Startup Company Introduces Wheel Pants For Caravans
WICHITA —Former Wichita Textron Aviation employees have designed wheel coverings, commonly called wheel pants, for the Cessna Caravan 208 and 208B turboprops, a “simple solution” to improve efficiencies they say are long overdue.
Development flight test is complete and full supplemental type certification approval is underway through the startup company called Whind, named after co-founders Randy Whitson and Matt Freund.
Approval is expected in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Flight testing has shown a speed improvement of 6 kt. on Cessna Caravans equipped with standard size tires and a 7-kt. speed improvement on Caravans outfitted with oversize tires, says Scott Bengtson, founder of Royal Air Products and a former Textron Aviation product support and contract administrator for Caravans. Bengston is providing the marketing for the Whind product.
“If you say, ‘How do I make this aircraft faster,’ this is the first thing you can attack,” Bengtson says. “This is the one thing that you can do that can gain you the most speed in one lump sum.” Plus, the wheel pants are aesthetically pleasing and give the aircraft nicer ramp appeal, he says.
Small improvements in speed add up, says Freund, a former Textron Aviation production test pilot, flight instructor and former contract administrator for Caravans. While the speed increases are not an “Earth-shattering improvement,” they matter over months of flying.
The company is talking with a number of Caravan operators and fleet owners. “Operators love it for its operability and durability,” Freund says.
Whind is partnering with Momentum Aeronautics, a St. Paul, Minnesota, aircraft engineering firm, to help work through the supplemental type certificate and certification process. The wheel pants are simple to install, Freund says, since no modifications to the aircraft are needed.