Author Archives: Marcel Colon

March 2018


Spring is officially springing, and that means freezing temperatures and the weather phenomena associated with it—snow and ice—are fast disappearing. Except in the flight levels.

Airframe icing can be a real concern in the spring when ambient temperatures and moisture saturation aloft can be ideal for the formation of ice on wings and tail leading edges, propeller blades, engine inlets, and windshields.

As all pilots know, airframe icing is in the same category as thunderstorms as a flight condition to be treated with utmost respect. Knowledge is key to safely avoiding ice or dealing with it in an airplane approved for flight into known icing, as is the case with Turbo Commanders.

The FAA has just added to the icing knowledge base with a new “Ice-Induced Stall Pilot Training” film. Despite the government-gray title, there is much to learn in this 30-minute production, accessible on YouTube:

The film is an update of NASA’s original 1998 video on tailplane icing, and in the introduction the FAA says the update was prompted by a 30-year study of icing-related accidents that concluded that most such accidents resulted from wing stalls and not tail stalls. Thus, the film aims to help pilots understand the phenomenon of wing and tail stall while flying in icing conditions by examining icing certification rules and recommending cockpit procedures to mitigate the potential for icing-induced stalls.

Some interesting points made in the film:

  • The majority of the general aviation fleet, including aircraft previously certified for flight into icing conditions, may not meet the latest icing certification standards. Many aircraft flying today were certified before the latest anti- and deice certification rules were enacted. A study of non-fatal ice-related upsets over the past 25 years found that the stall warning did not activate before a wing stall occurred. The study involved many different aircraft models in the cruise, approach, and landing phases of flight.
  • The study concluded that an airplane’s susceptibility to tailplane stall may not be known, and that the stall warning system may not activate prior to a stall in icing conditions.
  • An ice-contaminated wing increases stall speed significantly—as much as 20 knots.
  • One of first signs of airframe icing is an increase in drag, resulting in the need for more power, loss of climb performance, and loss of airspeed.
  • Tail stalls are very rare, but can occur, usually with full- or nearly-full flaps deployed, which moves the center of lift aft on the wing. Control forces will feel lighter, the pilot may have difficulty trimming, and could experience PIOs. The recovery from a tailplane stall is opposite that of a wing stall—pull back on the yoke, gradually reduce flaps, and decrease power.

The FAA is leading a rulemaking effort to both update training for wing-stall recognition and recovery, and cockpit procedures in icing conditions. In the meantime, devote 30 minutes to adding to your knowledge of, and respect for, airframe icing. Watch the film.


Anti-ice measures on a turboprop Twin Commander protect lots more equipment than the windshield, pitot static probes, and engine inlets. Generator inlets and the rudder trim tab are protected by thermostatically controlled heated rubber boots. The fuel vent tubes are wrapped in a heated metal foil. And, the top of the horizontal stabilizer and bottom of the rudder horn have heated metal plates.

It’s important to make sure all of these components are in good condition and working properly before venturing into known icing. Generator inlets, for example, are located on the engine nacelle directly behind the prop and therefore subject to significant erosion. Fuel vent tubes are exposed to the slipstream and also suffer from erosion. The rudder trim tab and upper and lower rudder plates protect these surfaces from accumulation of ice between very closely spaced surfaces.

Checking and testing anti-ice components is best done by a Twin Commander-authorized service center, and not just because some of the components—the upper and lower rudder plates—are difficult to reach. Service centers are trained and equipped to test the components properly using the right tools and methods. Plus, they have access to improved versions of some of the components that have been developed recently by Twin Commander Aircraft LLC.

For more information about anti-ice components on your Twin Commander, contact your authorized Twin Commander Service Center.


A “Business Flying and Taxes” article in a recent issue of Twin Commander’s Flight Levels magazine on the effects of the new tax law on aircraft owners has gotten wide dissemination. The Global News Report wire service picked up the article and distributed it on its Twitter feed, and earned more than 2,700 impressions.

The article, written by Suzanne Meiners-Levy of the Advocate Consulting Legal Group, provides details on five areas of reform that directly impact business aircraft ownership and operation:

  • Equipment Expensing for Purchases Made after September 27, 2017.
  • Elimination of 1031 Exchanges for Equipment
  • Adjustments to Deductibility of Flights Pursuant to Section 274
  • Clarification of No Excise Tax for Part 91 Flights Pursuant to a Management Agreement
  • Tax Rate Changes for C-Corporations for Pass-Through Entities

To read the full article, see:
Flight Levels Online

February 2018


Kent Titcomb recently upgraded from a Cessna 414A to a Twin Commander 840. A few months into ownership of the Commander, he drew on a literary reference to describe its qualities. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Persig’s iconic 1974 book, was a philosophical examination of the marriage of the technical with the emotions,” Titcomb observed. “The Commander is a beautiful example of that Zen. A blend of exceptional speed, exceptional fuel burn, reasonable purchase price, reasonable maintenance costs, cabin size, and payload/range flexibility. What machine can do more for less? Did I mention excellent short-field performance? Did I mention how good the aircraft flies? Ramp presence?”

