So What Are You Going To Do About It?
by claudette colwell
Long long ago and far far away…
We were at AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, WI for our annual trek to the world’s largest General Aviation gathering, something we had done for many years. We had already been flying our newly completed Legacy for several months, and we were again attending Jeff Edwards’ Lancair forum, where he detailed some recent accidents. Following his presentation, I approached Jeff and said “We need to do something about this accident rate.” That was hardly news to Jeff!
Thus LOBO – the Lancair Owners & Builders Organization was born. While today's accident rate is better than it was 11 years ago, it is still unacceptable. And the primary cause, which has been the topic of much recent discussion, is the same today as it was then: lack of initial and recurrent training. To keep square with the FAA, most of us acquire a flight review every two years as mandated, and we comply with health-monitoring mandates as well (either a flight physical, or Basic Med). But meeting those mandates has not reduced our still unacceptable accident rate.
There are very few pilots with the qualification to step right into a Lancair without proper training. These aircraft are different—need I say more? Our Legacy is very easy to fly and very easy to land, as long as you keep within its preferred performance envelope, but it’s also unforgiving under certain circumstances. A flight instructor with no experience in a Legacy will not know which flight parameters are critical and which offer a safety margin. And even an experienced Legacy instructor may not be much help to you in learning your panel and/or systems since there is no production standardization like a certified aircraft. For example: where is the circuit breaker for the autopilot? How does the gear come down if the hydraulic pump fails? And so on.
The moral of this short story is: Yes, it may be costly to pay a LOBO instructor to travel to you, and it may not be at a time most convenient to you. But it’s worth it. An instructor who owns and/or regularly flies your model Lancair knows what your plane can and can’t do, and can teach you that (in the case of initial training) or refresh your knowledge (for recurrent training), thereby lowering our fleet accident rate.
So how do we get more people to accept this fact? Many say just let insurance providers enforce it. That is, frankly, not their job. They sell insurance, not training. In the end, the industry doesn’t need Lancair pilots to get training; it can set premiums to profit whatever the accident rate, or simply stop insuring the fleet if accident rates get too high. Moreover, many insurers aren’t even aware of how unique Lancairs really are. I had approximately 100 hours in a Mooney 201 when Steve finished building our Legacy, and our insurance provider at the time said I didn’t need training because I had a high performance complex sign-off. Anyone who has flown both aircraft can tell you that training in a Mooney does not prepare you for flying a Lancair. Luckily, I had attended Jeff’s Lancair forum at AirVenture, and got the training I knew I needed.
One thing we can do as responsible Lancair owners is to include the price of initial LOBO training in the price if you decide to sell your aircraft. Compared to acquisition cost, initial training is cheap, and you greatly reduce the chances your buyer will make a smoking hole on the flight home.
Do your part: Get initial training, fly safely and often to keep proficient, and get recurrent training. Most of all have fun!
For questions or comments on this post contact Claudette via email: c.colwell [at] lancairowners.com.