Lancair Owners and Builders Organization

A Look Back At 2017

by jeff edwards

Welcome! I hope you have had a great flying season and were able to enjoy your Lancair to its fullest. We flew our Lancair all over the U.S. this year; our favorite trips this year have been to see our new granddaughter. A seven-hour drive is reduced to 1+15 in the air. And did I mention she is crazy about airplanes?

Let me update you on what your LOBO board has been doing this year. We’ve been very busy again attending meetings and conferences with the FAA, EAA and more. We have also participated as a party member or consultant  with the NTSB on several Lancair accident investigations. I recently spoke at the KR2 annual gathering in Kansas City and have given that fine group details on how to start their own type club. Additionally, we had a very nice turnout at our annual AirVenture forum and banquet. If you have the time we would love to have you join one of our groups this year in planning the next banquet, Landing, writing an article or two for this newsletter or attending one of our many meetings with government and industry.

OSH 2017

At Oshkosh we hosted a Lancair forum and gathered at the Best Western for our annual LOBO banquet. We also welcomed the Huffstutlers—the new owners of Lancair I’ntl. They rolled out their new Mako to admiring fans. If you haven’t attended one of our AirVenture events plan on doing so next year! The weather this year was super and the airshows were particularly awesome, with the Blue Angels showing the audience why Naval Aviation is the best! GO NAVY!

LOBO/Lancair Landing

Labor Day saw many of us converge on Santa Fe for the annual LOBO/Lancair Landing. Well attended with a great venue at the La Fonda Hotel on the historic square, we added more model-specific breakout sessions to this year’s format. And many of us enjoyed sunrise yoga courtesy of yogi Shelby. The sights and sounds of Santa Fe were terrific. Among the non-flying activities was a tour of the old town during their Labor Day festival. Thank you to Anne Daley, Judy Pastusek, yogi Shelby, Margaret and Larry Jones, Donna and Jim Scales and all of our sponsors and speakers who helped create a very nice event. Make plans to join us next year.

Evolution Aircraft Company

You may have read that the Evolution Aircraft Company recently closed its doors. Bob Wolstenhome notified all of the Evolution owners, citing several challenges facing the company which led to them ceasing operations, among them accidents, incidents and insurance. We wish Bob and EAC the best and hope they can return to the market place soon.

Fleet Safety

There’s been much debate lately on LancairTalk about the Lancair safety record, with many ideas bandied about about efforts to prevent accidents, improve the safety and most importantly save lives. The complete discussion of this topic is the 2016 White Paper on Lancair safety, which you may find on our website and at LancairTalk.net.

We have been working very hard since our founding almost ten years ago to reduce the number of Lancair accidents. While the accident curve has been trending downward since 2008, it has not done so quickly enough. We commissioned a Safety Working Group last year, analyzed all 550+ Lancair accidents/ incidents, and found many pilot operational issues that can be improved with training. We have explored the idea of mandatory transition training for new pilots entering the Lancair fleet with the EAA and the FAA. So far we have not come to an agreement on the subject, but we do have support for this proposal in some corners of the GA industry. I know many of you support this measure.

We circulated a survey to the membership six years ago and got an 80% positive response in support; we conducted another survey last year and got a 90% positive response in support of mandatory transition training, with over 100 members responding. Lancair, AOPA, and EAA also supported the concept at our meeting with the FAA in 2016. The FAA promised at that meeting that they would begin the process to make mandatory transition training happen. As often happens at AirVenture, what happens in Oshkosh, stays in Oshkosh. The FAA bureaucracy on return to Washington changed its mind on the subject. We continue to explore ideas to get this initiative back on track.

In the mean time we’ve noted some pushback against this proposal on LancairTalk. I have asked the LancairTalk audience and I will ask all of you for your ideas on how to make our community safer. Not a little bit safer but a whole lot safer, because if we want to be as safe as the rest of GA we have to reduce our accident rate by 90% and we need to do it soon. So if you have an ideas please let us know.

