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- The Lancair IV is a famous aircraft kit built 110 times between 1990 and 2012, when production of the types’ kit was completed
- It pioneered many industry firsts, including a pressurized cabin and a safety record that’s the envy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
- The Lancair IV can cost from $300,000 to $700,000 depending on the make, model, year, and customization
- The Lancair IV is incredibly fast, being able to achieve cruise speeds of 335 mph (291 knots)
- The fuel burn rate for the Lancair IV varies from 13 to 18 gallons per hour depending on the throttle
The Lancair IV, including the Lancair IV-P, is known for being one of the best personal cross country aircraft on the market.
A total of 110 Lancair IVs were built before production ceased in 2012. Current prices for a Lancair IV or Lancair IV-P range from $300,000 to $700,000 depending on a variety of factors. With max cruise speeds of 291 knots (335 mph; 539 km/h), the Lancair IV has a fuel burn of a mere 18 gph.
As a pilot, avgeek and flight instructor, I have flown nearly every GA aircraft ever built. I’m particularly fond of kit aircraft and the highly-capable Lancair IV.
A Quick Look At The Lancair IV
We will get into the details of the Lancair IV in a while. Here, take a look at a brief overview of the plane.
Lance A. Neibauer founded Lancair International in 1984 as a kit aircraft company. Since then, Lancair has played a key role in determining the architecture of the rapidly increasing kit aircraft business. From the very beginning, the Lancair company has earned a name for its composite amateur-made kits.
The Lancair IV is a four-seater plane with a twin-turbocharged engine. The initial design of the Lancair IV started around the Continental TSIO-550 engine, which hit the market back in 1983. The production of Lancair IV ended in 2012.
Thanks to the spacious interior, the Lancair IV is perfect for people who crave a little more legroom in their aircraft. The Lancair IV was an evolution from the older models of Lancair 235 and 320. Lance Neibauer desired to construct a four-place retractable that would provide the utmost value for the budget.
The Lancair IV is quite stunning on paper. It exceeds practically any pressurized turboprop twin with a cruising speed of approximately 300 knots at 24,000 feet. One should note that the plane accomplishes this without the trade-offs one would associate with speed; for instance – a small, claustrophobic cabin.
Lancair achieved various industry milestones with this aircraft throughout the years. To begin with, it was one of just a handful of single-engine piston aircraft in aviation history to have a pressurized cabin. The Lancair IV paved the way for the Lancair IV-P to become one of the finest personal cross-country planes.
People who want to own a light airplane without compromising cabin size can take a look at the Lancair IV. This aircraft can be a great choice for both personal and business purposes. But we would lean more towards personal usage.
What Are The Specifications Of Lancair IV?
Let us dive into the details of the Lancair IV to help you make an informed decision. We have covered details about the specifications, speed, fuel, price, and more.
How Much Does The Lancair IV Cost?
Since the Lancair IV is no longer in production, you cannot buy it from the company itself. Price is among the crucial factors to look over before you decide to buy something, both big and small. The budget and current price can make or break a deal.
There are owners of Lancair IV who are looking to sell their planes at a good deal. You can take a look at some of their posts to get an idea about the current market price of the Lancair IV.
People who prefer flying to constructing don't have to deal with the difficulties that come with an extensive build phase when they buy a pre-owned plane. But one can still buy a good-condition Lancair IV by looking around in the aviation community. You cannot buy the latest Lancair from the company, but it is possible to find some models in remarkably good condition.
You can look for Lancair IV planes for sale on sites like trade-a-plane or controller.com. If you look hard enough, it is possible to sometimes find impressive deals on the Lancair website listings as well. The purchase price of a plane is just the first step. You should also consider the regular maintenance cost associated with owning an aircraft.
A Lancair IV or Lancair IV-P can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $700,000. The pricing varies depending on the make and model of the plane as well as the condition it is currently in (for pre-owned aircraft). It is best to look for a reliable aircraft within your budget. There are a lot of supplementary costs related to buying an aircraft.
So it is best not to go over the budget no matter how tempting a deal is. Let's learn more about the overall cost and regular maintenance cost you have to deal with once you acquire a Lancair IV.
How Much Is The Maintenance Cost For A Lancair IV?
After you are done buying a Lancair IV, you are not done spending money on the aircraft. In fact, owning an airplane paves the way for a significant addition to your yearly budget. If you are buying an aircraft for the first time, the yearly cost or the maintenance might not be something that comes to mind at first.
Unless you pay for the aircraft in cash, the main expense for the Lancair IV would be the installments. If the payment is made in full, then you need to focus on fixed and variable costs that are associated with owning a Lancair IV.
The fuel cost is important for any aircraft since it is a recurring one. The TSIO-550 engine in the Lancair IV is not the most efficient when it comes to fuel consumption. The engine uses around 13 gallons of fuel an hour (100LL avgas).
