Why are you doing this?
A number of reasons.
- As I mentioned in the About Me page, I have “the knack”. I just like figuring mechanical things out, fixing things, improving things. I played with erector sets when I was little, had one of those electronic kits where you build amplifiers. I built a shortwave radio before I was 12. I just like working on stuff.
- One of the most frustrating things about owning a production airplane is that since I am not a certified airframe & powerplant mechanic (A&P), I can’t do anything but the most basic maintenance on my airplane. I can change the oil, put air in the tires and clean the windshield but not much more. If I build it, since I am officially the “manufacturer”, I will be able to perform any maintenance required.
- Upgradeability. For example, the engine gauges on my 25 year old airplane are… well, 25 years old. They work, but they could be better. There are quite a few companies that have newer, more accurate instrumentation, but installing them on a production airplane requires a stack of paperwork and the blessing of the FAA. Once again, since I will be the manufacturer, I’ll be the ultimate authority over what equipment is required.
- It’s new! There are only a couple new design single engine, 4 seat general aviation aircraft being produced today. All the rest are basically the same airplane that was manufactured 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Think about it like this; Which would you rather have, a brand new 2007 Honda Accord or a brand new 1974 Chevy Vega? I could by a Columbia or a Cirrus, but that wouldn’t help with points 1, 2 or 3 would it?
Are you really going to fly in something that you built?
Absolutely! I don’t have a death wish. I’m not a risk taker. The riskiest thing I’ve ever done is rock climbing. And then I was using a harness and ropes and a very capable climbing partner. I will have equivalent safeguards in place with this project. Prior to the the airplane being issued it’s airworthiness certificate, the FAA will inspect the aircraft. During construction, any task I’m not 100% comfortable with, I will get the help of experts.
How long is it going to take?
I have NO idea! The factory says “800 hours”. But others have spent thousands of hours. It seems the thing that adds to the build time are modifications. So far, the only modification I’m planning is HID (High Intensity Discharge) landing lights mounted in the wingtips. So if I can average 10 hours per week, it would take 80 weeks. Which is only about 18 months. So with the 3 week head start, I’m hoping that two years is a good estimate.
Why a Velocity?
Other than I just plain like the way it looks, it meets the mission requirements. We want a plane for long trips. Currently we have a Cessna 182-RG which has long range but can only make 150kts. It’s also rather uncomfortable for me after about 3 hours. The Velocity is a 200 knot airplane with the same range. And since I’ll be building the interior, I can make the seats as comfortable as I want.
What kind of instrumentation are you going to use?
I’m planning on an EFIS (Electronic Flight Information System). What’s sometimes referred to as a “glass panel”. I’m going with Dual Grand Rapids Technology Horizon HX panels.
What about the engine?
One of the things some people do with experimental aircraft is use “unconventional” engines. V8’s, rotary or jet to name a few. I am going with a Continental IO-550N which develops 310 horsepower. I could go with dual turbocharged version but that’s a LOT more money than I want to spend.