France’s Reims Aviation, one of the few remaining independent aircraft manufacturers and structure subcontractors in Europe, last month launched the F406 Mark II turboprop twin, which has upgraded avionics, increased endurance and better hot-and-high performance than its predecessor, the Mark I. The Mark II is to fly late next year, with certification expected for mid-2003 before delivery to the Daihyaku Shoji company, Reims Aviation’s launch customer and its exclusive distributor in Japan.
Both the current Mark I and upcoming Mark II retain the same fuselage as the original F406, but while the former, which has been in operation for 15 years, uses two 500-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-112 engines, the new-generation F406 is powered by two 635-shp PT6A-135As. The new version has four propeller blades, one more than its predecessor, and has an extra hour of endurance (seven hours).
Better Useful Load
Zero fuel weight is the same for both versions but the mtow for the updated aircraft is 10,350 lb, compared with 9,850 lb for the older version. The new twin’s useful load also increases by 500 lb to 9,850 lb.
The Mark II will have more comfortable seats than the Mark I, made of Nomex composite materials with improved insulation. They will also be easier to install and remove.
Most cabin fixtures in the Mark II will be removed to visually widen the cabin, and window blinds will be integrated inside the panels for better shading. Interior noise levels will be reduced by improved acoustic insulation.
The new-generation F406’s cockpit features Honeywell Bendix/King avionics with several state-of-the-art options that comply with single-pilot IFR requirements.
These include standard Silver Crown avionics and Silver Crown Plus navcoms, two EFIS displays as standard and optional special-mission avionics (choice of two or five EFIS displays) that includes FMS with a built-in GPS/Glonass receiver.
Meanwhile, to cope with its aging fleet and deal with the increasing incidence of illegal discharges by oil tankers, the French customs agency has ordered a Reims F406 Polmar III to back up its Polmar I and II, which were delivered in 1988 and 1994, respectively. The Polmar III will be equipped with the same main sensors as its sister airplanes, including a side-looking airborne radar for detecting oil slicks, an IR/UV scanner and a mission-management/data-processing system from the LNE national test laboratory.
The new LNE system is one-third the size of that on the F406 Polmar II. A third new sensor, a low-light-level TV camera able to film the name of a vessel at night, is to be integrated into the Polmar III, allowing the F406 to catch nighttime polluters.
The F406 Polmar III will be able to carry a crew of three on a 4 hr 50 min mission at an average speed of 170 kt. Delivery has been earmarked for fall next year.