Schlagwort-Archive: Kitplane

Van’s Aircraft reports cash crunch, prompts concern

With more than 11,000 kit builds completed by 2022, and hundreds more still in progress, Van’s Aircraft delivered “difficult” news on October 27 about the company’s financial state, and announced a two-week push to conduct an “internal assessment” that is likely to lead to price increases. Meanwhile, refunds are on hold and many customers voiced anxiety.

Company founder Richard “Dick” VanGrunsven read a prepared statement in a video posted on YouTube and presented it online along with a detailed Q&A addressed to customers that explains the current state of the company and plans to concentrate—with the help of consultants who specialize in business emergency management—on developing a plan for next steps by mid-November.

“Due to a number of factors, Van’s is facing serious cash flow issues that must be addressed for ongoing operation,” VanGrunsven said in the video, viewed more than 79,000 times by October 30. “We are confident we can work through the situation, but some changes are required. Candidly, since early September, Van’s has only been able to continue operating through loans of operating capital made by my wife and me.”

In the written Q&A, Van’s detailed three primary causes of the situation: a combination of supply chain snarls and increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused shipping costs to spike as Van’s hired and trained new staff to work on the increased volume of orders; a “multi-million-dollar setback” related to the use of inferior primer on parts sourced overseas, which led to corrosion „forming on a large number of quick build kits“ that resulted in many parts being scrapped; and another issue with outsourced parts with holes that were laser-cut rather than punched, with customers reporting cracks around the laser-cut holes. Company tests determined the parts were usable, but many customers requested replacement of affected parts nonetheless.

“This has resulted in an unmanageable number of requests to replace laser-cut parts and cancel orders,” the company stated. “More than 1,800 customers are currently affected by this issue, some of whom have received more than one kit.”

Kitplanes reported the announcement on October 27, with the additional detail that Hamstreet and Associates of Portland, Oregon, will provide advisors to assist with the evaluation of current operations and planning for the future. According to that story, Mikael Via, who previously led Glasair Aviation for just over a decade after it was purchased during bankruptcy proceedings, will become interim CEO of Van’s. The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation.

Van’s noted that refunds will not be issued during the „internal assessment period“ expected to conclude in mid-November, nor are returns or cancellations being processed. “You may place orders for parts, but your shipment may be delayed due to temporary employee reassignments during assessment. We will do our best to ensure timely parts shipment.”

The informal online owner group Van’s Air Force posted the announcement in its user forum, with more than 200 replies and 64,000 views by October 30. Concern for the company’s long-term health was nearly universal, though many posters noted that the firm has been commendably transparent throughout its fiscal ordeal, a sentiment echoed by kitbuilders Ken and Melissa VeArd, who document their aircraft project on YouTube.

“I personally feel that Van’s is too important to fail,” Ken VeArd said in the video that the couple posted on October 28. If Van’s ceased to exist, he continued, the repercussions would extend beyond the homebuilding community, and all the owners of completed aircraft and kits in progress no longer be able to source parts. “I think it’d be a huge blow to general aviation as a whole. I do believe if Van’s ceases to exist in the future, it will be the first domino that will really change for the worse general aviation.”

The company celebrated 50 years of making affordable, popular airplane kits in 2022, and made a splash at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last year with the introduction of the RV–15, the company’s first high-wing design.

“Changes need to be made,” VanGrunsven said in the video posted October 27. “Beginning today Van’s is going to spend the next few weeks performing a focused internal assessment on inventory, production, and shipping capabilities, and overall operating efficiencies. At the same time, we will be reviewing our cost to determine what our kit pricing needs to be for us to operate profitably going forward. And most importantly, we’ll be evaluating all reasonable means of satisfying builder concerns regarding laser-cut parts, and formalizing our program for getting parts to builders.”

VanGrunsven said the shipment of kits may be delayed while the company conducts the internal assessment, and while the parts inventory is good, the company is “short on cash. So until our cash situation improves, we will not be issuing any refunds.”

VanGrunsven thanked customers for years of loyalty, and closed his message with “I am deeply distressed over the need to communicate our current constraints to you, and I want to personally assure you that we are working very hard to solve these issues, and to return Van’s to a strong position to be here to serve you long into the future.” Source: ‚Jim Moore / AOPA‚.

