3:18 PM

TurboJET Power
for Lancair?


Whenever pilots sit around at the coffee shop and debate the “fastest single-engine GA plane”, they usually end up settling on the Mooney Acclaim or Colombia 400 as the winner. Of course, we are talking piston power here, but if you really want to put something hot between your legs and rip the clouds to shreds, there is nothing quite like the Lancair IV-P (hint...the “P” is for Propjet):

With a 750 h.p. Walter 601E turbine burning 33 gph, the IV-P has a power loading ratio of an almost unbelievable 5.1 lbs/hp. (For a point of reference, your Grandpa's Cessna Skyhawk has a power loading ratio of 15.2 lbs./hp.) When you have that much power, a IV-P pilot enjoys a rate of climb as high as 7,000 fpm solo, and 4,000 fpm at gross weight. Once you get to a typical cruising altitude of 24,000 feet, you and three of your very good friends can blaze across the sky at 370 mph for a maximum of 1,400 statute miles.
When you look at specs like this, it is hard for the human mind to imagine a single-engine plane performing any better. But we mere mortals are not engineers at Lancair, and Aero-News Network is reporting that Lancair is set to debut something even faster then the IV-P:
The new aircraft will be unveiled on July 25, 2007 during AirVenture 2007 in Oshkosh, WI at the Lancair tent in the North Aircraft Display area. The company's keeping mum on just what type of aircraft the new product will be... but Lancair promises this exciting new aircraft can only be considered evolutionary and in keeping with the true spirit of Lancair. “We began this project three and half years ago with a clean piece of paper," teases Timothy Ong, General Manager and VP of Engineering. "The result is an aircraft that will be faster and safer than any other single engine aircraft in existence today."
So let's see, what could provide power for a singe-engine plane to make it eat up real estate faster then the IV-P? There can only be three possible answers to that riddle:
(1) Rocket power: Sure it would be weird, and yes, for a few exhilarating moments, the IV-R would be much MUCH faster than the IV-P. But the range would suffer...unless you could punch out of the atmosphere into space and glide along in low Earth orbit. Now that's an idea for a homebuilt...a personal spacecraft?

(2) Nuclear power: Not sure if the government would be cool to this idea, and not sure where you get the enriched plutonium needed to keep the IV-N flying. But bet your farm it would be powerful...with the heat of a thousand suns blasting out your tailpipe all at once!

(3) Turbojet power: This is my guess/prediction. Everyone has jet fever these days, and mounting the Walter or maybe even a Pratt inside the fuselage of the Lancair V-J (my guess as to the designator) would be an instant hit. Would we see cruising speeds in excess of 500 MPH? I say yes, because Lancair doesn't do anything unless is bodacious, humongous and downright bad-ass. A homebuilt jet...hmmmm.
So there it is, enough data and speculation to produce saliva in the mouth of anyone who has ever dreamed of building a Lancair. If this prediction comes true, having a kit Lancair with a turbojet engine would be the model that could pave the way for someone like, oh I don't know, maybe Columbia, to eventually build a certified model of the V-J. I honestly don't recall the relationship between the two companies, but as I write this, I really hope they collaborate one day on this kind of project.

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