April 2, 2012
By Jim Moore
A camera bag, fishing tackle, an extra tent, more food to extend a backcountry visit—50 pounds can go a long way, and PK Floats Inc. has just landed a supplemental type certificate allowing waterdog Huskies to take off at 2,250 pounds gross weight.
The STC awarded in March is the newest of dozens held by the Maine maker of floats for various aircraft, including the Aviat Husky A-1B and A-1C models. Huskies can be fitted with a complete float kit for $57,500 from PK Floats—with a net gain in basic empty weight that is typically short of 300 pounds. In addition to its headquarters in Lincoln, Maine, the company has approved a handful of installation facilities elsewhere around the country.
Alton Bouchard bought the company in 2000, weathered the economic downturn, and has recently hired extra help to keep up. Bouchard said the installation shop is booked two months out—or more—on some models.
“It’s been tough for us up until the last year or so. We’ve been getting stronger and stronger,” Bouchard said. “We had a very good winter.”
Owners of existing PK2250A installations can have a good summer—at 2,250 pounds gross weight—with a paperwork STC kit that comes with required forms, operating handbook updates, and placards for $650. Bouchard said about 50 kits already have been installed on Husky models.
The PK2250A kit was approved in a configuration that includes self-contained hydraulics to raise and lower wheels for dry-land operations, and no ventral fin—which saves a few pounds, and about $5,000.
“It’s a pretty big deal not having that fin in the way for docking, beaching, all that sort of thing,” Bouchard said.
The installed float system weighs just 409 pounds, with a net increase of about 295 pounds on a typical installation after landing gear are removed. The retractable wheels built into the floats have a stellar track record, Bouchard said.
“It’s been an absolutely flawless, foolproof system,” Bouchard said. “We’ve never replaced one.”
Bouchard said additional flight testing is planned to support an application to take the gross weight up to 2,350 pounds. While there is no timetable on completion of that process, Bouchard hopes to have the job done this year.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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