Glock Forum - GlockTalk banner

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, now that I am doing my flight training for my PPL, I was wondering just why in the heck aircraft are so damned expensive. The plane I fly is a 1976 172M and would still pull 50 to 60K on the open market. Personally, I see nothing on it that should be that expensive to manufacture, let alone the 200K price for a new stripped 172. Is the high price of GA aircraft based on FAA red tape and expense for certification, supply and demand or is there really 200K in materials and labor costs associated with building a new 172. I also couldn't help but notice that the 4 cyclinder air cooled flat 4 VW bug engine costs over 20K alone.....ack!!!

I'm just wondering if it would be possible for a new aircraft manufacturer to actually build and sell reasonably priced GA aircraft for the common man, maybe in the 40K to 60K range brand new depending on options.
 

·
Liberal Bane
Joined
·
20,358 Posts
Originally posted by GlueSniffinEd
I'm just wondering if it would be possible for a new aircraft manufacturer to actually build and sell reasonably priced GA aircraft for the common man, maybe in the 40K to 60K range brand new depending on options.
They could do it quite easily... and they would be sued out of business before the Sun set on their first day of sales.
 

·
ʇno uıƃuɐɥ ʇsnɾ
Joined
·
3,532 Posts
$1 for the manufacturer, $10 for the blood sucking pig Fn#ker lawyers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
"New" single engine airplanes have always cost about the same as an average house. It was like this 50 years ago. The problem I have is that they still build the same airplanes with the same short life engines. What's up with that? You'd think after a hundred years the air cooled opposed engine would be perfected by now and other than trim and fancy features, all the normal GA planes are pretty much exactly like the ones they built 50 years ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
238 Posts
I have been told by various Beechcraft employees that the current cost of an aircraft is 100% higher due to product liability.
Everyone who runs out of fuel or hits a mountain sues the deepest pockets involved. Not many win but defending or settling the legal claims takes money, and the ignorant juries frequently try to nail the manufacturer for obvious pilot error.
This problem has made other industries suffer too. Have you read a ladder lately?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Originally posted by Beeg
The problem I have is that they still build the same airplanes with the same short life engines.
That's a piston engine for you.

They need to make some smaller turboprop engines, take the small williams engines or something. Then you'd get TBO many times longer, and that engine overhaul is one of the big problems with piston planes, in some cases it can cost nearly as much as you paid for the used airplane.
 

·
Pickles!
Joined
·
23 Posts
Not to mention that the engines in most piston GA aircraft are about the equivalent to what was in an early model Volkswagon Beetle. Even though you could buy the beetle engine new in the crate today for $1500, to buy pretty much the same engine that's "certified" for flight is somewhere around $10,000.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
124 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Man, I'm really starting to think that the price is so high just because it can be. After my flying today I asked my instructor what it REALLY costs to own an airplane (he has two, a 160HP Decathlon and a Piper Cherokee 6). His Decathlon just came out of it's annual, it was $3900.00 for them to cut holes in his wings and tell him that there was no rot in the wood, cracks in the wood or corrosion in his control cables. Just last year, his required overhaul on his 160HP VW bug motor, A.K.A. Lycoming O-320B, was right at $20,000.00....to overhaul....not buy a complete engine. !!!!! $20K for an overhaul !!!!! I can buy the biggest baddest 610 HP crate hemi brand new from Mopar Performance for $5 grand less than his overhaul!!!

He (my instructor) is the second person I have had tell me to go experimental if I absolutely must own a plane on a budget; the first was a guy that owned a YAK-52.

Looks like I'll need to either get rich or become an A&P guy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
238 Posts
Experimental does not mean substandard, it is easy to find examples that are works of art and built better than most any factory GA plane. Performance and economy can also be better. Why? Most of the liability is taken out of the equation and a freedom with the design by people who aren't restrained by corporate paranoia.
Most light GA aircraft are relics of aero design from the '30s with the exception of the avionics. The industry has been crippled by high cost and low performance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
227 Posts
Originally posted by CaptainOveur
Try running that mopar engine at max RPM for it's entire lifespan.
But the SAME engine, if it were in an airplane, would only be making about 230 hp and be limited to 2700 rpm.... it should easily run several thousand hours under those conditions.

