RV10 Build Homepage
Over the course of 3.5 years, we built a Van's RV10 airplane in our garage. The RV10 is an extremely capable cross country flying machine, able to carry 4 people and their luggage for almost 1000 miles at 200 miles per hour.
On this page, you will find information about the build process. Use the menu to the right to quickly navigate this page.
I started flight training in the fall of 2010. I'm sure anyone who's been through flight training can tell you that once you start flying, you start daydreaming about which plane you would want to own someday.
In choosing a plane, you have to first define your mission. My mission was to take 4 people (or two people, a big dog, and a ton of luggage) on a long cross country trip, flying as fast as possible, as cheaply as possible.
I started off looking at Cessna 172's, which are basically the Ford Taurus of the skies, but even though they have 4 seats, they don't have the lifting capacity (useful load) to take 4 adults and still be able to take fuel. They are also slow, cruising at about 110 knots while burning 9-10 gallons per hour. The 172's big brother is the 182. It's a larger version of the 172 which can actually take 4 adults and enough fuel to fly for a few hours. My buddy Praba has a beautiful 182 with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. It's also faster, cruising at 140-145 knots, but it's burning more fuel at 14-15 GPH.
I also looked into Mooneys, which are fast, fuel efficient airplanes. Depending on the model, these planes will cruise between 150-160 knots, but only burn 10-11 GPH. Sounds great, but there are a few catches. First, they have retractable landing gear, which is more expensive to maintain, and not ideal for landing on anything other than paved runways. And second, they are overall a little more expensive to maintain.
Somewhere in my searching, I noticed that there were people out there building their own airplanes. Hey, now that sounds like fun! I wonder if there are any 4 place kit planes? Turns out there are a few. There is a composite plane called a Velocity, and an aluminum plane called a Van's RV-10.
These are both beautiful planes that fit 4 real people, a FAST, and very fuel efficient. The Velocity will cruise over 200 knots, and the RV10 160-170 knots, both burning close to 10 GPH. This is better fuel economy than my truck, all while traveling at 200MPH!
I ended up choosing the RV10 over the velocity for a number of reasons:
- Pusher vs Tractor. I want to use grass strips, and don't want to kick stuff into the prop with the wheels.
- Composite vs Aluminum. I'm just personally more comfortable working with metal than fiberglass.
- Short field performance. The strip near my house that I want to be at some day is 2000'. And grass (see point 1).
- Window size. I fly with passengers that are slightly claustrophobic. Putting them in a 4 person plane is already tough. I want as much window area as I can get.
- The Community. You can't beat the support of THOUSANDS of builders in forums like VansAirforce.com and the Matronics email lists. There are also many build logs that go step by step through the build process, like Tim Olson's site MyRV10.com.
So after a lot of research, a little soul searching, a whole lot of me talking Colleens ear off, I ended up deciding to build an RV10! In the end, I will have an aircraft that can fly 200 MPH, carry 4 adults with full fuel and a little baggage, get better fuel economy than an SUV, and have more capability in the panel than most certified planes. As an added bonus, the FAA sees the builder of a homebuilt as the "manufacturer" so I can do all maintenance on the plane myself which not only saves money, but allows me to know the plane fully.
Video tour of the plane
(Coming soon after the plane returns from paint)
Baggage Door HingeI wanted the baggage door to be quickly and easily removable in the field with no tools. I cam up with a way to modify the way the stock hinges work to allow this to be done using the materials already supplied in the kit. The video below explains how I did it.
Heater/Air ControlsI designed a system that allows me to control the heater and fresh air vents in the plane. The system uses RC servos controlled by an Arduino microcontroller and a set of modified heat tees with a flapper valve installed. This allows me to have the following control knobs: Amount of front heat, Front heat left/right diversion, amount of rear heat, rear heat left/right diversion, and a master overhead fresh air amount (controls the Aerosport Naca Vent Valve). I also have a switch that will allow me to override the rear heat from the front seat.
McMaster Door SealsLike many other RV10 builders, I chose to modify the door openings to accept a rubber bulb seal on the cabin side of the opening. The stock setup has you install a gasket on the door itself. Many builders (myself included) feel that the McMaster seals actually seal tighter and give the door opening a more finished look when the doors are open. Numerous other builders have outlined the steps needed to do this mod, so I'll point you to a few of them instead of rehashing what they've already done a great job explaining!
- Justin Twilbeck's door seals
- Ivan & Dianne Kristensen's door seals
- PFD Compilation of other installs from the Matronics List
I designed an built a "pod" off the front of the Aerosport overhead console to hold all the controls for lighting in the plane.
