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Robin aircraft in receivership

@Capitaine, thanks for the very interesting background. Quebec might’ve made sense. The problem with entering the US market is that buyers are extremely demanding in terms of reliability, warranty and parts support. And they don’t forget easily.

Market saturation is a problem for all of the GA manufacturers except those selling to the Experimental market, made progressively worse by higher certification barriers. I think the standard way to approach this problem for any product is planned obsolescence and newer, shinier models but it breaks down when the production volume to pay for non-recurring engineering etc. is too high. Also by the late 1960s it became an uphill struggle to make new models that were actually better, the Cessna Cardinal versus 172 issue.

What’s available in the new factory built plane market now is mostly boring regardless of budget, and to me the Robins are not so boring.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Feb 23:16

The French aeroclubs now are buying LSAs, not new Robins. If you go to just about any aeroclub you’ll find that have a Lionceau or two which is cheaper to fly than a Robin, and that is what initial training uses.

As someone said, the expectation in the aeroclub fraternity is that all planes need to be hangared. If you suggest to them that keeping a plane outside is OK, they react a bit as if you told them that your children live in the garden and sleep in a dog kennel. Very different from the US where hangarage for club panes is just about unknown, at least in places where the climate isn’t too extreme.

LFMD, France

French schools/clubs do have hangarage (from what I’ve seen, from local govt grants) but this is rare elsewhere in Europe. As a result, Robin export potential to the flight training business was very limited.

Very interesting comment re the DGAC. Quite outrageous that a national certification authority should be doing stuff like that under the table, but nothing surprises me

Socata’s marketing in the US was crap too. And you need to do things differently when selling to the US e.g. you need to use US Standard Parts (AN, MS, etc) not metric stuff for which there are no standards and which costs easily 10x more. Airbus did that bit right.

All that said, this Robin move appears to be seeking protection from that “bad glue” issue. Presumably the company will rise out of the ashes, with its debts washed away in the traditional way and carry on as “Robin Aircraft (2024) Ltd” or some such. I don’t know about French company law but in the UK if you buy a company’s assets then you have no liabilities from the past, which is really handy. And the name is an asset like any other. In the UK this is known as a “runner”

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Airbus did that bit right.

You’re not seriously saying that Airbuses sold in the US use US standard screws etc and not metric? It’s bad enough that Germany and France cna’t agree on what wire size to use, never mind using different fastener standards.

There ARE standards for metric fasteners – they come from ISO, of which the US is very much a member. I think any decent shop in the US has everything they need to work on metric – sockets etc. It’s true that metric fasteners are harder to get but serious suppliers like McMaster-Carr have them. In fact even my local TrueValue in Mountain View had them.

In 20 years in the US I never got my head around US screws with codes like 14-3 and sizes in 64th of an inch. I just used metric fasteners.

LFMD, France

The French aeroclubs now are buying LSAs, not new Robins

Lot of new orders for the aeroclub are those 2-seats Elixir, they do a really good job…lot of ACB have replaced all Robins, the one at my home-base got 4xBristell (SP98) and DA40NG (JetA)

Last Edited by Ibra at 01 Mar 07:32
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

Question is: where do all these Robins go? Private ownership is not much of a thing in France, at least not in the VFR-SEP segment. And Eastern Europe will not buy them either. So are they being scrapped?

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

They will probably scrapped… wood planes may not like to rest on the outside, hangars are something not easy to get everywhere like in the US.
Owners and ACBs are selling their robin now (I have seen more ads than ever), anyway parts are very difficult to get, and these last years, you can’t even get a date to have them produced. ACBs specially are upset because it’s not the first time that Robin gets in this situation for this same reason (the winfg spar glue gate).
2 seaters like elixir are not so “really” cheaper to operate than a 100 or a 120cv robin, nor more capable (only 2 seat vs 3 seat for a robin DR420), but probably more confortable. I have never liked the cramped position of the dr400 although i’m not that tall (177), but I can say that they are really pleasant to fly.

Last Edited by greg_mp at 01 Mar 08:28
LFMD, France

johnh wrote:

You’re not seriously saying that Airbuses sold in the US use US standard screws etc and not metric? It’s bad enough that Germany and France cna’t agree on what wire size to use, never mind using different fastener standards.

All structural fasteners on Airbus are fractional inch size (UNJF). Majority of rivets as well.

Nympsfield, United Kingdom

Silvaire wrote:

11,000 Mooney M20s were built versus e.g. 2150 of the Socata TB series, over five terms as many. Mooney didn’t do that without tooling.

True. Unfortunately and probably similarily to Robin, they never upgraded their tooling to something akin to mass production capable. Hence, both makes have the problem that their airplanes are practically hand made. And as we know in the automotive world, that means expensive. Lamborghini and Rolls Royce territory price wise.

Silvaire wrote:

Robins are to me the most attractive European type in current production. I’d love to have a new one with an O-360.

Robins are great airplanes. Yes, they are wooden design and they have that canopy which some people don’t like (we had an accident here where someone burnt alive because he could not open the canopy after turning over) but otherwise, they are very popular still and quite a lot of them are in use in Switzerland and Germany. For clubs, they were the quintessential trainers.

I think the main problem is parts and the fact that the factory has been very unreliable in recent years. On the other hand, due to the fact that the structure is wood, a lot of qualified shops can make these parts. Other stuff is not that easy though and as Robin has been known to use unique parts, some are difficult to come by. That is not helped by the fact that each model is different and not even in between they are very similar at times.

But I still think that a lot of ex club Robins may find their way into private ownership, why not. For clubs they need their planes 24/7, a private person can wait for parts more than them. Some of the ones for sale now are really nice airplanes. Yes, they need hangarage (save for the metal ones) but in France that shold be a lesser problem than elsewhere. I think some private owners may get themselves a bargain or two.

LSZH, Switzerland

Notes from one DR401 owner who paid a packet for a new aircraft here and especially from here. That one was so much trouble that it was eventually returned to the Robin dealer…

It’s obvious that Robin lost the plot for making modern planes some years ago. They could not get avionics or even simple electrics to work. It was hangared at “my hangar” and even a simple starting problem grounded it for months. However, to be fair, all French planes have this problem; see this for example. If you want to maintain a French plane to a high standard, you need to be a bit more pro-active in parts sourcing and such like. This is because most parts come from small French companies – many of which don’t even have a website, it seems – and these just go “pop” when the owner retires or dies.

Metric fitting discussion. There are specific standards in the US, which don’t exist in Europe. Yes of course an M4x10 CSK is a “standard size” if you are fixing a lawn mower, but whereas say AN123456 is an aviation-acceptable reference for substitution purposes (like a PMA but for fasteners), M4x10 CSK (+material spec) is not acceptable and the manufacturers who use metric hide behind this non-acceptability by assigning special part numbers like N65487509 which the maint facility is forced to buy (unless there is an EASA concession). Airbus realised that if they pull this stunt, nobody outside Europe is going to buy an Airbus because they will get ripped off all the way down the line, where a Boeing hose might be $100 while the Airbus metric/ISO version would be $1000+ (Socata actual examples).

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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