View Full Version : RAF Registry Update
01-14-2008, 05:13 PM
as you may remember from when RAF (Canada) folded its tent, I said I'd make a registry of RAF 2000 aircraft. I have plugged away off and on on it, and it's time to spill some data and... this is why I'm here... ask for some help.
Why me when I'm not an RAF pilot? Well, the first gyro I flew was an RAF (with Dofin Fritts). The guy that turned me on to gyros was an RAF pilot (Chuck Feil). And no machine has been more ... controversial. People want to know about it.
Further, I have the skills to do this. I like to collect things, including information; I've seen registries work well in the collector car market, helping to establish provenance and history (including damage history); and I know my way around Excel (which I'm using now) and relational databases (which I'll use when it's time to go online).
State of the Project
I've done the following:
Determined the approximate number of RAF kits delivered
Decoded the RAF serial or contract numbers
Slogged through the registries of much of the Anglosphere
Gathered some information on RAFs damaged or written off in mishaps
So right now, I have 40-47% of the RAFs ever built accounted for. I have links to registrations, to mishap reports (if the machine has suffered one), and in a couple of cases to photos.
While I'm always working to add data, the next steps are to take the data online (which I plan to do when I break 50% of serial numbers accounted for) and to gather more information on non-USA machinery.
What I Want From You...
If you're not in the USA (and haven't given it to me before), the serial number of your RAF. Get your buddies off the forum to send me theirs, too.
If anybody knows of a foreign registered RAF, where I can look up the registry online, please let me know. I can read most European languages but Asian or Middle Eastern ones I'll need help translating. Is the South African registry online somewhere?
If you are in the USA but you (or the original builder) registered your RAF with your own serial number rather than the RAF number, please look it up and post it here or send it to me. (Disregard if you've already done this).
If you know the fate of an RAF that has been written off or parted out, let me know; ideally with its consecutive unit number or contract number, but any information is welcome.
Likewise, foreign mishap reports and any knowledge of where RAFs are, outside of the USA, Canada, UK, Aus, NZ
Finally, when the site goes live, I'll need lots of eyeballs checking the data for accuracy.
The closer this gets to 100% the more useful it will be to current and future RAF owners, pilots and enthusiasts. Given that at least 670 RAF's were made it will be challenging to try to get near that goal but over time and working together, we can do it.
I can be reached by email at kevin (at) networkimpossible dot com, or krcobrien (at) gmail dot com, or by telephone at 617 335-0301. I seldom answer "strange" numbers... so leave a message and a time to call back (and if you do that, tell me what time zone you are in!)
Finally, I welcome any suggestions on what I can do to make this more useful to you, the RAF gyroplane community.
01-15-2008, 03:11 AM
One down in Brazil, unknow destin, will try and find out . . .
01-15-2008, 04:03 AM
So right now, I have 40-47% of the RAFs ever built accounted for...
Kevin, do you really mean "RAFs ever built," or do you mean "kits ever sold?"
If 47% of the RAF kits sold got built, that would be doing well by the standards of the aircraft kit industry. If the number you've registered is 47% of 670, you may be much closer than you think to your goal!
01-15-2008, 12:52 PM
Here are the numbers, Paul. It takes a while as I have to shut down excel on my laptop to launch it on this puter (I only have one license for the Mac version). I run it on the laptop to run my Diet & Health spreadsheet.
I have 301 RAFs on file with some identifying information (like a national registration). This is ~45% of 670. Almost all of these are US, Canadian, Argentine, and New Zealand registered.
I have 277 RAFs (of those 301) on file with the original RAF contract number. This is ~41%. Almost all of these are US and Canadian registered. I think the only UK machine I have the full Monty on is Ronnie Byerly's (he's a member of this forum and the guy whose machine, G-BYIN, is sporting an HS for Section T compliance testing). UK gyros are registered under a PFA model number (which takes too long to explain, but it's enough to say the registration does not contain the kit contract number). At least 33 RAFs are registered in Britain and I have a list of these registrations but havent scrubbed them against my 301 (so the 301 may actually be more like 333 when I do that).
