Are you looking for more information about the Evolution Turbine or Evolution Piston? Maybe you'd like more about experimental aircraft. Our FAQ is a great resource.

Frequently Asked Questions


Experimental – What does that really mean?
It does not mean that your airplane is an experiment. It is an FAA category of aircraft that are so named because they do not possess a Type Certificate issued by the FAA that certifies that a particular design meets all of the requirements set forth under one of the FAA’s Standard Categories. In the case of a General Aviation aircraft like the Evolution, that would be Part 23. Instead they are governed by “Special Category” regulations of which “Experimental- Amateur Built” or E-AB is one of several. The name is unfortunate in that there is nothing untried, untested, or unsafe about the Evolution design. The Experimental designation arose when in the 1930’s there was a great deal of experimentation and innovation going on. At that time the CAA (later to become the CAB, and finally the FAA) felt the need to regulate this “homebuilder” experimentation and created the category. Not much happened during WWII in this regard but after the war, in 1947, the CAB took another look and created a structure for citizens to build their own aircraft “for education and recreation”. The idea of a “kit” soon followed and the new FAA (1958) formulated a series of requirements for such kits. One of these requirements is the “51% rule” requiring the owner/builder of such a kit to “assist or complete” more than 51% of the established 131 or so tasks of manufacturing, fabricating, and installing the components of an aircraft.
Why Experimental rather than Type Certified?
There are three primary reasons. Most important is lower cost, then the ability to focus on engineering without compromise, and also freedom to customize. The roughly 1 million dollar cost differential between your Evolution and a (not even) equivalent certified aircraft exists because you are not paying for a factory and all that that entails. Production Certification costs tens of millions of dollars, most of which is administrative, regulatory, and recurring non-engineering costs. You don’t pay for that.

For safety and your confidence we use the FAA Part 23 regulations as guidance, but there are areas where they may over-regulate and we can avoid that while still producing an efficient and safe design. Customization is not possible in a certified design. In an E-AB aircraft you are free to change many things within reason to accommodate your desires. Your Evolution is a Custom, “Hand Built” aircraft. The resultant superior craftsmanship is rarely seen in a certified aircraft.

51% of What?
It is not the fabrication of the majority of the parts, or the majority of the hours, or the majority of the assembly operations. It is the majority of the “effort” spent accomplishing a list of the tasks that the FAA has listed as being pertinent to the construction of the aircraft. This is spelled out in an FAA Advisory Circular; AC 20-27G. One must follow the guidelines of this AC to legally build his own aircraft. It is a clear-cut process that is easily followed and one that we have made sure can be accomplished through the build process of our Kit.
Can I hire someone to do the 49% ?
Yes, you can. The commercial assistance shops that specialize in this type of assistance are well versed in legally guiding you through the process. Keep in mind that major portions of the assembly process are not covered by the FAA required steps, like avionics, interior, paint, and many other systems and options.
Are all parts of the (aircraft building) process covered in the AC?
No, many very complicated parts of the construction process are not enumerated in the AC and “don’t count”. Many of these very time consuming processes such as wiring, instrument panel fabrication, actual molding, laying up, or shaping of the airframe components, body work, painting, and upholstery are not part of the process. It is an assembly process, not a manufacturing process and much of that can be completed by your commercial assistance shop.
How do I prove that I did “my share”?
A record (photographic and written) called a “Builder’s Log” is kept of the time you spend with Evolution Aircraft (2 weeks) and at your assistance shop. This is usually 4-6 weeks, non-consecutive, over about 8 months. It is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience and one that we urge you to discuss with other owners.
I have no skills for such an activity, but I’m willing. Can I do it?
You not only can, but you will have the time of your life. Owners report that have gone through the building process with the professional guidance was one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. The very complete understanding of your aircraft invaluable and unattainable any other way.
I don’t have the time. Can I send a partner for some or all of this time?
Absolutely. The only requirement is that he (or she) be an amateur and an “owner” of the kit being built. An owner is any legal entity, an individual, LLC, S Corp, C Corp, partnership, etc. Ownership can be from 1 to 100% of the entity.
How long does it take?
Time from the initial two-week building period at the Evolution Aircraft facility to first flight is usually around 6 months and rarely more than 8 months.
How do I find a builder?
Evolution Aircraft has an approved list of builders, all of whom have built several to dozens of Evolutions.
When my plane is done, do I have to be the test pilot?
No, Evolution Aircraft supplies, at no charge, a complete inspection of your aircraft prior to the FAA’s inspection to issue your Certificate of Airworthiness and a test pilot for first flight. Many owners keep this pilot under contract for the full FAA mandated Phase One fly-off period (40 hours) where the aircraft must be flown in a designated area and distance from the airport continuously expanding the flight envelope.
What is the purpose of the 40 hour fly off requirement?
Every plane is flown and tested against the entire flight envelope (Vne, all CG configurations, stalls, etc.) and all squawks are addressed before you start flying the plane. This is a big advantage over the certified world.
After I have my plane, what can’t I do with it as an Experimental Category aircraft?
There are only two restrictions on the use of E-AB aircraft. You may not fly the aircraft for hire (charter, lease, rent, etc.) You may, however share expenses. Also you will not have the ability to secure a Flight Into Known Icing (FIKI) certification as this is a Supplemental Type Certificate or STC. Since you do not have a Type Certificate you cannot supplement it. You can however install the same equipment on the aircraft that a FIKI equipped aircraft would carry in order to protect you from inadvertent flight into un-forecast icing.
What about Warranties?
The manufacturer of your engine (Pratt & Whitney) covers the engine with a 1000 hr. “no calendar” warranty. Garmin covers your avionics with a 24 month warranty. Various other components are covered by their manufacturers warranties. Your commercial builder warrants his workmanship, and Evolution Aircraft warrants the airframe components that they manufacture.
Where do I get service work done?
Depending on the component needing attention, you would go to any commercial service shop that offers service to that component. Special airframe issues or issues with Evolution Aircraft manufactured parts would be attended to at Evolution Aircraft or one of our commercial assistance shops across that US.
How much does an Annual Condition Inspection cost?
Carbon composite airframes are virtually maintenance free. PT6 engines require almost no maintenance beyond simple 100 hour oil filter cleaning and visual inspections. (First overhaul is at 3600 hrs.) The airplane is “opened up” and all components and structure is inspected. Evolution Aircraft does this two day process for a flat labor fee, currently $2500. As the builder of the aircraft you are able to sign off your own maintenance work and annuals if you wish. This is a significant saving over even a simple 4 place certified aircraft.
What about Carbon Fiber? Is it safe over the long term? Is this proven technology?
Carbon (Graphite) composite structures are considered the strongest structures used anywhere in the world today. Formula One racers, Indy Cars, Americas Cup Racing Yachts, million dollar Supercars, 10 G aerobatic aircraft are almost 100% Carbon Composite. Advanced military combat aircraft from the F-22 to the B-2 are predominantly carbon. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is uses large quantities of the same Toray “12K Pre-preg” carbon fabric that Evolution Aircraft uses in the Evolution. As a matter of fact, this carbon is manufactured and sourced from the same supplier that supplies Boeing. Evolution Aircraft has been building composite structures since 1984, longer than any other aerospace composite manufacturer. No General Aviation manufacturer has the high level of expertise in this manner and method of construction as does Evolution Aircraft.
How many hours have Evolutions flown? What is the safety record?
As of 1/1/16 we estimate that there are at least 25,000 flight hours spread over 63 flying aircraft. At least 3 have over 1000hrs. There have been 4 pilot error gear-up landings, no engine shutdowns, no icing or control issues or forced landings.

