Why Aren't Remanufactured Airplanes More Of A Thing?

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If I were an airplane salesman, I would starve to death. Airplanes that I think have no prayer of selling fly out of the factory almost faster than they can be produced. One of these was Diamond’s DA42, which I thought was a long shot. The DA62, one of the best GA airplanes ever, in my view, is also selling briskly, despite a price point well north of $1 million.

On the other hand, considering the price of new airplanes, I thought that with retrofit avionics matching the capability of new stuff, refurbing or remanufacturing older airplanes to new standards would be a can’t-miss industry. Well, not exactly. Several remanufacture projects are established with varying degrees of success, but there’s nothing like the volume I figured would materialize.

The latest of these projects is from Premier Aircraft, a well-known brokerage and mod house in Fort Lauderdale. They’re doing a spinner-to-tail remanufacture of the Piper Dakota and I flew the first one on Friday. I’ll have a full video report on it in a few days. The Premier Edition Dakota is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It’s an older airframe stripped to bare metal, painted, fixed and tarted up with the latest in avionics, plus a new leather interior, so it smells new. It doesn’t have Garmin’s G1000 NXi, but the G500 Premier offers functionally similar capability. Prices of this vary with avionics and options selected, but range between $259,000 and $329,000. Premier’s Barry Rutheiser told me Friday that the company has gotten a lot of nibbles on this project.  

The Dakota is an interesting choice. When Piper launched it, it replaced the 180-HP four-cylinder Lycoming in the Cherokee with a six-cylinder O-540, boosting the power from 180 to 235 HP. The result is 1100 to 1200 pounds of useful and a cruise speed of up to 140 knots. For owners who want to haul a lot of stuff and want a low wing to do it, the Dakota is a perfect fit. It’s also a niche. Piper built some 32,000 Cherokees of various types, but fewer than 3000 are the PA-28-235/236 that constitute the six-cylinder line.

So far, other remanufacture products haven’t hit impressive strides. Premier did a Skyhawk with the Continental diesel conversion and found little traction. Redbird did better with its Redhawk conversion, the same basic idea, but they now won’t say how many they’ve sold. My guess is around 20. Africair, another Florida company, has converted about 60 Skyhawks to diesel, but they’ve been at it for more than 10 years, so that’s an airplane every couple of months. Yingling Aviation did a nice job on its remanufacture of the Skyhawk called the Ascend 172. Sales have been sluggish.

If I knew why, I wouldn’t be a candidate for becoming a starving airplane salesman. These airplanes are typically priced at about $250,000 or $150,000 less than a new version. Even though I’ve always felt this to be a good value against new, maybe the price delta isn’t enough. Maybe it needs to be half the price of new or maybe the people selling these need to have Kenny Ditchter’s view of where value resides in airplanes. Or maybe they’re worried about or don’t understand how paying two-thirds the price of new for an airplane that’s 30 years old will depreciate or how banks will loan on it. Maybe “nearly new” just isn’t quite good enough as actually new.

Or maybe no one has hit the sweet spot of asking price against some unique capability or performance. New, used or remanufactured, a Skyhawk is just a Skyhawk and Cessna is still building them. But Piper isn’t building Dakotas and if they did, they would probably cost every bit of $500,000, if not nearer to $600,000.

We’ll see how Premier makes out with its Dakota project. With a few minor exceptions, it presents as new. If I liked low wings and needed to fill the seats and the tanks, I’d certainly give it a serious look.    

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Nonetheless, in the coming weeks, you’ll see more voices writing in this space as other staffers contribute their own analysis of events in aviation. I’ll continue to lend a hand from time to time. We’ll also be opening the pages up to guest blogs, so if you have your own commentary or analysis, fire off a message to the newsteam and let us know what you have in mind. We’ll get back to you.

Comments (57)

It is the old cost point. There are lots of rent a wrecks for under and around $50k. $150K to $200K is still too much, especially when you can get one of the C172 R or S models for the $100K or less price range. It takes a long time to recoup the initial investment for a product that is only marginally better than lesser cost aircraft.
Granted that the remanufactured aircraft have had lots of parts R&R but for many operators it is more cost effective to deal with those items on an as needed basis. It is all about a flight schools cash flow. For an individual or small club, it is the lower initial cost that is appealing. This allows the owner(s) to fly at lower hourly costs.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | October 15, 2017 9:01 PM    Report this comment

If someone could truly remanufacture the airframe then I think you'd see more interest. And when I say remanufacture I mean zero-time the airframe much liking Viking aircraft did with the Twin Otter prior to starting new build aircraft. As nice as these refurbed options are from Yingling and their ilk you cannot avoid the fact that you are still buying a 30+ year old airframe.

