All posts by AaronAbbott

[VIDEO] Blackhawk: The World’s Fastest King Air

The Blackhawk-upgraded King Air 350 features Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67A engines, producing 1,050 SHP up to 25,000 feet, while stock King Air 350 engines begin losing horsepower at 15,000 feet. Paired with two 5-blade natural composite MT Propellers with spinners, the complete upgrade transforms your Super King Air into a real Super Hero.

Via FlyingMag.com

“This truly is the Greatest King Air that I have yet had the pleasure to operate.”
Renowned flight instructor and author of “The King Air Book” Tom Clements after flying an XP67A-powered King Air 350.

Program updates:

  • G1000 NXi compatibility is approved and a number of installations are underway!
  • Going to the King Air Gathering in Fredericksburg, Tx September 27-29? We’ll be there along with an upgraded 350! More info can be found here: http://www.kingairgathering.com/
  • EAA Airventure at Oshkosh was a great success with the launch of the King Air 300 program and strong interest in the 350 we had on display which is now sold.
  • Want to hear directly from operators that are flying the XP67A? Contact me and I can provide you a full contact list for the aircraft that are flying it!
  • Wondering about resale value? 7 of our first 20 conversions have been done by aircraft brokers upgrading because it increased the value of the aircraft!
  • Pratt & Whitney was recently able to accelerate deliveries so we currently have engines available, contact us to ensure we have engines available to meet your schedule.

Via Blackhawk.aero.

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How Jim Savage Gets the 1939 Spartan Executive So Shiny

This blog is republished with the permission of Jim Savage. His website, VintageSpartanAircraft.com which features his 1939 Spartan Executive, is a must visit.

What do you do to make your Spartan so shiny?  That’s a question I am often asked and the answer may be easier than you expect. Obviously, it takes quite a bit of polishing, using quality polishing supplies and good polishing techniques. Most experienced metal polishers with bare metal airplanes already know that.  The missing piece has to do with how light behaves when it reaches the airplane. Specifically, it is either reflected or it is absorbed.  The more light that is reflected, the shinier the airplane appears to be.  The trick is to eliminate anything that absorbs the light. In the case of Spartan NC17634, it has minimal paint trim, so there is more surface available to reflect light. Of course, that holds true for many bare metal airplanes.  The other source of light absorption is the tiny black rings around each of the rivet heads.  Although often unnoticed unless you are specifically looking for them, almost every bare metal has these light absorbing rings, including ones that have been judged as Grand Champions.  They originate during the normal polishing process and over time and many polishings, they slowly accumulate.  With the passage of time, these rings become extraordinarily difficult to eliminate.  

While a tiny black ring around a single rivet doesn’t seem like much, consider what the cumulative amount is if you have 9000+ polished rivets, as is the case with NC17634. To the best of my knowledge, there is no magic potion that easily removes the black residue.  It is simply a matter of finding a process that works best for you and then proceeding, one rivet at a time.  While the removal of all traces of black from every rivet of an entire airplane is a daunting task, the results are clearly noticeable.   

Here are some close-up pictures rivets on a 1939 Spartan Executive.  The first nine pictures show examples of what domed rivets with black rings look like on a highly polished airplane.

The next nine pictures show similar views of the same Spartan, after removal of the black rings.

For those of you who are really, really curious about how long it took to remove all traces of black from the 9000 rivets on the Spartan, it is probably far more than you can imagine and likely far more than you will believe. It took approximately 800 hours of effort but as the following picture shows, the final results can be stunning.

More Pictures of the Spartan 1939 Executive

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A Look at Pilatus Aircraft & A List of Aircraft the Company has Produced

The Company was established in the early 1940s, the first design project was a single-seat trainer, designated P-1 but it was abandoned before being built. The next project was the SB-2 Pelican which was designed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology but it never was built in series. 
With production of the P-3 for the Swiss Air Force in progress, the company achieved its first export order for six P-3s for the Brazilian Navy.

The SB-2 Pelican
Pilatus P-3 used by the Swiss Force as a trainer for their pilots

In 1958 design work started on a STOL light civil transport aircraft, this emerged as the PC-6 Porter which first flew on 4 May 1959. In 1965 a twin-engined variant of the PC-6 was built as the PC-8 Twin Porter, although it first flew on 15 November 1967 it remained an experimental and one-off type and development was stopped in 1972. 

Another project for the PC-10 16-passenger twin-engined transport was started but was not built.

Pilatus PC-6

The Pilatus PC-6 Porter is a single-engined STOL utility aircraft designed by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. First flown in 1959, the PC-6 continues in production at Pilatus Flugzeugwerke in Stans, Switzerland. It has been built in both piston engine- and turboprop-powered versions and was produced under licence for a time by Fairchild Hiller in the United States. After around 600 deliveries in six decades, Pilatus will produce the last one in early 2019.

In 1966 a turboprop-powered variant of the P-3 was flown, designated the PC-7. 

