Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Western Australia is upgrading its fleet of Pilatus PC-12 turboprop singles with Hartzell 105-inch-diameter, five-blade composite propellers. The new propellers will replace the existing Hartzell four-blade aluminum propellers on the utility aircraft that the RFDS uses for medical emergencies and patient transfers. Last year the RFDS fleet transported 9,012 patients over 8 million kilometers (4.97 million miles) across Western Australia, reaching some of its most remote corners.
RFDS already has three PC-12s in service with the five-blade propellers installed at the Pilatus factory and two more are undergoing installation at RFDS’s maintenance base in Jandakot. The operator further has three more on order, and RFDS Western Operations managing engineer Andy Lewis said plans call to upgrade its entire fleet of 16 PC-12s. West Coast Propeller, Hartzell’s recommended service facility in Western Australia, is supporting the conversion.
"The new Hartzell propellers are lighter, stronger, require less maintenance, and provide more torque, which enables the aircraft to fly better and ultimately save on fuel," Lewis said, adding they will also reduce vibration, increasing patient comfort.
"The five-blade composite swept-tip props chosen by the RFDS are specially designed to maximize performance for the Pilatus PC-12," added Hartzell Propeller president JJ Frigge. "The prop is a product of Hartzell's multimillion-dollar investment in structural composites, advanced aerodynamics, and modern manufacturing processes."