All posts by AaronAbbott

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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A Brief History of the PT6A-135A Powered Vazar Dash 3, AKA, the DHC-3T Otter

History courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005)

Otter number 22 was delivered to the RCAF on 15th December 1953 with serial 3668. It was allocated to the Central Experimental & Proving Establishment (CEPE) Climatic Detachment that month, based at Namao Air Base, Edmonton, Alberta. The Detachment specialized in cold-weather testing. It was in an all silver scheme with a polar bear crest under the cockpit door and carried the unit’s PX code. The Otter remained at Namao until July 1956 when it transferred to the CEPE main base at Rockcliffe, Ontario but only for a brief period.

From Vazar.com

Its next posting was to 403 Squadron at Calgary, Alberta. This was one of Air Defence Command’s squadrons, flying the Mustang and T-33, which in July ’56 was notified of a change of role to light transport, and re-designation as an auxiliary squadron, becoming 403 “City of Calgary” Squadron with Beech Expeditors as its initial equipment. On 1st November 1956 Otter 3668 arrived at Calgary, the first of four Otters for the unit. It had been flown in from Rockcliffe by a ferry crew from 129 Acceptance & Ferry Flight. Its period of duty with 403 Squadron was relatively brief, as in June 1957 it was re-assigned to 121 Communications & Rescue Flight, based at Sea Island, Vancouver, BC, which was adjacent to the Vancouver International Airport.

Its operation by 121 Communications & Rescue Flight only lasted five months. It is mentioned in the unit’s diary on 2nd August ’57 routing from Carmanah Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island to Duncan escorting 121 C&R’s H-21A helicopter serial 9611. In October 1957 it was put into storage at the Lincoln Park, Alberta depot as a reserve aircraft. This depot was located at what was then the downtown Calgary Airport (from where the Otter had previously flown with 403 Squadron) and was run by Canadian Pacific Airlines, into whose care the Otter was entrusted. It remained there until March 1964 when the Lincoln Park depot was closed, and it was roaded to Saskatoon and stored there pending disposal. It was sold in May 1965 to Western Aero Renters Ltd of Edmonton, Alberta to whom it was registered as CF-OVN on 16th July 1965. With its new owners it served in the Northwest Territories.

The Otter was sold to Gateway Aviation Ltd, Edmonton to whom it was registered on 16th December 1969, although the aircraft was based at Yellowknife and continued to support the mining and exploration industries in the Northwest Territories. The registration was changed to C-FOVN on 10th April 1972. In 1979 Gateway Aviation were taken over by Northward Airlines, at which stage its Yellowknife base and Otter C-FOVN were sold to Turn Air Ltd, to whom the Otter was registered on 11th June 1980. For the next five years, OVN continued to operate from Yellowknife, until Turn Air encountered financial difficulties.

Picture from @DeonMitton on Instagram

Turn Air Ltd had mortgaged its aircraft to the Federal Business Development Bank, who took court proceedings to recover money due. The case went to the Supreme Court, as a result of which title to the Otter and a Cessna 185 C-FYNM was transferred to the bank. The Otter was advertised for sale in May 1985 by Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales of Edmonton, with 10,800 hours on the airframe. By Bill of Sale dated 1st November 1985 the Otter was sold to Aero Aviation Centre (1981) Ltd of Edmonton, to whom the aircraft was registered on 15th November ’85. The Otter was then sold to North American Gold Center Inc of Las Vegas, Nevada by Bill of Sale dated 18th August 1986. The Otter was registered to its new owners as N9707B.

Quite what part the unusually named North American Gold Center played in the scheme of things is unknown, presumably a financing arrangement of some sort, but the Otter’s registration to this company was part of its conversion as the prototype Vazar turbine Otter. Around the same time as the Cox Turbo Otter (number 421) crashed, thus effectively ending that particular turbine conversion, Vazar Aerospace of Bellingham, Washington started work on a turbine Otter conversion, utilizing the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135 engine. N9707B was selected as the prototype, and the conversion work was undertaken by Serv Aero Engineering at Salinas, California during 1987. This particular conversion was a much simpler and more effective one than the Cox conversion and was to prove a winner. Rigorous flight testing was conducted throughout 1988 and in August of that yearN9707B flew from Bellingham to Ketchikan and Wrangell, Alaska for the demonstration to local operators. US certification of the conversion was achieved in November 1988, after which Vazar Aerospace proceeded to market the “Dash 3 Turbine Otter”, with considerable success.

N9707B continued flight testing for Canadian certification, in the course of which one incident was recorded. On 11th January 1989 at Beach Corner, Alberta while conducting a test flight, the aircraft’s control column began oscillating fore and aft, and the pilot made a precautionary landing. The test flying continued for a few more months, Canadian certification for the Vazar Dash 3 being granted in June 1989. In the meantime, its test work complete, Otter 22 was sold back to Canada, being acquired by Central Mountain Air Ltd of Smithers, BC to whom it was registered as C-GCMY on 12th May 1989. It served the communities of northern BC for nearly three years, until sold to Wolverine Air (1988) Ltd of Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories in June 1992. Central Mountain Air titles were removed from the aircraft at Vancouver on 20th June ’92 and Wolverine Air titles had been added by 25th June. As well as flying for Wolverine Air from Fort Simpson, it also flew for a time for Air Tindi out of Yellowknife until sold in March 1993 to Harbour Air Ltd. It was noted in the Harbour Air hangar at Vancouver International Airport in October 1994, completely stripped to bare metal in readiness for a re-spray. Repainted in their yellow and white colour scheme, the Otter then flew out of Harbour Air’s Prince Rupert seaplane base at Seal Cove, on the company’s scheduled and charter services.

