Customer Service Manager Discusses What Lancair Customers Are
Building And How (Part Two of Three)
the builder assist program has been very successful. Almost
everybody comes in at least for two weeks. And for the Lancair IV,
and the ES, four weeks is a good number if you can, because you get
so much glass work done.
Aero-News: I would think that the typical
Lancair customer is less someone who wants the experience of
building, and more someone that wants to own a Lancair, and wants
to fly a Lancair.
KL: Yeah... you talk to both. At the show here,
I've talked to a lot of people that just say, "I'm not interested
in building, I'd rather just fly," and another guy that [asks],
"Can I build? I know I know how to fly airplanes, but can I build
one?" For him, I recommend, before you put down $80,000 for a kit,
buy the manual. Get the assembly manual! He was interested in the
ES and we just rewrote the ES manual with photos and all, and I
said, "this is perfect for you. If you can understand what you
read, you should not have a problem putting this airplane
Aero-News: Would something like the Sportair
Composite Workshop be worthwhile? Because with the Lancair, because
so much of it's prepared for you, you have prepreg parts,
everything comes more or less in net size and shape....
KL: There still is a lot of glass work. It's
not cutting foam...
Aero-News: But you're gonna get familiar with
KL: Oh, yeah.
Aero-News: I interrupted you -- I'm a great
interrupter -- but you were talking about, four weeks is about
right for the ES, the IV. Those are a fairly complicated airplane,
and I imagine they're quite sensitive to rig, and being put
together right, at the speeds they fly?
KL: Well, it just is the reassurance that the
wings have been closed up, that they've been built properly. The
tail's been properly -- it's still going to be up to them to bond
the tail on, but the wings have already been mated into the
fuselage. I just wouldn't question a kit that went through four
Aero-News: And I guess that's a great
confidence-builder for the owner-builder.
KL: Oh yeah! One of the guys that -- again,
that I've seen here at the show -- his airplane's in paint now. He
had NEVER worked with composites, never built anything. He
works with a television network somehow, and I'm not sure what he
does. His airplane is now in paint, and he's just so excited: he
built the whole thing himself, no help -- well, he might have, with
the engine and panel. But you know, he had NO experience. He was a
Aero-News: And he used your builder assist?
KL: He ended up coming through -- he might have
done two weeks, back then.
Aero-News: He's a long-term builder, then.
KL: Yeah, he was before we started the four
weeks -- or, up to completion now. We have a program for the Legacy
and the Legacy Fixed Gear, you can come out and spend ten weeks
with us, and fly your airplane.
KL: And we say, you pay for ten weeks. It could
be ten weeks, it could be ten to fourteen weeks because of the
tweaking and getting the panel installed... we've had quite a few
people go through the completion program.
Aero-News: So a majority, or a very high
percentage of the kits you sell now, do the builder's assist?
KL: If they don't, it's due to going overseas,
where they can't come back, or someone's just talked 'em out of it,
saying, "I can help you and we can do it." But I'll tell you: once
you build these tables, and these fixtures, and these cradles, you
probably have $2,000 in materials. And it's $4,000 for one week!
And it's for these tables you
will need for just a very short time.
Aero-News: Yeah, you see people trying to sell
them on the secondary market. And the problem is, nobody's right at
that stage. "I wish I'd known about this two weeks ago."
KL: Right. And, somebody from California is not
going to travel to Florida to pick up a jig.
Aero-News: I'm sure you get feedback from the
customers -- I imagine the vast majority of it's going to be
KL: Yeah. The only problem that I've seen, is
with the completion program: that the customers just expect it to
be completely done at the end of that ten weeks. Even though we
told them, there could be plus two or three weeks, maybe four....
and so it would be good if they came out for eight weeks, left, and
let us do the firewall-forward, and electrical (which you can hire
done), and when we get the gear retraction, weight and balance, get
all the little bugs worked out, come back and we'll have our first
That, I think, would work out much better. These guys were just
sticking around... and they just expected everything... well, they
had never built an airplane before. And the "90% done, 90% to go,"
Aero-News: Can you give me an estimate, or
guesstimate, of what percentage of your customers have never built
an airplane before?
KL: It would just be a guess, but I would guess
Aero-News: Do you get repeat Lancair
KL: Yeah. A small percentage, but I would guess
maybe five to ten percent of our builders.
Aero-News: Like the guys in North County who
built a Lancair IV and then a IVP.
KL: Was that Charlie [name]?
Aero-News (amazed that Kim remembers one
customer from Lancair's thousands -- and I don't): It was Charlie
somebody, yeah, and his buddy... Don?
KL (positive): Don [name]. [We had another
brief digression, discussing our positive experiences with these
To Be Continued...