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8 KITPLANES November 2008 www.kitplanes.

com
Open your book of superlatives for Lancair’s first built-for-a-turbine kit.
BY DOUG ROZENDAAL

As a kit company, Lancair has remained price and an estimated finished price fore, this is not the definitive flight
true to a specific course: create airplanes of $650,000 to $1 million. Sans wings report of a finished product. Instead, it’s
that are fast and sexy. Fast comes from a and tail, the mockup looked dispropor- the premiere look into the potential of
lot of power, sexy comes from the com- tionate, and the round windows had the this exciting new airplane.
posite curves. When the Lancair IV essence of Charlie Brown’s Snoopy. First
arrived in the early 1990s, it was a hot flight was on March 21, 2008. Fabric of Society
rod by any standard. With 98 square The Evolution arrived at AirVenture Composite design allows airplanes to
feet of wing on a 2900-pound airplane, ’08 with a slick paint scheme and a one- slip through the air. If there is a flat
it demanded respect from its pilots. Pres- piece windshield. Snoopy was returned piece of skin anywhere on the airplane,
surization necessitated air conditioning, to the doghouse, and the now much I never saw it. Lancair General Manager
then more fuel, and then came a turbine more compelling Evolution was greeted and Evolution designer Tim Ong is a
engine. The IV platform evolved to and by oohs and aaahs. mechanical engineer who specialized
beyond its natural limits, and it’s fair It’s worth noting that the airplane in fluid dynamics, and it shows. The
to say the Propjet is more burdened by is a prototype and is therefore a work airplane looks as though it would barely
more compromises than most. To move in progress. Many of the systems are in disturb the air molecules as it nudged
forward, Lancair had to start again. need of fine-tuning, and while the pres- them aside and then neatly put them
Joe Bartels acquired Lancair Interna- sure vessel has been tested, the airplane back where they were.
tional from founder Lance Neibauer in has not been flown pressurized. There- The airplane appears at peace with
2003. “We knew from day one
there had to be another prod-
uct,” Bartels said. “The IV-P was
a great airplane, but it was on
the other side of prime.” While
stopping short of saying that the
airplane was too hot to handle
for the average customer, Bartels
acknowledged that the company
needed an airplane that could be
flown comfortably by the aver-
age pilot in the target market. “It
takes a current pilot to fly the IV.
It was time for a change.”
The “change” is called the
Evolution, and the mockup was
revealed at AirVenture 2007,
carrying a $250,000 base kit

Photos: Richard VanderMeulen KITPLANES November 2008 9


Evolution continued

the pilots and passengers as well. The


mockup was appointed with an interior
suitable for a luxury automobile with
adequate room for four normal size
adult passengers. Headroom, shoulder
and elbowroom are spacious in the front
and comfortable in the back. Legroom
is excellent for all.
A spacious cabin is of no use without
payload to support it. The target empty
weight for a fully equipped airplane
is 2350 pounds with a gross weight of
4300. Full fuel is 1132 pounds, leaving
just more than 800 for the cabin. That
means it should be able to fi ll the seats
and the fuel tanks—a rarity, particu-
larly in turbine equipment.

Sampling the Systems


The prototype is outfitted with a two-
screen Garmin G-900X system with
synthetic vision and a touchscreen panel
in the center called ACES (aircraft con-
trol and environment system). That sys-
tem controls nearly all other functions
and related electronic circuit breakers.
A small panel of conventional circuit
breakers located on the front of the spar

The precisely engineered quadrant does not extend downward, allowing legroom
underneath for a cross-cockpit leg stretch on a long flight.

