Back to basics with the 3Rs?

New airplanes cost too much. Used aircraft prices have slumped. The fleet is aging. There’s a lack of new thinking in the industry. The pilot population is dropping. I think you’ve heard all this before. Now, an old friend has an idea. But I think I’ve heard it before.

The idea is the large-scale “remanufacture” of select used GA aircraft – new engines, interiors, avionics, wiring, etc. Retail prices would fall between new and conventional used aircraft at about 50%-60% of new. It’s hoped that such offerings could reposition the GA airplane on the price/value scale, increasing perceived value while reducing the price of “new” aircraft. In short, this would create a better “value proposition” and would inject fresh “new” inventory into the dated owner-flown, charter and flight school fleet – thus stimulating demand.

A couple of decades after leaving the GA industry, my friend Tom Bliss closed his Phoenix ad agency and is back in GA, this time mostly in publishing. An idea man and too talented for the industry’s hide-bound ways, he took off in the 1980s to do advertising and marketing for major corporate clients. But still an aviation guy, he flies a C-210 which, like the fleet average, is some 30 years old. That gave him an idea.

Bliss convened seminars at NBAA and AOPA Summit last year to noodle his “3Rs” idea to “Rebuild, Restore, Re-equip” the GA fleet. This year, he’ll continue exploring the concept. He has already interested some 42 businesses to get their input and ideas, and perhaps get some of them in “on the ground floor.” He notes there are a lot of good re-builders out there — but not “an industry.”

There are obstacles. For starters, some OEMs object to the term “remanufactured” since it has a specific meaning in the engine business. I raised the issue of products liability with Tom. Does some umbrella business or organization really want to face the liability for all that re-work by a collection of players? And Tom acknowledged the dilemma of how such “new” airplanes would be valued by the insurance and financial industries. That’s been a problem before.

His goal is to create a new class of aircraft with a new brand — the “3Rs” airplane that’s neither used or new but a better choice than either. In fact, he foresees a product with “a very high level of new content.”

In part, his challenge involves the scope and costs of that comprehensive new content. And on liability, he seems to be trending away from starting a business and towards establishing an umbrella branding and marketing organization — a combination Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Milk Marketing Board.

Such an organization would issue standards and guidelines for various companies fabricating and installing a standard set of upgrades (for each select model) and market the 3Rs concept to establish the brand.

Additionally, there would be an audit function to assure that participating re-builders are adhering to technical and quality standards. The result: A “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval and market acceptability, he predicts.

Whether this would avoid liability concerns is open to debate. Bliss feels that such standards and auditing could be parlayed into acceptability among insurers and aircraft financing people. While OEMs have been cool to his idea, he says, the avionics and engine manufacturers are warm. Of course! They see new after-market sales.

What airplanes would be candidates for this treatment? Targets would be the most-popular models, with no damage history and parts support still available from OEMs or the aftermarket. Bliss says Grumman-Americans and Navions would be out — no parts availability — as would tube-and-fabric airplanes. (However, a new project to reman Navions recently surfaced elsewhere.)

But we’re not talking just singles here. Bliss imagines a range of 10 types from 172s to King Airs, C-425s and C-441s, if not some older Citations. His goal is to market 500-600 remanufactured aircraft a year in categories from turboprop to trainer to cross-country-capable rental plane.

Independent of “3Rs,” it’s already happening at the high end. And former Cessna CEO Jack Pelton just announced a new program to reman and upgrade old Cessna 421s into a $2.5 million turboprop twin like the C-425 Conquest. Nextant Aerospace has been re-doing Beechjet 400s as FJ-33-powered 400XTs.

Most interesting, I think, are prospects for piston singles. Among concerns from the NBAA seminar last fall: Corrosion, damage from previous paint stripping, appraisal value, insurance, financing. (Bliss hopes for “standards to impress and change minds” in these areas.) I still feel the hot breath of liability. Bliss thinks a 501c3 organization or trade association with few assets could be protected from liability by employing “voluntary standards.” Presumably, a coalition of manufacturers, shops and suppliers would work together and pay fees to support the marketing, standards-making and auditing of the umbrella organization.

And marketability? The effort foresees these airplanes as a new class of product. Bliss would promote their acceptance with a strong advertising program and warranties. He would boost the “value image” of such used but remanufactured airplanes.

I think some of this has merit, especially the idea of standardization for quality control and market appeal — in other words, Bliss’ “consistent price and value.” As NBAA’s seminar audience noted, there’s so much variability in re-done airplanes today that each has to be evaluated case-by-case. “3Rs” wants to fix that.

At the same time, a comprehensive re-do (including aged wiring, often overlooked) would trump the average used airplane, even the good ones. And the associated re-manufacturers could enjoy shared volume discounts on parts and components to help control production costs.

This is a tall concept and a tall order. I can’t shake the feeling that it came up before in the 1980s when (as now) the economy faltered, OEMs cut production and prices soared.

The idea of shifting the price/value calculation is a superb one. How one gets there — and gets by potent pitfalls of liability, valuation and financing — is problematic.

I’m not sure those trying to sell a used aircraft today should worry yet. Besides, if “3Rs” does become reality, there will be hot new demand for 500-600 additional used airframes a year.

© 2013 Drew Steketee All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. B.M. DeVandry says:

    P.S…

    Mr. Rod Beck responded/posted in the same referenced Article (“Back to basics with the 3Rs?” ) in response to mine;

    Rod Beck says:

    Response to B.M Devandry:

    “Really? The REASON most (average Joe’s) don’t own/lease a Lexus, Mercedes or BMW is:
    No NEED 2. Not willing/can’t afford it. Same holds true for GA ! The continued banter and “excuse” that high COST is the principal justification the “masses” aren’t flying is a convenient cop-out!”

    and…

    “Capt/Mr. DeVandry: From your articulate and lenghty response, sadly, you still DON’T get it and most likely never will. As I said in my previous reply to your original comment; GA, or should I say the “recreational; segment, is for those who have a NEED and can AFFORD it. It seems to me the majority of readers here are hell-bent on the notion that some fool hardy non-business (non-profit?) minded private enterprise firm should be OBLIGATED to producing a $50K airplane, (LSA) or whatever, so the LESS $$ financially $$ under privledged public can have access to the world of flight.

    Lets revisit the facts; ONLY about one in 1,400 of the popoulation have an interest in GA, yet there continues to be this “idealize” mentality that” 1. “We” ned to reduce the COSTS of lessons, airplanes, etc, suddenly then DEMAND would double or triple – get REAL! 2. By “spreading the gospel”, Billy Graham, where are you now, that once every person on the planet is informed that flying is the greatest thing since Medicare (or sex?), will run to the nearest flight school to take lessons – HELLO!

    Many of YOU, no offense, still are either very ignorant or in denial and just CAN’T bring yourselves to accept the FACT, although flying is AVAILBLE to everyone, it ISN’T for everyone – never has and never wil be!

    The recreational flyer or as I like to lable them, the “social aviator” , who has “O” need and SPENDS “O” $$ for aviation products and services, goes the way of the Bald Eagle”, the recreational segment will then be dominated by THOSE, regardless of social class or demographics, who have a NEED, thus the ” recreational utility aviator” who SPENDS $$ flying his/her airplane for a “practical” purpose and not just going 50-75 miles from home base for a “$100 hamburger” or shooting touch n go’s in the pattern!

