Building a Van's Aircraft RV-10

Cover Image for Building a Van's Aircraft RV-10
Matthew Runo
Matthew Runo

I'm building a plane - a Van's Aircraft RV-10 to be exact. This is a 4-seat homebuilt kit plane that cruises around 170 knots and handles all sorts of challenges including IFR incredibly well. It'll be a great platform to explore the world in, and I hope to be able to share some of what I find with everyone along the way.

The FAA requires that homebuilt planes be at least 51% amateur assembled for the builder to get a Repairman Cert. This will allow me to do maintenance on my plane - though I do plan on having a mechanic look it over from time to time just in case since it's never a bad idea to get a second set of eyes.

The Plan

Vans has a two-year wait for kits, so I've had lots of time to watch YouTube videos and read all about the building process on VansAirForce. That has given me lots of ideas - ways to speed up the build and also to ensure that the final product is of outstanding quality. It's not just that I'm building a plane - I want this plane to last me for many decades.

I've never done any work with sheet metal before. I've never bucked a rivet. These are skills that I'll have to learn before starting, skills that I'll use many thousands of times before the project is complete. I ordered quickbuild kits from Vans, but even starting from 49% complete parts, there's a lot of work still to do. To ensure that I get off on the right foot (since EAA Sport Workshops are not available), I'm going to build the empennage and tailcone kit with Synergy Air in Eugene, Oregon to get a feel for building planes with sheet metal while I'm with licensed mechanics who know what they're doing.

I'll then bring everything back to the house and take over our garage for the next few years. Eventually, the project will move to a hangar at San Gabriel Airport - KEMT - in El Monte, California. I hope to have the engine hung and the avionics all done by that point since it'll be a bit of a drive back and forth from the airport and that will slow down progress.

Doing all the wiring for avionics is another big task, and I'm going to contract Stein Air to help with that. I know that I could do it all myself, but some of these little boxes cost many thousands of dollars and I want to ensure that everything is done correctly - the first time - and without risking any magic smoke. They'll ensure that everything is properly installed, without issues like ground loops, and also nicely laser cut and engrave the panel itself. I'm not sure what panel I'm going to use at this point, I'm sort of leaning towards using the Van's metal panel rather than one of the more popular carbon fiber options that are available. We'll see - probably a year or so before I need to worry about finalizing this decision.

I plan on building my own Lycoming IO-540 ~260HP engine with Aero Sport Power's Build School which I think will be an amazing week up in Canada making the engine exactly how we want it. So far, other than knowing that I want electronic ignition I've not finalized anything. I like the Lightspeed Plasma III and the Monkworkz backup generator but we'll see what makes sense when the time comes.

I have a paint slot with Evoke Aircraft Design in late 2027 - let's see if I make that date! It can be moved back and I thought it would make sense to get on their calendar because they're already booking out that far - and it's only 2023!