Posted by: Tom Kovac | October 16, 2017 12:05 AM    Report this comment

I just spent more than two equivalent weeks putting in an ADS-B transponder in my C172M. During the process of installing the GPS antenna and then the box itself, I got up close and personal -- again -- with the airplane. I've owned it for 32+ years now. During that entire time, it's only been out of my hands for maintenance once. Next year, I'm planning on gutting the entire avionics suite if time allows. It's going to be a VFR airplane so I don't need no stinkin' TV sets in it ... although I admit I'd love to have one. More importantly, I'd love to have one of those blue "JFK Jr buttons" in it.

I also own a prisitine now 50+ year old PA28-140. With a like new current scheme repaint, it LOOKS good and catches peoples eye but it isn't nearly the airplane as the mid-70's Skyhawk is despite the fact that they shares the same basic engine. The short winged Hershey bar winged Pipers just can't do what the camber lift winged Skyhawks can. And, ingress/egress and MX is SO much easier in the high winged airplane. I know I'll be attacked for this but ... that's the way I see it.

IMHO, the Skyhawk -- with more than 40,000 produced -- is a ripe candidate for reman. The Yingling airplane IS nice but they've chosen to focus on the newer "N" model. And, they've chosen to buy the airframes themselves and do a total turn key overhaul. This drives up the cost and provides an airplane that's still too expensive for private owners. That's where the bread and butter is. They're missing entire segments of the potential market. An existing owner ought to be able to shop from a catalog of reman areas and pay only for what they want or can afford. With a proper assembly / manufacturing line, they could beat the quality of field overhauls, do a better job and have more flow thru work ... but they've chosen not to do this. And, they've told me to my face that they don't do "M" models. Well ... phooey on you then, Yingling. I'll do it myself.

I'm fortunate. I'm an A&P, have an excellent hangar to work in and am retired ... so I can save lots of money by just doing it myself. And, I get it MY way. When I compare what I intend to produce with my "M" model Skyhawk with what the reman organizations are doing ... we're in different solar system. THAT is the problem and why so few are selling.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | October 16, 2017 2:14 AM    Report this comment

The Dakota is an awesome choice for reman. Who knows if it will sell at that price point, but at least it's a simple airplane.

If we've learned anything over the decades it's that retractable gear makes no sense. Every landing is a possible tragedy.

Posted by: Peter Kuhns | October 16, 2017 4:50 AM    Report this comment

The problem with remanufactured aircraft is that the market doesn't see long term value in it. When does a turn key remanufactured aircraft become just another used aircraft again? Let's say I'm OK with paying Yinging $200K for a remanufactured C-172. Who's going to loan me the money if they know that 1-2 years into ownership, the market now values the plane at 60-70K? Will my insurance company write me a policy for $200K? These are the biggest issues with remanufactured aircraft. Most owners aren't even willing to voluntarily do the supplemental inspections outlined by Cessna. What makes you think someone will loan you money or insure that investment.

Posted by: John Pursell | October 16, 2017 6:04 AM    Report this comment

Paul, your writing will be missed. Not only for the information you've been able to share but for your entertaining, take-no-prisoners prose. Thanks for the many years of insightful contributions.

Posted by: Lee Buechler | October 16, 2017 6:24 AM    Report this comment

Nice article about Dakota rebuilds, but the REAL issue here is the potential loss of our esteemed King of Sardonic Pontification! Say it ain't so, Paul! Where will we get our fix of psychotropic-influenced aviation observation? No offense to other guest bloggers, but they just aren't the same!

But seriously Paul, your writing is unmatched in its direct and forthright view of the world as seen by the average Joe pilot (if there is such a thing). I understand the lure of partial (?) retirement, but hope to see you around these parts as time allows. Thank you for your efforts over the years; we really appreciate it. Best wishes!

Posted by: A Richie | October 16, 2017 7:01 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

Are you retiring? Say it ain't so...

As to remaufactured GA aircraft? Simply too expensive.

Everyone can do the math. The "remanufacture" is a made-up term. The old airplanes get a facelift, to varying degrees, but hardly "remanufactured".

Anyone can figure out what it costs to aquire a relatively low-time airframe, put in a new or zero-time engine, add interior, avionics, and paint. The total is a fraction of what the "remanufacturers" are asking for their versions of the facelift.

Until that delta gets reduced considerably, the business model will remain anemic.

Keep up the good work.

jd

Posted by: Jeffery Darnall | October 16, 2017 7:08 AM    Report this comment

There are really two different targets addressed by the reman market: private owners and fleets (e.g. flight schools). Both of them are apparently too discerning to splash out $200k to buy a $50K airframe that's been shined up. Is a student going to learn any more effectively in a remanufactured 172 than an original? Probably not, so the only hook the reman guys have there is whether the aircraft is more efficient to operate, either through lower mx costs or lower operating costs-- both of which the diesel remans were supposed to provide. I think that explains why the fleet buyers don't seem to have jumped into remanufactured airframes.

