Author Archives: Marcel Colon

April 2021

Spring Flight Levels Online

Flying one airplane for 34 years is notable enough, but in public flying it’s even more rare. Bruce Stamey has had the distinction of flying the same Shrike for the State of Louisiana since he was hired in the early 1980s. It’s also rare to hear about a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center changing hands. Read about Bruce Byerly’s recent acquisition of the Naples Jet Center. He and Eagle Creek’s Jim Worrell see continued improvement in the aircraft sales market.  Plus, this issue is packed with tips of flying, owning, and operating your Twin Commander. Read about fuel bladder installs, treating your piston engines well, getting the most of your Garmins, and where to fly as the world slowly reopens. That and more is all in the Spring issue of Flight Levels now online.

Eagle Creek Installs First DFCS 3100 Autopilot

The first Genesys Aerosystems digital 3100 autopilot has been installed in a Twin Commander. Eagle Creek Aviation worked with Genesys and Don Vollum, owner of a 980, to install and certify the first one. “The altitude capture and vertical speed hold are the best features, along with the overall precision with which the 3100 flies the airplane,” Vollum said. Taking on a new STC project can be fraught with challenges, but Vollum said the process was smooth. Eagle Creek has extensive experience with installs used as the basis for certifications. The company owns the Garmin G950 STC for Twin Commanders, and it helped develop the Dash 10 engine conversion and Radome to Tailcone refurbishment program. “I don’t think there is another shop I would trust for the first installation of an autopilot,” he said. The 3100 is a three-axis attitude-based digital autopilot with envelope control and electronic stability. It is now approved for 690, 690A-D, 695, 680W, 681, 500, 500A, B, S, and U, and 560A, E, and F models.

Legacy Aviation Answers the Call in Mexico

Great service sometimes means going where the customers are. That’s what Legacy Aviation Services recently did for one of its longtime customers. The operator, based in Mexico, flies an 840 that Legacy Owner RJ Gomez says is pristine inside and out. A broken windshield grounded the airplane at its home base in Culiacan. Schedules aligned as Twin Commander Aircraft had a windshield in stock as soon as Legacy had an opening on its shop schedule. Legacy sent a technician to uninstall the previous windshield and prepare the installation. Two days later the parts arrived, and in a total of five days the job was done. Gomez said the customer also operates a Learjet and a Hawker, but that the boss loves his Twin Commander. Legacy Aviation Services is a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center, and is a certified repair station by the Mexican aviation authority.

Blue Goose Flies On

It’s the airplane that started it all. When Bert Bantle and Emmett Morris flew the prototype L-3805 that would become the first Twin Commander nonstop from Oklahoma City to Washington, D.C. on one engine, it made the airplane a sensation. The airframe was dubbed the Blue Goose, reportedly after the fruit company where they sourced some of the wood. From 1974 to 2006 the airframe sat on a pole at the state fairgrounds. It subsequently went to a technical school, where Tom Ray and Kenny Payton, engineers who worked at the Rockwell/Gulfstream factory, knew the history of the airplane and used their sheet metal classes to help restore it.

Between those efforts, and now with the support of Dave Amis and others, the Blue Goose has a strong future. Amis worked with the city of Bethany, which owned the airplane, to transfer the historic artifact to the Oklahoma History Center. He has gathered local businesses and Twin Commander supporters, and is soon planning to mate the wings, weld the landing gear, paint it, and eventually have it installed on a pedestal in a park immediately south of the Wiley Post airport in Oklahoma City. Amis, whose family has been involved in Commanders since the beginning, said it means a lot to him to help restore and highlight the airplane. “I remember this airplane in the early 1960s,” he said. “I would beg my dad to drive by the factory to see it.”

Supporters who want to help the cause can learn more at Amis’ GoFundMe page.