The aircraft crashed and development was put on hold until the 1970s. In 1975 a further prototype was flown and after further development ,it was marketed as the PC-7 Turbo Trainer.

In 1982 development of an improved variant of the PC-7 was started, it emerged as the Pilatus PC-9 in 1984. Development of what was to become the companies best selling type the Pilatus PC-12 was started in 1987, a single-engined turboprop transport that could carry up to twelve passengers or freight. The prototype PC-12 was flown on 31 May 1991.

To further the family of military training aircraft the turboprop PC-21 was developed and first flown in 2002.

In December 2000, the owners Unaxis (previously called Oerlikon-Bührle) sold Pilatus to a consortium of Swiss investors. In July 2010 the company delivered its 1000 PC-12.

Even in the last years of crisis, Pilatus still confirmed the leadership on this nice market with the help of loyalty versus this Swiss company that delivered excellent products all over the world with many orders of their products like PC-7 MkII, PC-12 NG and PC-21. 

Pilatus announced last years the development of their first Jet-engine aircraft that should be fly for the first time in 2013 or beginning of 2013, at the moment the official name should be PC-24.

First PC-21 prototype

here below a list of all the aircraft produced by Pilatus Aircraft:

  • Pilatus SB-2 Pelican
  • Pilatus P-1 – 1941 project for a single-seat trainer, not built.
  • Pilatus P-2 – 1942
  • Pilatus P-3 – 1953
  • Pilatus P-4 – 1948
  • Pilatus P-5 – proposed artillery observation aircraft, not built.
  • Pilatus PC-6 Porter – 1959
  • Pilatus PC-7 – 1966
  • Pilatus PC-8D Twin Porter – 1967 twin-engined variant of the PC-6, prototype only
  • Pilatus PC-9 – 1984
  • Pilatus PC-10 – 1970 twin-engined transport project, not built.
  • Pilatus PC-11/Pilatus B-4 – 1972
  • Pilatus PC-12 – 1991
  • Pilatus PC-21 – 2001
  • Pilatus PC-24 – Proposed twin-engined jet

For those interested here below a review of a PC-12 NG.

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A Quick Look at the Twin PT6A Powered Cheyenne II & IIXL

In the mid-1960s, Piper, noting the success of Beech’s King Air, decided to explore the possibility of producing its own twin turboprop. The manufacturer hired legendary aircraft designer Ed Swearingen to retrofit a Piper PA–31P pressurized Navajo with 550-shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20 turboprops. After a successful first flight in April 1967 and further tests indicated that the Pratt powerplant and Piper airframe were a good match, the PA–31T Cheyenne was launched.

The Cheyenne was a simple and reliable entry-level turboprop that was more affordable and faster than the King Air 90. However, the Cheyenne’s smaller cabin could only accommodate two pilots and four passengers—plus a fifth passenger if the belted potty seat were used. Baggage space was limited, but the airplane could operate from relatively short runways and be flown by a single pilot.

Piper Cheyenne II from BJTOnline.com

The initial production model of the Cheyenne was powered by two 620-shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-28 turboprops and included 30-gallon wingtip fuel tanks. Dual King Gold Crown avionics were standard. The Cheyenne first flew in October 1969 and was certificated in May 1972. Cheyenne deliveries began in 1974.

When Piper introduced the lower-powered and less expensive Cheyenne I in 1978, the manufacturer renamed its original twin turboprop the Cheyenne II. Essentially the only difference between the original Cheyenne and the Cheyenne II were some cabin configuration changes. The stretched PA–31T2 Cheyenne IIXL, which had a two-foot-longer fuselage than the original Cheyenne, entered production in 1981. The IIXL has an extra cabin window on the left side, a nearly 500-pound higher max takeoff weight, and is powered by more powerful 750-shaft-horsepower PT6A-135s. Besides offering more interior room, the IIXL’s longer fuselage eliminated the need for the stability augmentation system.

A Piper Cheyenne XLII from Jetphotos.com

Over the years, many enhancements for the Cheyenne II have been developed, with the most notable being Blackhawk Modifications, Inc.’s XP engine upgrade, which involves replacing the Cheyenne’s original engines with new 750-shaft-horsepower PT6A-135A turboprop engines. The simple bolt-on upgrade enables operators to cruise approximately 20 knots faster.

The PT6A-135A engine was also the cornerstone of the Super Cheyenne conversion, which was offered by T-G Aviation of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Some Cheyenne operators have also boosted the speed of their airplanes by fitting them with cowl/ram air and exhaust stack aftermarket kits.

In addition, numerous panel upgrades have been developed for the Cheyenne II, including installation of lighter, more capable new-generation avionics from Aspen, Cobham (Chelton and S-TEC), and Garmin.