But Mooney tried, several years ago (15 ?) to sell an airplane with a MODERN Porshe designed engine...electronic ignition, computer controll (single power lever controlled throttle and prop)... it didn't sell.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,238 Posts
Originally posted by IslandHopper
But the SAME engine, if it were in an airplane, would only be making about 230 hp and be limited to 2700 rpm.... it should easily run several thousand hours under those conditions.
Actually, it will last forever because it will never leave the ground. You can not just limit the top RPM. The engine does not have the torque at the low RPMs to swing the prop. What you are proposing is akin to getting a car rolling in 3rd gear. The engine will stall before the car goes anywhere. In order to get an automotive engine to swing a prop at around 2700 RPM, you need a PSRU (Propeller Speed Reduction Unit AKA gear box) which has been the Achilles heel for most automotive conversions. No one has been able to design a reliable one that could handle the power as well as the dynamic flight loads while still being light enough to be practical.
But Mooney tried, several years ago (15 ?) to sell an airplane with a MODERN Porshe designed engine...electronic ignition, computer controll (single power lever controlled throttle and prop)... it didn't sell.
The Mooney FPM with the Porsche designed and manufactured engine did not sell because it did not deliver the performance. The flat 4/6 air cooled engines are 60 year old designs, but for the needs of GA, nothing better has been developed so far. In the last decade a number of companies have tried to develop modern engines, either from scratch or by adapting an automotive engine. Most have failed, taking the personal fortunes of the individuals behind them. A few are just barely alive and none have even come close to meeting the goals they had set for themselves.

The Detroit or Japanese engine in your ride spends most of its life producing well under 10% of its rated power. It runs at a high RPM and counts on a gear box to reduce the engine RPM to a useable range. Its electronics do not have to deal with lightning or p-static (when was the last time you grounded your car at the gas station before fuelling?) Weight is a not a huge live or die issue. It is water cooled, which means that it has to operate at a fairly narrow temperature range and at much cooler temperatures than the air cooled engines.

If you want to compare automotive engines to aircraft engines, auto racing engines would be a much better comparison. They are designed to run close to full power for most of their life. Unfortunately, they have a TBO of about 20 hours. Yes, that is TWENTY hours.

As for turbines, they are not a good fit for GA aircrafts. Turbines shine at high altitude and high output. They do not scale down well. As you scale them down, the power goes down but the weight and fuel consumption does not keep pace. In the end, you end up with an engine whose fuel consumption at idle is more than the cruise fuel consumption for the IO-550 that it is replacing.

If Continental and Lycoming can only rediscover how to manufacture them correctly, their air cooled flat 4/6 engines are still the best engines for the GA fleet. If you want to replace them just because the design is dated, why not start by replacing the wheels. That design has remained unchanged for millennia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
485 Posts
Some of the new diesel cycle engines which burn Jet fuel show great promise. They are about 30% more efficient and use modern technology and manufacturing methods. Turbines suck too much fuel. As to the original question....The reason GA airplanes are so expensive is because of the cost of design, certification (that is millions $$ and takes years), and liability which has to be spread among the low volume of production. Look at the cost of autos which are sold in low volumes. It has been said that even a lowly Honda Accord would run $200K if they only built 10,000 of them.
Look at the cost of Ferrari's, porsche's, maybach's, etc. They are built in even greater numbers than airplanes.

One of the biggest reasons the Porsche engine didn't survive was that it cost about the same, and you were really limited as to who was qualified to work on it. If your Lycoming starts running rough almost any airfield has a mechanic who can fix it.

As to the 20K overhaul of an O-320.....you have to realize that what is called an "overhaul" is nearly a replacement of everything except the case and crankshaft. And sometimes those have to be replaced also. Don't confuse a "VW Bug" motor with a Lycoming just because they are 4 cylinder air-cooled engines. A bug motor was between 90 and 120 cu. inches?? A 160 HP Lycoming is 320 cu. inches. Roughly 3 times the size.
 

·
NRA Life Member
Joined
·
821 Posts
Originally posted by kengps
Some of the new diesel cycle engines which burn Jet fuel show great promise. They are about 30% more efficient and use modern technology and manufacturing methods.
They're also heavier, and, at least in the case of Thielert, cannot be overhauled. At between 1000 (cetificated) and 2400 (projected) hours, you completely replace the engine at a cost of over $24k euros ($31k at current exchange rates.)
 

