Beautiful weather, with a hint of high desert autumn chill,
greeted the Lancair owners, pilots, and depositors, who headed to
S07, the Bend (OR) Airport and the home of Lancair Certified
Aircraft. We met for lunch in the large hangar just off the
factory's main entrance for the factory. (The arrival at the
factory was particularly exciting for Dick Mitchell and Tim Allen
who got to see their airplanes for the very first time! Tim will be
taking delivery and starting his flight training in his new 300 on
the Monday following the fly-in. Tim's plane is probably the last
300 to come off the factory line.)
Other attractions provided by Lancair included a panel mockup
featuring the Avidyne Entegra with the dual Garmin panel and the
New Spirit of Saint Louis (the favorite of my wife and daughter).
Other than the paint job and fuel filler ports at the wingtip, the
Spirit looked like the other 300s gracing the flight line. This was
my first look at the Spirit and I still find it impressive that
Erik made that long flight seem so easy.
Bing Lantis, President
of Lancair Certified, gave us a factory update.
Lancair has more than ten 350s virtually completed, awaiting
certification of the Avidyne/STEC system. FAA certification,
although complicated by dealing with three different FAA regions,
is anticipated to be completed in the next few weeks. Once
certification is obtained, the Avidyne units will be installed and
Lancair will be delivering about two airplanes every three days
through November. Once Lancair catches up with the backlog of 350s
awaiting delivery, they will resume producing aircraft at about 1
airplane every three days. Despite the delay in deliveries of the
350, which was even a bit longer than anticipated, Lancair is on
firm financial footing, according to Bing. "It's just a bump in the
Next, Bing filled us in on the status of the 400. The crash of
the conforming prototype, although a set-back, had the silver
lining that no one was hurt and that the problem had nothing to do
with the design of the 400. The new rudder and elevator as well as
rudder limiter settings will continue to be refined to compensate
for the gross weight increase and different altitude and speed
profile. Lancair is converting N143LC, the original 400 prototype,
to make it conforming to the latest design. This should be flyable
sometime in October. Also, another 400 conforming prototype is
coming through the line and will be flying in November.
Certification is expected sometime in the first quarter with
deliveries to start around the beginning of April.
Also regarding deliveries, Lancair will be pushing 350s out the
door as fast as they can until the 400 starts shipping. At that
time, Lancair will only be producing 400s until delivery numbers
start matching again, around position 208. Thenceforth, production
will follow delivery numbers. The current production plan is to
ramp up from one delivery every three days at the beginning of 2004
to one delivery a day by the end of 2004.
Other news of note about the 400 is that FADEC is out for the
time being but deice and built-in oxygen will almost certainly be
available, assuming FAA certification. Getting FADEC to work with
the performance that Lancair wanted is not possible given the short
timeframe until production will start; however, beginning with the
2005 model year, FADEC is one of the changes being considered.
Lancair is focusing on getting the 400 certified and does not want
to delay that due to the additional hoops involved with FADEC
Bing noted that expenses have been slightly less than
anticipated since restarting production, and manufacturing
efficiency is better than expected.
Finally, Bing noted that without the faith and confidence that
the depositor and owner community demonstrated during the shut-down
last year, Lancair probably would not be in business today. This
commitment to the Lancair product was one of the principle factors
that convinced the Malaysian investors to pony up additional funds.
Everyone at Lancair expresses their appreciation to the Lancair
owners and depositors for staying away from litigation during those
troubling times, allowing management to complete the deal that will
allow us to receive our beautiful Columbias.
Blaine Streeter of Seamech introduced us to the air conditioning
system, soon to be available to 350 and 400 owners. Powered by an
engine-driven compressor, only drawing about 14 amps of power, and
weighing about 50 pounds installed, the new air conditioner will
have an electronic climate control system. The pilot sets the
desired temperature on the control panel, and the system does what
it needs to do to maintain that setting, using the standard engine
heat exchanger or the cooling system as necessary.