Glasair: A System of Safety

A recent Kitplanes article included a chart illustrating light aircraft accident fatalities vs. cruise speed. The Sportsman (and the Sportsman predecessor, Glastar) tracks well below the trendline. Our airplane’s uniquely broad speed multiple of 3.6x (low stall speed to high cruise speed) is automatically advantageous in a comparison like this one. Still, the Sportsman delivers a wealth of engineering innovations, robust materials, construction techniques, and features that contribute to the operational safety of the aircraft. The Sportsman is not only the most versatile four-seat airplane available but possibly the safest as well. Here’s why.

Low Stall Speed
The Sportsman’s generous control surfaces deliver tactile authority to pilots right down to the airframe’s low 42 KTS stall speed. Two Delta Vortex Generators on each wing contribute to low-speed stability. The airplane’s stall characteristics are benign and predictable. Sportsman owners refer to a “mush” rather than “break” when the Sportsman approaches a stall, power-on, and power-off. Most importantly, the low stall speed and inherent lightweight of the Sportsman guarantee very low “Crash Energy” or “Impact Energy” to dissipate, which experts agree is the single most significant factor in crash survivability. Crash force is directly proportional to the speed and mass of the aircraft, so the Sportsman measures particularly well in this regard.

The Safety Cage
The Safety Cage in the Sportsman is the structural centre of the aircraft and is constructed with varying diameters of Chromoly steel tubing. The robust structure surrounds passengers, providing protection that mimics desert rally cars. Sportsman owners know that the Safety Cage saves lives because we pay attention to the NTSB accident reports. Only a short time before the date of this writing, a 2018 Sportsman suffered an unfortunate accident in Arkansas. The pilot and passenger came to rest upside-down in a forest near Huntsville Municipal Airport. Despite substantial damage to the airframe, both were unhurt. The pilot only managed to give his head a hefty bump after he released his restraint since, immediately after the event, he didn’t realize he was inverted. The use of varied materials in the Sportsman is clever, maximizing the strengths of each type of proven aerospace structure. But the Safety Cage is quite exceptional on its own. It affords superb impact protection, enveloping the passengers from all sides with redundant load paths.

High Power
Equipped with the energetic, industry-tested Lycoming IO-390 engine (210 HP) and constant-speed propeller, a flick of the throttle will get pilots out of trouble, even at gross weight and high-density altitude. Too often, Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) is caused by insufficient climb performance, and most departure stalls are due to low-performance margin. The Sportsman’s powerplant/prop combinations assure confidence in otherwise challenging conditions.

Long Endurance
Fifty gallons of fuel onboard, fuel injection, electronic ignition, and a slippery airframe assure that almost any charted airport is accessible in the frugal Sportsman. The aircraft not only opens many cross-country flight possibilities but also ekes out those last few miles in an emergency, minimizing fuel exhaustion accidents.

Situational Awareness
Glasair’s new instrument panels all include multifunction EFIS displays as standard equipment. The panels present pilots with crucial information, including navigation, terrain, Angle of Attack, synthetic vision, in-cockpit weather, and engine monitoring. While discussing avionics, know that all of Glasair’s new panel upgrades include integrated autopilots. When you encounter sudden IMC, activating the autopilot can dramatically reduce the workload as you find your way out of the weather. Side by side seating allows better cockpit resource management. Even non-pilots can be briefed to aid in spotting traffic or handling other tasks.

Superb Visibility
The windshield and side windows in the Sportsman are expansive. Combined with skylights overhead and the pilot’s commanding seat position, occupants share a clear view of their surroundings, even in aggressive banked turns. The engine cowl slopes downward from the windshield, allowing forward vision on the round, even with the tailwheel landing gear.

Tolerant CG
The Sportsman’s high useful load provides a considerable margin against overloading the airplane. Our full-fuel payload is impressive. The position of the fuel tanks, plus the rear-facing seats, makes it difficult to load the airplane improperly.

Safety Enhancing Options
For maximum peace of mind for both pilots and family, Glasair offers airframe parachutes from BRS and airbag-equipped harnesses from AmSafe that augment the Sportsman’s intrinsic safety. Both parachutes and airbags can be added as aftermarket upgrades as well.

Smaller, but significant design elements contribute to the Sportsman’s System of Safety.
Egress from the cockpit is easy due to large doors and high seats. The third aft door eliminates the need for rear passengers to climb through the front doors.
The deep foam section of our bottom seat cushions absorbs energy in a crash. Combine sound engineering, rugged materials, innovative construction, and predictable flight behaviour, the result is the Sportsman, a modern aircraft that flies safely by design. There has never been an airframe failure in a Glasair aircraft. In the world of Experimental Amateur-Built airplanes, the Sportsman’s System of Safety should be considered by all prospective airplane buyers. Source: ‚Glasair‚.