Plane Ideas


What I'm thinking right now for an engine is an IO-360. This is a fuel injected 180+ horsepower engine. These come from Lycoming but there are also some suppliers of experimental engines called Superior or ECi. You can actually order the Superior or ECi as a kit and assemble them yourself and save a little bit of money but I don't think I trust myself enough to do that. There are numerous shops out there that build these engines and all have really good records.

I could go with a 200 horsepower engine but they generally run about $10000 more and weigh about 30lbs more. There seems to be a pretty strong feeling in the RV community that the lighter 180HP engine flies a little nicer due to the lighter weight. I've also seen an IO-340 which is a stroked IO-320. This engine weighs less than the IO-360s due to a smaller engine block and has right around 180HP. I don't know what this one costs and I think it has to use 100LL fuel due to high-compression pistons but it still is an option to think about.

Next thing to think about on the engine is ignition sources. There is the traditional magnetos but more recently there have been developments in electronic ignition. These have been used in cars for years but have just now come across to aviation. The advantage of electronic ignition is that the timing of the spark can be changed depending on the conditions. This gives more power and better fuel efficiency. There are a few models but I really like the P-mag. This has the advantage of electronic ignition but also can get its power from the engine, like a traditional mag, not just from the battery. This means that if the electrical system completely fails (both battery and alternator) then the engine will continue to run because the rotational motion of the engine can be converted to a spark by the P-mag!


I have been thinking about what avionics I want in the panel even before I ordered the empennage kit... There are a huge amount of choices in the experimental aviation market. When I think about what I want, I know I want a moving map GPS and I don't really want steam gauges. Well, I want an analog altimeter and airspeed indicator for backups but that's really it. A couple companies really catch my eye mainly MGL Avionics, Dynon Avionics, and Grand Rapids Technologies. Of these, MGL takes center stage right now. They have WAAS GPS, engine monitoring, interfacing with radios, autopilot, and so much more for a really low (comparatively) price. Here is the MGL Odyssey, it's cheaper than a comparable GRT setup and more functional than the Dynon D180:
MGL Odyssey

For a radio, I want a Nav/Comm and there is pretty much only one choice: the Garmin SL30. That gets it done for IFR, which I want to have. If money were no hurdle, I would go with the 430W but since the MGL Odyssey has a WAAS GPS moving map already, this would be superflous.
Garmin SL30
For the transponder, I would use the GTX327. Again, there is not too much debate or options here.
Garmin GTX327


For lighting, I am going to go with the Duckworks Leading edge landing/taxi lights. With a 50W HID bulb in there it does the trick. For strobes and position lighting, I think I will go with AeroLED's. They are expensive but work well with RVs and are reliable. The Duckworks and AeroLEDs give me night flying ability.


I'm probably going to leave it as bare aluminum or even polish it up. Painting is expensive and only adds weight. I can always do it later and it definitely does not need paint to fly!


This is the area where I am least certain. I flip-flop on what I want daily: constant speed vs fixed pitch prop. There is a great prop called the Whirlwind 200RV which is specifically designed for RVs, it's made from composites so it's really light, it can fly in rain, and it's got the best performance of all the constant speed props for RVs. The only problem is it costs about $10000 dollars. A fixed pitch cost about $3500 but either climbs slower or cruises slower, has a little bit higher fuel burn at cruise, doesn't slow down like a constant speed, and can't turn down the RPM in cruise. The constant speed prop is definitely the better prop in my mind, I just don't know if I can justify spending the extra money on it. I could start with a fixed-pitch and change later, but like I said, I flip-flop on this daily...

Last Update: 25 May 2012