    BOTTOM LNIE: The QUANITY of pilots will continue to DECREASE – the QUALITY will INCREASE – and THATS whats been happening for decades – and you can bet on it!”

    …And again a “re-post” of my response…

    Mr.Beck …Respectfully, please take a moment to review the comment section in Flying (magazine) Blogs; “Vocal Minority Wins, Aviators Lose”, Mar.5th, Robert Goyer …specifically the post(s) by “garnaut” on Mach 6th. ….then take a long somber look into a mirror.

    For I suspect, and “no offense to you either Sir” …that you are of that myopic “mindset” of those who have caused and /or are still actively involved in the death of “General” Aviation, as those of us who numbered among what was generally perceived to make up its largest segment during the 60′s, 70′s and into the early 90′s have been so fortunate to have been a part of.

    Flying has NEVER been “for everyone”. Flying has ALWAYS been a more expensive endeavor than most and has certainly been “available to everyone” (who wished to/could afford to/ was willing to do what it took to pursue)

    BUT …for much of the period quoted above (a sort of “Golden Age” of “General” Aviation, if you will) its pursuit, whether for personal use/enjoyment, or (and perhaps even most importantly, for sake of an “Industries” growth and prosperity) as a profession has been ATTAINABLE for the masses who wished and chose to do so. Even we mere mortals, financially un-endowed and/or blessed by prosperity at birth, who make up the (sorry) 99% of the population in this country who were willing to sacrifice/do what it took to achieve it, could in fact succeed on our own (without Uncle Sams help via the military) in doing so without (financial) ruin. THAT is increasingly, exponentially so, no longer the case and is the SOLE reason for the death of “GENERAL” Aviation as we have known her.

    If that’s to be her fate, so be it. But the loss (especially one so unnecessary and preventable) of a loved one is a tragedy for us all, and I won’t be cheering for it, or anyone fostering/promoting it.

    But there may be worse repercussions;

    As to your final assertion; “BOTTOM LNIE: The QUANITY of pilots will continue to DECREASE – the QUALITY will INCREASE – and THATS what’s been happening for decades”…

    ….that HAD been happening, until the last decade or so. But what we’re (unfortunately) experiencing now is a 180 degree course reversal of the trend, and again, you’ve got it horribly wrong Sir, for the (dangerous, in my humble opinion) side effects of this, we’re only now beginning to realize. (and the perverted irony of it? …it’s genesis is “The Bottom Line”!)

    Despite having worn many (pilot) caps over the years, I’ve continued to try and stay involved in the Flight Training segment of Aviation since attaining my certifications in the 70′s. I feel it of the utmost importance to do so in any way possible, and to give something back …pass the torch. But I fear we are soon to produce (and most likely are already producing) a generation of “Aviators” who won’t be able to (as the old axiom goes) “push a rudder to save their lives” (or the lives of the hundreds of passengers strapped to their backs) who will of course (finally) be in high demand …solely by virtue of being in short supply.

    This is the way it is in the rest of the world

    In Japan (an economic powerhouse that once rivaled the US) and many other (free, economic) countries in Asia and Europe for instance …their Airline/Professional Pilot positions have been filled with raw (no experience or training whatsoever) recruits who are plucked from the (civilian) masses, provided with (as in they …their governments, Airlines & Companies pay for it!) an academic degree and all required flight training, most often acquired in …you guessed it, the US of A (the ONLY place on earth where true “General” Aviation exist, er …used to exist) because why? (you guessed it again!)
    …there is and never has been any such thing as GA in those countries that could provide a constant pool of seasoned “EXPERIENCED” Aviators from which to draw and their small to non-existent military (pilot) pools provide nay a trickle.

    After this “Training”, (and a whopping 250-300 hours of accumulated flight time) back they go into the First & Second Officer positions for their long (and hopefully “EXPERIENCE” intensive) “training” period, before upgrading into that coveted Command Seat. (positions often filled by retired and furloughed SEASONED US Airline/Corporate and yes even “GA” Captains!) But most of their entire range of experience (not that it makes them unsafe or any less qualified) is only within a single and narrowly focused environment …Air Carrier.

    There are ways to compensate for this (and Japan would be a fair example of such) but the measures and costs are extraordinary.

    I and most of my piers from the aforementioned members of the “Golden” age would have killed for such a gold plated, rose petal lined opportunity and route to our careers (but suspect since, have come to realize the wisdom and ultimate benefits (to the industry itself) of having been forced to go it on our own)

    In the US, our military once provided a large share of seasoned “EXPERIENCED” Aviators to fill the demand following the rapid post WWII explosion of the Airline Industry (as well as a similar growth in “Business Aviation”) This was true also, to a lesser but still significant degree after Vietnam …but the (vast) bulk of recruits then and since were ( and are) of the “home grown” variety. Each with thousands of flight hours in a broad and diverse range of aircraft and more importantly, “type” of flight operations acquired, while they pursued their goals through PERSONAL as well as professional venues ….in an environment that allowed, fostered, even promoted such pursuits.

    That was the “Real Training” …the dues paying, “seasoning”, weeding out process …whatever your favorite metaphor, that has assured (up until now anyway) the overall “QUALIY” as you put it, of the Aviators and indeed the Piloting Profession we’ve enjoyed in this country over the last several decades.

    But, we’re on a new “Heading” now, and there’s some serious weather ahead. Unfortunately the data are irrefutable. Adding another “only Elites may apply” “Sport” in the form of personal Aviation, to America’s increasingly long list of such is fine, I guess.

    Yea …I know “that’s just “Business” …. but it’s not good business.

    If you are indeed one of those with a hand in this debacle, I can only hope you’ll find the wisdom to reconsider your course

    …for ALL our sakes.

  2. Nice thread….with lots of great thinking and content.

    If anyone is interested…take a look at the FAA aircraft registry database for aircraft in your state/county. You will be amazed how many older aircraft are owned by folks that haven’t flown in years. Unless these aircraft attract new flyers…we are all in trouble.

    Might I suggest we match up young time builders up with older owners worrying about their medicals. Sounds like a win win.

    Eric

  3. jim hanson says:

    Terry Welander says “Mr. Hanson, your bias against older aircraft is not sensible. Any aircraft that has received an annual inspection without fail and any and all small fix its that have gone with the inspections, knows they have a better than new aircraft due to all of those little fix its and inspections”

    Perhaps you missed the earlier post that said that I have owned over 500 aircraft in 50 years of flying, and 42 years in the FBO business–plus managing a number of others. There’s no bias against older airplanes–with the exception of a 1974 Cessna 206 I bought as a factory demonstrator (which I still own, along with my 1947 Cessna 120–so much for bias against old airplanes) EVERY AIRPLANE I HAVE OWNED HAS BEEN USED.

    The point is, however–without a supply of new or like-new airplanes out there, we are not only missing a chance to bring people into the marketplace–but we are doomed with an ever-aging fleet. There ARE those out there that would like to buy new–why not cater to them?

