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FAA Rescinds Info Letter Regarding Lancair Safety Record

Eugene Balogh

October 8, 2009 — The FAA this week issued then withdrew an advisory to owners and operators of Lancair aircraft that notes a high percentage of fatal accidents within the fleet. A source close to the issue says the FAA is reevaluating its advisory based on input from Lancair and other groups. In the letter, the FAA said the majority of these accidents involve loss of control, with many occurring in the traffic pattern. According to data provided in the FAA advisory, Lancairs represent only three percent of the fleet but were involved in 16 percent of amateur-built fatal accidents in the last year. In that time 65 percent of the Lancair accidents were fatal, 53 percent in the last four years.

The custom-built, high performance nature of the Lancair was highlighted in the advisory as contributing to the higher rate of accidents. The FAA contends that the uniqueness of each aircraft’s handling, stability, and stall characteristics exposes pilots to additional risk during slow-speed operations near the ground. Sixty percent of the accidents over the last four years were due to loss of control with that same percentage happening in the traffic pattern.

A representative of the Lancair Owners and Builders Organization, who requested anonymity, said that the FAA should not focus on the Lancair airframe but on pilots and training when considering accident rates in this case. The representative reasoned that historical accident data for GA aircraft points to half of the accidents occurring on take-offs and landings and half of all accidents involve pilots that have less than 500 hours of flight time and 100 hours in a particular type.  Lancair International said in an email to EAA that they are reserving comment until the final version of the InFO letter is released.

The advisory recommended that Lancair owners study their airplane, become familiar with its particular slow-speed and stall characteristics, and complete additional instruction in stall recognition and recovery. Additional recommendations include:Installing a high-quality Angle Of Attack (AOA) indicator to mitigate the little or no warning Lancairs give prior to stall

  • Owners and operators should have the aircraft evaluated for proper rigging, wing alignment and weight and balance by a mechanic familiar with Lancairs
  • Builders are advised to seek out experienced builders and evaluators as their construction progresses and not fly the aircraft until such assessment has been completed.
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