Turboprop engine specialist Blackhawk of Waco, Texas, is celebrating its 300th engine upgrade at this year’s EBACE. The customer in question is Germany’s Reinhardt Michel, who owns and flies a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, purchased in 2004.
Faced with the TBO limit on his existing PT6A-28 engines, Michel considered overhauling the existing engines or upgrading with new engines. He opted for the Blackhawk XP135A conversion, including Hawkeye engine monitoring gauges, and also upgraded to new five-blade propellers from MT-Propeller of Atting, Germany.
The Blackhawk XP135A upgrades Cheyenne I, IA, II and IIXL models with no required airframe modifications. It replaces original, early-generation engines with new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A engines with full warranties. The new engines significantly increase climb and cruise performance, as well as resale value, while reducing total operating costs. Blackhawk is offering special pricing on the program this year.
Blackhawk was founded in 1999 and has facilities in Waco and Elizabethtown, North Carolina. The company claims the largest installed fleet of STC twin-engine turboprop engine upgrades, making it the largest non-OEM buyer of new Pratt & Whitney Canada turboprop engines, with 1,250 units on order over a six-year period.
According to Blackhawk president and CEO Jim Allmon, the option of completely replacing the powerplant represents far greater value than doing an overhaul. One factor is that while the initial cost of an overhaul can seem lower, it is all too common for the process to lead to subsequent additional costs from the need to replace parts and potentially rent engines to keep flying while the work is being done.
The Blackhawk upgrade costs between $875,000 and $915,000 but that is a fixed, known cost. What is also a known entity is that it will deliver significantly improved performance (around 40 to 50 knots more speed), and lower fuel and maintenance costs.
The company’s latest upgrade package is for the Cessna Caravan, delivering improved runway performance and payload. It is to be FAA-approved by the end of June, with EASA likely to follow by November.