Aftermarket, Cessna, Compete on More Powerful Caravans

The Cessna Caravan has always needed more power, and competition to provide it has just heated up with the supplemental type certificate (STC) awarded last month to Blackhawk Modifications to install the 850-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-42A in the short-fuselage 208A model as the XP42A.

The first XP42A upgrade of a Cessna Caravan 208A has been delivered to Skydive Hawaii, and a 208A with that upgrade was on show at EAA AirVenture. Based in Waialua, Hawaii, Skydive Hawaii is using the upgraded, 14-passenger “short” Caravan for high-altitude, low-opening jump flights. The XP42A upgrade replaces the 208A’s original 675-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A.

Blackhawk began offering the XP42A upgrade on the longer 208B Grand Caravan two years ago, and has since delivered 30 installations.

Texas Turbine Conversions, also exhibiting at EAA AirVenture, offers the 900-shp Honeywell TPE331 engine as an STC modification to both the Caravan 208A and the long-fuselage 208B Grand Caravan. It chose that engine, it says, for superior fuel specifics, faster power response, higher base TBO, and lower operating cost per horsepower. It has sold more than 50 worldwide.

Seeing the demand in the aftermarket for more power, Cessna in January introduced the higher-powered Grand Caravan EX with an 867-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140.

International sales for the Grand Caravan EX have picked up particularly in Africa and Russia, according to Jodi Noah, Cessna senior vice president of single engine/propeller aircraft. More than a dozen of the Caravans have been sold into Africa, she says, and in Russia, the potential to use the aircraft for commuter operations has drawn customers, she adds.

The next project, says Edwin Black, director of sales and marketing at Blackhawk, is to STC the XP42A on floats (Texas Turbine already offers that STC for Grand Caravan floatplanes). “We have orders for several on floats, and we hope to get the STC approved by the end of the year,” he says. A lot of owners of “short” Caravans on floats really need this increase in performance.”

Although it is a niche market for retrofits, Black notes that more than 200 Caravans currently operate on Wipaire floats “and that’s a very viable potential market.”

Blackhawk’s XP42A Caravan conversion on show at AirVenture.

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