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I could find plenty of information regarding the total weight (empty operating weight, maximum landing weight, and maximum takeoff weight) of every plane in commercial production. However, I could not find information regarding the weight of the wings, fuselage, or empennage of a small airplane. So, how much do the wings, fuselage, and wings each weigh for a 6-seater front-engine airplane such as a Cessna 206 or Cherokee Piper Saratoga?

Knowing this would be useful if an upper middle class family wants to take the used airplane on a 2-week cross-country trip four times per year and they want to save on hangar rental costs because it is only used during that time period. Upon arriving at each destination, they rent a car for a day or two. They bought a plane rather than the much cheaper option of taking the airline because they never want to take public transportation while not having to waste 10 hours driving on the highway between each leg, and that renting a plane four times per years for 2 weeks at a time costs more. So, for a family of four (with the 3rd row being extra luggage space), how feasible would it be for 1 person to bolt and unbolt the wings of a 6-seater airplane with the remaining 3 holding up the wing during the process so that they can tow the plane on the street to and from the camper and boat parking space located on the side yard of the home?

I have no idea how much airplane parking space rent at a county airport costs. Is it as expensive as car parking rates in downtown garages, given that aviation is generally an upper class hobby?

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  • $\begingroup$ You do realize that the wings is where the fuel tanks are, right? Removal is FAR more than a couple of bolts. $\endgroup$
    – WPNSGuy
    Jan 28 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ I thought the wings were the fuel tanks only for large airliners because giant planes are very heavy. Also, unbolting and bolting could each take half a day in this case, because the time spent would more than be saved compared to driving the entire multi-thousand-mile trip on the highway in a car. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to the fuel tank issue, you also have the linkages for the control surfaces. The wing is not just a simple slab bolted on to the side. This would need a certified A&P mechanic, and inspection. You need to rethink this. $\endgroup$
    – WPNSGuy
    Jan 28 at 3:10
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    $\begingroup$ Will you be paying a qualified person to do this work? You can't do it yourself you know. That labor cost will blow any savings from not renting a hangar away. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ Some small planes (2 seaters) are designed with wings that fold back. Google "Series 7 Kitfox" -- or see kitfoxaircraft.com/aircraft-kits/# $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 13:43

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As others have shared, it is not plausible to save money in this way. Aircraft have lots of fixed operating costs -- insurance, annual inspection, depreciation, interest, etc. (and hangar rental) Things you must pay whether you fly it or not.

As mentioned, removal and replacement of the wings is a major maintenance activity that would require a certified A&P mechanic. The process would not be cost effective.

The way to make an aircraft affordable is to increase utilization. Fly the wings off of it. Amortize the fixed costs over many operating hours.

In this realm, your family that only wants to use an aircraft a few times a year would be much better off either renting or at least in a shared ownership arrangement.

Owning your own aircraft (and not flying it much) is not going to be cheaper than renting or shared ownership.

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  • $\begingroup$ I didn't know aircraft can have shared ownership too. I only know boat rental companies rip off customers because those who use them do so for vacation. So, I thought it would be the same too for airplanes, in which buying the plane costs just 3 months' rent for example. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Now shared ownership makes the most sense because the cost really is shared because no one is profiting. That is unlike a landlord and tenant situation, where the tenant is a wage slave to the landlord in which the landlord just gets wealthier and wealthier, especially inherited over multiple generations, without doing anything. $\endgroup$ Jan 28 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ Without getting into politics of real estate, renting cars, construction equipment, tools, and airplanes is really a different thing. In a shared ownership situation, if the engine fails (or other major maintenance cost comes up), then all the partners in the aircraft must come up with the cash to get the asset operational again. When you rent an aircraft, you pay your hourly cost and walk away after the flight. The owner will (and should) add some amortized maintenance expense into the hourly rate -- but as a renter, you'll never need to face a 5 or 6 figure engine overhaul bill. $\endgroup$ Jan 29 at 4:13
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There are statistical methods for determining the component masses of airplanes. See for example the books of Jan Roskam or Egbert Torenbeek. Usually, those methods require parameters like wing span, wing area, maximum load factor and take-off mass, and they differentiate between cantilever and braced wings. For faster airplanes, additional information like the design dive speed, wing sweep angle and taper ratio help to get more accurate results. When applied correctly, these methods easily achieve errors below 10%.

As an example, here is the Cessna method for cantilever wings of light GA airplanes (maximum speed below 200 kts):

$$m_{Wing} = 0.04674\cdot m^{0.397}_{Take-off}\cdot S^{0.36}_{ref}\cdot n_{z_{max}}^{0.397}\cdot\left(\frac{b^2}{S_{ref}}\right)^{1.712}$$

As you can see, this is a numeric value equation, so units are important. This one uses only feet and pounds.

As the others have explained already, taking the wing off to save a few days of hangaring will not be cost effective. You can do this with gliders (which nowadays use automatic connections for the control linkages), but not with GA airplanes unless they are specifically designed to make this possible. That I give a direct answer is mostly to benefit future readers who are looking for ways to determine estimates of component masses.

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As a rule of thumb, statistically the wing of GA aircraft weighs 12kg per m² of surface.

The 16.30m² big wing of a Cessna 206 should therefore weigh a bit less than 200kg.

More advanced methods take into account the real geometry of the wing and the performance of the airplane, but as a starting point that value should be enough.

Feasibility and cost of your idea has been already covered by the other answers.

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Wings aren't very heavy. In principle, an aircraft could be specifically designed for this to be a relatively straightforward operation, as it is for most gliders. Some light airplanes even have wings that fold up, though I don't know if there are any with six seats.

It's still a terrible idea. Parking costs aren't the only fixed costs or even that large of one. An annual inspection alone for a 206 is in the ballpark of $3000 even if there are no problems found. And in an aircraft that is left to sit for months at a time there are very likely to be problems.

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