Dropping in on Synergy

Synergy Air started out as a Builder Assist facility in Eugene Oregon, and now is the builder for Van's Aircraft of their SLSA RV-12s. RV builder Wally Anderson started Synergy when he realized just how much he enjoyed building and helping others to build. Through his builder-assist program and a series of builder workshop that he provides to those who need a kick-start into their home building projects, Wally and his team are able to help more people complete their aircraft in a shorter time to get them in the air. A firm believer in the 51% rule, Wally is not a “custom builder” – his clients honestly follow the letter of the law to get their aircraft completed within the Amateur-Built rules.

Photo courtesy of Synergy Air
Photo courtesy of Synergy Air

We dropped in to see Wally on a trip through the Willamette valley a few weeks ago, and while we were interested in his E-AB work, we really wanted to check out how he is doing supplying finished SLSA RV-12’s for Van’s to sell. So far, the Synergy team has completed 60 of the aircraft, and they keep turning out more every month. The day we visited, a new kit had just arrived from Van’s – just the way an ELSA builder would receive it, fully crated and ready for inventory. The small team at Synergy unpacks the kit and sorts parts into their own inventory system to make their internal flow more efficient.

Aluminum parts are deburred and primed after being inventoried, and then go on to the assembly process. The wing builders told me that they can complete a wing in a day with no difficulty – doing the same thing many times creates an efficiency through familiarity that speeds things up. Nevertheless, this is not an assembly line – each worker appears to be capable of many different tasks in the building of an RV-12, and that ability to do more and see the big picture made for a happy staff.

Wally told me that from the time a kit arrives at their door until the finished – painted – airplane leaves the facility is about five weeks. It is amazing what you can do with all the parts on hand and an experienced team that knows the process. Equally amazing is the fact that at this time, all of the airplanes are sold before they begin work – showing that the demand is out there for low-cost LSAs. Those building ELSA versions can expect a good resale value of their own projects if they can bear to part with them.

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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