Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC
ORENDA RECIP is hoping to clinch certification of its OE600 V8 piston engine on the Air Tractor AT-401 agricultural aircraft within the next two months.
The Air Tractor programme is expected to result in the first major production orders for the liquid-cooled, 600hp (450kW) OE600. The target market is the more than 800 AT-301s, -401s and -402s now powered by elderly Pratt & Whitney radial engines.
The first certificated application for the OE600 is the de Havilland DHC-3 Otter. One re-engined aircraft entered service with Air Wilga in March, and the Quebec-based operator plans to convert "four or five more" for itself and other Canadian customers later this year.
Orenda, meanwhile, is about to begin work on a DHC-2 Beaver re-engining programme, with supplemental type certification expected in 2002. As with the Air Tractor programme, the work will be performed at the company's Debert, Nova Scotia, plant.
In addition, Orenda is supplying engines for other programmes. Explorer Aircraft has selected the OE600 for the piston-powered variant of its Explorer utility aircraft, the 500R. The prototype will be re-engined early next year, with production deliveries scheduled to begin in 2004.
Turkish Aerospace Industries flew its OE600-powered Zui agricultural aircraft in late June, and has ordered engines for production, scheduled to begin next year. Orenda says two more new-aircraft programmes using the OE600 will be announced within months.
Several third-party re-engining programmes are also under way. Long-anticipated certification of the OE600 on the Raytheon Beech King Air B90 and C90, by Stevens Aviation, is now expected in the first quarter of next year. This will be followed by a Beech Queen Air re-engining project.
Dakota Aero is studying re-engining the Ayres Thrush agricultural aircraft with the OE600, while US firm Mr RPM, continues to test a re-engined Twin Commander. Orenda plans to install the OE600 in the pressurised Piper Navajo.