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February 14, 2013
By Ian J. Twombly
Many manufacturers claim to make modifications that cause airplanes to fly faster, burn less fuel, and get to altitude just a bit quicker. Many are dubious, but such is not the case with a new set of wheel fairings for the Cessna 402, 414, and 421, according to at least one owner who has tried them.
Premiere-Aviation’s fairings cover the exposed main gear wheels after they have been retracted into the wing. Designer and company owner Peter Danto say the result is airflow that stays attached to the wing longer, resulting in a 6-percent increase in climb rate, 3-percent decrease in fuel burn, and an increase in cruise speed.
Cessna 421 owner Tim Taylor agrees. “In my opinion it’s the most cost-effective speed modification ever designed for a 421,” he said. Taylor claims a six-knot increase in cruise speed, eight knots more speed at the same climb rate of 800 feet per minute, and better climb rates at altitude.
Danto claims all these improvements are possible because, on the stock airplane, the wheels disrupt the laminar flow under the wing. The Premiere-Aviation modification keeps the airflow attached to the wing both over and behind the wheel, he says.
To date more than 40 kits have been sold. They currently retail for $2,000. Danto says paperwork for the 425 and 441 supplemental type certificates is at the FAA, and that work on the Citation modification should begin this year.
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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