Outlook 2016 – Reference page

Note: This is a ‘Reference Page’, so it will be updated with links to other stories as they are written, including several follow on stories under the Heading “Outlook 2016”.

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Builders:

Here is a series that will look at plans and developments we have for the 2016 flying season. Even though we still have two Colleges to go in this year, and much to do, We have long since laid the ground work for a new era in our work with the Corvair. We are implementing many of these changes now, all of them will be in place by the end of the year.

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Several times I have ‘re-invented’ our approach to the Corvair movement, to better serve builders. The ‘early years’  were a long gestation period to simply show people that Corvairs worked; The ‘Hangar Gang” years were about expanding on all fronts, magazine attention, flying several hundred builders and expanding Colleges;  The ‘All Stars’ were about replacing my employed team with independent people who were to serve their corner of the builder’s needs. Things have evolved again, and we now have ‘Outlook 2016’, an era where builders need good information combined with simplified parts delivery from sources motivated to stay in home building for the long run. 

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What needed to be different?  The entire point it to make things work smoother, and make the learning and building experience of being a Corvair builder more rewarding. This is not a new goal. We have always worked at evolving how we do things. But to make a ‘sea-change’ level of improvement, as I have done twice before, requires a vision, a long plan, and consistent hard work. We are almost there.

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At it’s very root, homebuilding can only be defined as Learning.  Two people can be the owner of the same model of homebuilt aircraft; What makes them different? One of them will have built nearly part, including the engine, the second is a guy who bought it second hand. Although people speak of esoteric ideas like ‘pride’ of the man who built his plane, let me define it in more concrete terms. The primary difference in the experience of the two people is how well they know the machine they are operating, and that isn’t pride, it is Learning. For this reason, my personal definition of accomplishment is simply the measurement of what our builders learned, period. Although there are certainly exceptions where the original builders learns almost nothing or the second owner is the master of his ship, they are rare and the point remains the same.

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Here are some of the ways we have moved toward our “Outlook 2016” on the “Learning Front”:

Writing the new manual:

Brand New 250 page 2014 Manual- Done

Maintaining the four Corvair College per year pace:

Corvair College reference page

Running our own discussion groups:

“Zen-vair” and “Piet-vair” Discussion Groups, your resource.

Putting more than 700 stories, (Which now have more than 1 million page reads) here:

https://flycorvair.net/

And further indexing these stories into organized groups:

Reference posts and updates to FlyCorvair.com.

(We filmed many of these subjects to be released as short You Tube educational videos in 2016)

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IMG_2296

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Above, Front quarter view of a 2,850cc engine built in our shop.

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The second half of the equation is the production of parts, the hardware used in learning. It is no secret that many of our most popular items are backordered. There are reasons for this, and the corrections are already in the works.

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If you have been around aviation for a while, you understand that the 2008-09 recession killed as many airplane companies as the great depression did eighty years earlier. More than half of the companies in experimental aviation tanked, many of them taking a river of builders money with them. We are immune to this kind of disruption, as we have neither a get rich scheme nor investors to please. All we did was adjust production down to meet demand. The affordable end of homebuilding was the last element to come back, and it has done so fairly strongly in the last 2 years, but gearing back up had to contend with expanding our written information base, product developments and serious supplier changes.

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We were in the process of developing many highly improved versions of our parts: in addition to greatly expanding the ‘learning’ element of our program. We bit off a lot, but I was unwilling to postpone the evolution to were we going.  2400-L Starter ,  1100-WW Camshaft Group ,  High Volume Oil Pump ,  Ignition system, experimental “E/E-T”Adjustable Oil Pressure Regulator, #2010A2,775 cc Piston and Cylinder kits  etc. are all examples of improved products.

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We have changed 65% of our suppliers: This has both obvious examples, such as cylinder heads, but it also extends to internal subcomponents which are parts of completed items we sell. Few people looking at something as simple as a stainless exhaust system understand that it actually has components from six different subcontractors in each one, and it only takes one missing element to stop production. This is typical of many of our complex parts. It is a reality we have to work with. The modest margins on the parts don’t support coarse solutions like stockpiling large amounts of sub components. Below we have notes for the different solutions we have putting in place.

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What is different on parts production now?

We have already developed and brought up to speed new companies on almost all of the subcontracted parts that became an issue.  Old stories of long waits for nose bowls no longer apply, as our new shop has consistently produced batches of 10. All of the new product listed above, like starters, have machined parts from new, motivated sources. These are not changes that you can make with the wave of a magic wand, it takes months to get these systems in place, but we will have these supplier changes fully implemented before 2016, and they, the information, and the parts we sell will serve builders for many years to come.

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Revised sources, listed by Group numbers, Aug. ’15.

(Note that the above link is the first story in a multi-part series, they are sequential, please read them all)

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What about service in 2016?

It is a reality that there is only one of me, and we have several hundred active builders. Any solution needs to be built around this. This is the fundamental reason why I wrote the new manual and put the 700 stories on https://flycorvair.net/.  Both of these combine to self answer the majority of questions that previously arrived as a phone call or email. The answers are far more in depth now.

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Before an email asking about putting a Corvair on a Zenith 601 would require 20 minutes for me to write even a basic response. Now I just send a polite link to this: Zenith 601/650 – Corvair reference page , which has tons of well organized information in any depth the potential builder would like. Having the new manual and website solves a lot of the service issues by giving the new people answers they used to have to ask about. Now Zenith and Pietenpol builders can directly speak with each other on our groups. Combine this with every year generating 200 new Corvair College graduates who are qualified to share what they learned from our in person, hands on training, and we have a new system that provides access to fundamental conversion information, while allowing me to focus on more advanced technical questions.

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The next element in transformation is the way we take care of orders. The change here is bringing in professional assistance with on line ordering and shipping of our parts. Both Grace and I have been working with an issue that many of you understand very well, aging parents. We are blessed to still have them, and I consider it an understood duty to contribute to the care of the people who gave me life itself. In 2014 and 2015 this has lead to many weeks being far from our parts stocks. Combine this with our college schedules and Oshkosh, and the only practical solution is to bring in professional assistance who can receive and ship orders placed on our webpage, even when we are far away, at Colleges. Oshkosh or with Family.

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This assistance isn’t cheap, and to make it possible we are going to have a modest across the board price increase after existing orders are filled.  I have not changed the prices on prop hubs in 22 years, many of our other items have had no increase in the last 10. The majority of the cost of  professional assistance will be covered by us, the rest will come from the modest increase. We are working on an updated products page and automated ordering system that will reflect this, and expect that both will be operational by mid October. We will announce the change when it is effected.

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With the changes in place, we will be in a much better position to serve builder’s needs. I am looking forward to a much smoother year in 2016, allowing us to share what we know with builders who live by the original EAA motto of Learn, Build and Fly.”

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Note: Vern, our primary welder, has been out from April until just this week. We had him in the shop for only 4 or 5 days this summer. Traditionally I welded all of our production for years when we had “the Hangar Gang” but in the modern era, Vern doing 75% of it has allowed me to cover many other things. This summer we have built up a list of people who need mounts and other welded parts, we are just working though these now. If you have been patiently waiting, thanks for your understanding. -ww.

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

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