Van’s officials confirmed July 26 that their next airplane will be made of metal like the kit airplanes that preceded it. But it will have a high wing and be “suitable” for backcountry flying at remote airstrips.
“We’re excited about the design. It’s a large departure,” Rian Johnson, president of Van’s Aircraft, said. “Patience until we get it just right.”
The backcountry RV–15 will be available as a tailwheel aircraft first, and then with tricycle gear later. Most Van’s designs are offered with either tailwheel or tricycle landing gear (except the RV–10 and RV–12, which are tricycle only). The aircraft will feature a stick rather than a yoke.
Left unsaid: the type of engine, number of seats, and price.
Van’s officials said they’re not being coy. They’re releasing the information now to let potential customers know the direction the company is heading with future products.
Aircraft manufacturers are sometimes reluctant to talk about future models fearing interest in those products will slow current sales. Van’s is the world’s largest kit airplane manufacturer, and sales have surged during the pandemic—up 250 percent in two years, according to company officials—so that’s perhaps less of a concern. The company is selling 85 kits per week and has expanded from 72 to 113 employees.
Van’s last design, the RV–14, was introduced in 2012, so the company that began in 1972 with the single-seat RV–3 is overdue for a new product. Also, with Van’s naming conventions, there’s nothing to read into the number 15 other than that it’s the fifteenth design the company has released. The number doesn’t indicate anything about the aircraft itself.
“We want it to be innovative,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
At the Van’s factory in Aurora, Oregon, the flight test facility has been under tight wraps recently—so it’s likely the RV–15 prototype is there and in a high state of completion.
“We want your feedback,” Johnson said. “We have a pretty mature design.”
The aircraft hasn’t flown yet, but it is scheduled to be ready by AirVenture 2022, company officials said.