Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Caravan Pilots - Featured Pilot of the Month - Kathleen from SkyLink Express

This is the first in a series titled "Featured Caravan Pilot". It will start out here on the Caravan Pilots blog and will eventually move over to my site after it has been relaunched. 

Meet Kathleen, our very first Featured Caravan Pilot! She is the only female and the youngest out of 40 pilots that her company employs.

Name: Kathleen
Age: 22
Total Time: 1500 hrs
Company: SkyLink Express (Canada's largest cargo feeder airline!)
Location: Halifax, NS Canada
Years flying the Caravan: 2 years this fall

What do you like most about flying the Caravan? 

The list of what I like most about the Caravan is lengthy as I've spent the majority of my professional life flying it. As a young pilot who began flying the 208 with relatively low time, I couldn't have chose a more forgiving aircraft to learn on. The Cessna Caravan is incredibly capable and unbelievably versatile. For me, learning IFR, SOPs & turbine theory was a steep learning curve. 

The C208 has been an excellent starter aircraft for many reasons! In learning all of these areas, the 208 was fast enough to challenge my abilities yet slow enough to teach me the basic skillset that I'll carry with me throughout my career. I learned everything from hand-flying an NDB approach to power and system management in challenging (and sometimes slightly scary) icing conditions. 

Along with the learning curve, I can honestly say that I doubt I'll ever have as much fun flying another airplane as I have with the Van. It handles well, it responds to pilot inputs very well, and has wildly impressive performance numbers (when it comes to takeoff and landing distances). I'm proud to call the Scare-a-Van "My First Turbine".

What are your goals? 

Throughout my career, I hope to spend some time in various capacities of the industry, including MEDIVAC operations, Corporate (Jet) flying, and eventually either large passenger airlines or large cargo operations.

What is your advice for younger pilots? 

Advice I could give to younger pilots is limited, in that I'm fairly young myself (or so I've been told). What I'd pass along to future hopefuls, is to seize (and make) every opportunity possible. Talk to pilots you meet, explore different aircraft, network as best you can, and NEVER burn bridges; the industry is FAR too small to make enemies. Keep your nose to the grind, and see every flight as a learning experience. Pilots log hours, aviators log lessons.

Thank you Kathleen for your great answers and advice! If anyone knows of a Caravan Pilot that you feel should be spotlighted send me an email

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Former Penta Airlines Caravans at Santarem Brazil

I was upset to see these ex- Penta Airlines Grand Caravans: PT-MPB, PT-MPD and PT-MPG piled up in a field in Santarem Brazil, seen in the photo below. They should be in a hangar or at least properly tied down on a ramp. It obviously was not a pilot that ordered them to be tossed into the weeds like that. According to my friend Gustavo Bonato these "Caravans are waiting for a court decision before being sold. That decision has been delayed for at least 7 years and there's no perspective of it happening soon."

Photo by Michael Rodrigues da Silva
Penta Airlines was a Brazilian airline that operated from 1995-2005. They offered domestic flights all over Brazil and to neighboring French Guiana. It started out as an air taxi company named Pena Taxi Aereo and is where it derived its name Penta from. At its peak in 1998, it was servicing 34 cities and flew 235,000 passengers in: 7 Cessna Grand Caravans, 3 Embraer Brasilias, 2 Embraer Bandeirantes and 2 Bombardier Dash 8s.

Photo by Ricardo Hebmuller
The airline went out of business because of two main reasons. A currency exchange devaluation crisis that occurred in 1999 and then a year later the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency temporarily suspended their operational license because of supposed maintenance issues.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Airframe icing and 600 lbs of excess weight led to C208B Caravan crash

Caravan C-GAGP operated by Gogal Air Services

On 18 November 2012 the Caravan pictured above crashed after loss of control due to an accumulation of Rime Ice on its wing surfaces. Accidents like this should serve as a reminder to us pilots that we need to be extra vigilant while operating in icing conditions. 

The Grand Caravan, operated by Gogal Air Services, was headed to Winnipeg when it crashed into a wooded area soon after take off. The crash killed the pilot and seriously injured the seven passengers on board. The 600lbs of excess weight and airframe ice increased the aircraft's stall speed and reduced its take off and climb performance.

According to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board:

"Although the pilot made an attempt to remove the ice before [the final] flight, a significant amount of it remained on the aircraft. No de-icing or anti-icing fluids were applied to the wing or horizontal stabilizer and no tactile inspection of the upper wing or tail surfaces was observed. The ice on the leading edges of aircraft's wings and tail would have reduced available lift, added extra weight, increased aerodynamic drag and thereby reduced its take-off and climb performance, increased its stall speed and impaired the protection afforded by its stall warning system, which is activated at a pre-set angle of attack based on a clean wing."

Caravan C-GAGP

After reading this, I encourage my readers to review the AFM or POH for the specific aircraft that they fly (difference between AFM and POH), specifically the sections pertaining to Icing and the Emergency Procedures - Icing. As far as the Caravan, you can also find this information in the Pilots' Abbreviated Checklist. But remember that the AFM or POH takes precedence over the PAC.

If you are a Caravan pilot, I also 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

My fellow pilots, please remember to Review Often and Fly Safe so that you can continue to Have Fun!