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Old 02-27-2021, 05:13 PM
coopGT coopGT is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 14
Question -7A vs -9A for Low Time Pilots

After lots of research, thought, discussion with my wife, and the oh so important input from VAF, we have narrowed it down to the -7A or -9A. I understand there is not too much of a difference other than aero and non-aero, engine specs, and wing dynamics. Our mission is weekend fun, short cross countries (with the exception to a few long XC to FL and SC). Aerobatics is low on my list but want the option to be there. However, as a low time pilot my question is.. is the -9A that much more stable than the -7A? The plane will have IFR panel but will not be primarily used in IMC. Some will say the -9A is an easier transition for us 172 pilots. Any truth to this? My heart is set on the -7A but do want what’s best for my low time transition.

Last edited by coopGT : 02-27-2021 at 05:37 PM. Reason: Edit title
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:19 PM
coopGT coopGT is offline
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 14
Exclamation W&B added question

Also, any W&B differences? Vans site claims -7A full fuel and 2 passengers, how about the -9A? I know it depends a lot on what’s is added etc but just a general consensus.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:38 PM
MacCool's Avatar
MacCool MacCool is offline
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: central Minnesota
Posts: 536

The -9A is very stable, nice IFR platform, flies high and fast, fun to fly, easy to land, but it's absolutely non-aerobatic. Some have remarked that the -7A is ..."twitchy" by comparison. I don't think that's exactly true, but I do know that it's hard to make a bad landing with the -9A, whereas on landing, when the -7A decides to stop pretty much stops right now.

My experience with the -7A is very limited, but I will say that if you want to do any aerobatics, you'll be stuck with the -7A. It's a great airplane. If that's what your heart is set on, that's what you should be looking for. Me...I didn't care. I was fine either way, but I found a really nice -9A that checked almost all of my boxes first, so I jumped on that. I was fortunate that I was able to go from "I think I'll buy a Van's RV" to delivering a cashier's check and flying it home in about a 4 week period. Great price, too. That was about 6 months ago. I see that it's a completely different landscape now.

Both are really nice airplanes. Very responsive. They're not "docile" but they're predictable and the -9A at least has no bad habits that I've found and won't ever surprise you. It will promptly do exactly what you tell it to. No more, no less. I can't say if it's an easier transition from 172's than a -7A, but I can say it that it was an easy transition.

As to w/ -9A is heavier than most (3 costs of paint and a lot of doo-dads). With two 70kg people and full fuel, I have about 70 lbs left over for baggage. Not much, but all I need.
RV-9A, 2011, bought flying
IFR certified
AFS 5400/3500, G5, 430W, some other stuff

Last edited by MacCool : 02-27-2021 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:55 PM
rmartingt's Avatar
rmartingt rmartingt is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 1,096

If it makes any difference, I started transitioning into my dad's RV-6 at 19, with 50 or so hours in C150s. It took a little while because I wasn't able to fly often, I was learning to handle a taildragger, and Dad was teaching me a lot of other stuff about flying, too. Overall it took about 30 hours before he'd let me run off with his new airplane, but by that point I'd done spins, aerobatics, tailwheel transition, a little formation, and learned quite a bit of other stuff that I didn't get from the flight school CFI.

With a good instructor you should be able to transition to either one just fine. Your insurance won't be cheap at first and the transition may take a bit longer than for someone with more experience, but it's certainly doable.

I've never flown a -9/-9A, but I knew aerobatics were part of my mission set and wife vetoed a -4 or -8. So, -7 it was.
RV-7ER - finishing kit and systems installation
There are two kinds of fool in the world. The first says "this is old, and therefore good"; the second says "this is new, and therefore better".
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:08 PM
Ralph Inkster Ralph Inkster is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 1,288

Your comments are leaning you toward the 7.

Slightly more usable carrying capacity (luggage weight)
W&B issues can be managed with engine/prop choices, slightly heaver combo means more forward CofG, more luggage weight.
7 has slightly higher Max Gross. Suggest you get some example W&B calculation sheets to see how YOU folks factor in there. (Vans has Build Manuals on their condensed Plans sets, USB sticks for $10 ea. Get them for each model & you will answer many more questions yourself)
7 has slightly larger tanks, but you dictate your max endurance with the throttle knob...
Transition (get proper transition training when that time comes!) between the 7 & 9 would be basically the same, same issues to address.
built a few RVs, rebuilt a few more, hot rodded more, & maintained/updated a big bunch more
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:29 PM
alpinelakespilot2000 alpinelakespilot2000 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,705

Originally Posted by Ralph Inkster View Post
Slightly more usable carrying capacity (luggage weight)
Agree with everyone above, except for this one statement. The baggage area in the -9/9A is rated for the same 100# that the -7/7A is. Van's has confirmed this by email and it has been confirmed in previous threads here on VAF. Although early Van's documentation indicated 75# for the -9/9A, that was because their W&B originally allowed for only 75#. If you keep your weight forward enough, you'll be able to carry the same payload. I have a 7# crush plate on my fixed Catto composite prop. With that there is almost no way I can get out of CG (with or without 100# of baggage) assuming reasonably average pilot weight.

