Lancair Evolution: A Closer Look

A look at how composites enable the kit Evolution.

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With the Evolution, Lancair continued its legacy of creating beautifully shaped, sleek, speedy airplanes despite the departure of the company’s founder, Lance Neibauer. Like other Lancair airplanes, composite materials used to build the Evolution have allowed for the formation of beautiful curves that would be virtually impossible to create in a metal airplane. Lancair’s engineers used Xfoil analysis software and wind tunnel testing to create the tapered wing, which uses four different airfoils to provide the airplane with good flying characteristics at high and low speeds. (Photos by: Robert Goyer)
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**Set inside the all-carbon-fiber fuselage are two unusually shaped windows, which provide good visibility outside and natural light inside the cabin. Sunshades are highly recommended for the large windshield up front. The good news is owners are not limited by the manufacturers’ selections when it comes to interior creature comforts since the Evolution is in the Experimental category of airplanes. **
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**Smooth landings are more likely with a little help from the Evolution’s landing gear. Lancair’s engineers created a unique combination of trailing link landing gear, which provides 14 inches of stroke, and a nitrogen oleo strut, which absorbs the energy during landings. **
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Condenser cooling air for the air conditioning system enters through this air scoop on the right side of the aft fuselage. The vortex generators just ahead of the small opening break up the boundary layer along the fuselage and direct the flow toward the air scoop to enhance its effectiveness. The trapped air flows through the condensers inside and exits on the opposite side. The desired cabin temperature is selected through a touch-screen controller on the instrument panel.
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With a 168-gallon fuel capacity, the Evolution’s long-range capability can get you from the factory in Redmond, Oregon, to Minneapolis without the need to stop for fuel. Some Evolution owners have added an additional 25- to 27-gallon fuel tank in the lower left bay under the baggage area. At economy cruise, this can add one hour to the total flight time. But even without the additional tanks, Evolutions have completed journeys to Europe, South Africa and Brazil.
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A step aft of the trailing edge of the wing helps pilots and passengers climb up on the inboard portion of the wing in order to enter the cabin through the single door. The step does not retract, but it is aerodynamically shaped to reduce drag. Narrow tires on the main landing gear allow the wheels to tuck up into the thin wing, creating minimal drag even without landing gear doors.
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**The large luggage door, which is located on the right side of the aft fuselage, can be opened from the inside and doubles as an emergency exit for rear passengers. With a capacity of 225 pounds and 39 cubic feet, the baggage area is plenty large for luggage or even a Great Dane. Since the baggage area is part of the main cabin, it is also pressurized. Owners who prefer to carry large amounts of cargo rather than passengers can remove one or both of the rear seats to fit oversized items such as bicycles into the aft cabin. **
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One of many details that help the Evolution achieve a top speed of 300 knots is the streamlined flap hinge design. These components are produced by Lancair and simply need to be attached to the wings and flaps by the owner. Slow speed characteristics can be partially accredited to the Fowler-type flaps, which interrupt the relative wind with 40 square feet of surface area aft and down as much as 50 degrees.
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The Evolution’s EFC900X avionics suite includes Garmin’s G900X with synthetic vision and an integrated autopilot.
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Big power from the PT6A turboprop engine and CAD-designed control surfaces provide the airplane with great performance and benign handling characteristics.
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The Evolution provides plenty of leg- and elbowroom for up to four occupants.
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With several decades and more than 335 million flight hours on Pratt & Whitney’s PT6 family, Evolution owners can expect reliability from the powerful PT6A-135A that powers the airplane.