Ice system, avionics update planned for FedEx Caravans

 - November 30, 2010, 4:05 AM

FedEx Express is converting its entire fleet of 250 Cessna 208 Caravans from ­de-icer boots to CAV Aerospace TKS ice-protection systems and Garmin G600
avionics. The conversion program is a partnership between CAV Aerospace and Cessna Aircraft. Yingling Aviation will install the TKS systems and the G600 avionics on the FedEx Caravans. Although the dollar value of the FedEx contract wasn’t revealed, the CAV Aerospace Caravan TKS conversion retails for $96,500 and the G600 package costs about $30,000, so the retail value of the contract is more than $30 million.

The TKS–or so-called “weeping wing” glycol-based ice-protection system– replaces pneumatic boots that cover the leading edges of the single-engine turboprop Caravan’s wing, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, landing-gear legs, wing struts and cargo pods (if equipped). On the Caravan, the TKS system’s laser-drilled titanium leading edges are installed on wing, wing strut and empennage leading edges. A propeller slinger system eliminates the need to install TKS panels on the landing gear struts and cargo pod. The system includes windshield spray coverage. A 20.8-gallon TKS fluid tank installed in the cargo pod provides about three hours of anti-icing/de-icing protection for the Caravan.

Yingling Aviation will convert 50 FedEx Caravans per year, while CAV Aerospace is offering the TKS conversion for the rest of the Caravan fleet, which totals more than 1,200. CAV Aerospace installed the Caravan TKS system in early 2008 on a Cessna-provided Caravan, according to CAV Aerospace president Kevin Hawley. “Then Cessna took that data and in essence resubmitted that approved data for certification,” he said. Cessna switched the Caravan’s flight-into-known-icing system from boots to the TKS system on the Caravan in 2008.

CAV Aerospace began its first installation of a customer’s Caravan TKS system on a Caravan operated by Superior Airways in Red Lake, Ontario, in October. Red Lake is also buying the G600 avionics package and expects to take delivery by year-end.

Alternative to De-ice Boots
That airplane used to have a booted system, said CAV Aerospace salesman Jeff Holden. “The new owner of the airplane, recognizing how well TKS works, came to us and said, ‘Can you take that off and put on your system?’ So what it really means to us is that people are recognizing just how effective TKS is as an ice-protection system.”

“The reason we’re doing [the TKS conversion],” Superior Airways chief pilot Alex Wozniak told AIN, “is that the Caravan has a poor reputation for flying in ice with the current boot system.” A benefit of the TKS system is that it allows the Caravan to fly at maximum takeoff weight in icing conditions, while the boot-equipped models have lower maximum weights in icing.

Another advantage of TKS is that it protects more of the surfaces aft of where it is mounted. Boots can shed ice only from the boot itself, but TKS fluid runs back to protect wings and stabilizers. One problem mentioned by a lawyer involved with Caravan icing lawsuits is that the boots don’t offer any icing protection on elevator horns. But the TKS panels extend to the tips of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and coat the Caravan’s horns with runback fluid. TKS does have de-icing as well as anti-icing properties.

CAV Aerospace isn’t the only company offering a TKS system for the Caravan. Flight Ice obtained supplemental type certification of its TKS system for the Cessna Caravan in 2000. The Flight Ice system is certified for flight into known icing and uses components manufactured by CAV Aerospace. The Flight Ice system also includes TKS panels on the landing-gear legs and a spray bar on the belly pod.

Flight Ice has installed five TKS Caravan systems so far and expected to start work on another installation by the end of last month. The Flight Ice system can be installed either on the cargo-podded Caravan or on non-podded Caravans with the tank mounted on the rear baggage compartment bulkhead. The Flight Ice Caravan TKS system retails for $89,900.