    As to the comment that “Any aircraft that has received an annual inspection without fail and any and all small fix its that have gone with the inspections, knows they have a better than new aircraft due to all of those little fix its and inspections”–you must not be an A&P. There are hundreds of “fixits” on EVERY airplane–some are good fixes, and some are not. Though I’ve owned 500 airplanes, I’ve probably passed on 3 to 5 times that number. The reality is–nothing beats a new or remanufactured airplane–work done by the factory that built it–with a warranty. The Blue Book gives a market add on for premium quality airplanes–and as much as you may think that your neighborhood mechanic may be the best in the business–that holds little sway with buyers.

    Once again–a reality check–there is NOT going to be a production-like that looks like a modern airplane LSA for under $100,000–the cost of the engine alone precludes that–keep wishing.

    There are those that think that even a 172 in the $100,000 range is “too high for the average Joe.” Maybe it is–but wait a couple of years, and the “like-new” airplane will come down in price–and Joe can buy it. Is $100,000 for a reman Skyhawk out of reach? Consider this–an average-equipped 1963 Skyhawk (I picked that year because it looks like the current production) went out the door for $14,571 according to Aircraft Bluebook–and they sold 1027 of them that year–MORE THAN THE ENTIRE GA PRODUCTION in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $111,008 in today’s dollars.

    Is there a market for reman airplanes? Some people are willing to bet on it–while the “experts” sit on the sidelines.

  4. L Pearlman says:

    Remans for the entire aircraft aren’t a bad idea, but by itself I doubt it’d work at increasing the general pilot population, unfortunately. It does raise an interesting question, though, to which I for one would like to know the answer: what IS the actual cost of a properly remanned aircraft? There’s already a database of sorts for this: AOPA’s yearly sweepstakes aircraft. Those, no matter the type, are typically part of the greater GA fleet which have been gone through from spinner to tailcone and come out typically better than new, mostly because of upgraded engines and avionics. I would suggest your friend with this idea talk to them and see if they’re willing to share an estimate of what their process entails and would cost. I doubt you can get a remmanned aircraft for less than the $200K others have mentioned, which is simply too expensive for typical middle-class Americans. Especially in this age when take-home pay is stagnant for all but the very wealthy, people aren’t going to splurge on what is at best an indulgence. .
    Basic economics says that higher aircraft utilization is the key to driving down per-hour prices, and aircraft shares or a club arrangement are the only way to do that. Single-owner, single-aircraft arrangements lead to underutilization and inefficient use of the resource. Owner lease-backs to FBOs used to serve that purpose in this country, but there seems to be less of that nowadays, why, I don’t know (The dread liability?).
    I applaud anyone who wants to make the price of flying more reasonable, but I doubt bringing the price point of individual aircraft ownership down from $300K to $200K will do it on its own. Let’s not forget the per-month cost of hangerage/tie-down, insurance and probable higher annual maintenance cost of individual-owned aircraft (due to under-utilization). Maybe a business concept of remans combined with a lease-back legal structure with limited liability would be a solution?
    IMHO, flying clubs with reasonable per-hour and monthly membership fees are the best way to get people in the air, but we here in America seem to have a somewhat elitist view about them, compared to, say, Europe. In my personal, local experience, it’s more expensive to rent a glider (Assuming a one-hour flight a week) from the local glider club than it is to take a tired but sound C150 from a for-profit FBO up around the patch. Something’s wrong with that equation. As both a powered and glider pilot, I think sailplanes are an unjustly ignored way to get people in the air to enjoy the magic of flight, but our network of glider clubs seems to have trouble appealing to people to actually become pilots instead of just going for one-hour sight-seeing hops. I don’t even know of any powered-flight GA clubs in my neighborhood…
    Still, I applaud the effort and wish your friend well in his efforts. GA needs all the help it can get on the lower end where we drive around smashing bugs rather than cruising at FL45.

  5. jim hanson says:

    There are those who say “focus on increasing the pilot population instead of worrying about new airplanes.” There are at least three things wrong with that:

    1. “trainer” aircraft cost $300,000–an FBO would have to lease Skyhawks at $300 an hour. It has been a good rule of thumb for years, whether leasing Caterpillars or Cessnas–you have to have about 1/10 of 1% per hour to make it cash flow for average use.

    2. If there are no newer, used aircraft on the market coming out of the rental fleet–there is not much to sell to new pilots. Cessna didn’t sell 2-place airplanes for years–schools made do with Cessna 120/140s. When the 150/ 172 came out and was adopted by the FBOS, there was a ready market for these used airplanes–people didn’t want Champs and Cubs, they wanted current state-of-the-art.

    3. It’s a pretty hard sell to sell someone on learning to fly–but that they will have to either rent an airplane, or fly an old airplane–nothing in between. Ask yourself–how much driving would you do if you had to rent a car every time you wanted to go someplace–and that $30,000 Chevy costs you $30 an hour?

    In GA’s heyday–the factories pumped out new airplanes–many to FBOs who used them and sold them. There was a demand for new airplanes–Look at Flying magazine in the 1960s–almost every issue announced a new model of airplane–radio–or accessory.

    Did the number of pilots drive the production? No–Cessna famously said “We are going to build 3,000 150s in one year.” They built 2999 in 1966–and followed that up with 2665 in 1967. Beech, for its part, didn’t build airplanes to order. They announced how many of each airplane they were going to build–then held a dealer meeting to see who was going to buy them. The factories took a gamble–but the result was a certainty that they could buy parts for and gear up for that level of production–and the resultant production efficiency kept prices low. The U.S. military bought fighters and trainers 1000 at a time during the 1950s and 1960s–and they were cheap. Compare that with turning out 30-50 airplanes a year from the factories today.

    Rod Beck says “Like New 172″ for $99,000–and I think that at that price, it would sell–far better than an LSA. Like the LSA–buyers would load it up–LSA dealers will tell you that though everyone SAYS they want a cheap airplane–very few are sold–those that are sold are loaded. The reman aircraft WOULD have to be “zero timed” by the factory, though, to differentiate it from an aircraft that has simply been gone through by the local A&P. Over the years, we’ve probably rebuilt 50 aircraft–some damaged, some not. We used to strip them down to basics–replace all of the wiring, cables, bolts, glass–EVERYTHING. That was then–you can’t do that today–people won’t pay the cost of a locally remanned aircraft without differentiating it from the factory.

    • Terry D Welander says:

      Mr. Hanson, your bias against older aircraft is not sensible. Any aircraft that has received an annual inspection without fail and any and all small fix its that have gone with the inspections, knows they have a better than new aircraft due to all of those little fix its and inspections.

      So small shops making like new aircraft in most knowledgeable quarters would be seen as far superior to both any remanufactured aircraft and any new aircraft. People buy new aircraft for the status symbol, not the utility or substantially secondarily the utility; when the same aircraft a few to 50 years older is available for one half to one fifth the funds or price. More power to them if they want to flaunt their money that way buying
      new aircraft. Anyone and everyone who helps keep the economy moving by buying any aircraft gets my vote.

  6. B.M. DeVandry says:

    Mr.Beck …Respectfully, please take a moment to review the comment section in Flying (magazine) Blogs; “Vocal Minority Wins, Aviators Lose”, Mar.5th, Robert Goyer …specifically the post(s) by “garnaut” on Mach 6th. ….then take a long somber look into a mirror.