Piper built a total of 526 original Cheyennes and Cheyenne IIs, and 228 remain on the FAA registry, according to Vref. Prices range from $310,000 for a 1974 model to $520,000 for a 1983 model. Of the 81 Cheyenne IIXLs produced, 46 remain on the FAA registry. Prices range from $620,000 for a 1981 model to $680,000 for a 1984 model.

SPEC SHEET

Cheyenne II

Engines | Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-28s, rated at 620 shp 
Seats | Seats: Up to 8 (including two pilots)
Max takeoff weight | 9,000 lb
Max cruise speed | 277 kt
Takeoff distance (over 50 ft obstacle) | 1,980 ft
Range | 1,195 nm
Wingspan | 42 ft, 8 in
Length | 34 ft, 8 in
Height | 12 ft, 9 in

Cheyenne IIXL

Engines | Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135s, rated at 750 shp
Seats | Seats: Up to 8 (including two pilots)
Max takeoff weight | 9,474 lb
Max cruise speed | 273 kt
Takeoff distance | 2,042 ft
Range | 1,060 nm
Wingspan | 42 ft, 8 in
Length | 36 ft, 8 in
Height | 12 ft, 9 in

Information via AOPA

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Videos: The Secrets of Engine Rigging Revealed

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

A new P&WC-produced video helps aircraft mechanics by breaking down engine rigging into simple, repeatable steps. Airtime spoke to the two men behind this handy PT6A resource to learn more.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WELL-RIGGED ENGINES

Jan Hawranke, Externals, Controls & Nacelles (ECN) Program Leader for PT6A engines, remembers exactly when he started to worry that the art of engine rigging was in danger of disappearing.

During the course of one year, an aircraft OEM sent back a dozen fuel control units that appeared to be faulty and couldn’t be matched to each other on a twin-engine aircraft. This was a significant concern, since engines must be rigged exactly the same way to perform in harmony.

Jan didn’t understand why the units were being returned, though, since they were in perfectly good condition. That’s when the “aha” moment hit him: the real issue was that the OEM’s mechanics didn’t have the information they needed to rig the fuel control units properly.

Rigging—the process of hooking up engines to an aircraft’s body—is an integral part of the engine’s installation process. It has to be done with the utmost care each time an engine is installed, Jan explained to Airtime.

On an aircraft with two engines, if both are not rigged exactly the same way, one might produce more power than the other. The pilot will then have to compensate by adjusting the power lever positions. It would be like driving a car with brakes that pull the car to one side, requiring the driver to turn the wheel to keep the vehicle straight.

Rigging information is available in aircraft maintenance manuals (AMMs), but it’s a complex process that cannot fully be captured in a written document or reviewed at a glance.

“There’s an art to good rigging,” says Jan. “A lot of it comes down to the mechanic’s feel and experience. The fuel control units being returned were a red flag to us that something was changing.”

A lot of the veteran mechanics who mastered rigging 20 or 30 years ago are retiring now. The know-how that existed years ago, the unwritten details that make for good rigging, are being lost. We realized it was important to pass that knowledge on to younger mechanics. 

– JAN HAWRANKE

A VIDEO THAT MAKES MECHANICS’ WORK EASIER

While the airframer is ultimately responsible for providing rigging information, P&WC has always worked closely with OEMs to develop clear and thorough explanations. Indeed, two decades ago, Jan worked on a video designed to complement the information found in AMMs with tips on the rigging process.

For various reasons, he was never satisfied with the original video, which was now out of date anyway. He decided it was time for take two. Jan turned to a master of the rigging craft, P&WC veteran Rob Winchcomb, to star in a new rigging video.

You want both engines to behave the same way all the time, especially when landing, which is one of the most stressful moments of a flight. It’s a handling issue. Well-rigged engines make the pilot’s workload easier by ensuring that the response from each engine is identical whenever the levers are operated.

– ROB WINCHCOMB,
PT6A CUSTOMER MANAGER

THE FUNDAMENTAL RULE OF RIGGING

The pair spent two weeks in Australia with a local production crew to create the video. To make it as authentic and useful as possible, it features in-service PT6A-powered aircraft, generously made available by Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The video provides detailed instructions on every aspect of rigging, such as the differences between fine and coarse adjustment of the serrated washer, or how to match the travel of propeller levers. As Rob emphasizes, no matter what action is being performed, the number-one rule of rigging remains the same: whatever you do physically to one engine, do exactly the same thing to the other one.

As mentioned in the video, it’s also a good idea to have two people in the cockpit when performing this complex job, with one operating the engine and the other following the instructions and writing down the results. The more efficient you are, the less fuel you will burn during the final checks in the engine run bay.

P&WC will eventually release two different versions of the video for two different fuel control unit models, starting with the first one below. Click on the links to watch:

MACKAY, QUEENSLAND – APR 1, 2006: Beech B200 Super King Air medical plane from the Royal Flying Doctor Service on the tarmac of Mackay airport.

Rigging your PT6A engines for King Air B200:

Rigging your PT6A engines for King Air B350:

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