All posts by AaronAbbott

Pilatus Unveils PC-12 NGX

For the third iteration of its venerable PC-12 single-engine turboprop (SETP), Swiss airframer Pilatus Aircraft unveiled a new variant that includes a complete redesign of the cabin, new avionics, and a new variant of the Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A powerplant found on the first two generations of the airplane, in addition to a single power lever. Pilatus introduced the PC-12-NGX at a ceremony at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas.

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New Business Turboprops 2019

Wither the new turboprop market, or the pause that refreshes? Historically, new business turboprop sales remain relatively steady while jet sales gyrate up or down. So far, this year is a little different. While new business jet deliveries have climbed more than 12 percent for the first six months of 2019, turboprop deliveries dropped 11.2 percent for 1H 2019 compared to the year-ago period, according to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). It is notable that a big chunk of jet sale gains were models that challenge traditional turboprop territory, such as the new Cirrus SF50 single-engine jet or the revised HondaJet Elite light twin. 

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Textron Marks 500th Grand Caravan EX Delivery

The Cessna Grand Caravan EX utility turboprop single entered service more than six years ago, and Textron Aviation has delivered its 500th copy, the company announced yesterday. Certified in 2013, it is the third variant of the successful Caravan line first introduced in 1986, but with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 engine that improved its rate of climb by 38 percent over its predecessor.

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Video Makes PT6A Engine Rigging Simple For Cessna Operators

This article originally appeared on the P&WC Airtime Blog.

Following the success of our King Air rigging videos last year, we’ve released new content for Cessna Caravan mechanics that helps make rigging easier and more transparent for PT6A operators.

IMPROVING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE THROUGH OUR BLOG AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Last year, we provided King Air 200 and 350 operators with videos that shed light on the complex art of rigging – the process of hooking up engines to the aircraft so they’re perfectly balanced and perform optimally.

Following the positive feedback from our customers, we decided to turn the videos into a series focusing on various models. We’ve just launched the next set of videos, which target Cessna Caravan and Grand Caravan EX operators.

“We continue to innovate so our customers can easily access the support and information they need, when and where they need it. Our Airtime blog and social media channels are great tools for doing that, as these videos demonstrate,” says Rob Winchcomb, Owner Pilot and Manager, Customer Service at Pratt & Whitney, who played a key role in producing both sets of videos.

For the latest series, the production team traveled to Belize, where our customer Tropic Air generously agreed to let us use a PT6A-114A-powered Caravan and a PT6A-140-powered Grand Caravan EX. With the help of their maintenance technicians, the team shot footage of the rigging process, including engine adjustments in the run bay, over five days.

Cessna 208B Caravan Powered by the PT6A-114A

CLARIFYING THE SUBTLETIES OF RIGGING PT6AS

Rigging is an important – and often underappreciated – aspect of aircraft performance, notes Rob. Properly rigged engines have many benefits for customers:

  • Reduced pilot workload thanks to improved engine handling
  • More time on wing due to fewer unscheduled maintenance events
  • Improved passenger and crew comfort
  • Lower direct operating costs
  • Less time spent on initial engine and accessory installation time
  • Reduced environmental footprint because of fuel savings relating to more efficient performance

While the rigging process is broadly similar from one engine to the next, each model has its own intricacies and subtleties. Explaining these in writing might require a couple of pages of detailed description. In a video, on the other hand, the explanation can be condensed into 10 or 20 seconds and is much more effective, since customers can see exactly what to do on an engine identical to their own.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, in which case a video is like an entire book. These videos take what’s written in our engine manuals and bring it to life. You can see the instructions being applied in practice.

 Rob Winchcomb, Owner Pilot and Manager, Customer Service at Pratt & Whitney

LESSONS LEARNED LEAD TO IMPROVED CONTENT

Like the King Air rigging videos, the new Cessna videos demonstrate the basics of setting up the control system, rigging the engines and making final adjustments. But, as Rob points out, thanks to the lessons learned from producing the first round of King Air videos, the new ones provide viewers with an improved experience.