will be moved to the space between the groove. Think of the locking mecha-
seats for easier access on subsequent nism in an air hose coupler. Hydraulic
models. Five rocker switches and the pressure holds the gear up, and releasing
gear switch on the glare shield make the pressure drops the gear in the event
for a remarkably clean and uncluttered of a malfunction.
cockpit. The maingear is trailing link, and the
The autopilot is a TruTrak Sorcerer. A link is attached to a massive triangular
yaw damper is planned instead of rudder trunnion. The gear sports the same tire
trim. Light airplanes with large engines as on the nosewheel of a T-38 Talon
require substantial rudder trim adjust- military jet. The nosewheel on the Evo-
ments with power and speed changes, lution is a 500x5 conventional general
and here the electric elevator and aileron aviation tire and casters with rudder and
trim are controlled by a “coolie hat” on differential braking.
the side stick. The landing gear is elec- The wings are almost entirely wetted
The mirror finish on the wing demon-
strates the quality of the mold tooling and
tric/hydraulic, and three identical actu- and hold 84.5 gallons each. The pro-
the attention to detail in the Lancair Evolu- ators move it up and down. An internal totype has a manual left/right/off fuel
tion. Much of the wing is wetted with fuel, collar inside these cylinders locks the selector, but in the final kit this will be
140 gallons standard, 170 optional. gear down using balls that fall into a an automatic system that switches from

10 KITPLANES November 2008 www.kitplanes.com


The pressurization system was not yet With the runup complete, we took the
installed, but cabin pressure will be elec- runway, brought the power up to 80%
tronically managed by the ACES con- N1, checked the engine temps and pres-
troller. The planned 6.0 psi differential sures, released the brakes and pushed
will yield an 8000-foot cabin altitude at the power up to 1250 foot-pounds of
FL280. torque. At 1900 rpm, that equates to
about 450 hp—well below the 500-hp
Say Hello to My Little Friend takeoff limit.
The Evolution prototype has a Pratt & Without interior pressurization, air
Whitney PT6A-135A. This is a 750- conditioning, de-icing and several other
horsepower version of the most popular amenities, the prototype Evolution is
turboprop engine of all time. PT6s come light; fully furnished, it will surely weigh
in three sizes: small, medium and large. more than the current 2200 pounds.
There are several dash numbers in each With 400 pounds in the cabin and only
group, and the -135A is considered to 50 gallons of fuel, our weight was low.
be the best in the medium-size group. It Nearly 500 hp on a 2900-pound air-
has a high-torque gearbox, which allows plane is a good ride. Rudder deflection
high power at lower and quieter propel- is required to counteract torque, but
ler speeds. the forces were less than I expected. The
A conventional 5.00x5 aircraft tire casters For piston-aircraft pilots the most airplane leapt into the air, and as soon
with rudder deflection and differential
challenging part of flying the Evo is as the gear and flaps were retracted, we
braking. The nosegear retracts aft under
the engine and is deployed by a gas spring likely to be engine start. The before-start could push the power up beyond the
in the event of an emergency extension. checklist is brief, and the switches on the takeoff limit.
glareshield are turned on in order: mas- The engine rigging was not complete,
ter, fuel pump, ignition and start. When and the engine power was not limited
left to right automatically on a 10-min- the N1 stabilizes, move the condition by torque or temperature—as is usually
ute timer. If a low-fuel light comes on, lever over the gate to introduce fuel and the case—but rather by the travel of the
the system will switch to the other tank monitor the inter-turbine temperature power lever. Trimming up the engine
until both low-fuel lights are on, and (ITT) for a hot start. When the engine is controls required running the engine
then cycle once a minute. Why the fuss? running, turn the starter off, un-feather
Turbine engines need an uninterrupted the prop, and move the condition lever
supply of fuel, and the automatic system forward to 1200 rpm.
should ensure that nearly all fuel avail- The Evolution has a four-blade metal
able will be continuously supplied to the prop that is susceptible to a resonance
engine until it’s gone. problem when operating between 400
A proprietary natural laminar airfoil and 1200 rpm in a tailwind condition.
concludes with Frise type ailerons and Above 1200 rpm, the generator can be
Fowler flaps. The ailerons are actuated turned on and you’re ready to taxi. Tur-
by push-pull tubes, and the flaps are bine airplanes have nice features called
deployed by electric screw jacks. The “beta” and reverse. Beta moves the pro-
elevator is also controlled by push-tube peller blades to flat pitch, which stops the
controls with a conventional trimtab. prop from making thrust, while reverse
The rudder is actuated by cables, but actually reverses the blades and adds
rather than attaching to conventional power. Because of the big engine and
bell cranks at the bottom of the rudder small airplane, all taxiing is done in beta
(a configuration that changes geometry or reverse. The Evolution power quad-
with deflection), the rudder cable wraps rant is a well engineered, precision piece
around a capstan that maintains con- of machinery. It has a smooth feel with
sistent deflection geometry with pedal some innovative interlocks to prevent
movement. The elevator and aileron con- inadvertently selecting beta or reverse.
trols pass through the cabin bulkhead Taxiing is easy with only braking used
via bell cranks and bearings instead of for steering. The rudder is effective at low
control boots, which increase friction in power and, unlike some piston-powered
the control system and are a perpetual airplanes with castering nosewheels, hot
source of cabin leaks. brakes should never be an issue.

