Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caravan With Enthusiasm


Blackhawk modifications of Waco, Texas, converts basic caravans to Super Caravans


Blackhawk adds a 40% larger oil cooler under the cowl to help counter high/hot conditions. "That was our design," says Allmon. "We worked with an engineering firm to come up with an oil cooler we knew could handle any forseeable temperature situation."

Everything is enclosed with a new lightweight low-drag carbon composite cowling and induction system, something else Blackhawk specifically designed for the Caravan. The company installs a four-point horse-collar mount in place of the standard three-point mount to handle the slightly heavier engine, along with a redesigned inertial separator for protection from ice or foreign object ingestion. "Finally," Allmon comments, "we add new Digilog instrumentation to support the more powerful engine and a complete new engine hose package."

Blackhawk feels the -42A conversion should be especially popular with owners of the Caravan floatplane, as the extra 175 shp will enhance all aspects of water operation. Wipaire of St. Paul, Minn., currently produces pure and amphibious Wipline floats for the Cessna 208.

When I arrived in Waco for my introduction to the Blackhawk 208A conversion, test pilot Chris Duncan was in the process of flying the experimental prototype at progressively higher weights, and the combination of full fuel, some test instrumentation, a dozen or so 100-pound lead dumbbells bolted to the floorboards in back plus Chris and me up front, brought us within 50 pounds of the revised max gross of 8,362 pounds.
The nice thing about a turbine is that once it's running,
there's little left to do but fly. Chris Duncan made the first
takeoff to demonstrate the airplane's short-field
characteristics, and the prototype Blackhawk Caravan 208A
leaped off the ground as if something bigger
were chasing it.
One of any Caravan's most endearing qualities is its ability to swallow pretty much whatever you wish to load inside. There are a total of four doors on the big Cessna, pilot and copilot crew doors up front, a fold-down, airstair door at aft right and another, extra-wide, aft cargo door on the left. The last was designed for loading large, heavy items with a fork lift. A few years back, I delivered a Caravan to Seoul, South Korea, and installing the 400-gallon ferry tanks in the cabin was almost silly simple with the 208's ultimate access cargo doors.

Everything from the firewall forward remains operationally pretty much conventional PT6A. Engine start and preflight checks are the same as before. Turn on the master and fuel pumps, engage the starter (which automatically activates the igniters), then introduce fuel at 13% Ng and watch everything come to life. The PT6A-42A engine spools up nicely, without a hint of overheat.





Labels: Turbine Singles

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