What is a Vans RV-10?
The performance, handling and cost of the RV-10 make it the obvious choice in the limited field of four-seat kit airplanes, and make it a viable alternative to four-seat production airplanes – singles or twins -- as well.
The RV-10 is a four-person airplane, not just an airplane with four seats. It will carry four FAA standard people, full fuel and sixty pounds of baggage. The cabin accommodates four full-sized adults. Both front and back seats will hold people 6’4" tall and provide them with truly comfortable leg and headroom. Composite gull-wing doors let occupants board from both sides.
The RV-10 is designed to fly well on various versions of the bulletproof six-cylinder Lycoming O-540 engine, developing between 235 and 260 hp. In our prototype, power is provided by a fuel injected 260 hp Lycoming IO-540.
When many pilots say "performance", they really mean "speed." The RV-10 is quite a fast airplane – it will cruise just under 200 mph -- but speed is only part of the story.
The RV-10 derives its high cruise speed from a clean, light airframe, instead of from a big, consumptive engine. This means that cruise at lower speeds can be very economical. Company pilots often choose to cruise at 50-55% power and take advantage of the economy available there. At 175 mph, the RV-10 is getting more miles per gallon than most of the luxury cars, pickup trucks and SUVs it is flying over.
RVs are known for short-field capability and the RV-10 is no exception. Even at gross weight, the RV-10 can operate out of very short runways and climb well at high density altitudes. At the end of a flight, the generous wing area, big slotted flaps and robust steel rod landing gear allow the RV-10 to land at virtually any small airport -- grass, gravel or pavement. If you can land closer to your destination, you can gain a lot of time over "faster" airplanes that must use big paved airports a long way from town.
Occupant protection is an important design criteria. The composite cabin top provides roll-over protection. The cabin interior is designed around Oregon Aero seats and seat cushions, (provided in the kit) which provide the best available impact mitigation — and comfort. Like all other RVs, the RV-10 has impressively low stall and landing speeds. If necessary, it can be safely landed in very small spaces at speeds that give the occupants the best possible chance of escaping injury.
The baggage compartment will accept 100 lbs of "stuff" loaded through the baggage door on the left side. If fewer than four people are traveling, the rear seat backs may be removed in a couple of minutes for extra baggage space.
RVs have always enjoyed a reputation for excellent handling qualities. The RV-10 continues this tradition, in a manner appropriate to a four-place airplane. It is a very responsive airplane, but at the same time stable and easy to fly. It is not an aerobatic airplane, so flick-of-the-wrist sensitivity is not the point. Pilot workload is very low, because the airplane responds quickly and positively to small control inputs from the between-the-knees sticks and rigid pushrods running on ball bearings. It is not the least bit "twitchy" and does not require constant attention to maintain heading or altitude. A long trip in the RV-10 can be positively relaxing.