14 RAFs were once registered with the FAA and have left behind only ghost entries so we can't tell which registrations they once had.
Of my 301 machines, I count 46 mishaps with 16 lives lost, but the NTSB database is not scrubbed against the 301 completely yet; I expect both these numbers to rise. Foreign mishaps are generally not included yet; I don't know the registration or serial numbers of the two Russian double fatals (does Russia have an online registry and/or accident investigation? I read Russian). I don't know the reg or serial of last year's Spanish double fatal. I think G-CBAG is not included in my mishap count. Et cetera.
People wonder about accident rates. So far I have 15.2% of the aircraft having a serious mishap and about 4% a fatal one, but those don't take into account the hours and so they seriously understate the rate. Using 250 hours as a median exposure for the fleet (given that many mishap aircraft are well under 100 hours, and we frequently see sub-100-hour machines on the market) and converting into the measure commonly used in the industry, we come up with accident rates of about 61 per 100,000 flight hours and fatal accident rates of about 16 per 100,000. I do expect these numbers to finally come out higher (and they are dramatically affected by a lower or higher estimate of median hours).
The accident reports are all sourced, so it's safe to assume the actual accident count is higher... most rollovers that cause no serious injury are never reported to NTSB (this may not be a violation of NTSB 830, if you term them ground accidents. But it is damage history that a future owner deserves to know about, and its mishap experience a hull insurer would take into consideration).
So yeah, it's somewhat chaotic, Paul, and incomplete. It's an asymptote that will never get to 100%. It is a perpetual work in progress!
Peak production was 1996, with 74 or 75 kits shipped. In 1999, production was down to about 40 a year. Mean is 42.2 a year and median 41. By 2006, production had dropped below 20 units. I don't have accurate numbers on 2007 which is the last model year on a Canadian-built RAF.
I have not spoken to Eben Mocke Jr., and don't know if he and his father plan to continue the Canadian serial numbers or use new ones in South Africa.
I think most of the kits that have been sold have been assembled. My sense is that the delta between kits shipped and kits assembled is much lower than in the fixed-wing world. The reason is that the RAF is a fairly straightforward kit to assemble. It seems to go together easier than (the early, anyway) Sparrowhawk. It's not like an RV or a Vari-Eze where there are many first flights still to come from 1992 kits or 1982 plans.
I do not know what the last number shipped was. Six months ago, the highest number registered was 670 and it's possible a few more have been registered. Of course, I went away for three weeks and two more were written off in the USA (of which, the Warren Maddox mishap is not in NTSB at all).
I don't believe the Canadian TSB even bothered to investigate any of the RAF accidents up there (the "it's experimental, it's your funeral" approach), and I know of at least seven fatalities there and several non-fatal write-offs, just off the top of my head. Chuck Ellsworth, is there any place I can find reports on these accidents or is my assessment of TSB's attitude correct?
Where possible, I record the time on the machine at a point in time, or when written off. In mishap cases I record pilot time in type. Many serious and fatal mishaps have occurred with low time (in type) pilots in low time machines. High time in other aircraft (even helicopters) does not seem to inoculate one against risk in RAF; as someone familiar with statistics, I can see why insurance is a bear. Unlike fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft, for which the safest operations apart from scheduled airlines are training operations, gyroplanes in general appear to have high rates of training mishaps. This may be partially due to the gyro-community practice of flying for ever (or trying to) on a student signoff.
01-15-2008, 06:49 PM
Thanks for the explanation.
I ran across someone last week who thinks the need for accurate hours-flown data is so critical to defining and solving safety issues that the FAA should require all N-numbered aircraft to report hours flown at each annual inspection.
I must admit reservations about any new regulatory intrusion, but if we did this, we'd figure this denominator part out quickly. We'd also have info of a quality similar to CarFax for automobiles, even on experimentals.
01-17-2008, 06:24 AM
Me thinks there would be too many "unknowns" for it to be a reliable source of information.
