Category Archives: Aviation

The Air Tractor AT-502B: The World’s Most Popular AgPlane

The AT-502B is the most popular size Air Tractor, with well over 1000 of our 502 series aircraft manufactured since 1987. Business-savvy operators fly the AT-502B to make their operations more productive and profitable. It’s big 500-gallon (1.893 L) payload means you’ll make fewer trips out and back; fewer landing and takeoffs. More acres sprayed in less time. Better profitability.

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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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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.

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A Look at the PT6A-15AG Powered Air Tractor AT-402B

With the AT-402B, Air Tractor’s goal was to combine turbine power with affordability. You get both and more. It’s quiet, powerful, and fun to fly, even at the end of a long day.

The Turbine Advantage

The AT-402B is Air Tractor’s entry-level turbine ag plane, ideal for first-time turbine owners. With its legendary PT6A-15AG turbine engine, the 402B offers the power and superb handling characteristics that make it a joy to fly and the productivity that makes profits. Quick turn times, superior visibility, faster ferry speeds, ultra-quiet engine, shorter loaded take-off distances, faster climb and cruise speeds, wider spray patterns, decreased fuel and maintenance costs — get it all with the 402B. It all adds up to a healthier bottom line for your business.

AT-402B Specifications

Engine Type:P&W PT6A-15AG
Engine SHP:680 @ 2200 RPM
Propeller:Hartzell HC-B3TN-3D/T10282N+4
Take-off Weight:9,170 lbs (4.159 kg)
Landing Weight:7,000 lbs (3.175 kg)
Empty Weight with Spray Equipment:4,299 lbs (1.950 kg)
Useful Load:5,150 lbs (2.336 kg)
Hopper Capacity:400 US gal (1.514 L)
Fuel Capacity:170 US gal (644 L)
Wing Span:51 ft (15,54 m)
Wing Area:306 sq ft (28,45 m²)
Main Wheel Size:29.00 x 11-10
Tail Wheel Size:5.00 x 5

AT-402B Performance

Cruise Speed at 8,000 ft (2.438 m):162 mph (141 kts)
Working Speed (Typical):120-140 mph (104-122 kts)
Range – Economy Cruise at 8,000 ft (2.438 m):660 mi (1.062 km)
Stall Speed – Flaps Up:77 mph (66 kts) at 7,000 lbs (3.175 kg)
Stall Speed – Flaps Down:66 mph (57 kts) at 7,000 lbs (3.175 kg)
Stall Speed as Usually Landed:53 mph (46 kts)
Rate of Climb:800 fpm at 8,600 lbs (3.901 kg)
Take-off Distance:975 ft at 8,600 lbs (3.901 kg)

AT-402B Dimensional Drawings

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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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Why Engine Condition Trend Monitoring is a Must for PT6As

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

Whether it involves recording and inputting data manually or using the latest automated Digital Engine Services, Engine Condition Trend Monitoring delivers net gains for all PT6A customers.

A WORTHWHILE PAYOFF

Rob Winchcomb, PT6A Customer Manager, is the first to admit that doing Engine Condition Trend Monitoring (ECTM) by hand is a hassle.

It requires writing down key engine and aircraft data at a set time during each flight once the plane is at a stable cruising speed, inputting the recorded figures into a computer after landing and sending them to the analysis company for comparison with the results of previous flights.

For busy operators who already have plenty on their plate during a flight, the extra work might seem like an unnecessary nuisance. That’s why Rob’s customers always ask him the same question: “What’s in it for me?”

He’s been telling them the same thing for 25 years: “ECTM reduces the cost of ownership, increases the engine’s availability and gives you more peace of mind.”

The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s PT6A Powered Beechcraft Kingair 350.

Rob walks the talk. Thirty years ago, before joining P&WC, he was on the other side of the fence as a customer, began his aviation career with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and working for other regional airlines in Australia. Back then, he was already a strong proponent for recording and using engine condition data, despite having to do it all the hard way—computing the trend values by hand on a Texas Instruments calculator and plotting his own handmade ECTM graphs.

A LITTLE EFFORT, A LOT GAINED

“PT6A engines are very reliable from one inspection to the next, but in my mind the question is, why not take the next step? With ECTM, you can optimize performance and maintenance planning,” says Rob. “It doesn’t cost you much considering the gains it will bring.”

By analyzing parameters such as power, speed and fuel flow on a flight-to-flight basis, ECTM can identify subtle changes in an engine’s performance. Based on the analysis results, P&WC’s engine health monitoring partner CAMP Systems will let the operator and maintenance team know if any actions are required.

Is a sudden 10-degree increase in temperature simply the result of replacing a fuel nozzle set? Is an increased power load due to excess air leaking from the cabin rather than an issue with the engine itself? Do you need to take a look at the compressor? ECTM will tell you.

This kind of detailed insight into engine performance means that issues can be detected and resolved before they turn into costly repairs and affect operation. It also makes it easier for PT6A customers to move to on-condition hot section inspections.

It all adds up to better maintenance planning, lower expenses and increased engine availability.

There’s also a financial benefit when selling a used aircraft. If you’ve been consistently performing ECTM, you’ll have a record to show potential buyers that the engine is well maintained. That will give them more confidence, which in turn enhances your aircraft’s resale value.

AUTOMATED ECTM AND MORE WITH THE FAST™ SOLUTION

Today, many operators can enjoy all the advantages of ECTM with none of the downsides, thanks to P&WC’s FAST™ Solution for proactive engine health management system.

Now available on a growing number of PT6A platforms, the FAST solution captures, analyzes and wirelessly transmits a wide range of engine and aircraft data after each flight, providing detailed, customized alerts and trend monitoring information directly to the operator within minutes of engine shutdown.

“I wish I’d had this technology 30 years ago,” remarks Rob. “It’s light years ahead of what we were doing back then—and it keeps evolving.”

Besides making operators’ lives simpler through automation, the FAST solution also has the capacity for enhanced functionality going forward. For instance, the company is looking at introducing FAST’s propeller vibration trend monitoring technology – available for regional turboprop aircraft – as a solution for PT6A-powered aircraft in the future. That’s another reason why Rob believes it is now the most attractive solution for customers.

Ultimately, though, what’s most important is to be doing ECTM, no matter whether it’s with pen and paper or state-of-the-art digital solutions. “When I talk to customers about FAST,” Rob concludes, “what I’m selling them is not the hardware itself, but the full value of automated ECTM to their operations and asset value.”

Rob has also helped PT6A customers master the art of engine rigging by appearing in a detailed instructional video. Read all about it here.

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