In a special airworthiness information bulletin published on February 13, the FAA advised owners and operators of PC-12s to incorporate operational limitations that the Swiss civil aviation authority issued earlier this year as an emergency AD. According to the FAA, the AD was prompted by several incidents on approach where an abrupt nose-down pitch occurred after the autopilot was disconnected when the flaps were at 40 degrees.
Pilatus PC-12, South Bend, Ind., Dec. 14, 2004–The NTSB blamed the crash of PC-12 N922RG on the failure of the fuel control unit bellows, which resulted in a significant loss of engine power. The pilot made a forced landing on a roadway after, he said, the engine “abruptly and smoothly rolled back” shortly after takeoff from South Bend Regional Airport. The airplane’s wingtip hit two utility poles during rollout.
In a business world where a niche market may be the key to success, PlaneSense has apparently found both niche and success, operating a fractional ownership fleet composed solely of PC-12 turboprop singles and serving the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
As Pilatus was celebrating the worldwide fleet of more than 500 Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67B-powered PC-12s surpassing one million flight hours, the engine manufacturer was working with the fuel control unit (FCU) supplier to obtain approval for an improved pneumatic system. P&WC expects to have an upgrade plan in place before the end of this month.
The NTSB wants the FAA to require Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60 starter-generators to be electrically isolated from the rest of the engine, a modification that is already in the works.
Pilatus and Piaggio were among the first business aviation OEMs to disclose 2004 deliveries, and the numbers show an improvement over 2003. Pilatus reported it shipped 70 PC-12s last year compared with 61 in 2003. The Swiss manufacturer recently celebrated its 500th PC-12 delivery. Piaggio said it delivered 16 Avantis last year versus 12 in 2003. Meanwhile, Embraer reported delivering 13 Legacy business jets last year, the same as in 2003.
A leak in the fuel control unit pneumatic system caused the P&WC PT6 to fail in a Pilatus PC-12 on December 14, according to Pilatus (see AIN, January, page 46). The pilot was able to deadstick the turboprop single to a safe landing on a street in South Bend, Ind. Pilatus re-issued a service letter to remind PC-12 operators that there is a manual override procedure that enables full power to be restored if the fuel control unit fails.
Pilatus Aircraft is working with engine supplier Pratt & Whitney Canada and Woodward Governor of Rockford, Ill., to roll out an “aggressive campaign” to retrofit the entire fleet of more than 500 PC-12s with improved fuel control units (FCUs).
Roger Engel, a ferry pilot with Broomfield, Colo.-based Pilatus Aircraft, recently completed his 100th transatlantic crossing in a PC-12. Starting in Bern, Switzerland, Engel made stops in Prestwick, Scotland; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Iqualuit and Thunder Bay, Canada, before completing the journey in Denver. Total flight time was 21 hours and 18 minutes.
A Pilatus PC-12 that lost power at an altitude of about 6,000 feet made a deadstick landing December 14 on four-lane Highway 933 North in the midst of a commercial area of Roseland, Ind., about three miles east of South Bend Airport. The turboprop single, with a pilot and four passengers aboard, was damaged when it clipped a utility pole, but no one was hurt in the incident.