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A Cirrus Pilot's View On Flying The Lancair PT6 Turbine Evolution

Mark Brooks

 

So there I was at 16,000 feet climbing at 3,000 feet per minute at 200 knots wondering; is this what it feels like to fly a rocket ship?

I had somehow managed to talk the Lancair demo pilot into a flight in their latest PT6 turbine powered offering called the Evolution.

COPA President/CEO Kevin Psutka and I signed up for the demonstration flight at Dayton Wright airport on June 19, at the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association gathering in Dayton Ohio USA.

At 2 p.m. I strapped myself into the left seat while the instructor, Doug Meyer, introduced the systems and pointed out the little differences between the Evolution and the humble Cirrus SR20 I currently fly.

The side stick felt similar but the cockpit is taller and wider. Other little differences include full cabin pressurization, Beta factor (reversing prop), excessive torque and momentum created by 800 hp engine, G1000 glass and a really innovative touch screen centre console.

Psutka ends up in the back seat taking pictures and is no doubt wondering why I am flying instead of him.

Doug let me do the takeoff and climb-out with a bit of help. We rotate in the 70 knot range but torque immediately pushes us to the left. Wheels up, flaps up, then up we go into an unnaturally high angle of climb.

Watching the gauges during the climb, I noticed that we were sucking back 45 gallons of jet fuel an hour and actually feeling the acceleration in the climb.

Amazing! In level VFR flight at 16,500 feet we hit 294 knots true.

Doug talks me through some steep turns, a couple of stalls, followed by a wicked decent notable for the steep angle.

The turbine’s prop acts like a huge airbrake as the ground fills the windshield a bit faster than I would have liked. Seemingly at the last moment we level out and enter the circuit at 1,500 feet (Circuit height for turbine aircraft) at 120 knots.

At reduced power the plane now feels just like my Cirrus. On landing we drop the gear and flaps and slow down to 75 knots over the numbers.

My conclusion: the combina tion of the legendary reliability and performance of the Pratt and Whitney PT-6 turbine and forgiving handling characteristics of the new Evolution composite airframe makes this plane a pilot’s dream machine. It’s a logical step up from the Cirrus both in feel and complexity. If you fly a Cirrus, with a bit of training you can fly the Evolution.

Now if only I could afford the $1.2 million it would cost to have someone build it for me. That’s right, it’s a kit plane! I love experimental America!

I told Doug that all Lancair has to do is get the Evolution certified, knock the price in half and I will be the first in line. Doug just smiled; not every demo ride turns into a sale.