With less than 60 days until Oshkosh, the Lancair development team has been pushing flat out to get the piston version of the turbine-powered Evolution flying. We were in Redmond the week after Memorial Day to see the engine fired up for the first time on the airframe, and now Lancair says that the Evolution has committed its maiden flight.Plans are to use Lycomings IE2 electronic engine management system for customer aircraft. However, for the initial shakedown runs of this aircraft, a standard TIO-540 engine has been fitted. In essence, this is the powerplant from a Piper Malibu Mirage modified with a different air-intake system and fitted with literally dozens of data-acquisition sensors to help Lycomings techs understand how the engine is performing in this new application.Lancair estimates that the 350-horsepower Evolution will cruise at 270 knots (on 22 gallons per hour) or 240 knots in economy mode (at 17.5 gph); there’s a listed 2000-fpm climb rate, too.Lancairs Joe Bartels was both excited and relieved to see the piston version fire up without drama, settling into an amazingly quiet, smooth idle. While we were there, a brief series of ground runs were completed.The piston Evolution shares the turbines 6-psi pressurized cabin, wing structure, beefy trailing-link landing gear and other refinements. Pronounced scallops in the lower cowling help hide the twin exhaust pipes; the current aircraft does not have movable cowl flaps. Starting with a fast-build kit priced at $250,000, Lancair estimates that the piston Evolution can be built for around $600,000, substantially under the turbines price tag thanks to the lower cost of the Lycoming six cylinder engine.For more information, visit Lancair’s web site .
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