Training, Training, Training

I have advocated training as a method to reduce accidents. You might ask, “why training?” There are many reasons. As I mentioned earlier our Safety Working Group analyzed all the data we could find on Lancair accidents and incidents and found that over 50% of them involved the pilots’ failure to follow procedures. For example, there are instances where pilots had an electrical or hydraulic failure and intentionally landed gear up. Why did they land gear up? Because they did not know there was an alternate gear extension procedure for their aircraft. The abbreviated checkout they got from the previous owner likely did not cover all procedures. You simply cannot demonstrate proficiency in a Lancair aircraft with three trips around the pattern. There is also evidence that the checklist pilots used may have been lacking.

And there’s more. I have been contacted by owners—after they’ve had an accident—looking for training to improve their flying. One of our instructors reported that he spends most of his training time with new owners working on landings. Recently a Lancair 235 went off the runway with both the new owner and seller aboard.

The NTSB noted in their 2012 study of amateur built accidents that new owners are at most risk of these experience-based problems. Our study of the accident/incident database bears this out: pilots with less than 100 hours in their new-to-them Lancair account for some 50% of the total fatal accidents, with most accidents/incidents occurring in the first 25 hours. So how do we solve these identified problems? Training, of course.

Why Mandatory Training?

Because voluntary measures have not worked. Voluntary measures did not work for the MU2 community and they are not working for us. LOBO and Elite Pilot Services currently train annually with less than 2% of the Lancair fleet.  We track those numbers. Member surveys indicate a majority of our members had no Lancair-specific training from a qualified Lancair instructor. Of course many of you did not have an accident or incident while regrettably some did. The MU2 community along with the FAA implemented mandatory training via an SFAR (now Subpart N to 14 CFR 91) and witnessed a dramatic decline in the accident rate. We know mandatory training works to reduce accidents and save lives.

The idea of mandatory training was not our first choice. It is our last choice. We have worked very hard for almost ten years to reduce the accident rate in our community and preserve lives. We have given maintenance clinics; hosted get-togethers like the Landing, AirVenture banquets, and Sun-N-Fun gatherings; published countless articles on building, owning and operating Lancairs; wrote and implemented a training program; presented dozens of training forums; worked with many insurance companies; etc. We have devoted literally thousands of man hours working on this single issue from all angles that we can think of. We believe we have exhausted all voluntary measures; this is as good as it gets with voluntary work. It is disappointing to see that some ill-informed folks are pushing back very hard against this.

For example, some LancairTalk members have stated that LOBO or I am reaping or stand to reap an economic windfall with this mandatory transition training proposal. Let me set the record straight on that. LOBO is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means we are non-profit. You will not find any flight training receipts in our financial statements to the IRS because there are none. Additionally, all of the board members are volunteers who draw no pay or salary for their efforts. All flight instructors who agree to instruct using the LOBO syllabus are independent flight instructors who set their own rates. LOBO does not collect one cent for their services. We currently spend funds to train flight instructors to use our syllabus. We do this to improve flight safety and standardization within our community. I instruct on occasion, as an  independent instructor, but it has become a rare occasion for me as other priorities demand my time. I have never met a GA flight instructor who became wealthy conducting flight training.

While LOBO and I are not getting rich providing flight training, the relatively high number of Lancair accidents has negatively impacted ALL of us financially. Our aircraft values are dropping, and insurance rates are climbing. I recently applied to renew my aircraft insurance and got one quote that was almost three times the previous year. Many members are dropping insurance all together, with some just parking their Lancairs.

We surveyed the membership on the insurance issues prior to the Landing. The aggregate results are published here. Thank you for all of those that participated in the survey. If we do not significantly improve the Lancair fleet safety posture then insurance availability will decline or disappear altogether. EAC may not return. If prospective Evo owners who must finance their purchase cannot get insurance then there will be no sale. The same is true for the new owners of Lancair in Uvalde. We must examine the facts in front of us and look at the fork in the road and decide which path to take. We can stay the course, do nothing to change the safety problem and accept the current accident rate, or we can take a path that’s been proven successful in reducing the number of accidents and saving lives.

I recommend everyone educate themselves on the safety issues confronting our Lancair community. We have lost many friends and associates. We can save aircraft and people if we apply proven, common sense changes to the way we maintain and fly our Lancairs.

For comments and questions regarding this post contact Jeff via email: j.edwards@lancairowners.com.