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Thu, Dec 16, 2004

Lancair: There's More To 'Fast' Than Speed When It Comes To The Columbia 400

There's Range, Too

The fact that the Lancair Columbia 400 is the fastest certified piston powered aircraft in production today is common knowledge, but high performance is about more than just posting a big number like the Columbia 400’s 235 knot maximum cruise. The folks at Lancair understand that performance means different things to different people.

On December 3, Lancair Vice President Tom Bowen departed the Lancair production facility in Bend, Oregon and didn’t touch down again until he reached Fort Worth, Texas six hours and 23 minutes later.

"Everyone knows the Columbia 400 is the speed king of GA aircraft," Bowen said. "But what people don’t see is its ability to leap across the country at blazing speeds and downright miserly fuel flows. We don’t usually talk about aircraft performance in automotive terms, but I averaged just under 16 miles per gallon on this flight while averaging about 230 miles per hour. That’s very efficient traveling."

Bowen’s flight breaks down like this:

  • 1,353 nautical miles
  • 86 gallons of 100LL
  • 13.5 gallons per hour fuel burn
  • 200 KTAS (212 kts grounds speed) average speed
  • 6 hours 23 minutes total flight time

"The Columbia 400’s low drag design is what gives it great speed and climbing ability," Bowen continued. "That low drag design also increases fuel economy and when you mix these two together you can cover some staggering distances at great rates of speed. I don’t believe that there is another piston-powered aircraft available that can do what I did in the Columbia 400."

For the sake of comparison, Denver to Washington, DC, Phoenix to Indianapolis and Boston to Miami would all be shorter trips than Bend to Fort Worth. The Columbia 400 landed in Fort Worth with 13 gallons remaining in the tanks, easily more than the required 45-minute IFR reserves.

Bowen spent the bulk of his flight at FL230 and FL250 with the turbocharged Continental turning at 60% power. Bowen reported smooth running throughout the duration of the flight.

"This was a very low stress flight," Bowen said. "The seats were comfortable and supportive and I only had the heat and defrost set at half power despite an outside air temperature of –60° C. I also used a Precise Flight oxygen conserving full face mask for the duration of the trip. It was comfortable all the way and the microphone was outstanding."



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