For private owners, it's the same only worse. The market segment that can afford a $50K Skyhawk isn't willing to pay 4x that for the same basic airframe with new trimmings. The market segment that *can* is probably going to buy a more capable airplane. Sure, there are people out there who would rather have a $200K 172N with a new engine, paint, interior, and avionics than a 10-year-old Cirrus, but evidently not many of them.

Fun thought exercise for another time: Riley, RAM, and Nextant (and maybe Raisbeck) seem to have been successful at various times in this market, but with more expensive airplanes (and using a cafeteria-style approach like Larry mentioned). Why?

Posted by: paul robichaux | October 16, 2017 7:36 AM    Report this comment

"...a cruise speed of up to 140 knots"

Are we talking indicated airspeed, or true airspeed? My club owns a Dakota (-236), and 140kias is laughable. 140ktas is more doable, but only if you're flat-out below about 4000msl. Otherwise, 130ktas, maybe 135ktas, is more reasonable.

In my opinion, the Dakota is the best aircraft Piper ever built in the $100,000+ range, so it's a good choice for a reman. But $320k seems a bit steep. Paint and interior is about $35k, all new avionics is maybe around $50k, and a tip-to-tail inspection and rebuild maybe $20k depending on the age. You can find a 235 or 236 in decent condition for around $120k, so that would put it around $225k. Tack on $25k for profit and you're around $250k. Only if it was certified as a zero-time airframe would the $320k mark make sense.


"...and MX is SO much easier in the high winged airplane."

That's funny, because I just spent a week doing an owner-assist on my club's Dakota, and the mechanics were all telling me how much more maintenance-intensive the high-wing Cessnas are. And I can see why: just the control rigging alone is a lot more complex than the low-wing Pipers.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | October 16, 2017 7:41 AM    Report this comment

Paul,
I read this column because of your writing. I've really appreciated the years of reading enjoyment.

I hope you'll become too bored not to write more.

Joseph

Posted by: Joseph Barber | October 16, 2017 9:06 AM    Report this comment

The reason that re-man aircraft may not make economic sense, is because for about the same money you can usually find a newer (but still used) version of that same aircraft with better performance and more modern features.

For example, the Diamond factory will take a used 2006-2008 DA42 TDI with run-out Thielert engines and completely gut it and remanufacture it with Austro engines, the latest G1000 and GFC700 autopilot, to where it's effectively a beautiful brand new DA42 NG model.

But because of the extensive labor effort involved, they have to sell it in the $600K+ range. That's 2/3 the cost of a new DA42, which may appear to be good value. However for $700K you may be able to find a 2014 or newer barely-used DA42-VI that flies 20 knots faster with a greater useful load. (Or buy a nice Thielert-powered DA42 TDI with good Thielert (now Continental) engines in the $300K range.)

The other thing to remember is that almost all new GA aircraft are sold for business use -- where the new owner may be able to take advantage of accelerated depreciation and other tax benefits to get back almost 1/3 the price of the plane in the first year. This also makes re-man aircraft less attractive, relatively speaking.

Posted by: DAVE PASSMORE | October 16, 2017 9:20 AM    Report this comment

Refurbs by owner. It's less expensive to do partial or complete refurbishments with a choice of avionics mix. On C172s. Diesels are OUT. 180hp conversions are IN. GNS430/530W still running strong. Airframes in good condition are still available.

Paul, the avweb swamp ain't gonna be quite the same without you. You are a unique and respected aviation journalist.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | October 16, 2017 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Larry,
I'm no fan of the older semi monocoque airframes, but I totally agree on your points. Don't under estimate ease of ingress when your buyers average over 50 years of age.

John,
You said just what I was thinking. The only reason, IMO, to buy a rebuild is operational needs not being met by newer builds or designs. Thinking individuals will make the same decisions businesses do won't make for good sales. Rebuilds mostly work by filling needs, not wants. The exception being classics with collector value, of course.

Many good points all, which makes you wonder why they try.

Posted by: Eric Warren | October 16, 2017 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Thanks very much for the kind words, guys. I really do appreciate it. Writing this blog has been great fun for me but twice a week for 10 years is more than a thousand of the &^$*G^! things. It draws down the creative battery and I think it a good idea for new voices.