KITPLANES November 2008 11


Evolution continued
Getting Outta OSH full flaps he slowed to 85 KIAS, and I
We left the crowds and the traffic of was fidgeting. The airplane was rock
at full rated power on the ground. Ong Oshkosh and moved over to Sheboygan, solid as he slowed to cross the numbers
and the Lancair crew have yet to deter- Wisconsin, (KSBM) on the east side of at 75 KIAS. Even so, I sat on my hands
mine how to secure the airplane to the Lake Winnebago. I asked Ong if he had to keep from reaching up and adding
ground for a full-power ground run. any concern about crossing the 10 miles power, but the speed was right and we
With the power lever at the firewall, of water in the lake. He smiled and said touched down smoothly in the paint. A
temps and torques were far below red- it was not a problem. I would later find little reverse and we stopped quickly.
line. That information hides easily out why. We reconfigured for takeoff, and I
among all the data displayed on the At Sheboygan, Ong took the airplane took the airplane. Already I was learn-
G-900, but after a few flights it would to demonstrate a landing. On downwind ing where to look for torque and tem-
most likely become second nature. he selected gear down, set approach perature, and before I had the power set,
With the power pulled back to 1300 flaps, and slowed to 100 KIAS. I started the airplane was climbing skyward at an
foot-pounds of torque at 120 KIAS the to squirm. While the nose was not high, alarming rate. From a stop-and-go land-
airplane climbed at 3000 fpm. it seemed much too slow. On base, with ing, we were at pattern altitude crossing
the end of the runway with a huge power
reduction to keep the speed under con-
trol, and it was my turn to land.
The speeds that seemed too slow

Lancair Offers a Piston Alternative when I was watching the landing


seemed just right with my hand on the
stick. I matched Ong’s smooth arrival in
A day or so before Doug Rozendaal got offering with its new iE2 FADEC system, the touchdown zone. “Even though the
to fly the turbine Evolution, Lancair though it’s also likely that Lycoming was speeds feel right, they seem too slow,”
announced that it would be working more willing to promise engineering I said. “If you are a few knots hot, that
on a piston alternative. This was not assistance than was Continental, which long wing will float forever,” he replied.
terribly “new news,” because boss Joe has typically taken a hands-off approach I believe him.
Bartels had said that a less expensive with the kit builders. Some turbines have the low pitch
iteration of the new airplane was always To keep the turbine Evolution in sight, stops set low to keep taxi speed under
a possibility. But what surprised most of the Lycoming TEO-540, with twin turbos, control. These airplanes will fall out of
those in the Lancair tent the morning of intercoolers and FADEC, is targeted the sky when the throttles are closed,
the announcement was the name on the at 350 hp. Given that a turbocharged
valve covers. Instead of Teledyne Conti- piston engine doesn’t lose much power
nental, it was Textron Lycoming. What? with altitude—and a turbine, which is
It’s no secret that Lycoming has really just a normally aspirated engine,
become aggressive in the kit market, does—the speed delta might not be
as its share has been eroded by “clone” as great as you’d think. Bartels is say-
engine manufacturers and an early ing 270 knots. Fuel consumption—a
strong relationship between Conti- claimed 22 gph at max cruise—and cost
nental and the kitbuilt world for the are two reasons the piston alternative
high-horsepower engines. Generally, is so attractive. A new Pratt & Whitney
Lycoming owns the market below 260 PT6A is around $400,000; the entire
horsepower, Continental above that firewall-forward package for the piston
level. Evolution is estimated at a fourth that.
So when Bartels removed the drape The last question is, naturally: When?
from the firewall-forward mockup Based on the development cycle of the
with a big, nasty Lycoming—and then turbine Evolution, probably no sooner
Lancair General Manager Tim Ong than two years from now. Not only does
removed the carbon cowling, “acciden- Lancair have to work out the firewall-
tally” hitting his boss on the head with forward design, but Lycoming has to get
it—you could almost hear gasps from the TEO-540 flying. Currently, the engine
The Evolution’s fully counterbalanced
the audience. Why? Lancair is eager to is only flying in a test cell. rudder slots into a vertical fin that sets a
leverage the technology Lycoming is —Marc Cook new design ethic for the company. Lancair
is considering a yaw damper in place of
rudder trim to reduce pilot workload.