·
Uhavthecontrols
Joined
·
2,131 Posts
Originally posted by c6601a
The Detroit or Japanese engine in your ride spends most of its life producing well under 10% of its rated power. It runs at a high RPM and counts on a gear box to reduce the engine RPM to a useable range. Its electronics do not have to deal with lightning or p-static (when was the last time you grounded your car at the gas station before fuelling?) Weight is a not a huge live or die issue. It is water cooled, which means that it has to operate at a fairly narrow temperature range and at much cooler temperatures than the air cooled engines.

If you want to compare automotive engines to aircraft engines, auto racing engines would be a much better comparison. They are designed to run close to full power for most of their life. Unfortunately, they have a TBO of about 20 hours. Yes, that is TWENTY hours.

As for turbines, they are not a good fit for GA aircrafts. Turbines shine at high altitude and high output. They do not scale down well. As you scale them down, the power goes down but the weight and fuel consumption does not keep pace. In the end, you end up with an engine whose fuel consumption at idle is more than the cruise fuel consumption for the IO-550 that it is replacing.

If Continental and Lycoming can only rediscover how to manufacture them correctly, their air cooled flat 4/6 engines are still the best engines for the GA fleet. If you want to replace them just because the design is dated, why not start by replacing the wheels. That design has remained unchanged for millennia.
:goodpost:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Originally posted by east_stingray
Not to mention that the engines in most piston GA aircraft are about the equivalent to what was in an early model Volkswagon Beetle. Even though you could buy the beetle engine new in the crate today for $1500, to buy pretty much the same engine that's "certified" for flight is somewhere around $10,000.
Try $30,000.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Originally posted by Peteinco
Try $30,000.
To be fair, he was talking about an "equivalent" engine.

So a weak engine with small cylinders that would maybe power a light homebuilt aircraft, costs around $10,000.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,238 Posts
Originally posted by kengps
Some of the new diesel cycle engines which burn Jet fuel show great promise.
Yes, they do show great promise and promises are all you will get. The reality is that they are the technology of tomorrow and always will be.

Zoche comes to mind as an example. It was the best of breed in the mid 90's. I actually saw it run at Oshkosh. It was backed by German government money and employed some brilliant and practical engineers. I think they were definitely, positively going to be in production in 1996 or 97. Do they even show up any more?

The most efficent engines in the world are the huge marine diesel engines for freight ships. The stroke and bore of the pistons is measured in feet (10+ feet), the horsepower in hundreds of thousands of horses and the TBO in hundreds of thousands of hours. But as is so often the case, they do not scale well. By the time you add the weight of the more sturdy heads, a two stage turbo charger or a turbo charger + supercharger, water cooling etc, you are looking at something that is much bigger and much heavier than the IO??? or even the TIO??? that it is replacing.

The few Aerodiesels in production today are substantially under powered than the legacy engines thay are replacing. The only reason they are surviving is government mandate (threat of 100LL's demise) or comparing their turbo'd high altitude performance against NA competition.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
485 Posts
Small companies like Zoche will never produce a new production engine. Neither will Innodyn produce a cheap turbine. The Dyna-Cam will never reach production. The economies of numbers simply aren't there to cover the cost of development and certification. But there will be some. It will be a large company with experience, such as continental or Lycoming. Rotax could do it. Theilert has a new V8 coming thru certification now.
I think sport aviation is on a resurgence. There will be a market for efficient engines. Especially small ones for LSA. Imagine an R-44 with 4 hours of endurance instead of the typical 3 hours with helicopters. Someone posted the cost of overhauling a Theilert at $30,000 and suggested it is too high. Look at what you save in fuel cost over it's lifetime. A 2 gallon per hour fuel savings over a 2400 hour life is a $25,000.00 savings at $5.00/gal for 100 LL. The engine practically pays for itself in fuel savings. Gasoline engines aren't much cheaper to overhaul either. An O-320 is around $20,000. Would you pay $10,000 extra for a $25,000 savings in fuel? I would. Not to mention the nagging maintenance of the old piston engines. There is always something wrong with them. Continental can't seem to build a cylinder anymore that will last more than 600-700 hours. Last time I had a turbo'd cont I went thru 3 sets of cylinders before reaching TBO. And I went thru 4 engines to TBO. That's a lot of $$. Remember "Topcare" a marketing campain to acknowledge that yes our cylinders are crap and we don't know what to do but pretend it is a maintenance issue?? I gave up and now I have a single engine turbine. Up here avgas is $5.00 plus. I pay $3.57 for Jet fuel. I can't remember the last time I paid for maintenance on it. When someone produces a Diesel which should burn around half what a turbine does I'll jump on it. $3.57 isn't cheap either.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top