I'll continue to contribute blogs and video because in my heart of hearts, I know few can quite match the cynical snark I have honed over these many years as an observer of the passing parade. It's a gift. Sister Salisha would remind me that it would be a sin to waste it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 16, 2017 11:37 AM    Report this comment

In 1997 when Cessna re-started the Single engine line, I was fortunate enough to obtain the distribution rights (Cessna CSTAR) for Kansas and Nebraska. Living in Wichita I came to know many of the factory Citation salesmen, including one who gave me a bit of sage advice that at the time seemed fairly obvious and not particularly profound. Steve he said, "There are NEW airplane buyers and there are USED airplane buyers and you can take that to the bank!" Over the course of the next 15 years I learned just how profound that statement was and I believe sheds a lot of light on the dismal history of "re-manufactured" airplanes. Re-manufactured airplanes are USED, period. NEW and USED buyers have entirely different value equations. A USED buyer asks himself, how much speed, payload and range can I buy with my $xxxK budget. The NEW buyer asks himself, what can I buy NEW for $xxxK? Minor exceptions notwithstanding the market is pretty clear on this.

Posted by: STEPHEN DUNNE | October 16, 2017 12:00 PM    Report this comment

Best to you Paul. I have enjoyed your work and cynical snark over the years. Usually look at your blog and the comments that it elicits first thing every morning and last thing in the evening. Thanks to Sister Salisha too as she somehow was able to get the best out of that PIA little kid many years ago.

Enjoy, we will miss you and await the occasional blog. Perhaps you are not as cycnical as you think, perhaps just have a more realistic take on the situation at hand. Gift not wasted.
LHL

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | October 16, 2017 12:05 PM    Report this comment

If a "re-manufacturer" truly believes in their work they should back it. If I was to rebuild aircraft, sell the warranty and hold the loan. The aircraft itself is just a small part of the buyers decision. Buyers that can afford such expensive aircraft do not want the worry of maintenance. If an A.D. or Service Bulletin comes up they want it taken care of and done before the next flight.

When busy people return from a flight with a squawk they want someone to call and they want it fixed before the next flight. If you don't offer reliability guarantee what are you really selling?

Posted by: Klaus Marx | October 16, 2017 12:43 PM    Report this comment

30+ Years ago I worked for Jack Riley "remanufacturing" Cessna P-210s and P-337s. We could purchase run out airframes for amazingly low prices and put in brand new (not reman) engines, avionics, paint + interior and sell them for a profit.....until people caught on to what we were doing and the price of run out airframes doubled in less than 2 years.

As long as the business model takes into account that you will eventually run out of cores at the right price it can be done.

Posted by: William Genevro | October 16, 2017 12:46 PM    Report this comment

Hey Paul.

As you experience more of the benefits of being away from the full-time workforce, do wean yourself gradually off the meds you'll no longer be needing. It's just not advisable to do that abruptly. I should know, I'm doing the same...

'Teaching is the specialized application of knowledge, skills and attributes designed to provide a unique service to meet the educational needs of the individual and of society.' Hooah to them all.

For this liberal/philosopher/homebuilder you provided that very necessary body of knowledge and timely insight as a journalist/teacher to our wonderful world of aviation that I needed at just the right time, amount and intellectual level. My life is indeed richer for it.

Though you're not quite a tree, big hug to ya anyway.
Enjoy the changes,
Dave

Posted by: Dave Miller | October 16, 2017 1:47 PM    Report this comment

Thanks, Dave. Kind of you to say.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 16, 2017 3:56 PM    Report this comment

Eric ... I just spent several weeks laying on a pile of pillows in my C172 working upside down under the panel. Getting out was just a matter of rolling over and sticking a foot or two out the door. On one occasion, I fell asleep as I assumed the supine. I've worked that in my short fuselage'd PA28 and nearly had to have a crane pull me out ... and I'm not too overweight or large, either. In the PA28, I sometimes don't put the copilot seat in so that I can step down into the thing since most of the time I fly solo. So -- for me -- your point is poignant. BTW: My PA28 comments were for the short fuselage'd airplanes ... since I see then as equivalent to the 172's.

HEY! Wait a minute. PB can't leave. Who the heck is gonna holler at me when I get out of line? OMG! I have dearly enjoyed your blogs, studied your writing style and sharpened MY tongue as a result. Thanks for all. Don't fall off that bike and fer gods sake ... stop jumping out of perfectly good airplanes !! I need a stiff drink ...

Posted by: Larry Stencel | October 16, 2017 4:37 PM    Report this comment

Paul, what the hell? Dammit, your blogs have been one of too few bright spots in an entropic world. Your insightful snark and constructive bad attitude have been a rare treat for us all. Fly safe!

Posted by: Richard Montague | October 17, 2017 7:27 AM    Report this comment

Paul, before you part. Was it something I said?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | October 17, 2017 8:45 AM    Report this comment

Yer killin' me here, Raf. As I said, I'll still be writing blogs and doing video. Just dialing back and encouraging the younger folks--the ones in their 70s--to come forward. (I swear, I saw two guys at NBAA towing oxygen bottles.)

