July 26, 2011
By Thomas A. Horne
Turbine engine upgrade specialist Blackhawk Modifications Inc. on July 26 announced that its XP42A conversion for the Cessna Caravan has earned its supplemental type certificate (STC).
The XP42A swaps out the Caravan’s stock 600- or 675-shp PT6A engine and replaces them with a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A engine of 850 shp. The upgrade includes a new, four-blade Hartzell propeller, a new carbon-composite cowling, two new Frakes exhaust stacks, and enrollment in the CAMP systems’ maintenance tracking and trend analysis program.
The new engine—the same used in Hawker Beechcraft’s King Air B200s—gives converted Caravans double the original rate of climb, boosts takeoff weight to 9,062 pounds, shortens takeoff distances by 20 percent to 40 percent, and raises cruise speeds by 15-plus percent. Recommended time between overhaul for the PT6A-42A engine is 3,600 hours.
An XP42A-converted Caravan can retain its known-icing certification. Blackhawk conducted successful icing tests using ice shapes and flights in natural icing conditions, accumulating as much as five inches on the airplane. With the new engine, the airplane can maintain 170 knots with five inches of ice, Blackhawk said.
The conversion took Blackhawk 35,000 man-hours to finalize, plus 210 flight test hours—which included 115 spins. More than 20 deposits have been placed for the conversion. Price of the XP42A is $605,000, based on exchanging the pre-existing engine.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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