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Our detailed plan minimizes risk as well as the total
cost and time to reach the goal of profitable production.
- Focus on final product requirements at all times
- Limit technical and financial risk by using proactive
and objective measures.
- Set and achieve milestones before proceeding.
- Modern design tools and manufacturing methods
Aeromaster intends to follow a plan that provides the
right balance of aggressive yet cautious development. This effort includes
a series of models and prototypes to aid in development of the finished
product. The development effort is divided into two phases followed by
production in phase three. The first phase is the "shoestring
phase" where overhead is kept to an absolute minimum. A relatively
small initial capitalization is required. During this period, principal
members of the corporation from multiple disciplines work as a development
team. Limited advertising allows for distribution of promotional materials
but the main focus will be technical development with minimal
distractions. This method yields the most rapid and efficient product
development. The goal is demonstration of a fully functional, full-scale
In the second phase, development of production tooling
and the final product is completed. In order to meet our goals, the
company must be operating in world class fashion to complete phase two.
This includes operating with established quality and process control
procedures consistent with ISO9001. This phase requires significantly more
Ideally, strategic partnerships will have been formed
prior to phase two with one or more contract composite part vendors. These
vendors, who typically manufacture aerospace composites for major
companies for a fee, will be persuaded to invest a portion of the tooling
costs in exchange for a pre-negotiated long-term purchase agreement or
corporate stock. The benefits of this arrangement are treble. First, the
tooling investment by suppliers reduces capital outlays of cash. Second,
the use of existing manufacturing resources allows more rapid ramp-up to
production by eliminating the challenge of finding and/or training
qualified fabricators. Third, overhead can be reduced at our facility due
to reduced employee costs, less G&A burden, and less space required.
This further allows us to focus on customer service and the big picture by
avoiding the burden of a large fabrication staff.
Ultimately the goal is to produce a kit that will allow
builders to produce a high quality, high performance, and well-behaved
roadable aircraft with a minimum of cost and time invested. If we back up
from this point, the development plan becomes clear.
In order to provide the highest quality product, the use
of pre-impregnated (prepreg) composite materials is required. Prepregs
require heat to cure and must come from a mold that retains its shape and
surface through multiple heat cure cycles. These are rather expensive
tools. The tools will actually pay for themselves, however, in the savings
of labor realized using prepregs instead of the inferior wet layup
process. Well designed, accurate tooling also aids tremendously in the
ease and resulting quality of the assembly process. For example, molded-in
features make airframe parts self-aligning. All of this leads to a high
degree of product satisfaction. This is our primary objective.
These tools, however, cannot be built without extensive
testing and development to prove that the aerodynamic and structural
designs as well as the assembly processes are optimal. This requires the
production of prototypes. Additionally, models of various forms can be
used to establish and verify design parameters.
The first model to be completed is a sub-scale
aerodynamic test vehicle. This model will allow for accurate prediction of
the complex three-dimensional aerodynamics not well predicted by computer
analysis. This is particularly important to verify the handling qualities
in driving configuration where separated flow from the folded wings (which
varies with degree of crosswind) dominates the aerodynamic response.
The next model to be completed is the three-dimensional
CAD model. This effort is well underway as evidenced by the accompanying pictures.
An entire aircraft is designed and built in the computer database
resolving everything from the most basic considerations of packaging and
sizing to the most advanced mechanical design and aerodynamic shaping.
This model provides the necessary information to build all prototypes and
is ultimately refined to exactly reflect every detail of the final
product. Although this computer prototyping is considered revolutionary at
old-school companies like Boeing (the 777 was the first commercial
jetliner designed and produced this way), it is standard practice for a
state-of-the-art company like Aeromaster. This model has already been
imported into a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis program for
aerodynamic performance and stability verification. Also, structural
design and flutter resistance of this model will be verified through
finite element analysis (FEA).
The first prototype is a Ground Test Vehicle (GTV)
comprising an engine, propeller drive system, wheel drive system,
suspension, and provisions for passenger and ballast loading to simulate
real vehicle conditions. This vehicle will validate the mechanical design
of many components to be used for the flight prototype. The simple box
fuselage will have representative stiffness characteristics and folded
wings identical to the production vehicle to allow tailoring and
verification of ground handling. Landing gear retraction and load
capabilities will be verified. Finally, this prototype will provide a
platform to perform continuous endurance testing of the propeller and
ground drive components in parallel with the remaining aircraft
development. GTV construction does not require any significant composite
tooling so all structural fabrication can be accomplished with modest
facilities. Significant metal fabrication is required for the powerplant,
drive, and suspension systems. Fabrication of these components will be
accomplished either by investment partners or by vendors in exchange for
The second prototype to be developed is a wing folding
test rig. This effort will progress somewhat in parallel with GTV
development. Developing the wing folding systems and wing structures on a
test rig allows for all mechanisms and structures to be individually
tested before required changes negatively impact flight vehicle
development. All components will be flight configuration and most will be
transferred to the flight vehicle without modification. Tests will include
loads verification of the wing structures and operation of the folding
mechanisms. For this prototype, significant composite tooling and metallic
fabrication tasks will be contracted for cash or equity as above. Most
composite tools will be used in-house to produce final parts. Some parts
will be built to print by vendors. Upon completion of wing rig tests, all
aspects of the complete vehicle will have been proven except those
comprising a basic airplane.
