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Maciel Ruddervator Prizes

Donate to the Ruddervator Prize Match

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. 

A single $500,000 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 produces at least 100 FAA-approved kits ready for sale to the public, along with other requirements as outlined in the announcement linked below.

ABS members are being encouraged to match ABS/ASF's commitment, potentially raising the total prize amount to as much as $1 million. We will periodically update the current total prize amount in the FAQs that appear 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 STC prize description and rules here.


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

Q: What is the current ABS/ASF Maciel Ruddervator STC Prize award amount?

A: $511,000, as of October 25, 2021.

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

A: Replacement ruddervator skins are no longer available from Textron Aviation and TxtAv is apparently unwilling to invest in designing and certifying an alternative solution.

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: Does the STC Prize have to be based on one of the five Engineering Prize packages? 

A: No.

Q: The $20,000 prizes for the engineering data package is woefully underfunded, especially considering that the package must then be given away for anyone to produce. $100k wouldn't even cover it, let alone getting to an STC. Why does the Engineering Prize amount not cover design costs?

A: The $20,000 Engineering Prizes are meant mainly ro inspire academic competion among aerospace engineering schools but could apply to an individual designer or private firm as well. If an individual wishes to design a solution and then sell that to a certification and manufacturing firm, then that individual could charge that firm whatever it wants or even negotiate a percentage of the STC Prize...but in that case the designer would not be eligible for the Engineering Prize amount.

The STC prize, in turn, is not meant to pay the entire cost for design, certification and development of a manufacturing and product support system. The winner would have to sell kits to make a positive return on investment. The ABS/ASF prize is intended to offset a substantial part of that investment, giving the winner a better chance of profitability.

Q: Is there any money available to someone who could produce a solution with magnesium as a PMA and not an STC?

A: If that someone produces and sells a kit that the FAA allows to be installed on a type certificated airplane, and meets all the other requirements for the Prize, then that someone is eligible for the full prize amount.

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

A: No. Engineering information is proprietary to Textron Aviation and ABS/ASF has no engineering information. Basic design, balance requirements and parts identification are contained in the Beechcraft maintenance manuals for Model 35 airplanes, and in the Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC). The IPC is available free online at https://ww2.txtav.com/TechnicalPublications. The maintenance manuals are available for purchase at that same site. If after reviewing the available manuals a firm or individual has questions about interpreting the Beech documents, contact the ABS Technical Advisors at info@bonanza.org or 316-945-1700.

We know some firms have signed NDAs with Textron Aviation and have received proprietary engineering information with which to consider the project. We presume that Textron Aviation will vet such requests and do not know if Textron Aviation has financial or other requirements for such an arrangement. The firm pursuing the prize is responsible for negotiating directly with Textron Aviation unless it chooses to develop the data itself.

Please contact Textron Aviation’s vice president for aftermarket support Joe Hepburn at 316-251-2355 or jhepburn@txtav.com if you represent an established commercial firm or academic institution that would like to pursue obtaining engineering or technical data.

Q: Is there some place I can see removed ruddervators and take measurements?

A: You can probably find unserviceable ruddervators at one of the aircraft salvage yards that are intact enough for you to see the design and take measurements. Try:

Air Salvage of Dallas 800-336-6399 www.asod.com
Atlanta Air Exchange 800-237-8831 www.atlantaairexchange.com
Clinton Salvage 501-745-5300 Alex or Tim
Dodson 800-255-0034 www.dodson.com
Faeth Aircraft 916-368-1832
Joe Jenkins 302-699-7743
Western European Enterprises (CA) 916-779-7711
White Industries 800-821-7733 www.whiteindustries.com

Q: I'm an engineer or designer. Would ABS/ASF hire or contract with me to create the design?

A: No. ABS/ASF is not involved in the design, certification or sales of STCs. This is not a partnership with ABS/ASF. The Foundation is offering a finanical incentive for firms that have this expertise to help offset their costs of doing the work.

Q: I have or know of a source of magnesium stock that can be used to make more ruddervator skins. Whom do I contact?

A: Contact Textron Aviation and speak with its supply chain management to tell them of the source and/or negotiate a sale of materials to the factory.

Q: Does the winning solution need to be something other than magnesium? Are composites, aluminum, aviation fabric or other materials allowable?

A: Any material for which you earn FAA approval and develop kit manufacturing and sales capability is eligible for the STC Prize. Similarly, any material is eligible for the Engineering Prizes assuming it meets all other Prize requirements.

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

A: Currently (October 2021) there are 5204 V-tails on the U.S. registry. Of the three distinct ruddervator designs (each, potentially, requiring separate FAA certification), there are:

  • 615 early (1947-1950) Bonanzas,
  • 2378 mid-range (1951-1963) airplanes and
  • 2211 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.

Q: Why did ABS/ASF increase the Ruddervator STC Prize amount in October 2021?

A: In April 2019 the ABS Air Safety Foundation announced the ABS/ASF Manuel Maciel Ruddervator STC Prize, set at $100,000 to be awarded to the first firm to certify and produce an alternative to original ruddervator skins. The Prize has generated interest, but to date no alternative is available. The ABS/ASF now increases the Foundation’s prize to $500,000 to further spur a certified and readily available solution.

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

Donate to the Ruddervator Prize Match