There has been one aircraft lost due to undetermined cause, with the aircraft determined to be flying normally until lost at sea.

Who trains me?
Evolution Aircraft Co. supplies, at no additional charge, three days (15 hours) of transition training into your aircraft provided by EPS, our contracted training group. If additional training is required, that is available. You also get your first year recurrent training at no charge.
What about insurance?
Insurance is straightforward. There is no “penalty” or surcharge due to the E-AB Category. Rates run at 1.25 to 1.75% of named hull value. 250 hrs. of retractable gear time is a plus but this can be offset with special requirements by the insurer.


How much experience do I need to fly a Turbine? What ratings and endorsements?
Most pilots that fly a high performance single can easily transition into an Evolution. You will need an instrument rating with High Performance and Complex endorsements and also a High Altitude Training endorsement (This does not require an altitude chamber experience). If you can fly a Cirrus, Columbia, Bonanza, 210, Baron, etc. you can easily transition into an Evolution. This is especially true because the pattern and approach speeds are very similar to what they have been flying. We recommend one of the available 1 day turbine operation courses that are available (Flight Safety, SimCom) which will teach you the basics of PT6 ops. G-1000 experience will shorten your check-out time and we suggest getting at least 10 hours of that if you don’t have “glass” experience before you start your Evolution training. Most pilots find the Evolution much easier to manage than their previous aircraft.
How fast is the Turbine Evolution?
The 750 hp PT6A-135A powered Evolution is capable of exceeding 300 ktas but Normal cruise speeds (depending on aircraft weight and atmospherics) range from 275 to 290 ktas. Climb rates can be as high as 4000 fpm with 500 fpm available at FL270.
What is the Service Ceiling?
The Turbine Evolution is restricted by RVSM rules to FL280. The engine airframe however could fly comfortably at FL330. The Lycoming iE2 Evolutions engine is limited to FL250.
What is the cabin Pressure Differential?
The superior strength and lack of riveted construction in the Carbon Composite fuselage provides a very strong and leak free pressure vessel. The PT6 engine provides copious hot bleed air to keep the cabin comfortable at a 6.5 psi, 8500 foot altitude at FL280.
What is the fuel burn?
Turbine: Cruise fuel burn can range from 34 to 39 gph depending on atmospherics and desired cruise speed. Reduced fuel burns down to 27 gph can be used for extended range at speeds around 260 ktas.
iE2: Cruise fuel burn can range from 17-23 gph depending on atmospherics and desired cruise speed. Reduced fuel burns down to 14 gph can be used for extended range at speeds around 212 ktas.
What is the full fuel Payload?
You can carry 800 pounds with full fuel in both versions of Evolution. The Ballistic parachute restricts the available fuel load due to CG considerations when four adults are carried.
What is the full fuel Range?
Turbine: 1100 nm (with reserves) is a normal leg length.

iE2: 1600 nm (with reserves) is a normal leg length.