Development of the third prototype will be initiated
late in the rig testing schedule. This will be a full-scale flying
prototype of nearly full capabilities. Only non-critical features will be
eliminated to expedite development of this "proof-of-concept" (POC)
vehicle. Completion will be timed to insure confidence in all design
parameters from previous prototypes. A fuselage master (or
"plug") will be commissioned based on CAD modeling. This master
will be of a high quality construction with a high degree of accuracy.
Prototype ("soft") fuselage molds will be procured which will
allow low cost wet lay-up of prototype parts. Wing and tail molds
constructed by the most suitable low cost, temporary method will be
purchased to allow wet lay-up skins to be rapidly constructed. All highly
stressed components such as wing spars will be constructed from production
tooling, as shortcuts would not accurately reflect the end product.
Sub-component testing of these critical structures prior to assembly will
insure safety. Overall, the POC will represent an invaluable learning
experience where such things as assembly details and procedures will be
verified. In fact, development of the assembly manuals will progress
concurrently with POC construction. The POC construction will also
identify areas where improvements can be incorporated in the production
Phase two of the development effort begins with POC
flight testing. Flying qualities will be investigated through an extensive
flight test program and improvements will be made as required through part
and/or tooling modifications. The remaining mechanical systems will be
validated such as flight controls. The POC will also represent the first
opportunity to present the product to the public. Initial press release
articles will feature photos and flight test reports of this aircraft. It
will be displayed and demonstrated at fly-ins. Demonstration rides can be
given to prospective customers and deposits can be taken on future orders.
Phase two also includes transition to production.
Systems, processes and procedures necessary for profitable, quality
production must be put in place. We will establish a quality system
consistent with ISO 9001. An MRP system must be in place and functional.
Planning, purchasing, sales, marketing and customer service functions must
be formalized. Completion of the assembly manuals will also represent a
significant effort during phase two. Most importantly, "hard"
tooling must be constructed which will allow production style/quality
parts to be manufactured. Ideally, the fuselage plug previously built will
remain unchanged and a set of high quality, high temperature capable tools
can be immediately constructed. High quality wing and tail tools will also
be constructed. Preliminary sub-assemblies can be constructed as desired
from these tools to verify that the highest degree of customer
satisfaction will result from the production parts. Note that the cost of
phase two transition is delayed until the POC is operationally
demonstrated and deposits are in hand.
The culmination of phase two is construction of a forth
prototype. This will be the first aircraft built from the production
tooling. It will be built in accordance with all production manufacturing
procedures and standards. It is also imperative that we build this
airplane just as our builders will, using and following our assembly
manuals, videotaping our progress, so that we may provide the best
possible builder support. This is the only way to ensure customer
satisfaction and that we are ultimately delivering a quality product.
Additionally, this aircraft will undergo a final series of flight tests
and structural tests to verify that the product we are delivering is free
of defects or shortcomings. The company will retain this aircraft as a
demonstrator example of a production aircraft and will paint and equip it
A fifth prototype will be constructed, as above, as a
static test article. This aircraft will not be fitted with powerplant,
interior, etc. Ultimately, every component of this aircraft (or additional
subassemblies as required) will be tested to destruction to verify all
structural capabilities. Testing will be completed on each segment as soon
as tooling and construction methods are finalized, this will allow for
earlier delivery of parts as detailed below.
As phase two progresses, delivery of segmented kits
begins. The fuselage tools will be completed first along with the
associated segments of the manuals. Builders can begin assembling their
fuselages while fabrication of the production prototype continues. This is
considered low risk as fuselage configuration and structure will have been
well proven by POC flight tests and assembly of the production prototype
fuselage. It is expected that, by this time, adequate orders will have
been secured to be operating with a significant backlog. Composite parts
will be constructed in house or by partners (depending on arrangements)
using the production tools described above. Production of machined and
sheet metal parts will be accomplished by partners or contracted to other
vendors. All parts will be thoroughly inspected, carefully packed, and
shipped from the factory direct to the builders. We will be absolutely
sure of the quality of delivered parts and follow the techniques described
in the section on liability and safety.
Construction manuals and videos will be reproduced by third party vendors
and shipped along with kits. A customer service department, led by a
co-founder familiar with every aspect of vehicle construction and the
associated manuals, will provide expert support. Builders can continue
with integration of landing gear, propulsion, and various systems, as
these will also be well proven through GTV and POC testing. Additional kit
parts will be shipped to builders as soon as adequate testing is completed
and the necessary tools and manuals are available.
Phase three is marked by delivery of the last parts for
segmented kits and initial delivery of full kits. This will not occur
until flight test of the production prototype and static tests of
prototype five have been completed. Additional shifts/partners will be
added and additional tools will be constructed as required to meet
Progress toward the stated milestones will continue
regardless of financing during phase one. The development of the various
models and pre-production prototypes can be adequately funded with limited
investment by the principles. Only the schedule is affected by
availability of capital. Each milestone will be reached as fast as
resources allow. Investment required to transition to phase two is
considered assured by the sales backlog that will be generated by
demonstration of the POC.