Covering On Hold
Disappointment and delay. I said last time I was waiting on some answers from local MDRA inspectors. Well, things are totally up in the air right now.
The short story here is that Oratex has different requirements than standard fabric, but the MDRA wants to inspect it as if it is Poly - fiber and that I have to meet those requirements. There are two main issues. Number one is that some of those go against the Oratex requirements. Second is that the recommendations by Better Aircraft Fabric in some cases also go against the Oratex manufacturers provided documents.
So why is this a problem? In one sense it’s not. If I 100% follow the Oratex manufacturer documents and provide them to the inspectors, they really have no choice but to approve it if I followed them. Oratex is STC’d in Canada. However, the issue I have with that is that it would lead to a terrible looking airplane. The required seam overlaps and taping would lead to the (mostly fuselage) looking like crap. (this is both my opinion and a very strong opinion of Better Aircraft Fabric). BAF has their own recommendations which have been used for years in the US and just leave you a much better looking aircraft. However, these are not signed off by the fabric manufacturer so I cannot provide them to the inspectors.
Again, what’s the big deal? Well, I want my airplane to both function as needed but also look nice. In no way am I trying to sacrifice safety though - lets make that clear. However, if there are known application methods that allow for both safe application and improved looks - I’d like to take that path.
All that said, things are on hold with the covering of the fuselage. I’m working with Lars at BAF to get the required documentation to continue.