Jim, I sat in one of these at MRY when it was on display with Walt’s SR20. It was a beautiful plane for sure, but astoundingly difficult to get in, and I almost did a backwards flop onto the wingroot trying to get out, too. The front seats are too far forward relative to the front door sill and the latter gets in your face immediately as you step down onto the cabin floor. Result: pilot’s CG is too far aft and a hard landing on the front seat is highly likely! Even my wife who is considerably more supple than I commented on the difficulty of entry and egress.
MUCH easier in the sr20! (Recently, Tina also got a ride in the right front seat of the SR20 courtesy of Walt, and it took a long time to get the beatific grin off her face!)
Once in the Columbia cockpit I thought it compared favorably with the sr20.
Personally, I would not choose to spend 60% more on acquisition AND fuel to go 20% faster. After all, sometimes one who loves flying like I do doesn’t mind at all spending a smidge MORE time in the air getting to one’s destination–just not so much more as one would in a 172! And I do like to see a TAS expressed in THREE digits, not TWO as in the 172/Archer with any headwind. For me, SR20 wins hands-down on the performance/value issue. But I hope Lancair is successful; I know there is a segment of the pilot community which demands speed over almost all else. In any case I think the Columbia is a no-brainer better value than Mooney Ovation or Socata TB21 or A36/Beech B36TC, for sure.
It’s good that Lancair got past the showdown with its (Malaysian?) funders that was threatening to do it in, and it will be wonderful for everyone concerned – except perhaps Cessna, Beech, and Socata – if they can get some kind of real production flow going, as Cirrus is doing now.
- It will be good for customers to have another modern airplane to choose from;
- It will be good for the currently-not-interested-in-GA public to think that there’s something afoot in this industry;
- It will be good for Cirrus, for the platitudinous reason that competition makes you do better, and for the real reason that you’d always prefer to be the strongest of several competitors in a field, rather than the ONLY entrant in a field. When you’re the only one, people wonder what’s wrong with you; when there are several others, and you beat them, you look all the better. And at least for now Cirrus has a strong lead in (a) pricing and (b) actual production experience, which together make it the strongest entry in the “cool airplane” field. I would imagine it holding a substantial production volume edge over Lancair for a long time.
I wish that an SR20 could go as fast as a Columbia – and still be $100k less than the Columbia’s price. But there is one other factor that Walt (I think) mentioned a few months ago, and that I’ve also heard on the airshow grapevine. A Cirrus is COMFORTABLE inside. I gather that the Lancairs are like snug versions of Mooneys – ie, very very svelte inside, in a way that makes you feel you’re getting into a glove. Anyone besides Walt seen one of these at a show?