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 17, 2017 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Having just recently returned to GA (started in my 20's, then dropped out due to life's demands), I am somewhat late to the party that goes on here at Avweb. However, it did not take me long to see who I turned to for the straight poop on whatever was being written about. I enjoy reading about aviation issues and trends by someone who is not afraid to say what is good and what is crap in the industry. However, having watched you in action filming your videos at Sun 'n Fun, I can see how the grind could wear on anyone. I would rather have less of your writing than to see you totally burn out and hang it up completely. After all, we don't want to see you lugging around any oxygen bottles. ;-)

Posted by: John McNamee | October 17, 2017 11:55 AM    Report this comment

The thing about a re-man (re-furb, really) is that anyone can do one - you don't have to "be in the biz." Buy a worn bird; strip it; repair/replace to like-nearly-new condition; new engine(s); new panel; new interior; new glass and paint. Ta da! It's easier than doing a home-built. I've done it.

To my knowledge, nobody is keeping track of how many such bespoke projects are completed, so who knows how common it is? Maybe it actually IS "a thing" - a stealth thing.

Meanwhile, I'll have to consult my flight surgeon, to see if he can prescribe a substitute medication for my alternate-days dose of Paul's pontifications. Bad for the readership, but - hopefully - a suitable reward for Paul. Don't stray too far, my friend. But be sure to do all of the things that I never would do!

-YARS

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | October 17, 2017 11:55 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, John and Yars. And thanks to all for your contributions to these pages. Kept me on my toes, for sure.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 17, 2017 1:00 PM    Report this comment

I have always enjoyed your writing Paul; I hope we'll still see it from time to time.

I'm not surprised by the failure of $250-350K refurbished aircraft to gain traction in the marketplace. At the end of the day one still has just a tarted-up 30+ year-old airframe that has nice cosmetics, newer avionics but still offers the same speed, range, efficiency and payload of the original used plane at 2X-3X the cost.

If the refurbished plane offered significant performance enhancements (Fuel injection? 250, 260 or even 300 hp vs. the original 235? Drag reduction mods? Significant STOL mods/capability? All of the above?) then the value proposition might attract attention. Without some or all such enhancements, one is left with the lipstick-on-a-pig thing.

I say the above based on some experience. For many years I owned, flew (and loved) Peterson-modified C182. These were also at least 2X-4X the cost of a "cherry" used 182P or -Q but in addition to refurbishment of the interior, exterior and instruments, they were upgraded with 260 or 300 hp fuel-injected engines, drag-reduction mods and Peterson's signature canard which really transforms the low-speed stability, stall/spin resistance and STOL capability of the 182. This is a very different airplane from the original 182 in all performance-related aspects. There is a relatively small but enthusiastic and enduring "niche" market for these aircraft. While more than 500 have been produced, it can be difficult to find them on the used market.

The Dakota was a fine alternative to the 182 in its day but "its day" passed a couple of decades ago. Only those--how many are there?--who are passionate about the PA28-235 may consider it. I think most others who have $350K to spend on a low-wing four-place piston single will be far more inclined towards something like a used SR22 G2 or G3 that cruises at 170+ KTAS, has a modern avionics suite, and is 12 years old or less. In just a few years, used SR22 G5 with payloads competitive with the Dakota will also be in that price range.

I just don't see the business case.

--Kevin Moore

Posted by: Kevin Moore | October 17, 2017 2:37 PM    Report this comment

I have always enjoyed your writing Paul; I hope we'll still see it from time to time.

I'm not surprised by the failure of $250-350K refurbished aircraft to gain traction in the marketplace. At the end of the day one still has just a tarted-up 30+ year-old airframe that has nice cosmetics, newer avionics but still offers the same speed, range, efficiency and payload of the original used plane at 2X-3X the cost.

If the refurbished plane offered significant performance enhancements (Fuel injection? 250, 260 or even 300 hp vs. the original 235? Drag reduction mods? Significant STOL mods/capability?) then the value proposition might attract attention. Without some or all such enhancements, one is left with the lipstick-on-a-pig thing.

I say the above based on some experience. For many years I owned, flew (and loved) Peterson-modified C182. These were also at least 2X-3X the cost of a "cherry" used 182P or -Q but in addition to refurbishment of the interior, exterior and instruments, they were upgraded with 260 or 300 hp fuel-injected engines, drag-reduction mods and Peterson's signature canard which really transforms the low-speed stability, stall/spin resistance and STOL capability of the 182. This is a very different airplane from the original 182 in all performance-related aspects. There is a relatively small but enthusiastic and consistent "niche" market for these aircraft. While more than 500 have been produced, it can be difficult to find them on the used market.

