Comparative Analysis Worksheet:
Selecting the kit aircraft that's right for you.
Finding the kit aircraft that's right for you represents a complex evaluation and decision making process. In buying an aircraft kit, you are not buying a completed airplane, but you are obtaining the means to build and complete your own aircraft, by being supplied with a box of parts and instructions.
Too often, buyers of kit aircraft base their buying decision only on one or two factors (such as the finished product) - overlooking important points in their decision making process - resulting in later frustrations and unexpected surprises. Industry-wide, the kit completion ratio is low (statistics show that many individuals who start a project never finish it) usually because the kit (and not necessarily the design) does not meet the requirements or expectations of the builder.
With literally hundreds of different kit aircraft designs available on the market today, buyers have a wide choice of designs to choose from. While each aircraft may have its own inherent advantages and disadvantages, objectively analyzing and evaluating a number of kit aircraft will allow you to select the design and kit that best meets all your specific requirements and expectations.
Know your requirements and expectations:
- Know What You're Looking For. Pilots choose to build their aircraft for a number of reasons: Lower costs, better aircraft performance and capabilities, challenge and rewards of building, etc. Know why you want to build a kit aircraft so that can select the kit aircraft that will best meet your goals.
- Set Realistic Requirements. Once you know what you're looking for, set realistic requirements. If you're looking primarily for a low-cost aircraft for recreational flying, it may not be feasible to buy a 200-mph plane, or if you're not mechanically inclined it may be wiser to choose a simple and easy-build kit that won't take you years to complete.
- Know What To Expect. Before you can fly your aircraft you'll have to build it, so don't overlook the importance of the building part. Many kits never progress beyond this point because builders give up on the project due to unexpected complexity, cost, skills, time requirement or lack of factory support. Researching the different designs and kits, and the companies behind them, will allow you to set realistic expectations on what it will take you to successfully complete the kit aircraft.
- Be Realistic. Making your dream of building and flying your own aircraft come true requires certain 'reality checks'. Limit your search to aircraft kits that match your building ability and budget, and choose an aircraft that will be suitable for your piloting skills. Realize that claims from certain kit manufacturers may be overly optimistic, and keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use common sense in comparing and evaluating the large number of kits on the market, and remember your underlying requirements and expectations.
- Set Priorities. Once you've decided what your realistic requirements and goals are, prioritize them so that you may evaluate and compare the different kits on the market based on how they meet those requirements.
The following comparative analysis worksheet is a useful tool to objectively evaluate and compare different kit aircraft on the market based on how well each design and kit meets your requirements.
Comparative Analysis Worksheet
The following comparative analysis is made up of a number of separate worksheets developed to help you objectively evaluate and compare kit aircraft. By setting priorities, the worksheet allows you to effectively find the kit aircraft that will best meet your requirements. The worksheet list of evaluation items is by no means exhaustive, and can be modified to suit your specific requirements.
Weight: Relative importance to you of item being evaluated:
Rating: Rating for item being evaluated for each particular aircraft:
Each item you evaluate on the following list must first be provided a weight number - indicating the item's importance to you in selecting a kit aircraft. Weigh each item on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being very important and 1 being of little importance to you.
Next, rate each kit for the particular item being evaluated on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being most favorable (positive factor) and 1 being not favorable (negative factor).
Finally, enter each kit's score for the item being evaluated. The kit score is the item's weight multiplied by its rating. The total score for each kit is the sum of all the individual item scores for the kit.
EXAMPLE: If KIT PRICE is an important evaluation item to you, weigh the KIT PRICE item a "3" (Very Important). Then, rate each kit on their respective kit price (if KIT A is seen as affordable and competitively prices (a positive), rate it a "3" (conversely, if the kit price is expensive, rate it a "1"). The score for the kit price is "3" (weight) multiplied by "3" (rating), providing a kit score of "9". Once all the items have been evaluated, add all the scores to see which kit rates the best (highest score).
The Competitive Analysis has been broken down into the following five worksheets:
Once you have completed the worksheets, add the total score from each worksheet and compare the grand total scores of all five worksheets for the kits being evaluated. Based on the information you've entered, the kit with the highest rating will best meet your stated requirements - providing you with an objective comparative analysis.
Hints on Using the Worksheets:
- Due to the detail of the information being evaluated, you may find it most useful to print the worksheets and to fill in the rating information later as it is gathered (or save the files to a local directory)
- Use multiple copies of the same worksheet to evaluate more than two different aircraft.
- For evaluation items that do not apply, simply do not rate the item. For an item that is of particular importance, you can provide a weight factor or rating higher than the standard given range (ie. use 5 instead of 3).
- Please remember that this is just a worksheet to objectively document the complex decision-making process in selecting the kit that's best suited for you. You may find that some of the evaluation items are not appropriate for your particular needs.
Let's get started with Worksheet 1: FLYING
Related Resource: Chris Heintz Design College: Choosing your Design
© Zenith Aircraft Company (1994 - 2003)