Lancair arranged for Dr. Bob Rutherford, President and founder
of Northcoast Technologies, to provide an update on the de-icing
unit being certified for the Columbia line. Dr. Rutherford
presented some information about airframe icing in general and then
proceeded to describe the Thermawing(tm) system. To achieve thermal
de-icing without run-back of liquid moisture that can refreeze
further back on the wing requires very rapid onset and offset of
the heating element. Conventional wire based techniques, such as
seen on propeller deicers, are too slow, resulting in run-back and
ice ridging. A novel approach needed to be developed. Northcoast's
technology uses a carbon foil which is bonded to a heat conducting,
poly-vinyl fluoride outer layer. The temperature rise is very rapid
when electricity is applied, also the tape cools quickly as
One last "feature" of note with the Northcoast system is that
insects, like water, do not adhere to the deicing strip. This
characteristic will make cleaning the wings that much easier!
The last vendor who
presented was Scott Philbin of Precise Flight, located in Bend
(OR). Precise Flight, which also manufacturers the speed brakes
found on the Columbia, purchased Nelson Oxygen a number of years
ago. They currently provide the semi-portable system available on
the 300. For the 400, flying in the flight levels, an integrated
oxygen system is quite desirable. Precise Flight's control system
and emergency shut off system will not require cabling from the
cabin area. When at or above a defined pressure altitude, an
annunciator light illuminates until the oxygen system is activated.
The oxygen controller also flashes in sequence until the system is
A number of flowmeters are available; however, the most
impressive one was an oxygen conserving flowmeter that is powered
by the oxygen supply itself. Initiation of a breath leads to
delivery of a bolus of oxygen early in the respiratory cycle. This
allows more oxygen to be delivered to the parts of the lung
involved in gas exchange. Unlike the EDS system, these flow-meters
do not require electrical power for use. The fit and finish of the
system was impressive as was Precise Flight's attention to detail.
The built-in oxygen system should be effective, convenient, and
very user friendly.
Sam "ObiWan" Houston and Scott "Luke" Marti provided an update
on the training program for new pilots as well as an overview of
the Avidyne Entegra as implemented on the Columbia. Scott, a CFII,
recently joined Sam in the training department. Beginning with
deliveries of the 350, the training duration will increase to 3
days due to the additional time needed for proper training in the
avionics systems. Also, Sam has prepared a syllabus for recurrent
training, including a lesson plan, that has been distributed to the
Sales and Service Centers. If you already have your Columbia and
your insurance carrier requires recurrent training, contact your
nearest SSC or Sam to obtain a copy.
Scott presented a number of slides highlighting the features of
the Entegra system, showing the primary flight display, the
navigation display, integrated engine monitoring, and weather and
traffic information. For those taking delivery of these systems,
the aircraft will serve as the simulator, powered by an auxiliary
For first-time visitors to Lancair, the factory tour was
special. For me, the highlight was seeing the very long line of
virtually completed Columbias. The factory is the busiest I've ever
seen it. (If the FAA fails to certify the 350 with the Avidyne
soon, Lancair will run out of room.)
We learned a few new tidbits of information during the tour. The
Malaysian factory is undergoing review by the FAA now. Once
approved, many of the larger parts will start to be fabricated in
Malaysia, providing both more room and more rapid production.
Lancair is also investigating another potential vendor for
composite fabrication as well, so that Lancair will have redundancy
in vendors. Some new color schemes are being developed; however,
the beautiful pearl finish has been phased out due to difficulties
in matching paint when composite repairs are necessary. The
manufacturing process continues to be refined to allow higher
quality and greater consistency from airplane to airplane.
President Bob Satterwhite announced that the next official
gathering for LOPA will be at Sun 'N Fun this coming April. Lancair
has traditionally hosted a Crawdad feast at Sun 'N Fun. Mark Cahill
announced that Lancair will be having another fly-in at Bend around
the same time next year. Given that almost 100 more planes should
be in the hands of customers by then, next year's event has the
makings of being a "really big shew!"
The first LOPA fly-in was a great success. It was great getting
to meet so many other Columbia owners and depositors.