It was no secret that the RV–15 would be a metal aircraft with a high wing that was made for backcountry flying, and that’s what the video clip of the prototype in flight confirms. But there’s more to be gleaned from the teaser video.
First, from the sound, it’s easy to discern the RV–15 has a four-cylinder engine and a constant-speed propeller. Given the tight, longstanding relationship between Van’s Aircraft and Lycoming, you can bet the engine was made in Pennsylvania, and that it’s almost surely an IO-390—the 210-horsepower model used in the RV–14.
Similarly, Van’s Aircraft and Hartzell Propeller have a close working relationship, so the two-blade prop on the RV–15 is likely a Hartzell. Hartzell has developed a series of propellers optimized for the full range of Van’s Aircraft models.
The number of seats in the RV–15 isn’t obvious. But the rear windows and cavernous internal space hint that there’s room for up to four people.
The constant-chord wing is similar in appearance to other Van’s Aircraft models, and it’s a compromise made for ease of production. All the wing ribs are the same size, and drilling and riveting is far less complex than it would be on a tapered wing. The slab-sided fuselage is also a nod to simplifying construction.
It’s a near certainty that the RV–15 will be the simplest kit to build the Oregon company has ever offered.
The video shows the lightly loaded prototype getting off the ground after a roughly three-second takeoff roll. That’s short by just about any standard, and it hints at the airplane’s power, light weight, and backcountry capability. Skylights and transparent doors are interesting touches, too.
Van’s Aircraft is set to publicly display the RV–15 for the first time at EAA AirVenture 2022 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it will surely face competition there, too.
Sling Aircraft from South Africa also has a high-wing, metal, backcountry model for sale this year. And Bearhawk Aircraft has long offered a four-seat, tube-and-fabric model.
All of these manufacturers have recognized the popularity and surge in value of the iconic Cessna 180 and 185 models that have long been out of production, and they’ve moved to create more modern versions that can meet growing demand in that specialized niche.