Pilot's Guide to Avionics 2015-16 Edition - 39
" We recommend an avionics shop connect with a
very competent, experienced rebuilder somewhere in the
neighborhood," Bliss told us. " The avionics shops, unless
they also are involved in extensive airframe rebuilding -
which is somewhat rare - need to evaluate their capabilities and decide who rebuilds airplanes the way they like
to participate in rebuilding airplanes. Depending on the
level of rebuild, I would recommend people look at it the
same way Sears sells lawn mowers: there's good, better
Clearly, Bliss intends for airplanes marketed with Triple
R to be in the latter category.
" If I was an avionics shop owner (looking to get into
the high-end refurbishment market), I would look at the
experience and output of potential partners in the rebuild
business who perhaps specialize in a Cessna or Beech
or Piper or Mooney ... (doing) 10 to 15 airplanes or more
a year," he suggested. But one key to success is understanding the customer, the airplane and the airplane's
mission. " The key is not to oversell. Buyers really want
functionality," he added, but " the problem we have today
with avionics is we can essentially install capabilities far
beyond the airframe, so matching the avionics menu to
the airframe value is the starting point.
" This is a decision for the (airframe) rebuilder, but
the avionics shop really has to participate in this and be
realistic. The fastest way to lose a sale is to come in with
an equipment list that is far beyond the capabilities of
the owner and far beyond the capabilities of the owner's
wallet. This is done all the time; the big mistake is to overequip rebuilt airplanes and that's when the pricing gets
out of control. The avionics shop must help the owner
come up with realistic budgeting."
One way to look at the airplane's and owner's missions is to break it down into three broad categories:
heavy IFR, light IFR and heavy VFR. In any case,
however, the airplane should be IFR-capable and incorporate ADS-B. Rebuilding an airplane but not including
IFR capability " doesn't make sense, even with a basic
airplane," Bliss commented.
" As people progress in their flying careers, they want
a little more capability" than a simple VFR panel. " In
today's world, especially with ADS-B coming on strong, it
just doesn't make sense for anyone to have an airplane
that's not capable of at least marginal IFR operation and
And if we're going to leverage the aforementioned
revolution in avionics, that means getting serious about
safety. Bliss also is a strong advocate of the all-electronic backup attitude instruments on the market. " Every
airplane that's rebuilt should have a solid-state gyro in
the panel," he told us.
But when it comes to an avionics shop right-sizing
its proposed work as part of a refurbishing project, it's
important to understand that equipment decisions the
shop makes " can easily exceed the cost of other work
performed," Bliss cautioned. " At the end of the day, a
120-knot airframe probably doesn't need $ 100,000 of
avionics unless the mission is turning out airline pilots,"
he reminded us. " The shop has to be realistic about pricing" and ask itself whether its recommendations present
good value for the customer based on current and projected missions. " Avionics shops should realize that their
contribution to the cost and capability of that airframe is
significant in many cases."
A good example might be a 30-year-old Piper Archer,
worth around $ 30,000. After doing a " firewall-forward"
engine/propeller/accessory replacement for around
$ 45,000 to $ 50,000, add new paint and interior for
$ 20,000 to $ 25,000. When that work is finished, all the
mechanicals are handled, to the tune of around $ 100,000.
From that point, the airplane's ultimate value and cost is
determined at the avionics shop. It would be rather easy
to spend another $ 100,000 on the latest and greatest of
everything, but we'd also double the cost. " We could get
away with half that," Bliss said.
The result is a Triple R Piper Archer with brand-new
everything, ready to roll out the door between $ 160,000
and $ 210,000. Piper still makes the Archer, and a new one
starts at around $ 350,000, equipped with a Garmin G1000
avionics suite. " For a shop that's looking at participating in
this rebuild industry, I think it's human nature to recommend
all the capability you can possibly sell," Bliss told us. But it's
important to remember the avionics shops control between
40 and 60 percent of the cost of these rebuilds.
The Triple R initiative offers great potential in standardizing the methods, marketing and potential of high-end
refurbishing. It's designed to help avionics shops and
other aviation businesses understand how to go about
meeting customer expectations and perform to industryrecognized standards. Triple R also provides sales leads
and encourages advertising expertise and experience
with certain airframes.
To learn more about Triple R, visit the organization's website at tripleraffordableaircraft.com. q
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