February 2021

Naples Jet Center Building New Hangar

Naples Jet Center, a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center, is poised to become the biggest corporate operator on the busy Naples airport in southwest Florida, after the recent approval of its plan to build a hangar and office complex totaling 45,000 square feet. The hangar will be large enough to accommodate up to three Global Express business jets, and there will be offices for visiting pilots and the company’s corporate flight department. When combined with Naples Jet Center’s current 80,000 square feet of space, the expansion will give the busy service center more than 120,000 square feet of total operating footprint. The project received approval in mid-February, and is now in the development and design phase. Owner Bruce Byerly is excited about the expansion, and thinks the Naples area has even more growth potential. “We could use the space yesterday,” he said. You can read more about the Naples Jet Center in the upcoming spring issue of Flight Levels Online.

Spend and Receive on Bungees

From now to the end of March, buy one landing gear bungee and get one free as part of the Twin Commander Spend and Receive Promotion. Every model of Twin Commander uses two bungees on each main landing gear to help gravity, the emergency gear extension system, and the hydraulic system to extend the main landing gears over-center and into the down and locked position. If you can squeeze a bungee with your thumb and forefinger and the two sides touch, it’s time to replace it. Now, Twin Commander is offering owners and operators a free bungee when they purchase and install one at a Factory Authorized Service Center. Ask for part number 9044 and receive a little something when you spend a little something.

 

Did You Know?

Every airplane has a demonstrated crosswind capability or crosswind limitation, and most light airplanes use one number. But certain models of turbine-powered Twin Commanders have two values—one for takeoff and one for landing. The 840 and 1000 both list the maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity for takeoff at 30 knots and landing at 27 knots. This practice of different values for takeoff and landing is more common in transport category aircraft.

January 2021

Latest Flight Levels Online Available Now

The latest issue of Flight Levels Online, available now, is packed with interesting people, airplanes, places and tips to help you get more from your Twin Commander. For example, Christmas might be over, but the spirit can live on. Read about Operation Good Cheer, a gift-giving program for foster children in Michigan, and a Twin Commander pilot who pitches in each year. If you’re looking for something a little warmer, Thierry Pouille details Air Journey’s efforts to restart guided trips to the Caribbean and Latin America. And in the Southern Hemisphere, where summer reigns, discover the GAM Group, one of the world’s largest operators of Twin Commanders, and an active Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center. If you don’t feel like traveling to a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center right now, read about how one can come to you. Finally, in this issue’s “From the Factory” we meet the people who make Twin Commander Aircraft a strong foundation of support for the community. You can find all this and more at https://flightlevelsonline.com.

Take Advantage of the Spend and Receive Promotion

From now until March 31, Twin Commander Aircraft is offering owners and operators a generous Customer Appreciation Program. Spend $25,000 on any factory parts at a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center, have them installed at the center, and the factory will throw in a CK190 LED Cabin Flood Lighting Kit for free. The kit includes eight LED bulbs along the headliner providing more light, longer-lasting bulbs, and less heat. Everything needed for installation is in the kit including the bulbs, a new circuit board, and the receptacles. Available for all 690A and later models, the lights are a welcome modern addition to the cabin. And now you can get the parts for free by ordering and installing $25,000 worth of factory parts. Find your Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center on the website.

Morelock Promoted at Eagle Creek Aviation

Randy Morelock, Eagle Creek Aviation’s director of avionics and a longtime fixture in the company’s avionics shop, was recently promoted to vice president of maintenance. In his new position, Morelock will be responsible for the company’s entire portfolio of maintenance and upgrades including airframe and powerplant repair and upgrades, avionics upgrades, paint and interior, and parts sales. Since coming to Eagle Creek in 1998, Morelock has been instrumental in projects such as the Grand Renaissance program, the STC for the Garmin G950, and more. Eagle Creek is a Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center with three locations in the Indianapolis area.

 

Air Journey Restarts International Trips

The global coronavirus pandemic has put a significant strain on companies that intersect in any way with tourism. Among those impacted, Florida-based Air Journey was forced to stop its guided international owner-flown trips. As detailed in the winter issue of Flight Levels now online, the company said it is restarting operations. Throughout the next few months the company will be flying escorted trips through the Caribbean and Central America, following strict health protocols in an effort to keep everyone safe. These include COVID-19 tests prior to departure, occasional rapid tests during the journey, outdoor dining, and so on. Air Journey owner Thierry Pouille said that the new requirements for a COVID-19 test prior to arrival back to the United States will be handled as part of the journey. And as of this writing, inbound quarantines have been proposed but are not federally required. For dates, locations, and more information, go to www.airjourney.com.