Again, though, since you say you want to keep the aerobatic option open, sounds like the -7/7A would be more appropriate.

I transitioned easily enough into Van's RV-7 with Mike Seager at about 200 hours TT. Don't think it would be all that much different with 75-100.
Steve M.
Ellensburg WA
RV-9 Flying, 0-320, Catto

Donation reminder: Jan. 2022

Last edited by alpinelakespilot2000 : 02-27-2021 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:33 PM
PaulvS's Avatar
PaulvS PaulvS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Western Australia
Posts: 579

Originally Posted by coopGT View Post
...However, as a low time pilot my question is.. is the -9A that much more stable than the -7A? The plane will have IFR panel but will not be primarily used in IMC. Some will say the -9A is an easier transition for us 172 pilots. Any truth to this? My heart is set on the -7A but do want what’s best for my low time transition.
I was also a low time pilot (about 70 hours) when transitioning to the -9A, it took about 5-6 hours of dual before being let loose. I struggled a bit at first, partially because I wasn't current in anything, but also because the -9A with fixed pitch propeller is slippery and doesn't want to slow down in the circuit if the pilot isn't ahead of the airplane.

The wing loading of the -9A is a bit lower than the wing loading of -7A, so it feels less solid in turbulence (in my experience, having also flown in a couple of -6s, which handle similar to the -7).

Either way, with proper transition training I think you will be fine, these airplanes respond precisely and quickly to pilot inputs, which you can learn to manage.
Paul vS (yes I'm also a Van)
Building RV-6A #22320 O-320 FP. Wings and tail complete, working on fuselage
Flying my Aeroprakt A-22 STOL and the aero club's RV-9A while I build
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:02 PM
RV10Man RV10Man is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 1,109

I have time in both airplanes. My brother has an RV9A and I had a friend finish his RV7A in my hangar. My brother's -9A stays in my hangar now, the -7A is gone, but the deal was I got to fly either one of them when I wanted since they stayed in my hangar, rent free.

My brother's -9A is fixed pitch prop, the -7A had CS. The only time I could really tell any difference in the two was on landing. I seemed to be able to make better landings in the 7 than the 9. I don't think it was the prop that made the difference, I just made smoother landings in the 7. I FEEL like they both handled the same.

Oh, and I own a 150, 172, and a Rans S6S Coyote. I don't make very good landings in any of them either.
N781DM became an airplane 2/8/2021
First flight 03/01/2021
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:13 PM
pilotkms's Avatar
pilotkms pilotkms is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 473

Long cross country to FL & SC ??? 7/9 - its an RV. those are morning flites. do em often. now California, Washington - thats a LONG cross country. done this 3.5 round trips. once u have the RV u will learn to fly it easily. u wont care about a 172 or the other RV. either will be fairly easy. and pulling it out when u want to fly without thinking about scheduling - awesome.

7 twitchy - nah. if it is to some then its good for instrument flying training.

i did the 7A for potential aerobatics. been flying almost 4 years now, 670 hours, and yet to do aerobatics. BUT, i have that option when i get around to it.
RV 7A RV #9700 May 2017
N325KS the Flying “K”
Built in SoCal KCCB, now in GA @ KPXE
600+ Hours & 7X cross the USA
OSH flyin 2018 & 2019 & Petit Jean 2019
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:43 PM
David Z David Z is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Thunder Bay Ontario
Posts: 605
Default Operating Cost

The 9A will be less expensive to operate in most cases. The 9A approved engines range from 118 to 160hp. The 7A range from 150-200hp (215hp?). Horsepower takes fuel, and fuel is expensive. Also, smaller engines cost less to buy and maintain. Price out an O-320 from Van's compared to a 200hp IO-360 as extremes. A used O-235 will be even less money and can be used in an -9A

On average, most RV-9(A) are equipped with 150 or 160hp. The average 7(A) is equipped with 180hp.

With the extra power comes extra performance. Is the extra performance and associated cost worth it to you? Going further into the performance discussion, lets assume the airports are 300nm apart. The stats on Van's Aircraft website list the RV-9A with 160hp and 75% power goes 160kts, so takes 1:53 hours. Same for the RV-7A with 200hp and 75% goes 177kts, so takes 1:42 hours. Is that 11 minutes worth the the cost to you?
Empennage Passed Pre-close Inspection
Wings mostly done
Fuselage started
Dash 8 day job is financing the RV8
Donation till September 2021
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