It was another epic trip but before I waffle on with irrelevants, I will get straight to business. Everyone wants to know: “When will I get my chit?” So here is what is going on:
- Many customers have their Merlin kits but no firewall forward package (FF PKG). There are a lot of components involved. Here is the breakdown:
- Vtwin engines. This is easy. We have plenty of engines in stock in Shanghai, but the city has been in lockdown for nearly 2 months. Shipments open on 1 June. We should have no problem shipping engines now but with some limitations. We can only ship 2 per day. That is actually fine. Engines will start showing up at builder’s doors in June. Reduction drives are already in stock in Alabama. We have shelves and bins prepared and a lot of stock arriving almost daily to Alabama. We will box and ship from this center.
- From Czech we get engine mounts, cowls, and exhausts. We have around 10 engine mounts done and are welding up exhausts now. Cowls are also being made then painted to match customers’ aircraft.
- Props have been delayed due to a shortage of aluminum to make the hubs. This problem is now solved. Props/cowls/exhausts/and engine mounts will all be shipped in the next container. This container will ship in 2 weeks and go direct to Alabama. By the time it arrives the shelves should be full of all the other bits and pieces to make installation complete.
- The entire cooling system comes from a racing supplier, and we have 25 sets in transit. Tracking says arrival next Wednesday.
- Monday, I fly to Dayton to finish the FF PKG work and documentation plus more work on the avionics and wiring. The week after I will be in Alabama stocking shelves and working on two Merlins in the build program. It is our priority as it should be to get these parts to the customers ASAP. My goal is near everything delivered before the Oshkosh show.
- New Merlin shipments: 4 will ship in 2 weeks along with those FF PKG parts. Work has started on 2 more Merlins. Then we will make new parts in batches of 8. These parts kits will ship to Alabama for assembly in USA. The higher labor costs are offset by the out-of-control freight costs, so it is now more economically viable to assemble the Merlins and the Merlin Lites in USA. But realistically it will take 3 months to get the parts and 3+ more months to catch up with orders. We will be accelerating this work by bringing over a couple of my experienced Czech workers for training the USA team. This will be a big help.
- Merlin Lite production: The first two Merlin Lites are nearly finished and will be flying soon! Then we will ship them direct to Wisconsin for display at the Oshkosh airshow. Then, after I get to play with them some, off to customers. Not only that, the floats are done too. I plan to have one Merlin Lite on floats at Oshkosh. That is the good news. The bad news is I need 20 parts kit made for USA assembly and that will take 3 months. But once this flow of aircraft gets started we will have plenty. I just feel terrible for those who have waited so long and are still waiting. And I have quickly sent refund checks to a few customers on their request. But for those who wait they will be getting the worlds’ most advanced ultralight! I trust it will be worth the wait.
- The Electrolite has some news too. We will be testing two motor systems. The Electrolite will be super nice as an ultralight, a self-launching glider, and/or a floatplane. You can have it all in one aircraft!
Tech Pro just finished a HKS-powered Merlin. They know I need Merlins and will let me have it. If anyone wants this new Merlin I will have it shipped to USA and remake the panel to USA-Specs. It has a rescue chute from CZ. Flew 30 minutes. Looks pretty nice!
Merlin Lite photos!!! The engine is installed, and cowl is being made. Doors are nice. Bubble windows to be added. Chute is above the baggage area which is a good location. Note the extended vertical stabilizer. This should help coordinate with the longer wing. We will add this to new Merlins as well. You can also see the panel is pre-cut to fit the EMS, EFIS, Trim, and engine mags/controls. This is very clean and leaves plenty of room for your phone or iPad nav apps.
Here are some photos of Merlins about to ship. The white one with the Vtwin is going to the Philippines. See the big pile of Vtwin engine mounts. And even photo evidence of this author doing some work. Shocking I know.
OK, there is your business report. Good progress but I wish it was better. Now on to the dribble for those still reading….
Aeromarine’s’ engineer and occasional guest blogger Ben Bosma accompanied me on this trip. I was forced to take him to my favorite pubs and restaurants. Such a host… Beers with my best workers. Miro and Robin are the two that will be in the Alabama assembly center when the kits arrive.
Some of you may recall that I play ice hockey whenever I can. That means I need a good dentist. Mine is really one of the world’s best. He is in Prague but actually Ukranian and has family on the sharp end. I wish him well, yet he still tortured me. Pulled a tooth. Dug out the old roots. Hammered my upper jawbone basically breaking it to push the sinus membrane up far enough for a titanium implant. Google ‘sinus lift’. Then he sliced open the lower gum an inch or so to scrape and scrape and scrape until he had enough bone shavings to fill in around the implant. Then he sliced off some gum to graft to the area around the implant. Then sewed it all up. The medical glove is filled with water then frozen for a cheap ice pack. Glad you kept reading? Good thing Bugsy’s cocktail bar in Prague offers the Painkiller cocktail made with 151.2 proof Pussers rum. I am still recovering…..
I will close this out with a photo of another beautiful church. This one is in Olomouc. And note the banner on this building at the foot of Charles Bridge in Prague. Russia has a history of invading the Czech Republic and the Czechs, like the Ukrainians, are not so willing to let it happen again.