12 KITPLANES November 2008 www.kitplanes.com


Evolution continued

making landings an interesting propo-


sition of precisely finding the spot with
minimal power that keeps the prop pull-
ing instead of becoming a barn door—in
turn blanking the center of the wing and
all of the tail. I don’t know whether it is
the 1200-rpm idle speed required by the
prop harmonic or the setting of the low
pitch settings, but this airplane lands
beautifully at idle power.

Air Work Made Easy


We refueled with 100 gallons of Jet A 1
and departed Sheboygan. At 8500 feet
we slowed the airplane and dropped
the gear and flaps for some stalls and
1. Garmin’s G-900X avionics suite, side
slow flight. Our weight was now 3200 stick control, and the ACES (aircraft control
pounds. Ong demonstrated power-off and environmental systems) touchscreen
stalls at 56 knots indicated with a 2- to panel combine to make an uncluttered
3-knot noticeable aerodynamic warn- cockpit with only a few vital switches and
ing. Half-flap stall was at 65 KIAS, and three backup instruments.
with flaps up it unhooked at 75 KIAS 2. The rudder cable wraps around a cap-
with the same warning. stan instead of a conventional bellcrank,
which gives consistent control geometry
with rudder pedal deflection compared
to a typical bellcrank system.

LANCAIR
3. A massive gear trunnion and trailing link
gear soften the effect of the high-pressure
EVOLUTION
Price ........................................................................... $250,000
jet tires, making firm arrivals into pilot-
pleasing greasers.
Estimated completed price .................... $650,000 - $1 million
Estimated build time.......................................................... N/A
Number flying (at press time) .................................................1
2 4. Long ailerons provide nice roll feel and
the effective Fowler flaps generate lots
Powerplant.........................Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-125 of lift that lowers stall speed to an FAR
Propeller......Hartzell four-blade, constant-speed, feathering Part 23 compliant 61 knots at max gross
Powerplant options............Various PT6As, Lycoming TEO-540 weight.
AIRFRAME
Wingspan ......................................................................... 37 ft
Wing loading ...................................................... 29.05 lb/sq ft
Fuel capacity..............................................140 gal std, 170 opt
Maximum gross weight ................................................4300 lb
Typical empty weight....................................................2350 lb
Typical useful load.........................................................1950 lb
Full-fuel payload, standard fuel ...................................1005 lb
Seating capacity ......................................................................4
Baggage capacity ............................................................225 lb

PERFORMANCE
Cruise speed ........................................... 389 mph (338 kt) TAS
25,000 ft, 39 gph
Maximum rate of climb .............................................4000 fpm
Stall speed (landing configuration) ............ 70 mph (61 kt) IAS
Stall speed (clean) .......................................86 mph (75 kt) IAS
Takeoff distance ............................................................1000 ft
Landing distance...........................................................1000 ft

Specifi cations are manufacturer’s estimates and


are based on the configuration of the demonstrator
aircraft . As they say, your mileage may vary.
3 4

