouldn't go, either by car or plane. Let's face it; you probably aren't going to take your car plane 4-wheeling. So it is only a means to highway accessible locations.

    VTOL on the other hand opens the door to all kinds of destinations. And if it is amphibious VTOL, then the gamut is even wider. I have wanted to camp on a variety of islands in various lakes and reservoirs, but haven't ever done so. I like planes, but as mentioned above, ultimately it is the door-to-door time that makes the final difference. Amphibious VTOL makes "the door" nearly anywhere.

    As for driving vs. "as the crow flies," the Helodyne site ( has a nice comparison to table that shows the difference in driving two distances and flying. Unfortunately, the speed is set for that aircraft, but you can get an idea from the site. It is the Driving vs. Flying ( page. I think it is based on google maps, so it should work even for Australia.

  5. #35
    The problem with VTOL is operational costs. The amphibious idea delivers a level of versatility without the additional cost; certainly it would provide you with access to many of those remote lakes and reservoirs you mentioned in your comment. I understand Carplane's high wing design and the location of the power plant allows for both VTOL and amphibious versions; although I imagine the amphibious version would be a simpler conversion.

  6. #36
    Eric Page's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Toledo, WA
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger be successful the "roadable aircraft" must also be a boat.
    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja
    Not just a boat, but a SAILboat.
    Quote Originally Posted by VTOL Qwerty
    And if it is amphibious VTOL
    Once all those requirements are met, and the FAA issues weight exemptions for each, you'll need a type rating to fly it!
    Eric Page
    Member: EAA, AOPA, ALPA
    ATP: MEL / Comm: SEL, Glider / ATCS: CTO
    Map of Landings

  7. #37
    Certainly, for certified VTOL aircraft, essentially helicopters, yes, both the initial cost and the operational cost is substantial. However, we are on the EAA Forum, so let's assume Experimental. I don't know the exact costs, unfortunately, I don't own a Rotorway A600 Talon, but I bet the operational costs for it are very inline with any other experimental aircraft. Perhaps slightly higher due to lower fuel efficency and some more maintence. But with VTOL, hopefully, you'll actually get to fly more, the the amortization of the fixed costs, should be spread over many more hours. I read somewhere that most pilots do not even break 100 hours / year.

    Perhaps there is an A600 owner that can respond to this?

    And yes, all FAA requirements must be met, by both the aircraft and the pilot.

  8. #38
    Sure! The wind tunnel testing at U of Washington was completed in April and came out even better than expected. A new tail design exceeded stability targets and cut drag about 7%. All in all, looks like this baby will fly great! And drive great and look cool too! About time a practical "flying car" came along.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by spungey View Post
    Anyone have any thoughts, criticisms, or words of encouragement around the switchblade?
    Wing loading for he Switchblade will be about 26 lbs. The body pretty big and roomy. Makes the wings look deceptively small, but wingspan is actually 26 feet

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Switchblade Man View Post
    Wing loading for he Switchblade will be about 26 lbs. The body pretty big and roomy. Makes the wings look deceptively small, but wingspan is actually 26 feet
    It's a beauty but it seems to be in endless development along the lines of Terrafuga, Elio and string theory.

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