    For I suspect, and “no offense to you either Sir” …that you are of that myopic “mindset” of those who have caused and /or are still actively involved in the death of “General” Aviation, as those of us who numbered among what was generally perceived to make up its largest segment during the 60′s, 70′s and into the early 90′s have been so fortunate to have been a part of.

    Flying has NEVER been “for everyone”. Flying has ALWAYS been a more expensive endeavor than most and has certainly been “available to everyone” (who wished to/could afford to/ was willing to do what it took to pursue)

    BUT …for much of the period quoted above (a sort of “Golden Age” of “General” Aviation, if you will) its pursuit, whether for personal use/enjoyment, or (and perhaps even most importantly, for sake of an “Industries” growth and prosperity) as a profession has been ATTAINABLE for the masses who wished and chose to do so. Even we mere mortals, financially un-endowed and/or blessed by prosperity at birth, who make up the (sorry) 99% of the population in this country who were willing to sacrifice/do what it took to achieve it, could in fact succeed on our own (without Uncle Sams help via the military) in doing so without (financial) ruin. THAT is increasingly, exponentially so, no longer the case and is the SOLE reason for the death of “GENERAL” Aviation as we have known her.

    If that’s to be her fate, so be it. But the loss (especially one so unnecessary and preventable) of a loved one is a tragedy for us all, and I won’t be cheering for it, or anyone fostering/promoting it.

    But there may be worse repercussions;

    As to your final assertion; “BOTTOM LNIE: The QUANITY of pilots will continue to DECREASE – the QUALITY will INCREASE – and THATS what’s been happening for decades”…

    ….that HAD been happening, until the last decade or so. But what we’re (unfortunately) experiencing now is a 180 degree course reversal of the trend, and again, you’ve got it horribly wrong Sir, for the (dangerous, in my humble opinion) side effects of this, we’re only now beginning to realize. (and the perverted irony of it? …it’s genesis is “The Bottom Line”!)

    Despite having worn many (pilot) caps over the years, I’ve continued to try and stay involved in the Flight Training segment of Aviation since attaining my certifications in the 70′s. I feel it of the utmost importance to do so in any way possible, and to give something back …pass the torch. But I fear we are soon to produce (and most likely are already producing) a generation of “Aviators” who won’t be able to (as the old axiom goes) “push a rudder to save their lives” (or the lives of the hundreds of passengers strapped to their backs) who will of course (finally) be in high demand …solely by virtue of being in short supply.

    This is the way it is in the rest of the world

    In Japan (an economic powerhouse that once rivaled the US) and many other (free, economic) countries in Asia and Europe for instance, their Airline/Professional Pilot positions have been filled with raw (no experience or training whatsoever) recruits who are plucked from the (civilian) masses, provided with (as in they ..their governments, Airlines & Companies pay for it!) an academic degree and all required flight training, most often acquired in …you guessed it, the US of A (the ONLY place on earth where true “General” Aviation exis, er …used to exist) because why? (you guessed it again!) …there is and never has been any such thing as GA in those countries that could provide a constant pool of seasoned “EXPERIENCED” Aviators from which to draw and there small to non-existent military (pilot) pools provide nay a trickle. After this “Training”, (and a whopping 250-300 hours of accumulated flight time) back they go into the First & Second Officer positions for their long (and hopefully EXPERIENCE” intensive) “training” period before upgrading into that coveted Command seat. (positions often filled by retired and furloughed SEASONED US Airline/Corporate and yes even “GA” Captains!) But most of their entire range of experience (not that it makes them unsafe or any less qualified) is only within a single and narrowly focused environment …Air Carrier.

    There are ways to compensate for this (and Japan would be a fair example of such) but the measures and costs are extraordinary.

    I and most of my piers from the aforementioned members of “Golden” age would have killed for such a gold plated, rose petal lined) opportunity and route to our careers (but suspect since, have come to realize the wisdom and ultimate benefits (to the industry itself) of having been forced to go it on our own)

    In the US, our military once provided a large share of seasoned “EXPERIENCED” Aviators to fill the demand following the rapid post WWII explosion of the Airline Industry (as well as a similar growth in “Business Aviation”) This was true also, to a lesser but still significant degree after Vietnam …but the (vast) bulk of recruits then and since were ( and are) of the “home grown” variety. Each with thousands of hours in a broad and diverse range of aircraft and more importantly, “type” of flight operations acquired while they pursued their goals through PERSONAL as well as professional venues ….in an environment that allowed, fostered, even promoted such pursuits.

    That was the “Real Training” …the dues paying, “seasoning”, weeding out process ..whatever your favorite metaphor, that has assured (up until now anyway) the overall “QUALIY” as you put it, of the Aviators and indeed the Piloting Profession we’ve enjoyed in this country over the last several decades.

    But, we’re on a new “Heading” now, and there’s some serious weather ahead. Unfortunately the data are irrefutable. Adding another “only Elites may apply” “Sport” in the form of personal Aviation, to America’s increasingly long list of such is fine, I guess.

    Yea …I know “that’s “Business” …. but it’s not good business.

    If you are indeed one of those with a hand in this debacle, I can only hope you’ll find the wisdom to reconsider your course …for ALL our sakes.

  7. Terry D Welander says:

    The core of the light aircraft product differentiation remanufacturing would be a glass panel. My A&P/AI remanufactured C-172s sell between $80K and $120K, without a glass
    panel; or as exactly like new as he can make it. If a remanufactured C-172 price is $150K, then you would be paying $30K to $70K for a glass panel. As nice as that Cirrus glass panel is, it is not worth $30K to $70k in the overall scheme of things for me. A poll of potential remanufactured light aircraft purchasers sounds in order to see how many people would pay $30K to $70K more, or $150K total for a remanufactured certificated light aircraft; compared to that like new clone remanufactured light aircraft for $80K to
    $120K by the local shop and AI.

    One other critical consideration. Having prided myself in having more sense than almost
    anyone I have ever met, my A&P AI has more sense than me; having the proven capability of rebuilding/reinstalling thousands of parts that make up a light aircraft.
    Or how good local light aircraft manufacture really is.

  8. B.M. DeVandry says:

    This article started off on the correct premise (“airplanes COST too much”) so “why” and what to do about it …and (it) offers a possible solution.

    And again, here we go …more of the same (and tired) ongoing “discussions” within our “Industry” on “what to do?” …about the graveyard spiral General Aviation finds herself in. And again, for whatever reason, the overwhelming impression continues to be that “they” …the “Industry” …our “Associations”, groups, clubs, memberships etc. …the “Feds”, you, me, us …”we” …just don’t seem to get it !

    I rarely comment once, let alone twice in (any) forums and please forgive the following this re-cap and redundancy of a couple previous rants, in this and previous “comment sections” …but I (still) just can’t seem to put this in any other way;

    The original purpose …the “concept” of if you will, for the birth and growth of the Experimental Aircraft community for instance, over the last several decades, which later evolved into the “Light Sport” genera and “Industry” of the present, was to allow for the “Average Joe” with a wife and kids to be able to, over a period of about a year or so, build himself a nice, simple (with at least 2 seats as flight is a thing that’s got to be shared!) airplane at a reasonably (read: sane!) monetary expense that would allow said “Joe” and family & friends to both proliferate (breathe new life into GA) and enjoy the wonderful world of Flight! But! …let’s take a hard look at what “we” (US General Aviation) have allowed to happen…

    Let’s see …the “new & improved” C-172-SP, recently reviewed in Flying magazine: a basic, single engine, 4 place, fixed gear, fixed prop, simple low HP “Light Airplane”. One whose basic airframe has been around for over half a century and whose R & D, tooling and most all other initial development costs have long since been paid for many times over, decades ago (essentially a (very) old airframe design with a few tweaks, and upgraded to some modern avionics (which also SHOULD cost substantially less than their steam gauge, analog counterparts) …all this for ONLY $300,000+ ?!?!?