01-17-2008, 09:31 AM
I know of at least 8 RAFs imported to Russia: 7 kits from Canada and one assembled from Poland. None was registered nor I know their S/N.
One was sold to Kazakhstan.
One converted to CLT using AAI modification kit.
One is possibly still not assembled, others flew.
4 of them confirmed lost (2 double fatalities + 2 without serious injuries).
Some other countries:
There should be at least one RAF in Latvia, reg # YL-CCM
There is one in Serbia, reg # YU-ZBG
Earlier (ca. 12-15 years ago) there were 2 to 4 RAFs purchased to Kazakhstan from Hungary where somebody had a small factory which assembled RAFs from kits. These were old model RAFs which doors weren't completely glass. One of them still carried a Hungarian reg HA-YNAP when I got it's photo ca.1997. These gyros in Kazakhstan didn't serve long.
I also know of one in Thailand which was likely bought second hand from UK and still carry G-BWWS reg.
And at least 10-12 RAFs were imported to China (they were likely assembled in HongKong). One of them carried 52019 tailmark.
01-17-2008, 09:46 AM
Thanks Alex, I was hoping to hear from you.
I think the only one on your list I had was the Serbian one --he's been featured on RAFpilots.com if hes the one I think -- and maybe the Thai machine. I found a lot of them in South Africa -- it's easy to see why the factory went there, a third or more of production was going there since about 2003.
You can get away with flying in Russia with no registration? No wonder they don't investigate the accidents. "With great freedom comes great responsibility."
I found an international registry site for rotorcraft that was very helpful. No time right now to post it but I will add it to this thread later.
The changeover from half-clear and half-fiberglass windows was pretty early in production. AT the same time the front windscreen changed from one piece that wrapped over your head to a separate windscreen and skylight/backlight. This was because it would pop in on you at high speed!
I remember your reports of the two accidents. By the way (not RAF related), I met Vytas once and had no idea he was not on his original legs! He had a lot of energy. A sad loss to the world of flying. Let us know in that thread if anything is learnt about his mishap.
01-17-2008, 10:18 AM
I think the only one on your list I had was the Serbian one --he's been featured on RAFpilots.com if hes the one I think --
Yes, I think that's him - his name is Krsta Mandic. We contacted once and he confirmed he is the only gyro pilot there currently.
You can get away with flying in Russia with no registration? No wonder they don't investigate the accidents.
We still have no regulations for general aviation so we fly invisible :) We hope :painkiller:
AT the same time the front windscreen changed from one piece that wrapped over your head to a separate windscreen and skylight/backlight. This was because it would pop in on you at high speed!
Yes, I read about this problem. This time I found 2 more RAF kits imported to Russia: one was crashed in 2001, another was seriously "modified" by owner but I never heard about it's flying.
And two more in other countries:
one is in Greece, it was purchsed second hand from N.America. His current owner visited me a couple years ago but I never heard from him after that.
His gyro didn't had any reg marks.
Another one is in Israel, reg 4X-BGR
And there should be some in Iran.
I met Vytas once and had no idea he was not on his original legs! He had a lot of energy. A sad loss to the world of flying. Let us know in that thread if anything is learnt about his mishap.
Vytas visited me in November. We spent a whole day talking about gyros. He was a very modest and gentle person. I tried to ask him of what he learned in Spain (he trained to fly gyro at ELA factory and soloed there last fall) and noticed (cannot state this firmly but it is my impression based on some details) that his instructors looked not giving him basic understanding of main and dangerous differencies between gyro and fixed wings. He was really impressed with gyro and told me that he accepted only aerobatic planes before and now he is also amazed with gyro. I think he had no more than 20-25 hours in a gyro.
As an aerobatic pilot he asked about airshow things which gyro can do. Since I also think about this we talked about this in details.
From what I know to the moment he took-off solo with too high positive pitch and likely unloaded rotor in climb. Other witnesses stated that after losing climb speed with too high positive pitch he tried to roll'n'bank gyro but he has too little altitude and collided the ground.
I hope to get more exact info from his friends slightly later and will inform the forum.
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