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
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
"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."