    Oh, but you can get the venerable old “new & improved” Piper Archer for about the same price! …But wait! …you can get the shiny new aforementioned Cub Crafters Carbon Cub; an even simpler TWO place, basic, fixed gear, fixed prop, low HP “LIGHT SPORT” airplane” with a basic avionics package for the bargain price of just under 200K!!

    Of course, Cessna has finally (sort of) thrown a bone to the fledgling new “Mom & Pop” Flight School in the form of a 21st. Century “Trainer”; the C-162 Skycatcher! …available for the much more REASONABLE? “base price” (just recently increased!) of 150K! …which means they should be able to afford at least 3 or 4 of em! The C-172 was available, in 1980, IFR equipped, for the low 30′s (aprox. 90K in today’s dollars) In 1979 the C-152 went for just under 20K (55K today).

    …As for the all of those available “Kits” out there today …Realistically, even a modest, two place, fixed gear/prop with a basic IFR panel (that by reg, one mostly can’t actually utilize for it’s designed purposes) 140+ kt airplane most often sports (pun intended) a finished price of close to 100K …many others almost twice that! But don’t forget …ya still have to build it yourself!

    Now, throw in the over inflated (and ever increasing) costs of hanger, fuel, insurance, maintenance and all those other “miscellaneous” operating expenses and ask yourself; How can even an “Upper” Middle Class, “Above” average Joe afford/justify such a purchase (especially after tacking on all those actual operating expenses) How can such a sums for such airplanes ever be (reasonably) justified?? And we ( and APOPA & EAA ) wonder why new pilot certification is half what it was just two decades ago?? Why (aircraft) rental rates have gotten beyond the reach of most would be Sunday Flyers? What could possibly be causing this decline in our beloved activity?!?

    Please forgive me, as I really don’t wish to sound sarcastic but it’s just mind-boggling to a (simple minded?) guy like myself how casually, and with such cavalier so many “representatives” of the Aviation Industry quote prices for an average Light Sport, or any other 2-4 place “Light Airplane”. What a perfectly reasonable price ($150-200K) to pay for a (new) “Light Sport” airplane …or the $300+K for a “moderately tricked out Cessna 172″ …or the 1.2 mil!! for a SENECA, version 5 recently reviewed in AOPA Pilot, ( another 50+ year old, basically unchanged design) …I mean, what’s wrong with that …isn’t that just about right …why ain’t everybody buyin’ em?!?

    A previous Quote from a previous (publications) article; “is not that flying costs too much but that flying the kind of airplane that they really want to be flying costs too much” ???

    Most of Europe and all of present day Asia have no such thing as “General Aviation” …solely because of the PROHIBITABLY EXPENSIVE costs. Their citizens have long been coming here to pursue that dream we’ve all taken for granted! (but even that may change …read: practically grind to a halt, now that the new draconian EASA Flight Crew licensing regs have kicked in) Active participation in our wonderful world of “Flight” here in the USA has always been (relatively) on the expensive side, and up until now remained the best (and only) place on the planet to do so.

    But take another really honest look at the math. Even if we allowed for an additional 50% (a very conservative/generous estimate) to account for the uncontrolled explosion of all the greed laden “Product Liability” lawsuits many (airplane manufacturers) have had to endure these last couple of decades (the ONLY thing Cessna, Piper etc. can legitimately claim to have been “victimized” by) …we should, at most, be looking at somewhere around $130 – 140,000 for our present day fully equipped C-172. (a SIMPLE, 4 place 120+ kt. BRAND NEW airplane) AND approximately half that (at best) for an LSA .…hmm.

    Are we REALLY reaching for …”wishing” for too much here?!?

    In the late 70′s I struggled to put myself through school (let’s not even get started on the costs of a college degree these days!) and pay for my flight training (mostly through loans) to pursue a dream of being a Professional Pilot. Now 37 years later, after having been fortunate to have flown everything from parachutes to 747′s, this subject has been a particular heartbreak for me …as I seriously doubt I could succeed in that endeavor today …and wonder how any of today’s young folks, or even us “older guys” (of even “above average” means) ever could as well.

    I’m afraid these greedy times we’re a livin’ and the EXPONENTIAL rate at which that expense is accelerating, will only serve to hasten the time when the final nails are driven. We’re rapidly destroying “General Aviation” in this country …making it solely a “Rich Mans sport”.

    “Why” …the rapidly decreasing pilot population? …the rapidly downward spiral of total logged hours? …a Pilot shortage?? …sluggish sales factors?? …very, very sad indeed.

    Please …PLEASE …Let’s ALL get real!

    • Capt/Mr. DeVandry: From your articulate and lenghty response, sadly, you still DON’T get it and most likely never will. As I said in my previous reply to your original comment; GA, or should I say the “recreational; segment, is for those who have a NEED and can AFFORD it. It seems to me the majority of readers here are hell-bent on the notion that some fool hardy non-business (non-profit?) minded private enterprise firm should be OBLIGATED to producing a $50K airplane, (LSA) or whatever, so the LESS $$ financially $$ under privledged public can have access to the world of flight.

      Lets revisit the facts; ONLY about one in 1,400 of the popoulation have an interest in GA, yet there continues to be this “idealize” mentality that” 1. “We” ned to reduce the COSTS of lessons, airplanes, etc, suddenly then DEMAND would double or triple – get REAL! 2. By “spreading the gospel”, Billy Graham, where are you now, that once every person on the planet is informed that flying is the greatest thing since Medicare (or sex?), will run to the nearest flight school to take lessons – HELLO!

      Many of YOU, no offense, still are either very ignorant or in denial and just CAN’T bring yourselves to accept the FACT, although flying is AVAILBLE to everyone, it ISN’T for everyone – never has and never wil be!

      The recreational flyer or as I like to lable them, the “social aviator” , who has “O” need and SPENDS “O” $$ for aviation products and services, goes the way of the Bald Eagle”, the recreational segment will then be dominated by THOSE, regardless of social class or demographics, who have a NEED, thus the ” recreational utility aviator” who SPENDS $$ flying his/her airplane for a “practical” purpose and not just going 50-75 miles from home base for a “$100 hamburger” or shooting touch n go’s in the pattern!

      BOTTOM LNIE: The QUANITY of pilots will continue to DECREASE – the QUALITY will INCREASE – and THATS whats been happening for decades – and you can bet on it!

  9. Fred Weber says:

    Technically it is possible to realize a small 2 seater with a diesel engine for a sales price of $40k.
    Technically it is possible to realize a 4 seater with a smal recuperated turboprop engine for a sales price of $200k.
    ( For both cases assumed a yearly production of 50 units.)