Since it can cost $3-10 per gallon of fuel, you would be paying up to $100 for the fuel per hour. If we calculate the fuel price to be $7.60 per gallon, the average price of avgas and what I personally pay at my local airfield then you would have to pay $136.80 for the fuel per hour (considering the fuel burn rate is 18 gallons per hour).
According to the market price, that is probably what you would pay at the local airfield. Aside from fuel costs, an aircraft requires a hefty amount of maintenance fee. Similar to an automobile, the airplane engine also needs oil changes now and again.
There are maintenance costs and unexpected repair costs to consider as well. If you consult a professional for maintenance, then you would have to pay some extra for the well-being of your Lancair IV.
These costs would vary depending on the usage of your Lancair IV. The more you use it, the more fuel you have to buy. Both maintenance and repair costs will probably increase if you often take the aircraft for a ride.
Once you calculate both fixed and variable costs associated with the Lancair IV, you are looking at an overall annual cost of something between $100,000 and $130,000. Anyone would agree that it is not a small amount of money. The mammoth share of the cost is due to fuel.
If you go for an installment for the Lancair IV, then the interest rate every month would be a matter of concern as well. This won't be a worry if you just pay for the aircraft in full. Regardless, the fuel price still remains unless you decide never to take the plane out for a spin. But it would be a shame to own the magnificent Lancair IV and not let it soar in the sky every chance it gets!
What Are The Materials Used In The Lancair IV?
The Lancair IV is made of prepreg Carbon Fiber skins of high temperature. It has a Divinycell or Nomex Honeycomb core. Most of the pre-constructed parts are vacuum-bagged and oven cured at 250 degrees F at roughly 2000 pounds per square foot.
Hartzell HC-H3YF1RF and MTV-9 propellers are most commonly used on the Lancair IV and Lancair IV-P. Hydraulically operated full-slotted fowler flaps and high aspect ratio ailerons are featured on the wings.
Tubular steel is used for the main gear struts. The primary wheel brakes are hydraulically activated and are controlled by an independent system. These are identical to practically all current industry transportation building processes and materials that fulfill such traceability and fire resistance criteria.
The airframe can tolerate storage under practically any condition because it is made of high-temperature materials. But the upholstery, instrumentation, and avionics can suffer from extreme heat and sun exposure; thus, an extra covering is advisable.
To avoid degradation, elastomers such as tires must be shielded from UV radiation. The production facility equipment has to meet FAA standards. Furthermore, the resin systems adopted contain less styrene and are easier to handle and use compared to other systems.
What Are The Avionics Of The Lancair IV?
An alternator, a voltage regulator, and a battery comprise Lancair's basic avionics system. The suggested design is an avionics bus controlled independently by an avionics master switch. The hydraulic pump motor and the lights are powered by this main bus.
The Lancair IV's avionics package comprises what pilots would call a “mix suite”. Some of its avionics are Garmin, such as the GNS 430W and MX20, whilst its weather radar display is an XM display.
Likewise, its marker beacon, transponder, audio panel and communications array (KR22, KT 76, KA 134 and KY-97A) are all made by avionics giant Bennett Avionics. Finally, its fuel monitoring system, the FS-450, is produced by JPI.
The avionics are powered by a separate avionics bus, which allows the entire set of equipment to be switched off and on at the same time. It is possible to have only one communication or navigation system if an electrical breakdown occurs in flight, making the best use of the residual battery.
How Fast Is The Lancair IV?
Now that you know how much to spend on a Lancair IV, let's discuss what you can expect when it comes to performance. If you love speed, then you should love the Lancair IV as well.
For its class and aircraft type, the Lancair IV is one of the fastest to exist and has broken many speeding and altitude records over the years. The aircraft has exceeded 395 mph in speed with no tailwind. The Lancair IV is powered by the Continental TSIO-550, which is a twin-turbocharged piston engine.
The TSIO-550 can deliver 350 horsepower at sea level for the Lancair. The maximum cruise speed of the Lancair IV is up to 335 mph (or 291 knots). It is much faster than many four-seaters. The stall speed of the Lancair IV is 71 mph (or 61 knots).
Lancair's design concept is fewer means more speed when it comes to those bothersome but important components like wings and tails.
Just in case you needed some proof of just how fast the Lancair IV truly is, it currently holds the world speed record for a solo flight between the Earth’s poles. This record has stood since 2014, when Bill Harrelson piloted his Lancair for 175 hours to complete the flight, smashing the previous record by some distance.
How High Does The Lancair IV Fly?
The Lancair IV is known for its speed, but the altitude is also something to consider. With the twin-turbocharged continental TSIO-550 engine powering the Lancair IV, it can reach some impressive heights.
The service ceiling for the Lancair IV is 29,000 feet. Pilots are advised not to attempt to fly the plane any higher than that.
What Engine Is Used On The Lancair IV?