The Dakota was a fine alternative to the 182 in its day but "its day" passed a couple of decades ago. Only those--how many are there?--who are passionate about the PA28-235 may consider it. I think most others who have $350K to spend on a low-wing four-place piston single will be far more inclined towards something like a used SR22 G2 or G3 that cruises at 170+ KTAS, has a modern avionics suite, and is 12 years old or less. In just a few years, used SR22 G5 with payloads competitive with the Dakota will also be in that price range.

I just don't see the business case.

--Kevin Moore

Posted by: Kevin Moore | October 17, 2017 2:39 PM    Report this comment

Reason's simple. Price. When the plane is listed as remanufactured, it's probably the cream of the crop of non-new aircraft. The day after it sells, it's a 50 year old used plane and won't command any price premium beyond the ~50% retained value of the avionics, and maybe a few thousand for a nice interior and paint.

Unless someone is offering a zero-time airframe and a "real" justification for giving it the current year rather than its original manufacture year, it's got no appeal monetarily.

Unless a group is doing enough that the economy of scale lets them do this cheaper than someone putting paint, interior, and avionics on their own clapped out plane, it's just not going anywhere.

I'll add on my farewells, Paul. It's been a pleasure watching and reading your work over the past decade or so. I'll miss your writing, I hope you do still publish when the mood strikes you.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | October 17, 2017 2:47 PM    Report this comment

Paul, I hope you are just taking some time off and not retiring. You are one of the best Aviation writers and your dry humor and sarcasm are second to none. To be gone for too long.

I hope to meet you at Oshkosh or Sun & Fun sometime

Posted by: BRIAN BURTON | October 17, 2017 8:29 PM    Report this comment

Don't be gone for too long. That's what I get for typing on an iPad.

Posted by: BRIAN BURTON | October 17, 2017 8:33 PM    Report this comment

Airplanes come and go. Airports fade away into distant memory and overgrown fields. The FBO that was once full of hanger flyers eyeballing the weather while sipping stale coffe has changed hands and it's just not the same.

Places and airframes may have left a memory, but it's folks you meet along the way that leave a mark.

That old guy in a Cub with the epaulets multiplying with each pass, will teach you more in 4 minutes than any book learn' on the subject.

So Paul, go fire up the Cub. Take a flight and then come back and give us a debrief.

And keep this in mind; if you're "semi retired", it's finally the opportunity to tell us how you really feel.

Posted by: Robert Ore | October 17, 2017 9:45 PM    Report this comment

One thing that has not been mentioned in the value equation between a spruced-up 30+ year old airplane and a used Cirrus is the safety aspect. Some people may scoff at them, but I know several people who opted for a used Cirrus because of the balistic parachute system. And, even if they personally did not place much stock in it, their spouses wanted it because it made them feel safer. Yes, you can retrofit a BRS into a 172 or 182, but you give up a lot of payload and baggage space to do so. When the safety features are designed in from the start, it just works better.

Posted by: John McNamee | October 18, 2017 1:04 AM    Report this comment

Cirrus aircraft airframe time limits have not been mentioned either.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | October 18, 2017 3:08 AM    Report this comment

Hey, Raf - There's an idea for a guest blog: the differences between "fail-safe" and "safe-life" certifications under Part 23. Get crackin', bro!

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | October 18, 2017 4:04 AM    Report this comment

On it! Got the title. "The Automation of thermoplastics and thermosets in aviation". I'm exited.
, move over Paul.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | October 18, 2017 9:05 AM    Report this comment

"The Automation of thermoplastics and thermosets in aviation"

Sounds riveting! ;-)

Posted by: Gary Baluha | October 18, 2017 10:08 AM    Report this comment

"Sounds riveting!"
Groans...
This is why I love this site.

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | October 18, 2017 1:11 PM    Report this comment

15 years ago I took on the project of refurbishing a T-tailed Lance that had sat idle for several years. (paint, panel, interior) Knowing the cost involved, I'd think it's much more attractive to take an existing airframe and have the upgrades done a la carte, vs paying up front for an aircraft that's had all the work done already. Bottom line, it always comes down to the price point. There are more options available the higher up the price structure you go. The low range Paul gave for the Dakota would buy 2005-07 SR22 G2 turbos all day long with arguably nicer interiors/panels and lots more speed. The decision becomes academic for most at that point.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | October 18, 2017 1:26 PM    Report this comment

Got to agree that remanufacturing a Cherokee 235 wouldn't be my first choice as a business model--for the same reason the 235 didn't achieve the popularity it deserved in the first place. Not only did it have to go head-to-head with the 182 (the third most popular GA airplane built) but had to go up against its stablemate--the Cherokee 6. It shares the same wing, fuel system, landing gear, and O-540 of the Cherokee 6. If you are going to feed that engine and maintain that airframe, why not do as most buyers did--buy the Six?