“We’ve taken it up a few levels,” says Rob with satisfaction. “The content is cleaner and flows more smoothly.”

By analyzing how people were watching the King Air videos – such as where they would stop, go back and rewatch a particular section – the team also identified which information delivered the most value. The Cessna videos take this into account.

FOCUSING ON DETAILS THAT CUSTOMERS APPRECIATE

The videos contain what Rob calls “a-ha moments,” where the visual demonstration of a particularly tricky point immediately clarifies it for the customer. One example is serrated washers.

We knew customers were struggling with adjusting the serrated washers. In the video, we really break down why we want them to adjust it and why it’s important. When they see it on screen, it suddenly makes sense.

Rob Winchcomb, Owner Pilot and Manager, Customer Service at Pratt & Whitney

Likewise, the visual explanation of how to rig the condition lever makes it much easier to understand. The videos also share handy practical tricks that help technicians avoid the need for special tooling, such as how to use a folded piece of paper for measuring angles.

The goal with these rigging videos is three engine runs and you’re done. This will save our customers time and fuel by ensuring proper, consistent rigging, whether for a single aircraft or an entire fleet. The videos supplement our maintenance manuals by taking what’s written there and bringing it to life.

Rob Winchcomb, Owner Pilot and Manager, Customer Service at Pratt & Whitney

You can view the new video here (or below) and the King Air videos here. Next up in the series will be Air Tractor aircraft, with Rob and the team planning to start production as early as August.

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The TBM 700 Powered by the PT6A-64 Led to Even Faster TBM Variants

The SOCATA TBM (now Daher TBM) is a family of high-performance single-engine turboprop light business and utility aircraft manufactured by Daher. It was originally collaboratively developed between the American Mooney Airplane Company and French light aircraft manufacturer SOCATA.

The design of the TBM family originates from the Mooney 301, a comparatively low-powered and smaller prototype Mooney developed in the early 1980s. Following Mooney’s acquisition by French owners, Mooney and SOCATA held a series of in-depth discussions on the potential for co-developing a new enlarged turboprop design derived from the earlier 301; these resulted in the formation of a joint venture for the purpose of developing and manufacturing the envisioned aircraft, which was designated as the TBM 700. From the onset, the emphasis was placed upon the design’s speed, altitude, and reliability. Upon its entry into the market in 1990, it held the distinction of being the first high-performance single-engine passenger/cargo aircraft to enter production.[

Shortly after launch, the TBM 700 was a market success, which quickly led to the production of multiple variants and improved models, often incorporating more powerful engines and new avionics, amongst other features. 

The prefix of the designation, TBM, originated from the initials “TB”, which stands for Tarbes, the French city in which SOCATA is located, while the “M” stands for Mooney. At the time of its conception, while several aviation companies had studied or been otherwise considering the development of such an aircraft, the envisioned TBM 700 was the first high-performance single-engine passenger/cargo aircraft to enter production. From the onset, key performance criteria were established for the design, demanding a high level of reliability while also being capable of an unequaled speed/altitude combination amongst the TBM 700 other single-engined peers.

The Pratt & Whitney CanadaPT6A-64 engine, providing up to 700 shp (522 kW) powers the TBM 700. According to Flying Magazine, the PT6A-64 engine is “the secret to the TBM 700’s performance. At sea level, the engine is capable of generating a maximum 1,583 shp (1,180 kW), which is intentionally limited to 700 shp (522 kW) on early TBM models; the limit allows the aircraft to maintain 700 shp (522 kW) up to 25,000 ft (7,620 m) on a typical day. Engine reliability and expected lifespan are also enhanced by the limitation. While the typical engine overhaul life is set as 3,000 flight hours between overhauls, on-condition servicing can also be performed due to various engine parameters being automatically recorded by the engine trend monitoring (ETM) system. Data from the ETM can be reviewed by the engine manufacturer to determine the level of wear and therefore the need for inspection or overhaul. The ETM, which is connected to the aircraft’s air data computer, also provides information to enable easy power management by the pilot.

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