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Thread: Lancair 360

  1. #1

    Lancair 360

    I am currently having an internal debate with myself as to whether getting a lancair 360 is too much risk. From what I've read it sounds like a very unforgiving airplane.

    I like the airplane but I am worried that I am getting swayed by the performance figures and not taking to account the airplane flying characteristics, ie high stall speed, possible unrecoverable stalls, etc.

    Any thoughts? I am considering building one btw. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    I would look at this in 3 ways
    1. What is your pilot background, experience and skill level? Do you have training and time in high performance light singles like this? If not will you get some training in type, after all a Lancair is dual control and lot's of them around so training should be available. Do you you have the tempermant to be patient and careful in a plane like this?
    2. What is the safety record of Lancair, I am sure the statistics are out there if you look for them. I have a friend that ownes one, he is a retired airline pilot. I have a little time in them. I know it is fast and efficient, pretty light on the controls.I don;t think I have ever done a stall in one. but I don't think they have a bad safety record.
    3. What kind of flying will you be doing? This is a fast cross country airplane, probably not as easy to fly in IMC as some.
    Unless the plane haS some bad feature, safety depends mostly on the pilot skill and even more so on the pilot's judgement and if he operates so as to minimize risks/
    Plenty of people fly safely in high performance planes like a P-51 or T-6 which require more than a 172, but of course give back more in return.

  3. #3
    Todd copeland's Avatar
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    They are a perfectly safe airplane when the pilot flies them with respect for their performance. What you need to ask yourself is what kind of pilot are you? Are you disciplined? Are you a pilot who easily gets bored in a cessna 172, or is it enough to keep you busy keeping up? Can you live with the unlikely event of a power loss in flight with a much higher landing speed than your average trainer? The lancair so and Glasairs aren't inherently dangerous aircraft but they are much less forgiving of poor pilot skills.

  4. #4

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    I took my own advice and looked up Lancair safety on google, and find there are concerns going back as far as 2008-2009.
    3% of homebuilts but 16% of fatal accidents , not just hangar rash.The 360 is a fast airplane partly because of a small wing and a small tail.
    It may approach for landing faster, and be less stable and not have as good a feel in pitch, and be less stable in yaw.
    It may be overcome by a more capable pilot who makes sure not to get too slow, but there is also talk of retro fitting a larger tail. If it was me, I would buy one with the larger tail or maybe go to an RV, which is slower but probably more forgiving.
    One landing accident I noticed was a pilot who lost control of pitch after touchdown, but a key factor is he was using only 10* of flaps. If a plane already has a small wing, and a higher landing speed, it probably even more needs full flaps to slow down and add drag and lift.
    I don't think this is the type of plane for a low time pilot who trained in a 172.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 01-13-2014 at 07:54 AM.

  5. #5
    jjhoneck's Avatar
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    Interesting that this topic pops up today, as I just got a cockpit tour of a Lancair 360 yesterday from one of our hotel guests.

    He LOVES the plane, but admits that it has some quirks. He claims it is possible to inadvertently put high G loads on the airframe by over-controlling. He tossed out "6Gs" as an example, which may have been the beer talking.

    He uses 100 knots for an approach speed, which is obviously far faster than average. We use 85 knots for downwind in our RV-8, 80 on final, 70 over the numbers, by comparison.

    The tail feathers on this plane are TINY. With that big engine (relative to the airframe) it's easy to imagine running out of elevator authority.

    The cockpit is TINY. I am 6', 210 pounds, and fit in there like a pearl in a clam. You wear the airplane.

    My conclusion was that the airplane was designed for one thing, speed. Everything else is secondary. If flown by the numbers, and if you're not a terribly big guy, it would be a fantastic plane to own.

    Just don't get slow turning base to final.

  6. #6
    cub builder's Avatar
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    While I'm sure there are those out there that will dispute what I'm going to say here, IMHO, the Lancair 235, 290, 320, and 360 all suffer from similar issues that are fairly common in amateur built planes. They lack sufficient horizontal stabilizer, so tend to be unstable in pitch and are 100% hands on airplanes. That also makes is very easy to overpower the tiny stabilizer with the elevator with very little feedback to the pilot through the controls. That makes the plane very touchy in pitch and more difficult to land than the average plane, including planes that do land in that speed range as the controls get extremely light at slow speeds. It also makes the aircraft more difficult than most to control in an aft CG scenario. Some pilots believe the pitch instability makes the plane feel more sporty.

