Pilot Journal
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lancair Evolution: Revolutionary Homebuilt

Lancair reaches for new horizons in four-place homebuilts with the Evolution propjet

Payload For All
At a 4,300-pound gross weight, the Evolution offers a low power loading of 7.8 pounds/shp for takeoff. That translates to acceleration that’s nearly automotive. Okay, so it won’t snap your neck like a Corvette ZO6 or Dodge Viper, but it will definitely get your attention. Push the thrust to the limit with dispatch, and the Evolution accelerates as if it’s being shot at.

Rotate, hide the gear and point the nose uphill at Vy (and that means way uphill), and the comparatively big wing provides near-jetlike climb, 4,000 fpm from sea level. More realistically, if you’d rather see what you’re about to hit, you can drop the nose to hold 170 knots and still score an easy 2,000 to 2,500 fpm. If you’re in a hurry to reach the flight levels, keep advancing the thrust to maintain max climb and you’ll level at 24,000 feet, the optimum cruise height, in well under 10 minutes.

Technically, the plane is RVSM-limited to 28,000 feet, but it’s important to remember that it is a homebuilt, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if an affluent builder opted for certification to higher altitude. Pressurization differential is 6 psi, however, so higher may be somewhat self-limiting above 30,000 feet. Cabin altitude at an actual 28,000 feet works out to about 8,000 feet.

lancairAerox Oxysaver
The Oxysaver cannula conserves oxygen and provides passengers and pilots with extended-use portable oxygen during high-altitude flights, thus preventing fatigue and drowsiness.

Speed In Spades
Speed is what the Evolution is all about. The new propjet is the most hard-core Lancair ever to wear an N-number, and that’s saying a lot. It’s basically bonkers-fast, sizzling along at 330 knots at optimum altitude (FL280) and max cruise. That 330 knots is a significant number, as the Lancair IVP bragged of 330 mph cruise, about 287 knots. In other words, the new turbine Lancair Evolution is more than 40 knots quicker than the piston-powered IVP, already the fastest four-place single.

Just as with the six-place Epic LT propjet, the Evolution posts near-VLJ cruise numbers, but the newest Lancair is more efficient than anything in the speed category. Max cruise extracts about 39 gph, and total fuel is 146 gallons (with an optional capacity of 169 gallons). For that reason, it’s unlikely that most pilots will cruise so aggressively unless the trip is short and the schedule is tight.

Mountain High EDS-O2D1 & EDS-O2D2
lancairThe digital EDS-O2D1 and EDS-O2D2 FADOC “Pulse Demand” oxygen-delivery systems allow pilots to operate safely and comfortably up to 25,000 feet. Two buttons cycle the EDS systems through the various modes that automatically deliver the required supplemental oxygen pulses for various altitudes.

In an airplane with such strong climb, there’s no reason not to fly high on every trip. Pulled back to economy cruise at the maximum FL280, the newest Lancair offers 270 knots on about 23 gph. At this burn, the Evolution has an easy 4.5 hours of endurance plus alternate plus IFR reserve for a range well over 1,300 nm.

You could easily fly from Dallas to Jacksonville between lunch and dinner in the Evolution, then divert to Miami without any concern for fuel reserve. I suspect many Evolution builders will opt for a power setting somewhere in between, logging 300 knots on perhaps 30 gph. In this time of high fuel costs, that may offer the optimum combination of cruise versus burn. Sacrificing 30 knots in the 300-knot range isn’t nearly as significant as it is at 200 knots or less.

Labels: Turboprops


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