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Wed, Mar 06, 2013

While Aviation World Praises 7000nm L-IV Flight... Insurance Co Cancels Policy

The Amazing Journey of N6ZQ Was Met With Acclaim... By All But 'Aerospace Insurance Managers'

ANN told you the amazing tale, just a few days ago, of a retired airline pilot who spent 8 years building a Lancair IV, specifically configured, to attempt and conquer a number of world records. Over the weekend, that amazing flyer, Bill Harrelson, flew over 38 hours from Guam to Jacksonville, FL and set what appears to be a pretty impressive record.

Unfortunately, his insurance carrier doesn't seem to give a damn about what an enormous feat this was and has since canceled his policy... for both his beloved globe-girdling Lancair IV AND his also-well-traveled Lancair 320. Bill Harrelson told ANN that he received notification, Tuesday, that his policies were to be terminated even though he was aware that the record flight he made a few days was outside of the policies limits and that he did NOT expect coverage for the flight. Harrelson's agent, Falcon Insurance did their best, but Aerospace Insurance Managers apparently failed to budge and decided to kick N5ZQ and N6ZQ, both, to the curb.

"Please be advised that your insurance carrier, Aerospace Insurance Managers, has decided that due to the fact you will be flying outside of their standard territory limits, (United States (excluding Alaska & Hawaii) Canada, Mexico, or while enroute between these territories) they will be sending out a 14 day Notice of Cancellation of your policy. When we originally bound coverage through them, we made them aware of the exposure outside of their territory. However, in further reviewing the policy, the Manager felt that it would be best for them to not insure the risk due to liability concerns," reported Falcon.

Falcon's rep (who did not sound any more thrilled than Bill) added that, "I apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause you. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in trying to convince Aerospace to stay on the risk for the remainder of the policy term."

Finding coverage for the Lancairs has been tough over the last few years as a number of pilots have been involved in accidents that many experts feel would have been avoided by more aggressive and comprehensive training in the high-performance experimental aircraft -- a feeling that we quite agree with as we have quite a lot of time in the breed and find little to complain about--so long as a pilot makes a proper transition. Harrelson, possibly one of the highest time Lancair pilots in the world (thousands of hours in the breed and over 28000 hours total time), will be able to find other coverage... but he's going to have to pay more for it... and he'll have to, no matter what, because liability insurance is required for his aircraft based on the regs at his home drome.

Still; Harrelson has much to proud of as he prepares his bird for the circum-polar voyages he plans to tackle next... his Lancair IV having proven itself exceptionally well in the trip from Guam. Bill reports that, "The flight was extremely challenging but went well. Although not official yet, it looks like a new World Record for distance has been set. The current record set by Peter Wilkins of Australia was from Sydney to Phoenix in a Piper Malibu Mirage. His distance was 6,890 nm. That record has stood for 26 years. In order to gain the record I had to further his distance by at least 1% which would be 6,958 nm. My distance was 7,051 nm, 93 nm over the minimum.
 
Here are a couple of facts about the flight:

  • The Lancair IV falls into class C1d in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale classification system. (landplane, internal combustion powered, 1500-3000 kg)
  • Engine: Barrett IO-550 non-turbo, 10:1 pistons, oversized oil sump, GAMI injectors, mags.
  • My official take off weight was 4,449 lbs (2017.6 kg).
  • Total fuel on board at engine start: 361 gallons.
  • Total fuel on board at engine shutdown: 6 gallons
  • Fuel burned 355 gallons.
  • Oil quantity on engine start: 14 quarts
  • Oil added: 0 zero
  • Oil quantity on landing back home in Virginia: 14 quarts
  • Total oil consumption: ZERO (Thank you Allen Barrett & crew)
  • Great circle distance between PGUM and KJAX 13,059 km, 7,051 nm, 8,114 sm.
  • Time aloft: 38:29
  • Average fuel consumption: 9.2 gph. Cruise ranged from 11 gph heavy to 8 gph light.
  • Average ground speed: 183 knots.
  • Average cruise TAS: 180 knots

ANN E-I-C Note: As we noted previously, after having to cover such bad news in the aviation world, of late, it was an uncommon pleasure and privilege to write about an adventure that cast such a positive light on all of aviation and further defined aviators as men and women who seek adventure, fulfillment and enrichment... and do it with care, courage and the firm knowledge that they are part of an amazing community. It was a true joy to report that story and we look forward to covering 'Bill's Next Great Adventure' -- BUT; to the folks at Aerospace Insurance Managers -- well, what a 'weaselly' thing to do to a man who has more than sufficient expertise and skill to take on the world... and win. He expected nothing from you for these flights and, yet, you let him down. Shame on you.

FMI: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N6ZQ, go.spidertracks.com/fleetpro/public/zqpilot, information@AerospaceIM.com 

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