    What is the problem: THERE IS NO POLITICAL WILL TO DO SO !
    Nobody wants to invest. Another point:
    If you can sell stone-time technique 160 hp engines for $40000 and a turboprop engine for $150000 the established industry will do everything to block any inovation !

    If you want to change the GA situation, you must change society first !!!

  10. Tony Carson says:

    Great idea if not for the holders of the original type certificates. The popular airframes cited in the article are controlled in perpetuity by those both free from product liability and financially incented to trickle out timely ADs requiring cash in exchange for continuing airworthiness. After experiencing the ‘before and after’ pricing of Beech circuit breakers, I question whether certificate holders will their 50 y/o airframes to compete for today’s shrinking market share.

  11. Though I was excited to first see this article, I was disappointed to read that the Navion was so readily dismissed from the rebuild candidate list due to no parts and lack of support. The fact is that neither is true. As the Type Certificate holder for the Navion, Sierra Hotel Aero has been accomplishing these types of rebuilds and upgrades for over 10 years using original factory fixtures and tooling. When a Navion leaves our facility it is a basically a brand new airplane customized to the owners wishes and with a new modern power plant, avionics,full factory support for less than half the cost of new. I ask Mr. Stekettee to visit Navion.com and see what is possible with the Navion.

    Respectfully,
    Chris Gardner
    President
    Sierra Hotel Aero, Inc
    (Navion Aircraft)

  12. Larry S says:

    I’m also an “aging” pilot who doesn’t want to stop flying but I fear for my medical every two years. Unless and until the FAA either approves the AOPA / EAA 3rd class medical exemption petition or does away with it altogether for recreational day VFR flying, who the heck is going to buy these 3R airplanes … 20 somethings who are still “sky” eye’d and underfinanced? ONLY flight schools might be able to justify such a machine and then their hourly prices would go up some more.

    I’ve been flying for 43 years and I do not know of even one “regular” GA pilot who went out and bought a new airplane. They all buy used and do the best they can with keeping them “up.” Some buy Bonanzas and C210′s and some buy C172′s … but they’re all used. So on THAT standpoint, the 3R idea sounds good … up front. Cheaper “new” airplanes.

    The very first commenter, Chris C, hit the bullseye with his comments on LSA as a joke. I’d love to buy say a Flight Design CTLiS but I sure as heck am not going to pay $175K for an airplane with limited speed, limited range and limited payload just so I don’t have to worry about my medical and so I can sit behind a glass panel that an airline pilot would have salivated over just 10 years ago. So we can all agree that almost all LSA’s are overpriced for the mission of most older/aging pilots, many of whom already own a certificated airplane.

    I happen to own both a “right” aged/model ’75 C172M and a ’67 Cherokee 140. I’m fortunate that I am also an A&P and do most of the maintenance myself. I can afford to keep these airplanes only for that reason. But … even there, the total cost of flying them is getting to the point of questionability … given my biannual worry. I would love to upgrade the panel of the C172 but — for what — to lose that investment in two years? And, I’d love to put a Dynon SkyView system in the airplane but those nice people at the FAA won’t let me … even for just day VFR hole cutting. Hell, they won’t even allow me to mount an AirGizmo with a Garmin 696 in my airplanes! Sigh.

    So we DO have a pilot problem here. Unless and until we figure out a way to bring new blood in and keep old blood from giving the avocation up, the 3R idea will never be large enough to make the cost and liability it brings manageable.

    Good idea … wrong timing.

  13. B.M. DeVandry says:

    To Dan Heath:

    With respect, you forgot to add the final (and most affecting “factor”) to what will (and in effect already has) prevent this idea from doing anything to make it affordable once again for the “average Joe” …ownership and/or participation in Aviation …and therefore ultimately prevent the “Graveyard Spiral” and death of “General Aviation” in this country;

    Lawyers, (over intrusive) Government …and (unbridled) GREED

    B.M. DeVandry

    • Response to B.M Devandry: Really? The REASON most (average Joe’s) don’t own/lease a Lexus, Mercedes or BMW is:
      1. No NEED 2. Not willing/can’t afford it. Same holds true for GA ! The continued banter and “excuse” that high COST is the principal justification the “masses” aren’t flying is a convenient cop-out!

  14. Charles E. Holmes says:

    I have been involved in aviation for almost 40 years. The greatest drawback to flying is the cost of fuel. While you have a small pilot community who remain undetered by this cost, most are. As long as this concern remains pilots will continue to drop from the community. How often do you see small planes fly over? Most just fly in the area of the local airport trying to keep current at a minimal cost hoping for a better future. More pilots mean more aircraft sales remanufactured or not. Unless you see increasing pilot numbers you will not see increased demand for any personel aircraft. I do not see this business model working in the long term.

  15. Chris Castlerock says:

    I am a 64 year old Private Pilot flying since the mids 70s and former owner of a Piper Warrior and a Piper Dakota. I am not flying now because of type II diabetes. I looked at LSA and basicly just walked away saying “no way”. There is just no useable payload for any type of traveling and also no range, for most of them anyway. They are a joke as far as I am concerned, but that is another story. Bringing more airplanes into the market place is not going to work. You need more pilots. Your customer base is decreasing 10,000 pilots a year. You are never going to succeed selling something if your customer base is decreasing. If the demand for used airplanes was there, there would not be a slump in the used plane martket would there? You don’t need more used planes, you need more pilots. If the demand for upgraded and refurbished used airplanes was there, pilots would be buying them and doing that themsevles, but they are not….. Now…..If you could get the FAA to allow us to fly with LSA requiements on regular production aircraft, I would think you would have at a chance of moving your idea forward. But barring that development …?

    • That’s a tough one – to be sure. The population will continue to decrease, I suspect, due to increasing regulation on the industry and the ALPA’s strong lobby to reduce GA. Consider the recent FAA Re-authorization with the Schummer (D – NY) amendment – for the majority – to fly for a living (for airlines), the individual suddenly has to have ATP minima in his or her logbook – just to be considered for a job, this is more than a factor of 5 times what it used to be. How can an individual afford to scratch at that number? Instruction is down – the economy won’t support it – especially when the next generation faces the same bleak outlook. Check flying – has gone the way of the Dodo thanks to electronics – and, there is just not enough 135 flying to meet the number of pilots out there now that want to fly for hire. If an individual wants to fly for hobby (an expensive one at that), you might be able to get that customer for instruction, but good luck finding someone that seriously wants to go farther than that (commercial / instrument, etc.) Government regulation and ALPA need to step down to encourage our industry, and bring back the zeal to the pilots that you are talking about ( – 10,000 a year).

  16. I agree with Bret S. My experience tells me that while the idea of re-manufactured aircraft at
    50-60% the cost of new may help, it wil not make much of a difference. What no one wants to admit is that GA flying is really a rich man’s activity.
    The average wage today is not close to what is needed to provide for a home and a family and all that is included,and an airplane also. The dollars needed to make the monthly payments just are not there. As much as I or others like me want to we will never be able to purchase an aircraft. Most of us “normal folk” find ourselves hard press to even afford to build a kit plane. It is not just the price of the airplane that places flying out of reach,or almost out of reach. It is also the additional cost of everything else that needs to be included. Get the cost down to something similar to a new car and you MIT just have something that will sprout wings! (Car does not = Ferrari)

  17. Mr. Bliss may very well have a viable idea. In the next couple decades, we will have a new problem in GA which is not enough used aircraft. Thousands of airframes will be scrapped due to age, damage, lack of parts, etc., At the same time, the volume of aircraft produced in the last 10 to 15 years is a tiny fraction of the volume that produced all the 30 to 40 year old aircraft flying today. Even if the pilot population continues to decline, the aircraft “population” will decline faster.