The Lancair IV can be fitted with two types of engines – the Continental TSIO-550B and the Continental IO-550G. As you can assume, aircraft performance can vary depending on the engine you select.
There are other engines that can be fitted into the Lancair IV, but these two are considered to be the best-performing ones for the Lancair. The TSIO-550 is considered more mainstream for the Lancair IV.
The 350-horsepower TSIO 550 Continental engine is impressive on its own. It is a six-cylinder twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooler, fuel-injected engine.
The Lancair IV engine has a TCM continuous fuel flow injector. The system regulates fuel flow based on engine speed, throttle angle, and throttle entrance pressure. Since the engine-driven altitude-adjusting fuel pump naturally leans the engine mixture for the aircraft's pressure altitude. No manual leaning is essential until cruising altitude is attained.
The Lancair IV provides adequate accommodation for up to 4 passengers in pressurized accommodation with enough room to maneuver between the seats. This piston engine is a 550 cubic inches twin-turbocharged beast made for light aircraft. The Lycoming IO-580 series is a close competitor of the 550 continentals.
After the success of the IV-P, Lancair started to dabble with the Walter 601E turbine engine instead of the piston one (which had been used in previous models). The Walter engines remained constant in the Lancair Propjet.
Lancair IV Fuel Burn Rate
The fuel burn can vary according to how fast one flies their plane and how much power output it needs. The TSIO 550 consumes relatively less fuel than many conventional engines.
The standard fuel capacity for the Lancair IV is 80 US gallons with an extended fuel option of 90 US gallons. According to the Lancair IV manual, pilots are advised not to take off with less than 10 gallons of fuel in each tank.
Fuel efficiency is something one should seriously consider for any aircraft (especially pre-owned ones). When you are buying a car, fuel efficiency is a crucial factor. The same can be said for an airplane. Less fuel efficiency means more cost on fuel. Moreover, we have already established how a big chunk of the maintenance cost of the Lancair IV would go into fuel.
The fuel burn rate helps estimate the fuel cost of an airplane. With an idea of the fuel cost for your Lancair IV, you can make an informed budget for the maintenance cost of the plane.
The Lancair IV produces around 300 knots at 75% power output with a fuel burn rate of 18 gallons per hour. At first glance, it does not scream "fuel efficient." But you have to take the astonishing 300 knots into account.
What Kind Of Fuel Is Used In The Lancair IV?
The fuel system of the regular Lancair is relatively simple. It delivers fuel to the engine pump through a fuel selector, an electronic boost pump, and a gascolator. The extended tank option just adds another fuel bay outboard of the usual tank, which is integrated with the conventional tank.
The Lancair IV uses avgas which results in an 18-gallon per hour fuel burn rate at 75% throttle. The fuel price is not constant. So calculate the estimation of fuel price per hour according to the current fuel price. Your cost would fluctuate depending on the market price of the avgas and your usage of the Lancair IV.
Is The Lancair IV A Good Aircraft?
Now that we have laid out so many details about the Lancair IV, you can probably write a review about the plane yourself! But the question still remains – is the Lancair IV a good aircraft, and whether you should invest in it or not?
That is a subjective matter since not everyone has the same preference. If you need a light, fast and spacious aircraft to ride in style, then the Lancair IV is a great choice. However, since the airplane is not available on the market, you have to look quite hard to find a decent aircraft at a good deal.
The Lancair IV is a satisfying plane, but it can be a difficult one as well. The spacious cabin allows four passengers to settle in the plane quite comfortably. Piloting the Lancair IV, on the other hand, is the difficult bit.
Nevertheless, this performance comes at a cost, both in regard to the astronomical cost, handling requirements, and pilot skill. If you are willing to pay the purchase cost and maintenance cost and keep in mind the skill set required to operate the Lancair IV, then it can be the best deal for you.
Who Should Buy The Lancair IV?
Now that we have covered all the specifications of the Lancair IV, it should be clear who should buy this plane. The Lancair IV is not an easy aircraft to handle, as you might already know.
Even with some flying experience under your belt, it might not be enough to pilot the Lancair IV.
It could be risky for amateur pilots to handle a Lancair IV. It requires skills to pilot a plane like the Lancair IV or Lancair IV-P. So if you lack the required skill set, it is better to take some extra flying lessons and consult previous Lancair IV pilots before attempting to fly one yourself.
If you love flying fast, then the Lancair IV can be a good personal aircraft. Whether you need a fast mode of transportation or want to go for a leisure flight, the Lancair IV is perfect for both. The Lancair IV is known for its exceptional performance and for paving the way for more pressurized aircraft of its size, both in kit and factory-assembled form.
The Lancair IV is not a cheap aircraft. Since it is not available in the market anymore, you cannot compare any latest models with other new aircraft. The Lancair IV may not fall under the list of some of the cheapest aircraft around, but it surely is one of the finest!