Rockwell Twin Commanders are to be re-engined with Orenda piston engines by a new company in North Dakota. Dakota Aero Manufacturers has teamed with Dick MacCoon, the engine's original developer, to offer the re-engined aircraft, to be called the Dakota Commander.

MacCoon's company, MRRPM, is developing a supplemental type-certificate to install the 450kW (600hp)Orenda OE-600 Vee-8 piston engine in the Twin Commander 685/690. Flight testing is expected to begin in March.

Certification of the engine has been delayed, but is now expected by the end of February. This would allow supplemental type-certification in the Twin Commander in the second quarter, leading to delivery of the first re-engined aircraft by the end of 1998, says Dakota Aero president Duane Bye.

Re-engineing will increase the Twin Commander's cruise speed to 265kt (490km/h) and will cost around $550,000, rising to over $1 million if the aircraft is also refurbished to an "as-new" standard similar to that offered under Twin Commander Aircraft's Grand Renaissance programme, says Bye.

MRRPM will supply the complete engine-installation kit. MacCoon conceived the original Thunder on which the OE-600 is based, before selling the design to Orenda. The Canadian firm says that the engine has been "85% redesigned" to enable certification.

Source: Flight International