President's Column: Neico's Response

Bob Waldmiller

Originally published December 1993

Chapter 1000 appears to be raising quite a stink on the Lancair handling qualities issue. At the EAA Chapter 49 meeting in Lancaster, the guest speaker was Don Goetz, Chief Pilot for Lancair. Since Don was certainly informed that many of us in the area do not harbor good feelings toward Neico, it surprised me that he did not make an effort to bring any data to back up his or Neico's claims that the Lancair 320/360 is a good flying aircraft. Instead, Don chose to quote the company line that the Lancair 320/360 is a fine aircraft and pilot training is the real problem. In fact, he recommends the owner get a good bit of "high-performance-homebuilt-stick-time" before taking his Lancair 320/360 to the skies...and then spending about 20 hours away from the pattern in his own Lancair to get used to it before attempting any landings--of course this means the owner will have to fly with a competent Lancair pilot during those 20 hours so you don't run out of gas before your first solo landing. EAA members in Chapter 1000 and Chapter 49 argue that there is a fundamental stability problem with the airplane and made that point clear during the meeting. Hopefully Don Goetz will take some of these arguments back to Neico. Also, the AVSIG Forum on Compuserve has been a bustle of activity surrounding the Lancair handling qualities article Norm Howell submitted (printed in last month's newsletter) which seems to indicate that there are lots and lots of people concerned about this problem.

At this time, EAA Chapter 1000 has sent a letter to the CAFE Foundation in Santa Rosa, CA requesting a flight test of a Lancair 320/360 be conducted as soon as possible. Also, Larry Wright has offered to make his plane available to the CAFE Foundation for the flight test program if necessary. Some might ask "what's the point of all this?" The bottom line is simple: We are at a time when the EAA and associated experimental, amateur-built, kitplanes are leading general aviation into the next century. If we are to retain our priveleges to create new and exciting aircraft, then we must ensure that the FAA does not burdon us with unnecessary regulations. Of course, kitplane manufacturers have enjoyed considerable freedom in the United States because of our current situation. However, it will only take one negligent company to start the FAA scrutinizing us much more closely--we don't need, nor want, that to happen. As I said a couple of months ago, it's time to start self-policing the kitplane industry. And the best way to do that is to educate the consumer. ...Round 2 is about to start...Ding!

Related Articles:

Lancair 360 First Flight - June 1993

Test Pilot Report - Lancair 360 First Flight - June 1993

A Look at Lancair 360 Handling Qualities - November 1993

Big-Tail Lancair 360 Update - September 1995

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Revised -- 2 March 1997