    As others have noted, lawyers and the gov’t are good at sucking the life out of any good initiative and both have damn near killed GA. However, the time may be ripe for the FAA to look differently at this middle ground between OEM production and experimental aircraft. They are at least entertaining the idea of less restrictive Part 23 production for smaller aircraft already. As for the plaintiff’s bar, anywhere there is money, they will find creative ways to siphon some off. Having said that, it may be possible to create a structure that has no obvious deep pockets in any one place. I hope so. The idea of identifying a set of solid, popular brands and re-building those airframes, powerplants, and avionics to contemporary standards could go a long way to solving the aircraft shortage on the horizon while providing “mid-priced” airplanes across the market spectrum.

  18. jim hanson says:

    As an FBO, I’ve owned over 500 airplanes over the years, and have long advocated for this. It HAS been done before–Beech “remanufactured: the “straight” Bonanza–also the Twin Beech. Like an engine manufacturer, the factory can “zero time” the aircraft–and that’s the key to making it attractive.

    If product liability is the big bugbear that everyone says it is–it’s attractive for the factory as well. They take an old airplane out of the market, and install all of the current safety systems. Since liability is based on the number of units out in the field, the number doesn’t go up.

    Run the numbers, as I have–initial cost for a runout airplane–and engine, prop, avionics, glass–all at OEM cost. There are nay-sayers that say “I can fix up an old airplane myself”–and that is true, but it doesn’t carry the year of manufacture and the warranty that a REMAN aircraft does. Could you produce and sell Skyhawks at $150,000 each (about half the price of new)? Certainly The difference is even higher with more expensive airplanes.

  19. Thanks for a very interesting article Drew. The challenge, of course, is to be able to put the right elements together at the right price. Airframes tend to be the least expensive component of an overall airplane. On the flip side, new (and expensive) avionics carry a lot of value — at least initially — but they also depreciate rapidly, especially when the next great thing comes along.

    I’d love to see this work and I see potential. I do think we as a community need to stop pining for the days of “inexpensive” airplanes however and using that argument as an excuse as to why people aren’t getting into GA. Let’s get people excited about, and involved in, aviation first. Looking back to the “good old days” is not a solution.

  20. Sent to AOPA in January 2012.

    An idea I have been sitting on that may be the right time to suggest is for the FAA to allow manufactured aircraft to be reclassified after a period of time to allow for instrumentation and add-on items not having to pass through the expensive rigors of OEM certification. I currently own three aircraft manufactured in the mid 1960’s. I rebuilt my Cherokee Six a few years back, updating most of the instrumentation and many components on the airframe. I have placed nearly $90k into the remodel, and know the resell value is barely $65k. Truth be known, I have over $150k in this plane, but a new plane of similar performance and instrumentation is approaching $1M.

    During the rebuild, it was clear, there is nothing cheap about a manufactured plane. Additionally, the rules and regulations that govern maintenance keep the costs of maintenance and improvements too high for anyone in general aviation. I have installed an Aspen 1000 Pro, Garmin 430W, and Garmin 496 at a cost of $30k. In the Experimental and Home Build market, similar systems are 1/3rd the cost of what is STC approved for my Piper. This is where we need a change to current regulations, that would hopefully spark more people to come back to what has become a rich man’s game.

    I suggest allowing aircraft in excess of 15-20 years to fall into a category similar to Experimental. All annual inspections and appropriate directives still have to be met according to current regulations. But, improvements to aircraft should be far easier to afford and implement that the current regulations allow. Why should it cost $3000 to upgrade from 40+ year old landing lights to HID or LED systems that are available for Experimental in the neighborhood of $700-900? My fuel selector is a special item and has the potential of grounding my aircraft permanently. If there is leakage in the current selector, it has to be rebuilt and re-plated. If rust is an issue and the unit will not pass inspection, a “new” unit has to be found and certified. The problem I encountered is that there are no “new” selectors since 1967. I had to buy a salvaged unit and pray that it would pass inspection, before paying to have it rebuilt and certified. That was a $3500 lesson. But, after paying $60k for a plane, am I expected to junk it because of a $3500 expense. The issue here is that the FAA does not allow for a substitution without considerable expense on the owner or any manufacturer who may have come up with a better solution in the past 40 years.

    On and off, I have been around planes since starting in 1983 at the age of 13. During my years in and out of this, I see many changes to the industry and obstacles that continue to hinder access by the general public. While we are fighting user fees, population encroachment on airports, and pending issues with fuel, we are losing sight of what is needed to build strength in numbers and get fresh blood into the industry. Innovation may bring about the greatest aircraft, but it will only be an elite class that would ever experience such things. With so many aircraft essentially idle and on the market due to the expense(s), we need to focus on getting what is out there flying again, build the ranks, and provide value and benefit to the public. That is the grassroots effort we need to overcome much of what is being thrown at us.

  21. Ernie Kelly says:

    I think this is the germ of a great idea. Volume re-mans would bring the price down and increase the consistency of quality. I think Mr. Bliss is anything but ignorant. But he needs to include several representatives of the insurance industry to buy credibility from that crowd – the very important “what we say affects what you pay” crowd.

    Appreciate you sharing this, Drew.

    • You have 2 real problems here. Lawyers and the Government. If you want to make them like new, you have to equip them like new. How can that be done in light of these two obsticles? That is why the EAB market is flourishing today. No lawyers and for the most part, the government stays out of the way. These two thorns are what are stifling all industry in this country today.

      • JACK ATNIP JR says:

        I am truly fed up with the people that are constantly belly aching about government intrusion. It takes years of death and destruction in most cases before the government steps in and makes people act like adults and do the proper thing to protect the innocent from the risk takers. FAA rules and regs are there to protect aircraft consumers and more importantly the folks on the ground that are affected by bad piloting and bad maintenance practices.

        • Dennis Reiley says:

          Jack, on the surface you are correct. But on a deeper level the rigmarole involved with replacing a part with one that is different is excessively complicated. Aircraft part and accessory manufacturers are able to design a part that will replace obsolete parts and provide instructions on how to install it on many different aircraft. Flight safety does not require that every different replacement be certified for each type of aircraft. Rather the part itself should be certified for flight on the aircraft types listed on the installation instructions. Doing so would drastically reduce the cost of certification and actually result in much safer aircraft. Why should you rebuild/recondition a fifty year old fuel pump when a new design will not only do the job better but also be ten times safer in the aircraft. A glass cockpit increases both flight and navigational safety, it is the glass cockpit that should be certified as safe in any aircraft listed on the instructions.

  22. Richard Baker says:

    Or, because of lawyers and fear, we can do nothing. The GA manufacturers need to do something or Piper, Cessna, and many other old names will become as historic as Funk, Luscombe, and others became.

