Aircraft Build Times

I would love to see an article on aircraft build times. I am searching for a project that doesn’t take too long to build. My mission is to go fast and far. However, I realize I am not willing to spend 3500 hours to build a plane that goes 250 mph. So, I have further defined the mission with a formula:

Speed of Plane Time to Build = Highest Number Wins

Here’s an example:

Kit A’s cruise speed is 198 mph 2700 hours to build = .073

Kit B’s cruise speed is 138 mph 1000 hours to build = .138

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In this example, Kit B wins. But it’s very hard to know realistic build times. And, of course, build times vary wildly from builder to builder.

—Jeff Weston

Thanks for writing! Your idea is interesting, and I’ll see if any of our contributors would like to look into it. The challenge, as you note, is collecting accurate information. Everyone builds at different rates, and everyone counts hours differently. Then consider that builder speed and experience varies widely enough as to double or triple the hours for many.

Another consideration is that some builders track time in the shop but don’t include the many hours of “thinking time” that go into a build—researching accessories, avionics, etc., and pondering problems while away from the shop.

To address your own situation, I’d say that settling for a slow airplane that is fast to build doesn’t really meet your requirements for a fast airplane, and therefore, you’ll quickly regret that you didn’t build what you wanted. Fortunately, there is an additional option: You can always buy a completed airplane and modify avionics, interior, etc. to your needs. This is the absolute fastest way to get in the air with an aircraft that does what you want it to do. Good luck with your choice!—Ed.

Educating the FAA

In the September 2018 issue, you published a letter titled “Bureaucratic Insanity” from a reader who was required by the FAA inspector to add eight pounds of ballast so the airplane would be within CG with no pilot!

I want to remind readers that one of the many services EAA provides to our members is educating the FAA on amateur-built matters. Many FAA personnel spend very little to no time working on special airworthiness certificate issues, so when they are faced with an issue, they will often (wrongly) assume that the answer for a standard category factory-built aircraft applies to our homebuilts. One call from EAA to the FAA staff member would have fixed this problem with the added benefit of it not coming up again in the future.

So if you get an answer from the FAA that seems to go against your understanding of what amateur-builts are allowed to do, feel free to give EAA a call to double-check.

—Charlie Becker
EAA Director of Chapters and Homebuilt Community Manager

Davis DA-2 Correction

In “NextGen Heirloom” [October 2018], we incorrectly identified the original builder of Dennis Hutchinson’s Davis DA-2. The original builder is Charles V. Jahn. We apologize for the error.—Ed.

Write to editorial@kitplanes.com.


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