Agriculture planes are an integral part of the United States. The country has moved toward growing massive amounts of food per farm all across the country. These plots of land need to be seeded, fertilized and sprayed with pesticide in order for the farm to make food for the masses. The upkeep of huge plots of farm land can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year. As farmers and agricultural businesses try to turn a profit, they look for more creative ways to save money on the upkeep of their land.
While the agricultural plane has been a part of the farming business for decades, the technology inside the plane has become a little outdated. Some agricultural planes today use an old piston-powered radial engine. These engines are known for their incredibly reliability. In fact, most of the engines you’d find on prop planes parked on a farm may have been manufactured back in the 1950s when America started to spray pesticide on large plots of land.
Granted, the old piston-powered radial engine makes one sweet sound and you can always count on the engine’s performance, but the old radial engines are outdated. Nowadays, the cost of fuel factors significantly to the operation of these planes. Back in the 50’s, a plane that guzzled up to 50 gallons per operating hour wasn’t a worry. Fixed low gas prices made it possible to run these planes while still turning a profit. However, the price of fuel as skyrocketed. The price has also become turbulent, fluctuating on a whim and putting a dent into the farmer’s profit unexpectedly.
Radial engines also need a lot of maintenance. An overhaul only gains it another 1,000 hours in the air and overhauling an old radial engine can cost nearly $50,000. You certainly do not get a very good return on investment with the old engine.
Another reason why these radial engines are outdated is the sheer amount of space the engine takes up. The entire nose of the plane is consumed by this lovable, old engine, and that leaves little room for the payload.
These planes are meant to deliver a variety of payloads to the fields of America. Some planes are equipped with seed and spray empty fields in order to grow the crop. Then the plane is loaded with fertilizer, allowing the crop to grow. Lastly, the plane delivers pesticide to keep the crop from being infected or overrun by pests. If you have to reduce the size of the payload due to a massive engine, then you have to make more runs. This means more time in the air which costs more money in fuel and overhauls. The radial engine, as loveable as it is, has had its time. Now is the time for the supercharged turbine engine, especially the PT6A turboprop engine.
These engines take up a lot less space so you can load your ag plane with more payload. This means less runs, less time in the air and money saved. But that is not the only benefit the turbine engine gives an agricultural business.
Turbine engines stay in the air longer before they need to be overhauled. Even a light overhaul gives you up to 2,500 more hours to spend in the air and a full overhaul nearly doubles that. The cost of maintenance is lower than the old radial engine so you save money on the overhaul as well. The resale value of turbine engines are higher, too. You get a plane that spends less time in the air with a bigger payload and costs less to operate and maintain. Contact Covington Aircraft to get your agricultural plane fitted with a turbine engine today.