  23. Dennis Reiley says:

    I have a retired(?) cousin whose hobby(?) is restoring piper cubs and then selling them. But I suspect that LSA’s have been cutting into his market.

  24. Tom’s on to something with his idea. There is a mechanic on my home field who is already running down this road, rebuilding a C-150 he bought for a song. When he’s finished he’ll have less than half the cost of a new LSA into his machine, but will have essentially a new personal aircraft/trainer that will last him for the rest of his life.

    I applaud Tom’s efforts. He’s on the right track, at least for a segment of the market that would like good, reliable, affordable aircraft on the ramp. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all shakes out.

  25. Great concept – and “makes common sense” – but will it “make cent$” – time and creative marketing will tell?

    A NEAR NEW PRE-OWNED 172 – and ONLY $99,999 -
    Performance of NEW at 1/3 the price and “O” % financing!
    Now available at a Like Nu Aircraft Dealer near you!

  26. Brett S says:

    The opening paragraph implies that this 3R concept is meant to help address the shrinking size of the pilot population by reducing aircraft cost. If so, I’m not sure the reduced costs that are envisioned really help anything. 50-60% the cost of a new Cessna 172 is about $150,000. That is premium LSA territory, and as we’ve seen, LSAs are not inexpensive enough to open the floodgates of new pilots. While a 172 has obvious benefits over an LSA, it has some disadvantages as well, such as similar speed for more fuel. This isn’t to say that the concept isn’t great in getting much nicer planes into some pilot’s hands, making training aircraft more appealing, etc., it’s just that it is not going to draw in “normal folks” to aviation. I’ve idly wondered from time to time if a really nice aesthetic makeover and some simple glass avionics in a 150/152 (or the like) in the $50-$60,000 range would be the right type of thing.

    • Terry D Welander says:

      The 3Rs are not new. Or new only to those who think they are new. Individual restorations of type certificated aircraft have always been available. It is rare not to see one advertised in Trade-A-Plane; anytime I have looked in at least the last 20 years. So this new publicity is probably new and probably helpful.

      Large scale manufacture of old aircraft is certainly a new idea. Also very high risk based on the large historical market swings for new aircraft, making it very questionable.
      A reasonable assumption is new and remanufactured aircraft would have similar
      markets.

      An organization issuing standards other than the OEM or the FAA is a non starter.
      Neither or none would allow it. Why would the FAA or any OEM want to bring in a third party? Or allow a 3rd party to remanufacture aircraft?

      The 3 principal U.S. aircraft manufactures, Cessna, Piper, and Beech, are still in business.
      And would likely road block this without ever saying a word. Why would they ever let anyone undercut their new aircraft and pricing?

      Cessna has very detailed manuals and instructions on the restoration of their aircraft.
      So anyone trying to restore aircraft on a large scale would likeley be accused of trademark and other OEM infringements.

      It would likely take one of the handful of well established aircraft parts manufacturers with substantial parts manufacturing authorizations (PMAs) to make this happen economically in order to have the new parts supplies.

      Or some venture capitalist buying out a PMA OEM and expanding into production
      with the large stomach for high risk is possible; but not likely.

      While it sounds plausible, the real and hidden road blocks are substantial making the
      idea substantially pie in the sky; as good as it sounds; for the reasons listed.

      Realistic market views based on specific conditions, requirements, and restrictions matter
      highly; not considered in the article. Or the article is a little to fanciful also to be realistic.

      But the world loves new ideas, optimists and so do I. Good luck on it; or at least advocating.

      • jim hanson says:

        For all of the folks that thought LSAs were going to be cheap–it can’t happen. The engines have to be certificated or meet LSA standards. The Rotax 912 alone costs over $22000–so much for the $50,000 LSA–and no wonder the better LSAs cost $100,000+.

        On the other hand, a factory-reman Skyhawk or Cherokee could be produced for $150,000–nicely equipped–about half the cost of new. The competion would be “premium condition” used airplanes–but a 5 year old glass Skyhawk is still over $100,000. We could WISH for a cheaper airplane, but it isn’t going to happen.

        The reman 172/Warrior would have everything a new airplane has–paint, interior, glass, engine, avionics, and most important of all, a “ZERO TIME” logbook. It would also have a warranty. As a “new” airplane, it would have an attraction for lenders compared to a 30-year-old airplane.

        For the manufacturer, it would address the AD compliance issue–all ADs, Service Bulletins, and “fixit” problems would be addressed. The biggest issue for OEMs–they would likely not sell any new airplanes of that model. That’s OK–they aren’t selling new ones in any great numbers, anyway. It allows them to develop new products–products that differentiate the new production from the old–just as the introduction of the Cherokee vs. the Tri-Pacer changed buying desires 50 years ago–or in more modern times–the Cessna Corvallis vs. the old standards. It allows new life (and profitablity) from old products–as well as building a step-up for the new.

        • Terry D Welander says:

          With all the other negatives I have detailed in my previous blog here, product differentiation is hardly a realistic over riding course changing consideration.
          With regulation of aircraft being so detailed and pervasive, more so than anything ever built, product differentiation will never be an over riding consideration for the mass remanufacture of old aircraft because the
          differentiation on a relative basis from old to new small aircraft
          remanufacture is small from a flying perspective.

          Or go fly a classic as originally built and go fly a remanufactured
          small aircraft; and tell me how much over all difference you see.
          My comparison is my classic C-172 to a Cirrus SR-22 which I had
          a test flight; noticeable difference, yes. Overall, no great difference
          to me; especially considering the huge price difference. I get at
          least 70% of the joy out of my classic as compared to that
          Cirrus. I equate the Cirrus as certainly better than but in the
          ball park with a remanufactured classic aircraft.

          The onesy twosy crowd of A&Ps/AIs doing small aircraft remanufacturing, based on my observations, are in the best position to capitalize on any market upsurge in demand remanufactured aircraft.

          My current A&P/AI has one to three C-172s in remanufacture at any given time as fill in work from his regular customers. Based on a cursory check, 10% to 20% of the shops out there currently do small aircraft remanufacture. Or lots of supply with demand so far trailing based on what I have seen.

          ADs on classic Cessnas are the least of any aircraft. Remanufacturing would give
          the bureaucracy excuses to add more ADs. A classic Cherokee is not too far behind a Cessna low maintenance. So any concern over ADs and maintenance would likely only increase with remanufactured aircraft; another negative for remanufactured aircraft.

          The inspection and fix it process for all aircraft is such that a classic small aircraft with all of the inspections and little fix its that occur make the aircraft in better general shape than most new aircraft. Anyone who pays attention to aircraft maintenance knows this and buying new is well down the list of choices; in at least some instances a non choice. So remanufactured aircraft may be better than new aircraft, but probably not as good as a classic aircraft having been through 15 to
          50 annual inspections with regular maintenance; generally seen by knowledgeable people as a better than new aircraft.

          Anyone serous about buying a remanufactured C-172, send me an email and I
          will give you my AP/AIs name and phone number and he will be happy to detail out what he has.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] New airplanes cost too much. Used aircraft prices have slumped. The fleet is aging. There's a lack of new thinking in the industry. The pilot population is …www.generalaviationnews.com/…/back-to-basics-with-the-3rs/ [...]

Speak Your Mind

*