Project Status

Here’s a short record of where each major “section” of the project is:

Empennage – ordered 12/06 – received 12/24/06 – started 2/07

Wings – ordered 3/31/08 – received 6/20/08 – started 7/7/08

Fuselage – ordered 12/19/08 – received 2/20/09 – started 9/28/09

Finishing Kit – ordered 1/28/10 – received 5/26/10 – started 7/9/10

Engine – ordered 9/13/10 – received 12/22/10 – hung 1/9/11 – first start 7/3/12

Avionics (Phase I) – ordered 1/7/11 – received 3/9/11 & 4/26/11

Propeller – ordered 6/9/11 – received 12/22/11

Hangar space – found 5/11 (KRGK)

First flight – 8/11/12

Paint – someday

My vision for the plane:

Will be equipped VFR day/night to begin with, but the panel designed for easy upgrade to IFR (by the addition of an IFR-certified GPS and any necessary backup instrumentation). Goal is local/nearby fun flights and cross-country travel. I’d like to get into the air affordably, but not skimp on comfort or safety, and keep options open for future upgrades (to me, this means thinking ahead).

Obviously, products come and go, so this list is always subject to change, but here’s what’s in my mind today:

Airframe options: tip-up canopy, electric pitch trim, manual roll trim, dual steps, dual brakes, combination of hinges & camlocks on cowling. Sikaflex install on the front canopy and forward bow of the rear window; the aft side of the rear window is sealed with a bead of Sika, but held in place by screws, due to difficulty in obtaining the proper bead thickness with the way that portion of the window attaches.

Engine: Experimental IO-320 from AeroSport Power; constant-speed crank configured for a fixed-pitch prop.  ECI cylinders with 14mm plug bosses top & bottom; dual P-mags, Airflow Performance FM-100 injection w/purge valve.  Plane Power 60amp alternator (provision for B&C SD-8 backup alt), Skytek NL starter, Reiff Turbo XP preheat system with sump & cylinder band heaters for winter flying.  Outfitted to eventually run on premium autogas.

Prop: Catto 3-blade (supposedly not as fast as a 2-blade, but smoother, and I like the way it looks.  With the new metal leading edge he’s installing, the RPM limitation for rain is gone, and it’s supposed to be good for debris too.)  I had also considered the Whirlwind GA200 ground-adjustable composite prop, which looks good and also has metal leading edges, and uses the same blade design as the 200RV constant-speed prop, which is well-regarded for performance.  Despite a number of people signing on to the group buy when that prop came out, there were few to no flying reviews available when I needed to pick a prop.  Catto gets nothing but glowing reviews, and I had the 3-blade in my mind from day one, so that’s the way I went.

Interior: Classic Aero Aviator style in Ultraleather (synthetic leather) tans/browns with blue accents. Just seats/carpet in the beginning, without the fancy side panels and such, to save money; can add those options later. I sprung for the good seats, as comfort is important for my wife, especially on longer trips.  Seat heaters for cold wx operations, along with dual heat muffs and aileron rod boots.  No headrest to retain access to baggage compartment.  Front floor carpet, but leave the side panels and baggage area carpet/panels out, at least initially. Exposed interior painted for protection, ease of cleaning, and aesthetics.

Panel, initial setup: Advanced Flight Systems AF-4500EE (combined engine monitor & EFIS, with AOA, backup battery, and mapping options), Garmin SL-40 comm, GTX327 transponder, GMA240 audio panel.  Vertical Power VP-X Pro.  CO-455 CO/SpO2 sensor.  I really liked the panels that Mike Behnke and Bret Smith put together–complete with backlit toggle switch legends!  …  Mike was kind to share his panel drawing, which I used as the basis for my own design.  The panel is just under 1.5″ oversized, and was CNC cut by Bill Morelli.

Panel, upgrades: Second AF-4500EF (for dual AHRS, or get the 4500-MFD to be cheap), ARINC module, AF-Pilot by TruTrak, NavWorx ADS600-B, Garmin GTN-650 or GNS-430W.  All of that is prewired for as close to plug-and-play expansion as possible, with a minimum of rewiring fuss.  Could swap SL-40 for SL-30 nav/comm for redundant comm if needed.  Could have a third AFS screen (3400 series) or a little Dynon on the right side later for EFIS redundancy and/or copilot access.

Electrical: I fell for the Vertical Power VP-X the day it was announced…I’d been considering the VP-100, but the announcement of the VP-X and the ability to design your own switchology, at a reasonable price, pushed me over the edge.  I ordered the harness kit and the empty CU shell to install.  When the VP-X product line was revamped, I chose to upgrade to the VP-X Pro, to avoid putting outdated hardware in.  Later on, I bought the “shop-grade” (aka cheaper) Molex crimper, along with some of the gold-plated terminals–there are some wires (like the nav/strobe, and the preinstalled power wires in the avionics harnesses) that just make more sense to put pins on, rather than replace with the pre-crimped wires.  The VP unit takes care of circuit protection and switching, plus alot of things usually done through add-on gadgetry such as wig-wag lights, trim speed control, flap positioning, etc.

Paint: I have a folder with paint schemes I like saved up for the “someday” portion of this project. I will be flying before paint, and paint later. Not sure about DIY painting vs. a pro shop–not sure of my abilities with such a project, and lacking a clean environment; will likely depend on cost & budget at that point. Scheme would be simple, currently thinking light (white/gray) on top and blue on bottom, with a stylized gold or silver trim tripe at the junction.  Visible cabin parts are being painted with Rustoleum Hammered, in the ‘Dark Bronze’ color.

Primer: All parts are being primed with Stewart Systems waterbourne primer/sealer, prepped with their EkoEtch and a ScotchBrite scrub, rinse with water and allow to dry.  (Some smaller interior parts later in the build are primed with rattle-can Rustoleum primer/sealer, for ease — cleaning the gun gets tiring after awhile, and when you just need to shoot a little part so you can put it in and move on…)

Total hours by month:

February 20071.2
April 20070.2
May 200726.6
June 200741.2
July 200721.8
August 20076.5
September 20078.1
November 20071.5
April 20083.2
June 200825.5
July 200826.1
August 20087.0
December 200822.6
January 200954.4
February 200932.9
March 200934.5
April 200928.3
May 200926.4
June 200920.6
July 200939.1
August 200951.1
September 200936.3
October 200920.2
November 200930.0
December 200921.9
January 201069.2
February 201047.8
March 201036.4
April 201022.8
May 201022.9
June 201086.8
July 201090.1
August 201073.7
September 201022.2
October 20106.6
November 201013.3
December 201016.0
January 201167.9
February 201148.9
March 201177.5
April 201130.1
May 201127.0
June 201146.0
July 201191.8
August 201116.6
September 201110.5
December 201113.8
January 201217.8
February 201278.9
March 201283.9
April 201236.3
May 201228.2
June 201270.1
July 201283.4
August 201243.2
September 20126.0
October 201216.0

Total number of hours worked: 1988.9
Total number of months logged: 57
Average hours per month: 34.89

Total number of days logged: 498
Average hours per day: 3.99