Van's Aircraft Total Performance RV Kit Planes

Time to Build

How long does it take to build an airplane?

That’s probably our hardest question to answer accurately. There are so many factors that affect building time that almost any answer will only be true for a small number of builders.

As a rough approximation, based on builder reports we estimate 2000-2200 hours of work will complete an RV-3, RV-4 or the big RV-10 from the Standard Kit. The more highly pre-fabricated RV-7/7A, RV-8/8A and RV-9/9A Standard Kits take about 400-500 hours less. The more advanced kit for the RV-14/14A might take about 1000-1100 hours. The RV-12 takes the least time, with builders averaging around 800 hours.

Building from a QuickBuild Kit should cut these times by 40-50%.

To give you some idea of the possible variation, one builder using a QuickBuild Kit for an RV-7 reported 25,000 hours to complete. At the other end of the spectrum Jerry Scott, of Chino, California, completed an award-winning RV-6 from an older Standard Kit (manufactured before any pre-punched components were available) in 85 days. That included paint, avionics, upholstery….everything. Try that on your calculator! There’s only 2040 hours in 85 days… so if Jerry worked 12 hours a day with no breaks and no days off, the complete airplane only took 1020 hours. We’ve often wondered what he could do with a Quickbuild!

What can you do to insure you finish your RV in a reasonable amount of time?

Keep the airplane simple. Extensive avionics, besides being expensive and heavy, take a lot of time to install. Even small changes to the airframe can consume mind-boggling amounts of time. Just a fancy paint job can add several weeks of work. Work consistently. If you can spend a couple of hours every evening, your airplane will take less time to complete than if you work one long day every weekend. Momentum is important.

Make your shop comfortable year round. You can’t do good work if you’re miserably cold or hot, and you’ll avoid the shop…not the way to get a project done.

Get your friends and family involved, at least to a point. An extra set of hands can save a lot of time, even if they are just shoving clecoes in holes or handing you tools.

Make as many decisions ahead of time as you can. Especially when installing systems, you’ll go much faster if you’ve thought it through and bought the parts before you actually need them. If you can reach up, grab what you need and keep building, you’ll be done much faster than if you have to stop and page through catalogs at every decision point…especially if you’re doing the research during prime building time.

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