The problem every remanufactured faces is differentiating their product from home-brewed "restorations." No matter how good the restoration, it doesn't carry value in the marketplace. Nextant anticipated that issue with their successful Beechjet remanufacture (and now their King Air program)--they had Bluebook include a special category under their name for the product. It differentiate the product from a "spruce-up", and aircraft finance companies would loan money on the truly remanufactured aircraft. Any company looking to "remanufacture" should take note. These aircraft are "zero timed", and come with a factory warranty--just like a new one. It doesn't seem like much, but having the aircraft listed in the Bluebook for financing and establishing resale value, and "zero timed" makes all the difference in the world.

Even better--like a Remanufactured aircraft engine (remanufactured by the certificate holder), only the certificate holder can "remanufacture" and ZERO TIME the aircraft. There is precedent for it--Beech now has a "remanufacture" program for Beechjets to combat Nextant's offering. Beech did it for military C-45s and early Beech Bonanzas (the reason there is no "R" model Bonanza--the "R" was the remanufactured 1947 aircraft. Cessna did the same on a limited basis--they "Remanufactured" Navy Citation aircraft to include boosted controls--and even "zero timed" a drug enforcement seized Citation for the State of Minnesota.

Paul--I hope we will continue to hear from you in other Belvoir Publications articles and publications. I recall meeting you in Oshkosh, and said "how much I enjoy your acerbic ("spoken or written in a way that is direct, clever, and cruel"--Cambridge dictionary) wit". You replied in kind--"Acerbic--that's a hundred-dollar word--back where I come from, people would just say 'smart-a**ed!" Let's hear MORE of your observations!

Posted by: jim hanson | October 18, 2017 1:58 PM    Report this comment

Jim,

I've asked this before, and I don't know the answer. Would a remanufactured zero-time airframe be subject to the 18 year liability window under GARA? If so, I would not expect any significant cost savings over a new airframe once the manufacturer needs to price in liability protection.

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | October 18, 2017 2:27 PM    Report this comment

"If you are going to feed that engine and maintain that airframe, why not do as most buyers did--buy the Six?"

Those extra two seats add quite a bit to the insurance costs, for one. And if it's being compared to the 300hp Six, the de-rated engine in the Dakota (which is more properly a 236; the Charger/Pathfinder was the 235) will burn less fuel too.

If they're going to use the Dakota, the least they could do is replace the O-540-J3A5D with an O-540-J3A5 without the dual magneto (my club did that, so it is possible to do).

Posted by: Gary Baluha | October 18, 2017 2:48 PM    Report this comment

Dual magnetos ... slowly I turned ... step by step ... inch by inch ... to find the so and so who came up with THAT idea !!

I think we're ALL psychos here. Anyone who would self-inflict aviation upon themselves HAS to have a few rivets loose !! It's gonna be a lot less fun from now on ...

Yesterday, as I was flying my ADS-B verification flight in my 172 in perfect weather conditions over GRB, it was obvious why that airframe is the #1 of all times. And, why I've kept mine so long. I passed. Next up ... collect my $500.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | October 18, 2017 3:50 PM    Report this comment

Paul - Based on some nuggets you've left in your blogs i suspect you and I are within FAA violation distance age-wise. Lots of baby boomers calling it quits. I'm right behind you. No offense intended to your guest bloggers but they just can't match what Sister Salisha probably beat into you. That's right, your holy snarkiness. Well I was going to be right behind you, but thinking about it your blogs were going to fill my discretionary-time void. Now I have to reconsider my plans... You're "regular" inputs will be missed.

Posted by: Robert Mahoney | October 18, 2017 5:42 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Robert and Jim.

The good sister has long since gone to her reward but the Franciscan nuns, of which she was a member, always felt that discipline should be administered daily, whether needed or deserved. I'm quite certain they pioneered the idea of solitary confinement for second graders.

By comparison, Army basic training was a jamboree.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | October 18, 2017 7:02 PM    Report this comment

I can tell you -- with FULL certainty -- that solitary confinement WAS an MO of the "penguins" ... uh, nuns ... who beat me with rulers K thru 3 in Chicago when Ike and Korea were on the front burner. I spent more than a few times with my nose glued to the corner of the "cloak room" for one reason or another. I'm STILL afraid of yardsticks and wooden pointer sticks ! Couldn't tell you which Order they were from other than ... hell !

