Building Pipistrel Sinus 912 Kit Serial 196

About Me
How this project originated
Purchase and shipping
FAA kit evaluation
Space, Tools and Materials
Fuselage Interior
Windscreen, top window and doors
Flight Controls
Landing Gear
Electrical System
Ballistic Rescue System
Rotax Engine Modifications
Firewall Forward
Instruments and Avionics
Final Details and Flight Preparation
Flight Test
Going Places
Supplemental photos and drawings
Engine modification photos from Pipistrel
Links and References

Buying a large, expensive item from Europe and shipping it to the US

I must admit that the idea of sending a fairly large sum of money to a small aircraft factory in Slovenia made me a bit uneasy, but all of my contacts with the dealers in the US, with Michael Coates at Pipistrel USA in Australia, and with Ivo Boscarol at the factory were professional and reassuring.  I wasn't sure how best to arrange the funds transfer, but was referred to Custom House of Canada as an intermediary to convert the funds and manage the transfer. 

So, I contacted Custom House, got an account application by e-mail, faxed it back, and thus established the ability make the transfer.  That took only a day or two.  At that point, it was simply a matter of contacting the funds trader at Custom House, getting a quote on the exchange rate, wiring the money from my bank to the Custom House account in San Francisco, and faxing the Pipistrel bank account information to the trader at Custom House.  The trader then took care of exchanging dollars for Euros and moving the funds.  It was very painless once I understood the process.  The reason for using an outfit like Custom House, by the way, is to get a decent exchange rate and avoid the additional fees that you would have to pay your own bank to do the transfer.

I made one funds transfer for the deposit on the kit, and another for the final payment upon shipment.

Arranging shipment was its own saga.  Initially, I assumed that the cost of shipping from Slovenia to Seattle was going to be pretty expensive, and I really had no idea how to get it done.  Vance Turner and another Pipistrel dealer explored various possibilities for putting my kit into a shipping container with one of the factory-built aircraft that they had on order, but getting the container partially unloaded and then shipping it on to me in Seattle with my kit inside was simply not possible.  The rules for import shipments apparently demand that the container be completely unloaded and passed through US Customs, and once you do that, the cost of repacking and shipping the kit to Seattle was running into many thousands of dollars.  I even checked into the possibility of renting a truck and driving the kit from a Florida Pipistrel dealer to Seattle, but that was going to be prohibitively expensive and I never did find a truck rental company that would rent me something big enough to handle the Pipistrel wings.

The kit, by the way, has to be shipped in a 40-ft container, because the next size smaller (20 ft) won't accommodate those long wings.  Finally, after wasting three or four weeks, I simply asked the Pipistrel factory to get me a quote on shipping my kit all by itself in a 40-ft container directly to my home.  To my surprise, that cost turned out to be what I consider very reasonable, particularly after exploring the alternatives.  The door-to-door costs of shipping came to about 3,800 Euros ($4750 at the time), which was less than half of what it was going to cost me just to ship it from some US location. 

When the kit arrived, it was apparent that at least two Pipistrel kits could be packed into one 40-ft container with a little imagination, thereby lowering the shipping costs even further if future Pipistrel builders can coordinate things a bit. 

The kit was very well secured in the container by the factory, and everything came through just fine.  The packaging of the kit components is very well done, and the inventory was accurate.  The agent at Continental Van told me the the factory had handled the export/import paperwork perfectly, and had done everything exactly right.  This made the whole customs process go very smoothly.  Customs and port fees totaled just over $500.

One essential component of this whole process is to have a competent receiving agent at the port of entry.  I called the lady at Continental Van in Seattle who handled the shipment of our household goods when we moved home from England two years ago.  She was completely knowledgable and made everything go like clockwork on this end, keeping me informed of the state of the shipment, coordinating with the factory on the paperwork, and shepherding the container through US Customs.  I'd use them again in an instant with complete confidence.


The biggest challenge of the delivery was getting that 40-ft container across our yard and up the driveway to the house.  There really wasn't enough room to maneuver, but the driver was good and finally negotiated the maneuver.  I really didn't want to have to manhandle the kit from the road to the garage, but it worked out OK.



The kit was well-secured in the container, with no evidence of damage or contamination during shipment from Slovenia via Hong Kong to the Port of Seattle, then by truck to my house.




So, this is the entire kit arranged in my garage -- fuselage shell, wings, four boxes of pieces, including the Rotax 912 engine.  There are several large, lightweight items packed inside the fuselage, like the rudder, cowling, spinner and wheel pants.  The kit is absolutely complete, including even oil to put in the engine.  That's various kinds of paint called for in the kit manual, all the nuts, bolts, cables, connectors, etc.  I omitted the Pipistrel avionics, figuring I want to select all that stuff myself.  There are a few tools to acquire, and some disposable things like masking tape, but that's about it.


These are the boxes of kit parts.  You can see the fuselage of my Cozy in the background.