Composite airplanes and hangars

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The waiting list at my local airport for hangars is said to be 3
years. My appetite for purchasing an airplane, most likely a Diamond
Star will not last nearly as long. What is the groups thoughts on
having a composite airplane on the ramp, exposed to the elements? Any
guesses on increased insurance cost? Tips to reduce wear and exposure
(canopy cover)?


John Iarussi
Tallahassee, FL

-- John Iarussi, August 14, 2007


Our flight school had wing covers on a set of four Katanas and they looked reasonably good after 10+ years left out on the ramp here in Boston. Ten years of hangar at KBED = $72,000 or more than the planes were worth when sold.

-- Philip Greenspun, August 21, 2007

I had a Diamond Star on the ramp in Houston for over a year. It did not do all that well. Total repairs for surface cracks were seven hundred dollars, and the paint was also looking a bit worn. The new paint on the Stars is better, I think they switched in '04 or '05. Luckily, I did not have to replace the rear window ($$$), which is necessary if a crack gets too close to one.

Overall, I would recommend the Star, and a hangar, for Tallahassee which is like Houston. Even a community hangar is good with a Star because composites win most collisions. The Star is really great in Florida because of all the GA traffic which is easy to see from the Star's dome cockpit.

If you are buying a new Star, tell the dealer. He will find you one to close the sale so long as he is sure you are for real.

Privately owned hangars are your best bet. They are usually more expensive, but there is always one around if you are a regular guy with a nice plane. Just ask around at all the businesses, or figure out a way to walk around and talk to people (some airports require a badge but if you ask nicely and have a PPL they will often let you). If you are on one of those rare fields with only airport owned hangars, then find another field.

My closest field is full, but one farther away had lots of private hangars. My plane is currently in a hangar home of an RV owner with his son's plane as well.

-- Eric Warren, August 14, 2007

I had my DA40 on the ramp for a few months. No worries with the rain or sun, I had canopy, wing and tail covers. However, the ramp surface didn't drain well. The temperature fell, and voila! A DA40 solidly frozen in ice.

The hangar is the most expensive recurring/fixed expense in flying these days. It is a real luxury, I admit. I broke down and moved into one last year and haven't regretted it. When the wind blows, it is reassuring to know your bird is out of danger.

Another reason to share the plane is to share the hangar cost!

-- Frank Ervin, December 1, 2007

we use for gliders, light tow plane (carbon and glass fibre) water and UV proof covers (called "all weather") from danish manufacturer jaxida. they are breathable from down side, and quite working. check on they put new models out every year as demand growth. not as good as hangar but definitely better than just canopy cover - if we are talking carbon and glass fibre birds. tibor

-- tibor fx, January 15, 2008