How much baggage will it hold?
Up to 225 pounds, 39 cubic feet. With one rear seat removed, two bicycles may be carried. Skis and golf clubs can be accommodated.

Piston Evolution

Does the piston airframe differ from the turbine powered Evolution?
Both aircraft are essentially the same from the firewall aft. All structure, materials, controls, and systems are the same. The wings are identical as are the fuel tanks. Everything from the firewall forward is suited specifically for the power plant used. The cowling is different and the piston aircraft is shorter than the turbine aircraft. The strength and load factors are the same as for the higher speed turbine version.
What systems are different?
There are differences in the electrical system, pressurization, air conditioning, and heating.
What about the panel and Avionics?
There two different avionics packages to the piston powered Evolution, one is based on the G3X and cannot work with the turbine engine in the event you may want to convert later. If you purchased the 900x package which is the same package as on the turbine, converting later is much easier, not to mention the more robust 900x features you would enjoy now.
Describe the electrical system?
The electrical system is a 28V dual battery, dual alternator, single bus system.
Describe the HVAC / Environmental system?
The air conditioning incorporates an electrically driven compressor with a tail cone mounted condenser and a forward mounted evaporator similar to the turbine powered Evolution. The heat source is the engine bleed air from the dual turbo compressors, which is also used for pressurization.
How does the pressurization work?
Engine bleed air is routed through a sonic nozzle, which stabilizes the flow into the cabin regardless of power setting above a specific level. The outflow is regulated to be less than the inflow, which creates positive pressure up to 7.5 psi in the cabin giving an 8500 foot cabin altitude at FL250.
What about Oxygen use?
Oxygen is needed only in an emergency and an emergency back up oxygen system similar to that used in the turbine aircraft is standard equipment.
What does iE2 mean?
iE2 is part of the official Lycoming engine designation which is; TEO-540 iE2. This breaks down to Turbo-supercharged Electronic Opposed 540 cubic inch Integrated Electronic dual (2) computer engine. The “core” engine is a standard TIO-540 which is outfitted with the iE2 package.
What parts comprise the iE2 designation?
The iE2 engine is outfitted with dual computers that process information from the engine sent by various sensors in order to supply the engine with the proper fuel mixture and ignition timing, as well as electronically govern the prop and modulate the boost pressure via a waste gate controller. There is also an engine mounted backup power source for the system called a PMA (Permanent Magnet Alternator), which supplies a constant power source for the computers, should the ship system be compromised. There are 12 ignition coils, one for each spark plug, an electronic, high pressure, fuel injector for each cylinder, a “knock” sensor for each cylinder, and temperature sensors for each cylinder head.
Is this a FADEC engine?
Technically, no, but it is very close. FADEC stands for Full Authority Digital Engine Control. This would require an electronic link from the power lever to the computers, which would then send a power command to the engine. The iE2 has a traditional throttle cable from the power lever to the throttle body. A throttle position sensor then tells the computer what the requested throttle setting is and the computer determines fuel flow and timing.
Is this like the system on a modern automobile?
It’s very close. Modern auto systems provide all the same engine management functions but also play a large part in regulating emissions, sometimes to the detriment of performance. The iE2 system is simpler, designed first for reliability via redundancy and its own power supply, and secondarily for always balancing power against fuel economy while protecting itself from damage. It starts instantly “like a car” with the push of a button regardless of ambient conditions or engine temperature.
Can you run it “Lean of Peak” ?
Certainly the engine will run LOP, but the engine’s computer will decide when it can do that based on the conditions of the moment. The engine will seek the most efficient fuel flow for any given flight condition and power setting. Sometimes this will be LOP, sometimes it will not. If the pilot is requesting a power setting that will not support those settings the computer will supply the required mixture for that power setting. The computer will “self protect” the engine.
What does ”Self Protect” mean?
If the pilot has commanded a power setting under conditions that would allow the engine to over-temp, the computer will increase the fuel flow and adjust the timing to cool down any number of cylinders to ensure no engine damage will result from temperature or detonation. If detonation is incipient, timing can be changed on any given cylinder at any time, as can fuel flow. This all happens seamlessly as the pilot changes power settings.
Does the iE2 system allow the engine run on unleaded or other new Av fuels?
Yes, however if a fuel with less detonation resistance (due to imperfection or lower octane rating) is used, the engine would detect the onset of detonation and self protect by changing the timing or adjusting the mixture. This would “enable” the engine to run in that fuel safely, but the power would likely be diminished. The real advantage is that when new aviation fuels are introduced by oil companies Lycoming will be able to evaluate these fuels and write software to accommodate them in the existing engine hardware. There need not be changes to the engine hardware. This will be a great advantage in the future.


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