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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC] Accidents

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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [IAC] Accidents


Thread: [IAC] Accidents

Message: [IAC] Accidents

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: ChezJack at

Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 00:30:06 UTC


Regarding accidents and aircraft safety design—

Our current methods of designing, developing and constructing aircraft go 
back far beyond the technology used in the racecar designs we see competing 
on TV.  It isn’t that we can’t incorporate the safety technology into our 
competitive aircraft.  We certainly can.  But no currently established 
manufacturer is going to undertake the time or the cost to figure it out.  
Not without a major payoff coming their way for the effort.

In 1985 I became involved in the advertising and marketing of a popular, very 
complicated homebuilt aircraft.  As I do with most projects, I rolled up my 
sleeves and went far beyond the scope of designing ads and brochures.  I went 
so far as to suggest building a variation of the basic fuselage to include 
crumple zones and breakaway features to make the cockpit safer for the 
inhabitants in the event of a crash.  I even figured out how to use the 
engine as a positive energy absorber, twisting and taking a predetermined 
path on impact.  My suggestions included the use of high impact plastics, 
carbon fibre and a host of exotic metals and materials that would add a huge 
safety factor to an already tried and proven design, with very little to no 
weight increase.

“Why would I want to do that?” was the response I got.  “I’ve invested years 
in this project and you’re suggesting starting from scratch on an already 
proven and established airplane.”  My heart sank.  Here I thought I was 
opening a door to an element of available technology that had not heretofore 
been used in aircraft construction.  “Consider my current investment and the 
engineering and developmental costs I’d encounter just trying to figure out 
how to get these suggestions right.  The cost of these airplanes would go up 

Until the next generation or two of aircraft designs are introduced, we’re 
going to have to do the best we can with what we have.  It really is 
reinventing the wheel.  Remember the Starship?  Look at how overbuilt that 
project became before it got to the marketplace.  Switch anything of 
significance in the equation and everything changes.  We are dealing in the 
exotic end of a very limited production market.

Maybe one of you will be the one to call Aviat or Walter Extra or the people 
at the Sukhoi Design Bureau and get a quote on incorporating major safety 
features into one of their production lines.  I think you’ll see the current 
new price range of $180,000 to $300,000 move a lot closer to seven figures.  
With the number of new competition aircraft being manufactured each year in 
the hundreds it may be a smarter idea to just make practice, practice, 
practice the number one item on your safety list.

Jack Amos


© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn