Lancair IV-P, any experience?

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I have looked at planes around the 250k to 300k range, namely the
Cirrus SR20, and the Diamond DA40. But then I came across the Lancair
IV-P, for a similar amount of money, you could get a pressurized plane
that goes very fast, around 280 knots according to the brochure, and
hop up to 25,000 ft.
I have found a company in Bangkok, that can assemble it for me for an
affordable sum.
Have you had experience with this planes? Most of the google searches
reveal crashes, but that does not tell you much.
Please discuss kit planes vs certified factory planes.
It seems a very good bang for the buck.

Somsak Supakit
from BKK.

-- Somsak Supakit, May 22, 2008


Kit planes start out with a big cost advantage because you don't have to pay for a manufacturer's liability insurance and all of the liability insurance of all of the component vendors. So you might save 30 percent right there.

High performance kit planes usually cannot meet certification requirements. The Columbia 300/400 planes are derived from Lancair kits but had to be extensively modified to meet FAA handling requirements. One way to make an airplane go fast is to make it less forgiving. It still might be safe in the hands of an experienced and careful pilot, but it will punish mistakes in a way that a Cessna 172 will not.

The IV-P has the same problem as a Piper Malibu: trying to extract a lot of work from a turbocharged piston engine. You are much more likely to have to manage an engine failure in one of these planes than in a C172. I love the Malibu because it gets 20 miles per gallon while going 200 miles per hour carrying 6 people, but it is scary to fly unless you have a letter from God promising that the engine won't quit.

Kit airplanes supposedly have had a much worse safety record than certified, but it is tough to find good numbers. shows that homebuilt airplanes had 40 fatal accidents in the U.S. during 2006 compared to 233 for certified airplanes and that nearly all of these 40 accidents related to stick-and-rudder handling rather than flying into clouds/mountains/whatever. Considering that one very seldom sees a homebuilt airplane flying in the U.S. this is a terrible statistic. A handful of big flight schools with Diamonds, Pipers, and Cessnas probably rack up almost as many hours as the entire homebuilt fleet and they do so without a single fatal accident nearly every year.

-- Philip Greenspun, May 22, 2008

The Lancair IV-P is an amazing airplane with very high performance, and there are almost always ones for sale (for example, as I'm posting this lists 8 IV-Ps for sale), but I'd be careful about that because I see many advertising that they were "professionally built," which is possibly illegal, even if an FSDO certified the airplane as amateur built.

Now, in Bangkok that might not matter. The advantage to building your own is that you get to pick exactly what avionics, interior, and paint you want your bird to have. And I personally think that the IV-P is a beautiful aircraft, better looking (in my opinion) than the certified Columbias. But a Columbia 400 is a safer aircraft, both from a handling standpoint and from a safety features standpoint. I don't know if you're aware of a magazine called Aviation Consumer, but it's published in the US and it doesn't have ads, which makes it expensive but honest. You can subscribe and get access to a large number of back articles and aircraft reviews which are all archived on its website (and I highly recommend that if you're planning on buying a high performance airplane), or you can buy a single article for $12.95 There's an article called Spam Can or Used Kit? that was in the May 2005 issue that is an interesting read and it covers experimental aircraft safety.

-- Clifton Rybick, June 14, 2008

The Cessna 400 is nice. But I don't think it's pressurized.

-- Somsak Supakit, June 15, 2008

And a mechanical problem there was...

Please disregard all of the advertisements from the above link. I hope that the main article is found from early, March 2010.

The pilot within the referenced Lancair IV-P said that he could not see the man that he "killed" due to "oil on the windshield."

-- Jonathan Canfield, March 17, 2010