I started the fabrication of the pod in this blog post, and in the end I'm really happy with they way it turned out. It's just cooler to flip switches above your head in an airplane!
Interior Lighting SystemI really wanted the interior lights on the plane to work like they do in a car. You open the door, and the lights come on. Sounds simple, right? Nope. I ended up designing a system that's actually a complex combination of dimmers, relays, timer circuits, switches, and of course LEDs to make a pretty slick lighting system. And guess what? The lights come on when I open the doors! Read a full explanation on the blog post here.
Cowl FlapsThe stock RV10 lower cowl design has fixed louvers installed at the very bottom. This provides OK cooling, but it's a fixed system... meaning that it provides cooling and the associated drag whether you need it or not. While I was pondering how I might fabricate working cowl flaps, AnitSplat Aero released an aftermarket electric cowl flap designed for the RV. No one had tried installing them on a -10, but I figured out that I should be able to fit a pair of them in place of the stock louvers. Well, they fit, so now I have excellent cooling via an enormous cooling exit when I want it, and a nice flush belly when I don't!
Hidden Oil Door HingeThis is a design that I shameless stole from Justin Twilbeck. He worked out a setup that replaced the stock piano hinge style oil door with a hinge that's completely hidden from view. It also has flush door latches, so the entire install is smooth and clean looking.
Various Equipment Choices
- Baja Design Squadron Pro Landing Lights
- Cheapo LED PAR13 Taxi Lights
- Duckworks Leading Edge Kits
- AeroLED Pulsar NS Nav/Strobes
- AeroLED Suntail
- Factory New Lycoming IO540
- 2x Lightspeed Plasma III Electronic Ignitions
- PlanePower 60 Primary Alternator
- PlanePower Backup Alternator
- Airflow Systems 2006X Oil Cooler
- TCW Oil Cooler Butterfly Valve
- Oil Quickdrain
- Heatshield Mat Insulation (Engine Side)
- 2x ??? Stainless Passthrus
- Bluesea Battery Passthrus
- ??? Control Cable Passthrus
- Stainless Heater Boxes
- Aerosport Products 310 Instrument Panel
- Aerosport Products Quadrant Armrest
- Aerosport Products Interior Panels
- Aerosport Products Overhead Console
- Aerosport Products Leather Upholstery
- Aerosport Products Rear Seat Head Rests
- Aerosport Products Baggage Door Cover
- Aerosport Products Carpet Kit
- Control Approach Rudder Pedals
- Adjustable Heat Tees
- 2x Tunnel Access Panels
- PlaneAround 180 Degree Door Latch
- 2x PlaneAround LED Light Panels
- PlaneAround Door Strut Brackets
- PlaneAround Stainless Angled Door Pins
- Rosen Visors (Modded for Overhead Switch Pod)
- Aerosport Flush Handles
- Aerosport Cowl Pin Covers
- Cee Baileys Windscreen and Windows
- See the Avionics page for more details
- 2x Comm Antennas beneath rear seats
- Bob Archer Nav Antenna in left wingtip
- ??? Transponder Blade Antenna
- ??? ADSB Blade Antenna
- Fuel System
- Modified Van's Capacitive Fuel Level Plates
- EFII Boost Pump
- TS Flightlines Braided Stainless Fuel Lines
- Andair XXXXX Fuel Selector
- ??? Lockable Fuel Caps
- Parking Brake Valve
- Aftermarket Stick Grips
- Matco Wheels
- Matco Brakes
- Nose Wheel Spacer
- PlaneAround Wheel Fairing Spacer
- Axle Extensions
- EarthX Lithium Battery
|Total Build Hours:||2300 (est)|
Click here to start at the first build blog post.
You can step through the entire build by clicking "Next Post" at the bottom of each page.
|Empenage Kit Total Hours||244|
|Engine Mount & Landing Gear||1|
|Finish Kit Total Hours||223.25|
|Covers and Floors||15|
|Forward Fuse Ribs and Bulkheads||51.5|
|Fuse Side Skins||65.25|
|Mid Fuse Bulkheads||15.5|
|Mid Fuse Ribs and Bottom Skins||36.75|
|Rear Seat Backs||4.5|
|Upper Fore Fuse||26|
|Fuselage Total Hours||437.25|
(Final sections/totals will be posted, once I finish writing the build log posts!)
Empennage and Wing Build Playlist
Fuselage Build Videos
Engine and Finish Kit Build Videos
Final Touches Build Videos
Playlist coming soon...