MakerPlane: A Plan For The Collective Homebuilt

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The idea behind MakerPlane is to create an "open source aviation project" that allows people to build their own aircraft using personal Computer Numerical Control (CNC) mills and 3D printers. In that way, MakerPlane hopes to create an environment where people can produce aircraft largely "built on a computer controlled mill at home." The man behind the idea, John Nicol, based in Canada, is seeking to reduce the financial means and physical capabilities required by an individual seeking to build an aircraft. Aside from creating a new largely digital workflow for builders, MakerPlane would also seek to cultivate multi-media builder assistance products and physical builder assistance sites. Nicol has unveiled MakerPlane's first design, "Version 1.0," from Israel-based aeronautical engineer, Jeffrey Meyer. The design conforms to LSA weight and speed requirements. V 1.0 also aims to be a modular design and MakerPlane intends to offer plans, free.

As a modular aircraft, builders could choose from "different pre-approved options" including "landing gear, wings, power plant, interior and other configurations." Aside from aircraft, MakerPlane hopes to create a new level of safety and accuracy in homebuilt aircraft through its use of mechanized "consistent, repeatable and highly accurate processes." Nicol envisions support communities that provide access to contributing designers and participants who volunteer their ideas to builders at every phase of the building process. "This is an international effort of like-minded folks all over the world," says Nicol. That in itself may not be so different from the advanced community forums and CNC-produced parts that exist among some of the world's most popular kitbuilt aircraft designs, like Van's Aircraft. Where MakerPlane would separate itself from that group is through its use of digital manufacturing processes at individual builder's homes, and a modular design that can be more easily adapted to individual needs.