Lancair is conducting extensive pilot research into the layout of its future cockpit for the Columbia light piston single family.

Working with AvroTec, the initial plan is to introduce a "highway in the sky" (HITS) concept in two phases. The first phase, with certification planned in 2001, will introduce an electronic primary flight display (PFD) projected on "flight director-like" screens with back-up electromechanical instruments.

A second phase, for certification and introduction in 2002, will move to the full "fly-through-the-boxes" PFD as outlined in the HITS concept, which is being developed in conjunction with NASA's Advanced General Aviation Technology Experiments programme. Lancair says large screen dual liquid crystal displays, developed by Massachussets-based Avidyne, are also being considered.

Sales of the Columbia line meanwhile have passed the 150 mark, with the third Columbia 300 having just been delivered and a further 12 on the final assembly line at the company's Bend, Oregon site. Lancair plans to raise production to one aircraft per day by mid-2002.

Lancair's turbocharged Columbia 400, now being flight tested, is set for certification next August.

The aircraft is attracting "great interest", says Lancair national sales manager Mike Schrader, adding that the more powerful derivative of the Columbia 300 has demonstrated "excellent" performance in initial flight tests. Powered by a Teledyne Continental TSIO-550 engine, the Columbia 400 develops 230kW (310hp) at 2,600 rpm, and has demonstrated climb rates in excess of 1,200ft (370m) per minute.

Early cooling problems have been solved with minor inlet and outlet adjustments. This issue is crucial to the 400, as it has a twin-turbocharged, twin-intercooled engine. This is boosted to maintain better than sea level pressure to cruise altitudes up to 25,000ft.

Source: Flight International