Van’s Reveals RV-15 Engineering Test Prototype


Van’s Aircraft’s much anticipated high-wing, backcountry-capable RV-15 broke cover over the weekend when photos taken during the airplane’s Phase I testing near Van’s Aurora, Oregon, base were posted on social media. There was much speculation based on the fuzzy images, and in response Van’s posted this video, less than a minute in duration, showing a takeoff, cruise flight and an interior view of the airplane undergoing initial testing.

In the YouTube post, Van’s said, “The cat’s out of the bag—and here’s what our team has been working on lately. Introducing the RV-15 Engineering Test Prototype aircraft. This airplane was built to evaluate and test the design, and what we’ve been learning from this engineering ‘tool’ test airplane will result in refinements and changes that will appear in the final ‘kit’ aircraft design. You’ll have a chance to learn more about the prototype airplane during our forums on Tuesday morning at AirVenture in Oshkosh, coming up in just a couple weeks!”

Van’s has shown the RV-15 on standard main-gear tires and now these 26-inch backcountry hoops.

Van’s didn’t offer any additional details about the airplane, but what can be clearly seen in the video is that it’s an all-aluminum airframe with conventional gear, Beringer brakes, a strut-braced wing and side-by-side seating. A large baggage area is visible from the video shots.

Van’s has not disclosed the engine, but the cowling shape and sound suggests a four-cylinder conventional aircraft engine. If the cowling looks an awful lot like an RV-14’s, then an IO-390 could be under the hood.

The RV-15 is unpainted, to be expected in a test article, and has clear doors; interior door-release mechanisms are visible in the video. A large flight-test boom is visible on the left wingtip. An overhead flap handle is also visible in the interior shots. The scale suggested by the interior images is much greater than some social-media speculation.

UPDATE: On Monday, Van’s released another video showing the RV-15 on 26-inch tundra tires.

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Marc Cook
Marc Cook is a veteran special-interest journalist who started as a staffer at AOPA Pilot in the late 1980s. Marc has built two airplanes, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Aviation Sportsman, and now owns a 180-hp, steam-gauge-adjacent GlaStar based in western Oregon. Marc has 5000 hours spread over 200-plus types and four decades of flying.



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