I, too, add my sorrowful woes to the fray. I often wake up in the middle of the night and would jump on the laptop to see if any new blog had showed up. When the blog du jour got stale, I'd find myself longing for a new one. Now ... what the hell am I gonna do to occupy myself at that hour?. Oh well ... I guess I can get used to infomercials or reruns of The Lone Ranger? Going out at the top of your game is pretty nifty, I'd think? I've been retired for 11 years and can tell you with full certainty that retirement is HIGHLY underrated. After about six months, you'll forget all about the thousands of blogs you've written ... I promise. Best of luck with whatever you're gonna do with yourself. And, remember what Bob Hoover said ... You can still hurt yourself with a Cub ... you just do it slower.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | October 18, 2017 7:34 PM    Report this comment

Reruns of Paul Bertorelli. That's it. Should carry through 2049.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | October 18, 2017 11:04 PM    Report this comment

In my case, it was the Sisters of Saint Joseph - 11 years of 'em. Who would have suspected that diagramming sentences in 4th grade would have proven so useful? Anyone who could survive the daily march of the penguins was ready for life's vicissitudes...

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | October 19, 2017 7:04 AM    Report this comment

My typo. It was 13 years. Sorry, sister!

Posted by: Tom Yarsley | October 19, 2017 7:19 AM    Report this comment

I am Canadian and own a 1983 Piper Dakota PA28-236 which I bought new and still own. I now have 3686 hrs on the airframe and have flown all over Canada, Alaska, Caribbean and Mexico. IFR and VFR. It has never let me down I fly from unimproved strips in the Arctic to pavement. I have Aspen glass and GNSS430W and ADS-B. LED lighting including strobes and NAV. Great load carrier. I have flown many other aircraft but this is a solid airframe. Hopefully they will have a diesel for it sometime.

Posted by: Bram Tilroe | October 19, 2017 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Joshua asks--" Would a remanufactured zero-time airframe be subject to the 18 year liability window under GARA? If so, I would not expect any significant cost savings over a new airframe once the manufacturer needs to price in liability protection.'

The act specifically mentions MANUFACTURERS of GA aircraft under 20 seats. HOWEVER, according to the Wikipedia description of the act, "the clock resets when modified or replacement parts are installed, so that a 20-year-old aircraft may still be the object of a successful suit if it contains manufacturer modification or parts installed within the last 18 years."

Almost every aircraft out there has STCs (from the manufacturer or vendors) and parts replaced--and if that is the case, there would be very few aircraft that would not be protected by GARA.

The high cost of liability insurance is a major factor in the cost of new aircraft, and that cost is usually determined by loss rate and the number of units exposed. In the case of a remanufactured aircraft, the number of units exposed doesn't change. In fact, a manufacturer can take a "previously enjoyed" unit--run it down the line while making it SAFER through safety upgrades adopted since the model was first manufactured, and release a safer aircraft--with a warranty.

Posted by: jim hanson | October 19, 2017 3:46 PM    Report this comment

Gary compares the Cherokee 235 to the Cherokee 6--"Those extra two seats add quite a bit to the insurance costs, for one."

There is nothing wrong with a Cherokee 235--but it not only had to go up against the 182 (third most popular GA airplane during its sales life) but the Cherokee 6 as well. Same wing, same fuel system, same landing gear, and with the 260 hp engine, virtually the same engine to buy and to overhaul. The marketplace decided the outcome--most people opted for the stretched Cherokee 6, even though it was more expensive to purchase. The incremental cost of liability insurance for those two extra seats are a minute fraction of the cost of owning an airplane.

The residual value of the Cherokee 6 vs. the 235 continues to be higher--the Cherokee 6 is still in demand. That makes the 235 a "sleeper" and a good value in the used airplane market, but not one that one would choose to "remanufacture."

It is an axiom in the aircraft sales business that "aircraft that you can make money with hold their value best"--utility airplanes like the Cherokee 6, Cessna 206, 185, and 180 are good examples (The Cessna 207 fleet is virtually worn out--probably not a good candidate for remanufacture). Similarly, the Navajo and 400-series Cessna's can provide airframes for remanufacture for commercial operators, but because they don't fit a T-hangar, have limited appeal to private operators.

Posted by: jim hanson | October 19, 2017 4:22 PM    Report this comment

I doubt we can reman Paul, but I'm betting his stories get remanufactured for years.

Less writing, more flying, Paul!

Posted by: Eric Warren | October 20, 2017 2:12 AM    Report this comment

4 seater for less than a 4 bedroom house....that's not the price point, that's the sanity point.

Posted by: Mark Lush | October 20, 2017 8:34 AM    Report this comment

Paul,
You are by far my favorite aviation curmudgeon. I hope you will still treat us to the occasional dazzling display of wit, snark and reality. Either that or program an AI to take your place.

Posted by: Ric Lee | October 20, 2017 7:33 PM    Report this comment

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