Aircraft Spotlight: Columbia 400

As work on the Eaglesoft Columbia 400 conversion for FSX draws close to an end, I thought that this was a good chance to have a closer look at this aircraft and highlight what makes it one of the best aircraft in current production.

The Columbia 400 is the third deriviative from Lance Neibauer’s highly successful Lancair Legacy ES kitplane, following the 300 and 350.  It is an all composite airframe with fixed gear, seats up to 4 passengers, and sports some of the most advanced avionics found in general aviation.  Unique to Columbia is the choice of either Avidyne Entegra or GARMIN G1000 EFIS systems.  The current Eaglesoft offering includes the Avidyne Entegra suite, with dual GARMIN 430 GPSs and S-TEC 55X autopilot, and we hope to be able to provide a G1000 version in the future.  The aircraft is all-electric with no vacuum system.  Because of this, there are two independent electrical systems driven by two different batteries that can be cross-tied in the event either of the two failed.  Redundancy is the name of the game here.

The Columbia 400 is regarded as the fastest single-engine piston aircraft in production today, with a capability of 235 knots at FL250.  This is thanks in part to the twin turbocharged Continental TSIO 350 6-cylinder engine exuding 310 horses at take-off power (2600 RPM & 35.5 in. Hg).  With its beefier engine, the 400 required larger engine nacelles compared to the nacelles for the 300 and 350.  Other noticable differences include a different elevator design and a ventral fin under the tail, all designed to influence the spin (or anti-spin) characteristics at such high maximum altitudes.

Interior appointments
Whether armed with the Avidyne Entegra or GARMIN G1000 suite of avionics, this bird takes technology to the next step when it comes to flying in the 21st century.  The roomy panel allows easy reach for each screen or knob, thanks to the use of a side stick for aileron and elevator control input.  The armrest allows great comfort in taking the stick, and becomes second nature to even the most skeptical of pilots.  The center arm rest is home to the elegantly crafted fuel selector switch, easily accessed by either front seat occupant.  The seats are plush and comfortable, lined with the finest leather to grace the skies.

The Columbia 400 is often referred to as the "personal airliner" when you speak to other 400 owners.  Members of
Club Columbia are very proud of the fact that you can easily fly 900 nautical miles non-stop, and that is with a 45-minute reserve!  Useful load is approximately 1,100 lbs. and has maximum fuel capacity of 106 gallons, of which 98 are usable.  Cargo is easily accessed via a door on the port side of the aircraft, and has capacity to store 120 lbs.

The air up there
Getting this bird in the air does not take very long at all.  On take-off roll, you begin to pitch the aircraft up around 65 kts, and can easily obtain 1300 ft./min. climb rate at 110 kts.  You can reach cruising altitude in mere moments after leaving the asphalt, exuding a smile on anyone who has flown in anything else.  When it is time to set her down back onto terra firma, use of the
Precise Control speed brakes helps the descent without having to pull the power back too much.  Pattern entry is around 120 kts. where you continue to decelerate to allow first notch of flaps around 100 kts.  On base and short final, engage full flaps and touch down around 80 kts.  The aircraft will settle parallel to the ground, where you would slightly pitch up right before touch-down to avoid jarring that nosewheel too firmly.

All-Around performer
Everything about the Columbia 400 gives an essence of first-class performance, comfort, and safety.  The sleek aerodynamic lines from the mind of Lance Neibauer shows his knowledge of what it takes to fly in style.  The aviation community is certainly grateful for his passion for flight, and designing some of the best aircraft built today!  The Columbia 400 is sure an all-around performer both in the sim and in real-world flying.

Be sure to check out some of the screen captures in my photo album.



Filed under Flight Simulator

3 responses to “Aircraft Spotlight: Columbia 400

  1. Andrea

    Have to say, nice to have a FS blog in the live community and also if you wish, I would like to change some info about FS.

  2. Unknown

    Slick looking aircraft – isn\’t it the one that Barrington Irving is using for the round-the-world flight he has just commenced?

    Looks like you had a real blast at the Conference, mate!

    John Ward

  3. Owen

    Slick looking aircraft – isn\’t it the one that Barrington Irving is using for the round-the-world flight he has just commenced? Looks like you had a real blast at the Conference, mate! Regards, John WardIndeed, Barrington is flying a Columbia 400, though it is heavily modified with an additional fuel cell placed behind his seat.Best,Owen

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