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Maciel Ruddervator Prizes

The American Bonanza Society Air Safety Foundation has established two categories of cash prizes to support the longevity of Beech Model 35 (V-Tail) Bonanzas.

The ABS Air Safety Foundation Manuel Maciel Ruddervator Prizes are created to spur research and certification of alternatives to current ruddervator skinning techniques and/or materials. This supports the Foundation’s mission to protect lives and preserve the Beechcraft fleet, using funds donated to ABS/ASF for the specific purpose of aviation safety research. Maximum combined prize payout is $200,000.

A single $100,000 prize will be awarded to the first firm or individual that designs and obtains FAA certification of an alternative to original ruddervator skins or a replacement for the entire ruddervator assembly, creates a production and manufacturing capability, and has available at least five FAA-approved kits ready for sale to the public, along with other requirements as outlined in the announcement linked below.

Up to five individual $20,000 prizes will be awarded to the first firm or individual that designs an alternative to original ruddervator skins or a replacement for the entire ruddervator assembly that meets all requirements for FAA certification and passes a peer review, along with other requirements as outlined in the announcement linked below. The winner(s) will then make their research and findings available as open source for the free use by any firm that pursues FAA certification, manufacturing and kit support of that design.

This award competition is in addition to ABS/ASF's continued efforts to resolve the ruddervator skin availability issue with Textron Aviation, not a replacement for those ongoing efforts.

ABS/ASF announced this award competition across all aviation media and by direct contact with aviation engineering colleges and universities and private firms likely to have interest in pursuing either or both prizes. We encourage ABS members to distribute the linked announcement to qualified organizations, firms and individuals as well.

For full details see the announcement here.


Frequently Asked Questions from persons and firms pursing the Maciel Ruddervator Prizes:

Q: What is the problem the Maciel Prizes hopes to solve?

A: Replacement ruddervator skins are no longer available from Textron Aviation as a result of materials and processes availability, and the TxtAv's unwillingness to design and certify an alternative solution based on the age of the V-tail fleet (the last V-tail was built in 1982) and small fleet size from which to earn a return on certification investment.

Q: Does ABS Air Safety Foundation intend to design and market a ruddervator alternative itself?

A: No, doing so would be outside the Foundation's scope and authority as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Even if the 501(c)(3) status wasn't an issue, the Foundation does not have the resources to pursue design, certification, production and support of such a kit, and if it did that would place the Foundation in competition with commercial firms potentially owned by ABS members. The ABS/ASF Board's long-standing policy of not getting involved in commercial products support except for educational and technical materials applies.

Q: What is the intent of the Maciel Ruddervator Prizes? 

A: The intent of the Ruddervator Prizes is to partially offset the successful firm’s design, certification and manufacturing costs, creating a better opportunity to obtain a positive return on investment and therefore encourage development of a solution.

Q: Why must the winner of one of the $20,000 prizes make its results available free of charge to anyone who wants to use it?

A: It does ABS members no good for engineering information to exist if it does not result in a certified replacement and kits to be available for installation on airplanes. If a person or firm wishes instead to sell a license to its data and/or to obtain royalties for its use in certification and kit development that firm would simply not be eligible for one of the Maciel Ruddervator Prizes.

Q: Can ABS Air Safety Foundation provide engineering data or other technical information a firm can use toward a design?

A: No, such information is proprietary to Textron Aviation and ABS/ASF has no engineering information. We know several firms have signed NDAs with Textron Aviation and received proprietary engineering information with which to consider the project. Please contact Textron Aviation’s vice president for aftermarket support Joe Hepburn at 316-251-2355 or jhepburn@txtav.com if you would like to obtain engineering or technical data.

Q: How many airplanes are affected by this issue, i.e., what is the potential market for kit sales?

A: Currently (August 2021) there are 5085 V-tails on the U.S. registry. Of the three distinct ruddervator designs (each, potentially, requiring separate FAA certification), there are 610 early (1947-1950) Bonanzas, 2394 mid-range (1951-1963) airplanes and 2081 late-model (1964-1982) V-tails. Non-U.S. V-tails still flying probably offset airplanes still on the FAA registry that are no longer flying.

If you have other questions please send them to info@bonanza.org