December 17, 2012
By Jim Moore
The Air Force plans to modify Cessna Caravans for airdrop missions in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy Cessna Aircraft Co.
It may be a while before the average citizen can (or wants to) book a vacation in Afghanistan, but pilots employed by a Cessna maintenance, repair, and overhaul company may get the chance much sooner (like it or not).
The U.S. Air Force has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking companies interestedin modifying Cessna Caravans for air drop use. The job requires fabrication of a roll-up door to replace the standard cargo door on air drop missions, along with associated equipment such as cockpit controls and a radar altimeter. It also requires some very long legs, and high-endurance pilots: Aircraft will be ferried from Shindand, Afghanistan, to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for testing, various flights will be conducted between Air Force facilities during the testing and design phase, and pilots will make an eventual return trip to Afghanistan.
The Caravans will require installation of a fuel bladder under a supplemental type certificate for those long-distance flights. The Air Force did not specify provisions for the pilot’s bladder, though many Caravans are equipped with facilities on board that will no doubt be required.
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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