 

Journey to the Caribbean January 26, 2021
Bahamas Out Islands Journey February 24, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

Genesys S-Tec 3100 Certified for Twin Commanders

Twin Commander owner and operators in the United States have a new option for an aftermarket autopilot. Genesys announced earlier this month that its all-digital S-Tec 3100 is now certified for Twin Commanders. The S-Tec 3100 is a three-axis attitude-based autopilot that can interface with a number of different panel systems. It offers envelope control, electronic stability, and more. Covered models in the latest supplemental type certificate include the 695, 695A, 690, 690A, 690B, 690C, 690D, 680W, 681, 500, 500A, 500B, 500S, 500U, 560A, 560E, and 560F. Foreign validation is expected sometime soon. In the Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center network Byerly Aviation, Eagle Creek Aviation, Meta Aerospace, and the Naples Jet Center are also Genesys Aerosystems dealers.

Share Your Story

The Twin Commander community is a small, tight-knit group of owners, operators, and enthusiasts who love to share the myriad ways in which they use these versatile airplanes. We want to share your story with the rest of the community through this newsletter and in Flight Levels Online. We’re always looking for great stories about you, your airplane, trips you’ve taken in the airplane, upgrades you’ve made, unusual missions, and more. For longtime operators, we want to share your best flying tips with those transitioning, and your maintenance and ownership tips. And for maintainers, help us share best operating practices, maintenance tips and more. Write to the editor at [email protected] or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram.

Tell Us About Your System

A few months ago, we asked which type of environmental system is in your Twin Commander. Over the many years of production, various models were delivered from the factory with a few different environmental systems. Subsequent aftermarket options also have been added to the mix. Knowing what’s in the field will help with the development of future upgrades.

We’d like to know what system is currently in your airplane. Please disregard if you’ve already answered the survey.

 

 


 

November 2020

Time for a Close-Up

Brad Howard’s 690B. Photo by Jessica Ambats

The only thing better looking than a Twin Commander on the ground is a Twin Commander in flight. Now, thanks to professional photographer Jessica Ambats and owner Brad Howard, we can enjoy new photos of Howard’s 690B over Southern California. Ambats met Howard and his son, Scott, in Iceland while the pair were on a flight around the world with Air Journey. A few years later they connected for the air-to-air photo shoot and now Ambats is making the photos available for purchase. On Ambats’ website, search for “Commander” to see the photos. Each can be purchased as a print or put on a mug or other keepsake. If you’re looking for more, Ambats performs custom shoots and can give your airplane the star treatment.

Factory Working on Multiple Upgrades

The COVID pandemic hasn’t slowed down the work at Twin Commander Aircraft. Business Unit Director Brian Harbaugh said the company is busy with multiple projects and upgrades, from stocking new parts to developing new Custom Kits and flight manual upgrades. Engineering is currently working on new nacelle bulkheads that provide a more secure fit. A new cabin altitude indicator has been developed and will soon be available as part of a Custom Kit. The factory is also developing a new rudder gust lock that addresses customer feedback. Finally, a pilot’s operating handbook, POH, rewrite for 695s on long-range fuel was recently released, and owners and technicians will appreciate an impending change to the hydraulic pump overhaul procedure that is currently under review should make the process more efficient and result in better performance. “We are always working hard to support the Twin Commander community,” Harbaugh said. “But I’m particularly proud of the team’s work recently to push forward in the face of significant outside challenges. They are fully committed to providing value to owners and the Factory Authorized Service Centers.”

Eagle Creek Will Come to You

Naples Jet Center FBO Photos of maintenance, ramp, jet aircraft and charter.

