Vulcanair last month delivered the first P68 Observer 2 in China soon after the Civil Aviation Administration of China granted type certificate validation for the high-wing piston twin, in addition to its P68C and Vr (P68R) siblings. According to the Italian manufacturer, the P68 Observer 2’s entire front fuselage is made of clear plexiglass, giving occupants “excellent helicopter-like visibility” needed for mapping, survey, and surveillance missions. Meanwhile, the more conventional-nosed, fixed-gear P68C and retractable-gear Vr are aimed at the training and private aircraft markets.
Vulcanair’s Chinese distributor, Tianjin-based China Aero Supply, took delivery of the first Observer 2 in the country, and at press time still had yet to turn over the turboprop to its undisclosed customer. Vulcanair said this P68 Observer 2 will be used for aerial photo missions. China Aero Supply also has “a number” of P68 Observer 2s on order, which will be delivered to China “soon.”
During its ferry flight, the aircraft flew over Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India and Thailand, before finally arriving in Tianjin. Vulcanair said the ferry flight was possible thanks to both the 1,598-nm range of the P68 Observer 2 and the company’s ferry pilot, who flew some flight legs that exceeded eight hours along the journey.
The six-seat P68 Observer has a max takeoff weight of 4,594 pounds and max useful load of 1,499 pounds. Performance specifications include a 160-knot cruise speed, 18,000-foot service ceiling, 1,312-foot takeoff distance and 1,969-foot landing distance.
Vulcainair said the P68 Observer 2 is currently operated by the Italian state police; law enforcement and wildlife conservation agencies in 12 U.S. states; U.S. Department of the Interior; international private and government operators; oil companies for pipeline patrol; and aerial survey companies for digital mapping. “With its structural simplicity, absence of complicated systems, ruggedness, accessibility to servicing points and reduced maintenance costs, the Observer is a lower-cost alternative to helicopters for aerial surveillance whenever vertical takeoff and landing in the operative area is not necessary,” Vulcanair said.