Eagle Creek Aviation Services is giving a new lease of life to venerable Twin Commander turboprops, exhibiting at the static the first version retrofitted with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit.
Although the Indianapolis-based FBO and maintenance specialist does not expect to receive supplemental type certification for the program until April, chief executive Matt Hagans expects to sell around eight examples next year.
The twin-turboprop has not been produced since 1986 - North American, Rockwell and Gulfstream all owned the brand - but there are still 700 in use throughout the world, just over half of them in the USA.
Eagle Creek Aviation Services is one of several MROs that specialize in the type. It buys between 20 and 35 "mostly distressed" aircraft and sells them for between $500,000 and $3 million depending on age and specification. Customers range from owner-pilots to government agencies and aerial photography providers, who value its pressurised cabin. "We rebuild the aircraft and sell them on with a warranty, and, when we can, bring them back for service," says Hagans.
He says the Garmin cockpit installation is about more than making flying easier for the pilot. "The concept is not just about glass. Yes, you sell the sizzle, but the real advantage is to remove expensive-to-replace components. For instance, the fuel flow sensors go from $10,000 a piece to just $900," he says. "You also get rid of hundreds of pounds of wire that is prone to corrosion, and increase its reliability."
Eagle Creek will also replace older Honeywell TPE331 engines with the newer -10 variant, which Hagans says uses a third less fuel for 20% more horsepower.
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