Cessna And FedEx Renew Their Vows with the 408 SkyCourier

When the press release on Cessna’s new twin turboprop came pixeling into my inbox Tuesday morning, my first reaction was: a new skydiving airplane! Woo-hoo! This further proves that self-interest easily overpowers rational thought, but in a more sober moment, I realized that in aviation as in everything else, history repeats.

Continue reading Cessna And FedEx Renew Their Vows with the 408 SkyCourier

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Pratt & Whitney’s R-1340 is The Only Aircraft Engine to be Designated an Historic Landmark

The Wasp Engine’s Great Leap Forward

Advances in propulsion are what drive aviation development. Innovative airplanes almost always start with innovative engines, and the airframes follow. In 2016, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers celebrated just such an engine. The society designated the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp a technology landmark, the organization’s highest award, because the Wasp singlehandedly brought about a leap forward in aircraft performance and economics. The tale of its development is still fascinating.

R1340WaspNumber1
Wasp no. 1 never flew, but the Navy bought 200 after ground tests. (NASM (2014-04858))

The story can be told as a series of meetings among ambitious young designers, dealmakers with burning needs, and inflexible government contractors. The Wasp’s manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, was at the time a humble machine tool company with no connection whatsoever to aviation. Thanks to a risky bet on an unproven technology, today it’s one of the world’s dominant builders of airplane engines.

At the center of the Wasp’s creation was Frederick Rentschler, scion of a well-connected Ohio industrial family. The family probably assumed that the dutiful son, who’d grown up working in their foundry, would one day inherit and run the family automobile engine manufacturing firm. And he might have done just that if it had not been for World War I. The Princeton graduate enlisted, and in 1917, as a first lieutenant in the aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, he was tasked with inspecting Hispano-Suiza engines built under license from France by the Wright-Martin Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Long Island City, New York.

Young Rentschler found the work fascinating. These engines were not that different from those he was familiar with in automobiles: reciprocating pistons and cylinders arranged in rows, with liquid coolant circulating through the engine block and a radiator to dump excess heat. As the war wound down, Wright-Martin’s output tapered off, and Rentschler rejoined civilian life. For a time he ran Wright Aeronautical Corporation as president, until the board of directors, mostly bankers, decided not to reinvest profits for future engine development as he wished. In his mind, without investment in product development, the company was doomed. He resigned and spent months, including some time in a hospital due to illness, pondering the aircraft propulsion industry and how to jolt it from complacency.

Vought O2U-1s and Boeing F2B-1s—all Wasp-powered—aboard the USS Saratoga. (NASM (Si-95-2267a))
 The industry was at that time deeply invested in liquid-cooled engines, primarily large V-12s producing in excess of 400 horsepower. It was the conservative, low-risk solution for an aircraft engine, despite its well-known drawbacks: The required cooling system added weight and complexity, and radiators and coolant lines were vulnerable to battle damage, leakage, and subsequent engine failure.

Read more at http://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/why-the-wasp-is-wonderful-180967115/#efYeFtu5fj6dueul.99

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Piper’s Impressive PT6A Powered Cheyenne III

When Piper Aircraft announced its plans to build a big-cabin turboprop in late 1977, time was of the essence – only, we didn’t know it. It took another three years to get the airplane certificated, during which time the robust state of the general aviation manufacturing economy had begun to unravel. The Cheyenne III’s main competition, the Beech Super King Air 200, introduced in 1974, had an established head start, and industry sales volume was no longer the rising road to riches during the 1980s that it had been in the 1970s.

Continue reading Piper’s Impressive PT6A Powered Cheyenne III

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

PT6A-67P Powered Pilatus PC-12 NG: The Survivor that Keeps Adapting

When the Pilatus PC-12 first landed on the scene back in 1989, expectations were fairly modest. Earmarked for sales in the 200 region, nobody would have been surprised if the PC-12 had come in, served its purpose, and been resigned to history along with a plethora of similar aircraft.

But this was not to be the case.

Continue reading PT6A-67P Powered Pilatus PC-12 NG: The Survivor that Keeps Adapting

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

What’s That Silver Plane in the Air? Air Canada’s Lockheed 10-A Takes to the Skies to Mark the Airline’s 80th Anniversary

In honor of Air Canada’s 80th anniversary, Air Canada’s Lockheed 10A vintage aircraft took to the skies across Canada. After taking from Vancouver, BC, the L-10A made overnight stops as well as fuel stops at airports across Canada, and was on public display at the Royal Aviation Museum in Winnipeg on September 13 and 14. More information is at: http://www.royalaviationmuseum.com.

Continue reading What’s That Silver Plane in the Air? Air Canada’s Lockheed 10-A Takes to the Skies to Mark the Airline’s 80th Anniversary

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

NBAA: Pilatus puts PT6A-Powered PC-12NG in the Spotlight

Pilatus’s new PC-24 may be taking centre stage at this year’s show, but the Swiss airframer is also keen to promote its long-established single-engined sibling, the PC-12NG, as a worthy contender for the spotlight.

The all-metal aircraft is the best-selling pressurised executive turboprop-single with over 1,500 units delivered since its introduction in 2004 – including a healthy 91 units in 2016.

Pilatus says it is now exploring numerous growth opportunities around the world for the 10-seat aircraft “to sustain its sales leadership position”.

PilatusPC12NG

Ignaz Gretener, vice-president of Pilatus Aircraft’s general aviation business unit, says the bulk of the sales are from repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendations. “We constantly listen to their feedback and have a continuous improvement process in place to ensure we provide them with a reliable and efficient aircraft that they can depend on for many years of operation,” he says.

While the North American market is home to over 60% of the PC-12 fleet, the Stans-headquartered company sees “more untapped potential for its unique capabilities” in South America, Europe, and Asia. “We are cultivating relationships to grow the Pilatus footprint in those regions,” says Gretener.

Since the first example of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-powered PC-12 was introduced, Pilatus says it has continuously improved and enhanced the basic airframe, incorporating gross weight increases, integrated avionics systems, higher cruise speeds, modern interior designs, reduced maintenance requirements, and airframe life extension programmes.

The current model, launched in 2015, features: a Honeywell Primus Apex integrated avionics suite with Smartview synthetic vision; a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P engine; a maximum range of 1,845nm (3,417km), cruise speed with four passengers of 285kt (528km/h) and a stall speed of 67kt.

“Our biggest competitor is pre-owned PC-12s and these aircraft are really holding their value right now,” says Gretener. “We still see a lot of potential for the PC-12, and we are excited by new technologies that our engineers and suppliers are offering us in this segment of the market.”

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

We Fly: PT6A Powered Beechcraft King Air 250

Settled into the left seat at our final cruise altitude of 26,000 feet, we were showing a true airspeed of 304 knots and burning about 700 pounds of jet-A per hour. As the lush rolling landscape of central Pennsylvania slid by far below, a nagging question had entered my mind. What is it about the Beechcraft King Air family of twin turboprops, I asked myself, that keeps these airplanes rolling out of the factory in Wichita, Kansas, more than 53 years after the first one emerged? I always thought I knew the answer to that question, but there in the confines of the King Air 250’s cockpit a quiet crisis of confidence was beginning to bubble up in my mind. Who, precisely, should be buying this airplane anyway? I wondered.

Continue reading We Fly: PT6A Powered Beechcraft King Air 250

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS