Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Autonomous Caravan Gets Closer to Full Certification

 



MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -BusinessWireReliable Robotics, a leader in autonomous aircraft systems, today announced that the certification basis of its advanced navigation and autoflight system has been accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The final G-1 issue paper defines the certification basis for the company’s Supplemental Type Certification (STC) on the Cessna 208 Caravan, a popular cargo aircraft. This STC will enhance safety by enabling continuous autopilot engagement through all phases of aircraft operation, including taxi, takeoff, cruise, landing, braking and rollout, with a single pilot on board for abnormal procedures.

“We are very appreciative of the FAA’s noteworthy attention to detail and ongoing support,” said Mark Mondt, Director of Certification at Reliable Robotics. “This certification basis is the culmination of years of work with the FAA and represents a key step towards bringing advanced navigation and autoflight systems to normal category aircraft. We look forward to continuing our work together as we move into the next phase of the certification process.”

The FAA uses issue papers to provide a structured means of describing and tracking the resolution of significant technical and regulatory issues that occur during a certification project. The signed G-1 issue paper represents formal agreement between Reliable Robotics and the FAA on the applicable airworthiness and environmental requirements for the company’s advanced automation system.

Today, Controlled Flight Into Terrain and Loss of Control are the #1 and #2 causes of fatal accidents in small aircraft. Advanced automation systems will reduce the occurrence of these accidents and bring an unprecedented level of safety to commercial aviation through precision navigation, sophisticated flight planning and robust flight controls.

About Reliable Robotics

Reliable Robotics launched in 2017 to bring safe, certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation as soon as possible. The company’s automation system enables remote operation of any aircraft type and will expand access to more locations. Reliable’s vision is to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA, and has a distributed global workforce. Learn more and see job openings at https://reliable.co.



Visit CaravanNation.com for more Caravan news and information!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Flying The Mighty Caravan!

 

Flying the Mighty Cessna Caravan! 

By Scott Humphries 

The legendary Cessna Caravan (C208 for short) is arguably the most versatile plane ever built. Commuter airline? Sure. Military? 31 different air forces fly them. Island-hopping? Indeed, in the Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands, the Greek IslesIndonesia and more. Bush flying? Yep, in the Serengeti, the Australian Outback, the Amazon jungle, you name it. Cargo? Fedex has 239 of them. Air ambulance? Good to go. Arctic Circle in your travel plans? No sweat. If you’re on an Alaskan glacier lake tour, chances are you’re in a Caravan outfitted with floats. And skydive operations routinely rank the Caravan as one of the best jump planes around. The Caravan is the “Swiss Army Knife with Wings,” and you can find them literally all over the world. Fortunately, every once in a while Cessna brings a brand new one to Houston to show it off…


I first got excited about the Caravan a few years ago when I met Chris Rosenfelt (my ATOP B-737 sim partner), who runs Caravan Nation (and its fantastic Instagram page) — he’s dropped countless skydivers out of Caravans and is a huge advocate for the plane. Then over lunch, Cessna’s Derek Moore explained that Cessna was seeing increasing interest in the Caravan as personal transport, with orders for the optional “executive” interior ticking up. About the same time, my email to the legal community announcing my law retirement in favor of flying generated a surprising number of “Can you fly me to out-of-town hearings?” responses. I wondered, could the Caravan serve as an all-in-one charter business and family plane?

I jumped at Derek’s offer to test-fly the Caravan. First, I downloaded and studied Flight Safety’s 298-page Caravan-flying manual. Normally when researching a plane I’d also tinker with its weight-and-balance limitations (i.e. what can it carry and how far?), but that seemed silly here: the Caravan has a whopping 3300-lb. useful load. Even with 4 hours of fuel on board, it’ll launch 7 passengers and their luggage. Basically, if you can fit it in the door, the C208 can carry it. And it has some (four!) sizeable doors.

I met Derek at Sugar Land Airport, and we did a hands-on walk-through of the highlights. The first thing you notice about the Caravan is that it’s BIG — the tarmac shaded by its high, 52’ wingspan was perfect for a preflight chat. And at 14’ tall, it dominates the ramp. The plane’s new — 150 hours on it — and sported the most popular options: a creamy executive interior, purposeful underbelly cargo pod, and 29” (mountain-bike sized!) tires, to name a few.  

Time to fly! I climbed the tall steps and slid into the pilot’s seat through the only pilot-specific door I’ve ever used (the co-pilot has his own door). Guiding me from the right seat was Terry Allenbaugh, Cessna’s Caravan guru whose pedigree stretches back to flying C208 serial no. 8 all over Ethiopia in the 1980s. Terry’s colleague Austin Bally and Derek relaxed in the spacious cabin, with Derek helpfully adding C208 bells-and-whistles commentary along the way.

Unlike all the smaller planes I’ve typically flown (except the Piper Meridian), the Caravan is a turboprop: a propeller-driven plane powered not by a piston engine but a turbine, in this case the ultra-reliable 675-hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A. So while the Garmin G1000 panel looked familiar, I welcomed Terry’s advice on the turboprop-specific aspects of the throttle quadrant.






On its simple start-up, the Caravan delivered the sweet whine of a turbine spool-up. No piston catch-and-fire here! A call to Sugar Land ground control, and we were taxing to the runway. After a short take-off briefing, I set the standard 20-degrees of flaps for take-off and advanced the power. Rotation speed is 70kts (70, in this giant bird!) and with nothing more than a slight release of the yoke, the plane flew itself off the runway after an astonishingly short (1500’) ground run. Terry had warned me that all that power required solid right rudder on climb-out, and he was right.  

In no time, we were cruising smoothly southwest at 1700’ in this iconic airplane! Under the Caravan’s giant wing, the view from the cockpit is panoramic. No wonder whale-watching, bear-seeking, and safari photo-shooters love this plane.

A smaller craft might have been pushed around by Houston’s summer thermals, but not the Caravan — it’s heft seemed to smooth out the otherwise bumpy air. So too, its robust A/C mocked the soaring mid-August heat. As stout as it is, I expected the C208 to handle ponderously. Not so: it rolled in and out of steep turns surprisingly lightly (although I had to override its envelope protection — with Terry’s permission — to roll it more than 45 degrees). I ignored the Garmin autopilot and hand-flew it the whole time, enjoying every minute. It’s a hoot to fly!


Time to land came too soon, but landing the Caravan was the highlight for me. There’s no need to really flare it — again, Bruce Bohannon’s mantra worked well: “Glide it down, round it out, let it settle, hold it back.” But on touchdown the Caravan’s turbine engine allows a “beta” mode, which basically reverses the propeller pitch to create backwards thrust. So immediately after the wheels were down — again on Terry’s advice — I yanked the power lever from idle to max beta, and a dramatic whoosh signaled the prop was actively slowing us. As a result, our landing roll was over by the first exit on SGR’s Runway 17, 1800’ tops. That’s short field performance! I taxied in with a Caravan-sized grin!


I owe a huge thanks to the Cessna team. I learned a great deal from Terry’s steady guidance. And Derek makes a compelling case for the Caravan. It remains to be seen whether it’s the right plane to take Humphries Aviation to the next level. But, the Caravan’s fun to fly, and it’s good enough for Jimmy Buffett. So it’s a strong contender!





Friday, July 23, 2021

Surf Air Mobility Orders 150 Cessna Caravan EX to Electrify

TEXTRON AVIATION ANNOUNCES ORDER FOR UP TO 150 CESSNA GRAND CARAVAN EX AIRCRAFT TO AID SURF AIR MOBILITY IN ACCELERATING ELECTRIFIED COMMERCIAL TRAVEL


WICHITA, Kan. — July 20, 2021 — Textron Aviation today announced Surf Air Mobility Inc., has signed a purchase agreement for up to 150 Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprop aircraft, with an initial fleet order of 100 aircraft and an option for 50 more. The order, which is subject to Surf Air Mobility obtaining financing, is part of an exclusive relationship between the two companies supporting Surf Air Mobility’s development of electrified Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, beginning with a hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft powered by Surf Air Mobility’s proprietary powertrain technology.   

The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company.

 

Textron Aviation’s initial deliveries of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft to Surf Air Mobility, a company accelerating the adoption of electric regional air travel, are expected to begin in Q2 2022. Surf Air anticipates that its hybrid electric system for the Grand Caravan, upon certification, will power a 9-seat variant of the iconic single-engine turboprop.

Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel. Ron Draper, President & CEO, Textron Aviation

“Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel,” said Ron Draper, President & CEO, Textron Aviation. “This relationship with Surf Air Mobility leverages the unique performance capabilities of the Cessna Grand Caravan in both passenger and cargo operations and continues to demonstrate the aircraft’s adaptability for innovative missions and configurations.”

 

The hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft is anticipated to be utilized by Surf Air Mobility across its own network, connecting more airports with short-haul direct service across the U.S. on a path to creating a regional mass transport platform to sustainably connect communities.

 

“This is an opportunity to showcase the combined expertise and technologies of both Textron Aviation and Surf Air Mobility,” said Rob Scholl, senior vice president, Textron eAviation. “The outstanding capabilities and versatility of the Grand Caravan make it an ideal aircraft to take advantage of this new technology.”

 

“The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is one of the most adaptable and prolific aircraft in flight today. Through this exclusive relationship with Textron Aviation, we’re able to make electrified aircraft broadly available to existing and new operators, and bring the benefits of lower cost, lower emission air travel to customers faster and at scale,” said Sudhin Shahani, Co-founder, CEO & Executive Chairman, Surf Air Mobility. “We believe electrifying the Cessna Grand Caravan is the most significant step that can be made toward reduced emission flying with the quickest path to market.”

 

The transactions between Textron Aviation and Surf Air Mobility are subject to certain closing conditions, including the receipt of financing by Surf Air Mobility.





For more Caravan News visit CaravanNation.com

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Operating Tips for an Icing Encounter in the Cessna Caravan

Operating Tips for an Icing Encounter in the Cessna Caravan 

In the Northern Hemisphere, there is still one more month of Winter remaining, one more month of increased chances that the Caravan that you fly will have an icing encounter. Are you familiar with the various steps that you can take to help manage the impact of an icing encounter? Whether you own, fly or manage a Cessna Caravan, we here at Caravan Nation recommend that you, not only read this article, but print and save the below listed operating tips for future reference.

The operating tips listed below are part of the FedEx Caravan Icing Program. "In the Caravan, like every other airplane, you can help manage the impact of an icing encounter by remembering two general rules: A) Keep the airspeed/power up and, B) Keep the deck angle/AOA down. Additionally we recommend that you consider the following:

1. Make sure that you receive a thorough weather briefing. Know the right questions to ask, and don't hesitate to ask them.

2. Compare frontal movement with the proposed flight path, remember to look well up-wind of your course line to see what kind of weather is approaching your flight path.

3. Pre-flight ALL of the aircraft anti/de-ice systems for proper operation and cycle sequences.

4. Periodically wax areas of the aircraft that are exposed to ice accumulation: e.g.
  • Nose wheel fairings & accessories (not the shock)
  • Engine cowling
  • Cargo pod
  • Wing-strut/wing-joint area including tie-down hook
  • Main landing gear dressing including brake-pad housing, but not the brake-disk
  • Gurney-strip of the trailing edge of the flaps
  • Left & right outer elevator horn
5. Exercise self-discipline and try to envision ALL possible "What if (s)" that might be encountered during the initial take-off and climb in icing conditions.

6. Use of flaps for take-off should be carefully evaluated when icing is anticipated during departure.

7. Remember... snow, slush, or water standing on the runway will greatly increase the required take-off distance, as well as landing roll. Be particularly careful when a take-off is being conducted. Slow acceleration to liftoff speed followed by an ABORT will require considerably more runway. Therefore, where a choice can be made, pick the longest runway for both take-off and landing.

8. After take-off, increase speed to 110-115 kts as quickly as possible. This will help keep ice formation on the protected areas of the aircraft. Continue to climb with a minimum deck-angle.

9. At airports where SIDs are used, pick a direction of departure which has the lowest climb-gradient. Once you are at a safe altitude you can then proceed to your destination.

10. Constantly monitor & assess the icing situation of your aircraft. Be particularly alert to OAT changes during the climb. Observing the OAT during your climb to altitude can provide clues which could save your life.

11. Consider not using the auto-pilot when operating in ice. This is not to imply that the auto-pilot is not approved for ice operation, but that a pilot can not possibly know how the aircraft is FEELING if the auto-pilot is engaged.

12. When encountering icing and the airspeed begins to drop below 130 KIAS, MAXIMUM CONTINUOUS POWER e.g. 1865# torque/805 C ITT (675 HP) as applicable, should be used.

13. De-ice boots are more effective at higher airspeeds. At lower speeds effectiveness may be improved by SMOOTHLY changing the pitch attitude as the boots are being MANUALLY inflated which will allow the changing relative wind to assist in removing the ice from the wing leading edge.

14. A vibration may occur as ice starts to build on the propeller hub and the back side of the blade near the hub. Under extreme conditions the vibration may continue to increase the the point where the instrument panel begins to shake. In conditions of MODERATE and above accumulation rates, the automatic propeller anti-ice system may not be sufficient to keep the propeller clear of ice. Under these conditions, consider using the MANUAL propeller anti-ice feature and briskly cycling the prop between the maximum and minimum RPM (minimum 200 RPM change) to assist in removing the ice.

15. Don't keep flying into deteriorating conditions. Have a plan, e.g. climb, descend or turn to get to less severe conditions if it become necessary. KEEP YOUR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS AHEAD OF THE AIRPLANE. DON'T ALLOW YOURSELF TO RUN OUT OF OPTIONS!

16. Communicate your situation with ATC. Keep them advised of your icing problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Failing to use all of the resources at your disposal is sellling yourself short. DON'T LET A MACHO ATTITUDE OVERLOAD YOUR BOAT!

17. Monitor the terminal approach frequency while you are still in the enroute portion. This will allow you to listen-in on any problems other pilots may be encountering while in their attempt to land. During the approach keep your air-speed at least 15-20 knots higher than normal. Stall speed increases with ice accumulation.

18. Do not cycle the boots during landing since boot inflation may increase stall speeds by as much as 10 knots.

19. Fly the aircraft down-to-the-ground, do not attempt a normal flare-out to a stalled landing.

If you have any questions about this article, contact CaravanNation.com 
Never get complacent... stay proficient!

 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Another AC-208 Eliminator on the Assembly Line



According to our sources there is currently another Grand Caravan EX that is being converted by Northrup Grumman Systems Corp. (El Sugundo, California) to an AC-208 "Eliminator" Armed Caravan. The AC-208 is 1 of 8 aircraft that are in Northrup Grumman's Special Mission portfolio of aircraft. The other aircraft in that line-up are the Alenia C-27J, CASA CN-235/295, Lockheed C-130, Bombardier Dash-8, Beechcraft King Air, Sikorsky H-60 Blackhawk and the AgustaWestland AW139.

According to Northrup Grumman, "The AC-208 Eliminator builds on Northrup Grumman's battle-proven AC-208 Armed Caravan and offers customers a highly-capable and cost-effective reconnaissance and ground attack capability with a critical offensive and operational over-watch capability in the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) fight. The Eliminator is able to find, fix, identify, track, target and engage emerging and time-sensitive targets with its 2.75" guided rockets and/or AGM-114 HELLFIRE missile payload, based on mission requirements."

These unique Caravans have or will be delivered to countries in the Middle East and Africa including these countries: Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.


 ~ Chris Rosenfelt


CaravanNation.com

Friday, February 14, 2020

All Hail the Pratt & Whitney PT6 Turboprop Engine!



All Hail the Pratt & Whitney PT6!



Below you will see one of the first photos of the famous Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop aircraft engine and its designers. This engine is THE rockstar of the turboprop engine world! 

Important Dates:

  • 1958 - Design started
  • 1960 Feb. - First ran
  • 1961 May - First flew
  • 1964 - Entered service
  • 2011 - 50th Anniversary 

On its first flight it was mounted as a third engine on the nose of a Beech 18. That would have been an interesting sight! The test aircraft was switched to a Beech King Air in 1980. The first production model was the PT6A-6 and used on the Beech Queen Air.


The original designers of the PT6

According to the manufacturer over 51,000 units have been produced (as of 2015) and the engine has flown over 400 million hours! Considering that it only has an in-flight engine shut-down once every 651,126 hours, it is one of the most reliable aircraft engines ever. There have been over 69 different versions built. Not all of the versions have been for aircraft, some variants have been used for helicopters, boats, hovercraft, land vehicles and auxiliary power units.

TBO (time between overhauls) ranges between 3600 to 9000 hours and hot section inspections are done between 1800 and 2000 hours.

The PT6-114A in the Cessna Caravan only weighs 350lbs and yet puts out almost 700hp! The PT6 engine is found in most of the turbo-prop airplanes in the United States, including the Cessna Caravan, de Havilland Twin Otter, Air Tractor, Beech 1900, Beech King Air, Beech 99, PAC 750, Quest Kodiak, Pilatus PC-12, Piaggio Avanti, Shorts 360, AgustaWestland AW139 and many more. ALL great aircraft mainly because of their heart.... the PT6. Keep up the great work Pratt & Whitney!

Be sure and check out our friends at pt6nation.com


CaravanNation.com

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Caravan Sales on Caravan Nation



We have multiple clients looking to buy and/or lease Caravans. To have your Caravan listed for sale on the new Caravan Nation Sales page please contact Chris Rosenfelt.

Email: chris@CaravanNation.com


Site: https://caravannation.com/sales.htm



CaravanNation.com

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Startup Commuter FLOAT to use Caravans in Southern California

Flight Global reporting

A startup company in Southern California which hopes to revolutionize the daily commute will launch service in the coming days and plans to offer full air-based commuting schedules from up to 40 regional airports beginning in January.

FLOAT – which stands for “Fly Over All Traffic” – will offer air taxi services to what it calls “supercommuters” in the region. The company plans to operate a fleet of nine Cessna Caravans to what it calls “underused” regional and general aviation airports across the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, renowned for their ground-based traffic problems.
FLOAT Cessna Caravan over Los Angeles
Source: FLOAT
FLOAT Cessna Caravan over Los Angeles
 The company says it has agreements with almost 40 airports, including Hollywood Burbank Airport, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana and Palm Springs Airport. It is partnering with Pompano Beach, Florida-based operator Southern Airways Express for its planes and crews.

FLOAT executives say its target customer is a commuter who drives 50 miles or more in each direction, which, depending on the time of day and the traffic flow, can take more than two hours on the region’s congested highways.

“FLOAT is shattering the myth that sitting in hours of traffic every day is a necessary and unavoidable way of life in Southern California,” FLOAT co-founder and chief executive Arnel Guiang says. “We live in a rapidly-evolving society of intense time management and instant gratification, and business professionals and their superiors are quickly realizing that spending hours in traffic is cutting into their productivity and work/life balance.”

The company says pricing and routes will vary, but it estimates the cost of a one-way flight could be as low as $30. It is offering monthly subscription packages on selected routes for $1,250, which encompasses roundtrip service five days a week.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review - Procedures for Exiting Severe Icing



Procedures for Exiting Severe Icing



Here in the Northern Hemisphere ground temperatures have dropped below freezing over much of the population. So we thought that now would be a good time for us Caravan Pilots to review Emergency Procedures in the icing environment.

Please remember that these Emergency Procedures found below are for the Cessna Model 208B (675 SHP) and no others. If you are flying a different model Caravan, please review your aircraft's FAA approved Abbreviated Checklist or Airplane Flight Manual for that specific model.

As stated in the Pilots' Abbreviated Checklist published by Cessna:  

Procedures for Exiting the Severe Icing Environment (As required by AD 96-09-15) 


1. Immediately request priority handling from Air Traffic Control to facilitate a route or an altitude change to exit the severe icing conditions in order to avoid extended exposure to flight conditions more severe than those for which the airplane has been certificated.

2. Avoid abrupt and excessive maneuvering that may exacerbate control difficulties.

3. Do not engage the autopilot.

4. If the autopilot is engaged, hold the control wheel firmly and disengage the autopilot.

5. If an unusual roll response or uncommanded roll control movement is observed, reduce the angle of attack.

6. If the flaps are extended, do not retract them until the airframe is clear of ice.

7. Report these weather conditions to Air Traffic Control.

    If you are a Caravan pilot, I highly recommend that you complete some of Cessna's E-Learning courses on this topic. Courses such as "Caravan Cold Weather Ops" and "Caravan Vodcast Ground Icing Conditions". There are many other interesting courses available, most of which are free and are all available at cessnaelearning.com.

    Fellow Caravan Pilots, please remember to Review Often and Fly Safe so that you can continue to Love What You Do!

    Friday, October 4, 2019

    Textron Delivers 500th Caravan EX

    Cessna Grand Caravan EX celebration
    Charter operator and freight hauler South Aero was the customer for the 500th Cessna Grand Caravan EX. (Photo: Textron Aviation)
    by Jerry Siebenmark AIN

    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.
    Accepting the milestone Grand Caravan EX was Albuquerque, New Mexico-based South Aero, a charter and freight hauler that operates five Cessna Caravans and nearly 11 flights a day. “The dependability and load-carrying capability of the Grand Caravan EX allows our fleet to operate for thousands of hours across the continental US,” South Aero owner and CEO Wayne South said. “This is an outstanding aircraft for our operations and a platform that our pilots love to fly.”
    The $2.68 million airplane—which includes the optional under-belly cargo pod—can seat up to 14 passengers with a useful load of 3,692 pounds (1,675 kg) and a maximum range of 912 nm.