The Otter is mentioned in an incident report on 10th April 1995. It was en route from Seal Cove to Port Simpson when it encountered rain, strong winds and turbulence. A piece of plywood sheeting which had not been securely tied down, moved and struck a passenger’s seat back. After landing, the passenger went to a local clinic as a precaution. The report noted that “the company has instructed its cargo handlers to be more diligent in securing awkward shaped loads”. C-GCMY met its end on 18th August 1996, eighteen miles south of Alliford Bay, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC. As the accident report summary states: “The pilot of the float-equipped turbo Otter departed Alliford Bay, six nautical miles south-west of Sandspit, on a chartered 26 mile flight south to Tasu, BC. The pilot picked up two passengers as Tasu and departed on the return flight to Alliford Bay. A search was initiated when the aircraft failed to arrive at its destination. The Otter was located the following day in steep terrain at 1,700 feet ASL eighteen miles south of Alliford Bay”. Buffalo aircraft and Labrador helicopters of the Canadian Armed Forces’ 442 Squadron from CFB Comox were heavily involved on the search.

“The evidence indicates that the pilot encountered low ceilings and visibility in moderate rain. He had flown up a valley which ends with the terrain rising steeply to 3,350 feet ASL. This valley is deceptively similar to another valley which forms an established VFR route and which, if followed, would have allowed the pilot to stay at a low altitude and below the cloud”. The pilot’s planned route was to leave Tasu heading toward the north end of Newcombe Inlet, cross some low terrain for two miles and then turn eastwards through a valley to Sewell Inlet en route to Alliford Bay. Just north of the turn-off to Sewell Inlet there is a valley leading northward into a box canyon where the terrain rises abruptly to 3,350 feet. The two valleys are similar in appearance and both have a creek and road following the valley floor. The Otter flew past the valley leading to Sewell Inlet and continued north into the valley leading to the box canyon and subsequently struck the side of the valley at 1,700 feet.

“The aircraft struck terrain in controlled flight in a climb configuration with the wings level. It was substantially damaged and the pilot and two passengers were killed”. In fact, the aircraft was completely wrecked, and the only part which was salvageable was the rear fuselage, which was later noted at the Viking Air facility at Victoria, BC, acquired for its frames and stringers.

History courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005)

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2019 Piper M600 at a Glance

Piper’s M600 is ideal for an owner-pilot transitioning out of a piston-engine-powered aircraft or for a corporate flight department needing short-hop or short-field supplemental lift.

In a little less than three years since the model’s introduction, Piper Aircraft has delivered 99 of these single-engine, six-seat turboprops. The $2.994 million airplane builds on Piper’s M-series fuselage, which dates back to the company’s piston-engine twin Navajo of the 1960s and its now-discontinued line of Cheyenne twin turboprops.

The M600 is one of three M series aircraft currently in production. (The others are the piston-powered M350, formerly known as the Malibu, and the M500 turboprop, formerly called the Meridian.) As the accountants would say, the fuselage is fully amortized, with development costs having been paid down back in the days when people smoked in airplanes. 

No one is going to call the inside of this airplane voluminous: the cabin interiors for all M Class Pipers measure 12 feet, 4 inches long; 4 feet, 2 inches wide; and 3 feet, 11 inches tall. Take a peek behind the pilot and copilots to the club-four configuration of facing passenger seats. If Procrustes had had an airplane, this would be it. Yes, you could throw four people back there, but you’d probably be accused of inhumane treatment. (To be fair, the same knock applies to several other single-engine turboprops and light jets). Not even the fresh, jet-like interior styling can compensate for going hip-to-hip, knee-to-knee with your fellow man. 

For many missions, though, that’s not an option: an M600 with a full bag of gas (270 gallons) has a sparse remaining available payload of just 422 pounds, barely enough for the pilot up front and one passenger and a small dog riding in the back. Still, on runs the length of Mackinac Island, Michigan to Chicago (269 nautical miles) you could conceivably go seats full in an M600.

2019 Piper M600 at a Glance 

  • Base price: $2.994 million
  • Crew: 1-2 
  • Passengers: 4–5
  • Maximum cruising speed: 274 knots 
  • Range: 1,658 nm (no reserves) 
  • Fuel capacity: 270 gal
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 6,000 lb 
  • Takeoff distance: 2,635 ft 
  • Landing distance: 2,659 ft
  • Engine: Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A- PT6A-42A, 600 shp 
  • Avionics: Garmin G3000 

Source: Piper & BJTOnline

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DHC-7: The quiet STOL multi-tasker

Article first seen in Skies Magazine here.

Fifty years ago, de Havilland Canada (DHC) was the global leader in the design and production of STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft. Beginning with the DHC-2 Beaver in 1947 and following with the DHC-3 Otter, DHC-4 Caribou and DHC-5 Buffalo, the Toronto-based company had developed a family of ever-larger airplanes that could access isolated locations — with or without a runway.

Continue reading DHC-7: The quiet STOL multi-tasker

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A Flying Swiss Army Knife: The Many Faces Of The Pilatus PC–6 Porter

It’s a missionary and a mercenary. A soldier and a spy. A record-setter and an also-ran. After 60 years of continuous production, the Pilatus PC–6 Porter, a legendary Swiss turboprop that has played more supporting roles than Kevin Bacon, will cease production in 2019.

Continue reading A Flying Swiss Army Knife: The Many Faces Of The Pilatus PC–6 Porter

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