    The Lancair series was an outgrowth by Lance Neubauer from the KR series, which suffered from the same issues. Lance built a KR-2 first. My KR suffered from the same issues. I flew it 500 hours before I cut the tail off and designed a larger tail for the aircraft, which made it a much more stable machine to fly.

    -CubBuilder

  7. #7

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    From the original post, I do not get any sense that that individual has actually flown in a Lancair. I will suggest that is the first step before going any further.

    There is a general problem in the homebuilt world where pilots are seduced by the looks and performance of a number of airplanes and do not consider whether they have, or want to learn, the pilot skills required to operate those airplanes safely. In the Pitts world, which is a pretty low tech airplane, we see pilots build or buy one, fly it ONCE, and never fly it again.

    The Lancairs in general have handling that matches their looks. They are happy fast and much less happy slow. They like a firm but gentle hand on the stick. And their systems can require more attention than a Cessna. Prospective pilots need to look in the mirror and honestly ask themselves whether they want to bring their A game to the Saturday AM breakfast run. If not, then there are airplanes better suited to those pilots. There is no dishonor in flying an RV or a Fly Baby instead of a Lancair.

    Way too long ago, when Lancair was at Santa Paula, you could go out there and get an intro flight. Don't think that you can do that any more but I will hazard a guess that if you ask around EAA chapters in your area you might find a Lancair owner who will take you out for an hour if you buy the gas. That would be a wise first step.

    Best of luck,

    Wes

  8. #8
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WLIU View Post
    Way too long ago, when Lancair was at Santa Paula, you could go out there and get an intro flight. Don't think that you can do that any more but I will hazard a guess that if you ask around EAA chapters in your area you might find a Lancair owner who will take you out for an hour if you buy the gas. That would be a wise first step.
    Might also contact LOBO: The Lancair Owners and Builders Organization:

    http://www.lancairowners.com/

    The last time I compared the various types, the Lancair two-seaters had a lower rate of pilot-error accidents than RV-6s. There were some extenuating circumstances with the -6s, though.

    However, assessing the accident history of two-seat Lancairs is a tricky process; the design has seen considerable evolution since the original O-200 powered version. Over the 15-year period of my accident database, there were 23 Lancair 360 accidents. Generally, I want to see at least 50 accidents before trying to draw definitive conclusions. With just 23 accidents, each one is worth over 4% of the total.

    With THAT said, about 34.8% of Lancair 360 accidents were due to "Pilot Miscontrol," which is my term for stick-and-rudder errors. This is lower than the overall homebuilt rate of 38.6%. This is only eight accidents, though...one more would have put it about average. Three of the Lancair 360 accidents came out as "Unknown Loss of Control"; cases where the cause couldn't be directly attributable to the pilot's actions. It's certainly probable this was due to pilot error of some sort, it's just that the NTSB didn't have enough data to attribute it to a specific issue. One sounds like it could have been a mechanical issue. Here are the accident numbers: LAX01LA281, LAX06LA096, and NYC06LA136. The overall homebuilt fleet has a much lower rate of "Unknown Loss of Control" accidents.

    Of the eight cases where the NTSB found fault with the pilot's control of the aircraft, they reference a stall in half. For the overall homebuilt fleet, about 18% of the Pilot Miscontrol cases referenced stalling. Again, the Lancair 360 has a small sample set, but it does tend to indicate a trend.

    The Lancair line has a high fatality rate (e.g., number of fatal accidents vs. the total number of accidents) and the two-seaters are no exception. Remember, though, that the energy in a crash is related to the square of the speed, so fast airplanes will have higher fatality rates. Jay's comparison of the approach speed of his RV and a visiting Lancair is a good reference.

    The short answer, of course, is that the two-seat Lancair line offers outstanding cruise performance, at the expense of requiring greater attentiveness and skill on behalf of the pilot.

    Ron Wanttaja

  9. #9
    Infidel's Avatar
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    Yet we mut remember; 73% of statistics are generally wrong.

  10. #10
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    Humor intended, typo wasn't.

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