LearAvia Lear Fan

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Lear Fan 2100
Two Learfans at Reno 1982 (6579626527).jpg
Two Lear Fans during a 1982 display flight
Role Business aircraft
National origin United States of America
Manufacturer LearAvia
Designer Bill Lear
First flight January 1, 1981 (1981-01-01)
Number built 3

The LearAvia Lear Fan 2100 was a turboprop business aircraft designed in the 1970s, with unusual configuration. The Lear Fan never entered production.

Design and development[edit]

A Lear Fan prototype landing

The LearFan was designed by Bill Lear, but not completed before his death in 1978. It was planned for production to be carried out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a new factory built with money from the British Government in an effort to boost employment.[1][2] The aircraft had a pressurized cabin and was designed for a service ceiling of 41,000 ft (12 500 m). It could accommodate two pilots and seven passengers, or one pilot and eight passengers.

It featured a pusher configuration in which two engines powered a single constant-speed three- or four-bladed propeller at the rear of the aircraft. A purpose-built gearbox allowed two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B turboshaft engines to supply power via two independent driveshafts. The intent of the design was to provide the safety of multi-engine reliability, combined with single-engine handling in case of failure of one of the engines.

The aircraft was made of lightweight composite materials instead of the more common aluminum alloy.

Another distinctive feature was the Y-shaped empennage. Two stabilizers pointed upward at an angle, similar to those on a V-tail aircraft, and a short vertical stabilizer pointed downward. However, unlike conventional V-tails, there was no pitch/yaw control mixing on the Lear Fan. The downward-pointing rudder also served to protect the propeller from ground strikes during takeoff and landing.

Operational history[edit]

After the cancellation of a planned test flight on December 31, 1980 due to technical issues, the first prototype made its maiden flight on January 1, 1981[3] (a date officially recorded by sympathetic British government officials as "December 32, 1980" in order to secure funding that expired at the end of that year[4]).

The Lear Fan, however, did not enter production. Structural problems were discovered during the pressurization of the all-composite fuselage.[2] The US Federal Aviation Administration refused to issue the prototype with an airworthiness certificate because of concerns that, despite two engines, the combining-gearbox that drove the single propeller was not adequately reliable.[2] Development was abandoned in 1985[2] after only three aircraft were built.

Surviving aircraft[edit]

Lear Fan 2100 prototype on display at the Museum of Flight
A Lear Fan 2100 on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum

The three Lear Fan aircraft are on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington,[4] the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas,[5] and at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Specifications[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two (pilot and copilot)
  • Capacity: Six passengers
  • Length: 40 ft 7 in (12.37 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 4 in (11.99 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)
  • Wing area: 162.9 sq ft (15.13 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 9.5
  • Empty weight: 4,100 lb (1,860 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,350 lb (3,334 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney (Canada) PT6B-35F turboprops, 650 shp (480 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 450 mph (724 km/h; 391 kn) at 25,000 feet (7,600 m)
  • Cruise speed: 322 mph (518 km/h; 280 kn) at 40,000 feet (12,000 m) economy cruise
  • Stall speed: 88 mph (142 km/h; 76 kn) with flaps down and power off
  • Range: 1,783 mi (1,549 nmi; 2,869 km)
  • Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,450 ft/min (17.5 m/s)

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ McCellan 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d Lear Fan Collapses. Flight International 8 June 1985, p.30.
  3. ^ a b Taylor 1982, pp. 399–400.
  4. ^ a b Lear Fan 2100 (Futura) Archived 2009-07-12 at the Wayback Machine. The Museum of Flight. 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  5. ^ Aircraft at the Frontiers of Flight Museum – Dallas, Texas Archived 2009-12-08 at the Wayback Machine. Frontiers of Flight Museum. Retrieved 27 November 2009.

Bibliography[edit]

  • "Lear Fan Collapses". Flight International, 8 June 1985. Sutton, UK:Business Press International. p. 30.
  • McClellan, J. Mac. "Flashback to 1981:A Look Back at the Lear Fan". Flying, June 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  • Taylor, John W.R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1982–83. London:Jane's Yearbooks, 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0748-2.
  • Whitaker, Richard. "Lear Fan: the plastic aeroplane arrives". Flight International, 26 December 1981, pp. 1896–1901.