14 KITPLANES November 2008 www.kitplanes.com


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Evolution continued

It was my turn, and I repeated the


exercise. As the speed slows the airplane
gets a little “roll-y,” but it is easily control-
lable. At the stall I had full aft stick and
held it. The airplane was totally control-
A device behind the right-side exhaust stack controls the exhaust flow and prevents
lable in roll with either the ailerons or
buildup of soot on the fuselage that’s typical of turbines operated at low altitudes.
the rudder; as it broke the nose dropped
slightly, and I held the stick back. The totype. We slowed the airplane, and he ing and pressurization, but it is still an
nose came up and it broke again, just like feathered the propeller. He told me to incredible feat. Not only was the low
a Cherokee 140. The speed was creeping maintain best glide speed of 110 knots. descent rate impressive, the best glide
up as was the descent rate, but absolutely After some speed oscillations the VSI speed of 110 knots is a nice low number
no bad habits were apparent. Steep turns settled down to 600 fpm. that can be easily transitioned into a
were intuitive, and while the ailerons are This was the most incredible thing I dead-stick landing without superhuman
heavier and the rudders are lighter than had seen yet. Think about it. That is less pilot skills.
I would like, they are probably just about than 300 feet of altitude lost per stat- With the bottom end of the enve-
right for an IFR cross-country cruiser. ute mile. That’s a 22:1 glide ratio. I was lope studied, we climbed to look at the
Yaw damping will be nice, but only tempted to start looking for thermals. top end. The flutter analysis was not yet
because it is a replacement for trim. The At a typical cruise altitude of 25,000 complete, and Lancair has limited the
airplane has no tail-wagging tendencies feet, say 22,000 above the high key for airplane to a 210 KIAS Vne instead of
that I noticed. a dead-stick overhead approach at most the anticipated 255 KIAS. Moreover,
airports in America, the airplane might without oxygen we were limited to
Thermaling, Anyone? glide for as long as 30 minutes; at 110 14,000 feet. We climbed there quickly
Over the airport Ong explained the knots that is 55 n.m. Granted, we were and pointed the airplane into the wind
reason he wasn’t worried about crossing flying an airplane well below gross until the velocity vector on the G-900
the small lake in an Experimental pro- weight without interior, air condition- matched the heading indicator, showing

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16 KITPLANES November 2008 www.kitplanes.com
that we were pointed directly into the
wind. The limited power available from
the power lever rigging gave us only 1300
foot-pounds of torque, and that gave
us our 210 KIAS max airspeed, which
yielded a 247-knot groundspeed. A 180°
turn downwind made the groundspeed
285 knots for an average of 266 KTAS.
Without a lengthy explanation of the
extrapolation of those numbers, it is
reasonable to expect that the Evolution
will cruise at well over 300 KTAS. Offi-
cially, Lancair is sticking to its original
estimates of 330-knot max cruise (at a
claimed 39 gph) and 270-knot economy
cruise (at 23 gph). matter, max gear extension speed (Vlo) no reason to question that claim.
In the few minutes at altitude, Ong is a usefully high 180 KIAS—10° of flaps Lancair has said all along, during the
and I were feeling the effects, and we can come out at 160 KIAS. Good stuff. protracted development process, that
hurried back down. While the airplane the Evolution would take up where the
might be a glider with the propeller Where to from Here? IV-P and the Propjet left off, to begin
feathered, with the prop in low pitch The Evolution is a work in progress, but the journey well out of the growth-lim-
and the power back, it falls like a brick the result is clear: It has great manners ited envelope of the earlier design. From
and we were quickly back in breathing at slow speed without sacrificing the top what I’ve seen, it’s off to a fine start. 
altitudes. That’ll come in handy when end. Lancair has subjected the airplane
ATC demands a “slam dunk” approach, to an FAR Part 23 test card and claims it For more information, call 541/923-
as will the Evolution’s ability to keep up meets those handling criteria. Based on 2244, or visit www.lancair.com. Find a
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KITPLANES November 2008 17