Whether it’s a busy schedule or travel restrictions, getting away right now can be, in some cases, quite difficult. Eagle Creek Aviation Services is hoping to help ease that burden by coming to you. The company has long had a respected mobile team that is dispatched for AOG situations, and that service is now expanding to include mobile inspections. “Leave your Commander in your hangar, and our AOG and maintenance technicians will come to you,” promised a press release. A company representative said each job is currently being custom quoted, with the additional travel expenses baked into the rate. “We want customers to know we can take care of them regardless of where they are,” he said. By leveraging its more-than $15 million in Twin Commander parts inventory, Eagle Creek is able to further save owners and operators time and money. And now, you can add convenience to that list as well.

Tell Us About Your System

Over the many years of Twin Commander production, various turboprop models were delivered from the factory with a few different environmental systems. Subsequent aftermarket options also have been added to the mix.

We’d like to know what system is currently in your airplane.

October 2020

Technicians Urged to Follow Maintenance Manual During Inspections

Twin Commander Aircraft is asking technicians to use the factory maintenance manual during annual inspections of all Twin Commander aircraft, in particular the piston-powered models. Many technicians follow an official checklist for the inspection, but the factory is urging them to follow the complete guidance for annual and recurrent inspections in Section II of the maintenance manual. Specifically, all technicians should reference Part IV Special Inspection Requirements of Section II for detailed information on inspection intervals and procedures that supplement the basic inspection requirements. Part IV covers items such as inspections after hard landings, as well as special inspections that don’t precisely follow the annual inspection schedule. The checklist doesn’t include these items, and can result in an incomplete inspection.

Twin Commander Flight Group Hosts Successful In-Person Meeting

In-person events are rare these days, but the Twin Commander Flight Group bucked the trend and held its annual meeting in-person earlier this month in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Aircenter, Inc.’s Gary Gadberry was elected as the group’s new president after longtime head Jim Metzger retired. Gadberry said the event drew three piston Commanders and two 840s. “This has been a goofy year to try to pull something like this off,” he said. “But most everyone was excited about it.” There were social events and presentations on important topics, such as the difficult insurance market. Twin Commander Aircraft’s Pam Brown gave a presentation on factory programs, parts support, and new employees. “The idea of the group is to draw a closer feel to the Twin Commander aircraft,” Gadberry said. “Without the factory there’d be no support for the legacy airplanes. We feel like the timing is good for Twin to participate more in piston-powered airplanes.” Next May the group is planning a Caribbean fly-out that will take them through Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “I think everyone’s ready for 2021,” Gadberry said.

Fall Flight Levels Now Online

Ever wanted to fly around the world? With the latest issue of Flight Levels Online you can. Follow along as Twin Commander owner and pilot Robert DeLaurentis details his polar circumnavigation, including those harrowing moments at the top and the bottom of the earth when things didn’t go quite as planned. Closer to home, check out National Flight Services, one of the world’s best Honeywell facilities that is also a top-notch Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Center. Also, find out why the used market is so hot, look back at the JetProp 980, learn how to keep your turbines turnin’ and how fuel flow can help with power changes.

You’ll find all this and more in the latest issue of Flight Levels Online.

Business Is Brisk at Service Centers

The Coronavirus pandemic may bring a multi-year downturn to the world’s airlines, but it is not slowing down general aviation and Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers. Aircraft sales are booming, activity is up over seasonal norms, and aircraft charter is coming back to pre-pandemic levels in certain sectors. A representative from Eagle Creek Aviation Services said their charter business went from 30 hours a month when the pandemic struck in March to more than 130 hours a month through the late summer. On average he said they were picking up five new customers a week who were fed up with the airlines. Eagle Creek also recently refurbished three Twin Commanders for Conair Aerial Firefighting.

Winner Aviation, Aero Air, and Gemini Air Group have all recently expanded technician staff to handle increased demand. “When I look at what’s happening at the Twin Commander Factory Authorized Service Centers, I feel good about the future,” said Business Unit Director Brian Harbaugh. “It’s a good time to be part of the Twin Commander family.”