Titcomb writes glowingly about his Commander in the latest issue of Flight Levels. The issue also profiles a rejuvenated Byerly Aviation, a long-time Twin Commander authorized service center that is now under the ownership and management of Scott Welch and Bruce Byerly. “Business Flying and Taxes” consultant Suzanne Meiners-Levy provides insight on how the new tax law affects aircraft owners, buyers, and sellers.

Commander historian Barry Collman writes about the Model 1200 prototype that Gulfstream Aerospace’s Commander Division built and marketed but did not approve for production. And Twin Commander LLC President Matt Isley reflects on how two pearls of wisdom—“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” and “The only constant is change,” apply equally to the Twin Commander.

Flight Levels subscribers should have received the latest issue. If you’re not receiving Flight Levels, you can sign up for a free subscription at You can also view the issue online at


Flight Levels and the Twin Commander eLetter are not the only way Twin Commander communicates with Commander owners, operators, pilots, and enthusiasts. Have you checked out Twin Commander’s Facebook page, Tweets, and Instagram photo postings? Readership and viewing of the Twin Commander social media sites is steadily increasing. One recent Twin Commander Tweet referred to Clive Cussler, the noted adventure writer, who in his book The Race refers to pilots as “drivers.” The Tweet found its way to Cussler, who “liked” it.

The Twin Commander Instagram site is loaded with great photos of people, places, and airplanes in flight and on the ramp.

To join in the fun go to and scroll down a bit to the “Social” collection of icons for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Click on each one to see what’s happening in the Twin Commander world, and post about your Twin Commander experiences.


The FAA has issued Airworthiness Directive 2018-02-14 calling for an inspection of TPE331 engines to check for weld cracks in the combustion chamber plenum.

The FAA said the AD was prompted by reports that combustion chamber case assemblies have cracked and ruptured. The AD was issued “to prevent failure of the combustion chamber case assembly. The unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in failure of the combustion chamber, in-flight shutdown, and reduced control of the airplane.”

The inspection, which can be completed in an hour or less according to the AD, involves all accessible areas of the combustion chamber case assembly, focusing on the weld joints, and must be completed before accumulating 450 hours in service since the last fuel nozzle inspection or within 50 hours in service after the February 28, 2018 effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later.

Honeywell said the AD “mainly affects the higher-pressure “flowerpot/-8+” engines, but the older P/C through -6 engines have some plenums with a lot of time on them.”

Operators who have been accomplishing published safety SBs should not have any problems with the combustion chamber cases, Honeywell noted. The company recommends that any time the plenum exterior is accessed, a quick visual be performed on all accessible weld joints. When the turbine is accessed the plenum should be updated with modified bosses, which is called for in the SB and AD.

Honeywell said its combustion chamber service bulletins are all Category 1 Safety Bulletin(s) that recommend replacing the combustion chamber (plenum) with a new improved design at the next event (either scheduled or unscheduled maintenance necessitating removal), but with a final compliance no later than March 2021. The FAA AD compliance differs from the Honeywell SB recommendations in that the AD continues the recurring visual inspections (until the plenum is replaced with new improved design), disqualifies certain old-design plenums from being reinstalled on National Flight Service STC’d engines, and requires all currently installed plenums on those engines be replaced before accumulating an additional 3700 hours following release of the AD.

Following is Honeywell’s guidance regarding the A.D.

  1. Confirm part number of plenum installed (the IPC allows the use of several different plenum part numbers). If the installed plenum is a P/N 869728-X, 893973-X, 3101668-X or 3102613-X then this A.D. is applicable. (Note – if installed plenum part number is listed in the engine’s applicable IPC and is NOT one of these four listed suspect part numbers, then this A.D. can be signed off as “N/A by plenum part number”).
  2. If the installed plenum part number is one of the four suspect plenum part numbers, operators shall then inspect the plenum per SB 72-2178 R.0 before engine accumulates 450 hours since last fuel nozzle inspection OR within 50 hours after effective date of this A.D., whichever occurs later.
  3. For TPE331-3U, -3UW, -5, -5A, -5AB, -5B, -6, and -6A engines found to have a P/N 869728-1, 869728-3, or 893973-5 plenum installed (one without the one-piece bleed pad; refer to A.D. for picture) or TPE331-1, -2, and -2UA engines that have been modified for STC SE383CH by National Flight Services, Inc., those plenums must be removed from service at the next removal of the plenum from the engine or within 3700 hours time-in-service since last hot-section inspection.
  4. For TPE331 models -8 and subsequent, you need only re-inspect the plenum at each scheduled fuel nozzle inspection (intervals of which are not to exceed 450 hours) until plenum is replaced for cause.
  5. The A.D. has special provisions for FAR Part 135/121 operators. They should consult with their authorized Twin Commander service center for details.

For more information contact your authorized Twin Commander service center

January 2018


Two Twin Commander 690-695B Maintenance Initial Training classes are scheduled in 2018, and additional classes can be held if demand warrants.

Classes will be conducted May 7-15 and September 17-25. Both class dates have open slots at this time. Please note that at least four people must be registered for a class to take place. Special-request class dates can be accommodated if a minimum of four people will attend. The classes will be held at Eagle Creek Aviation Services in Indianapolis (Eagle Creek Airpark identifier is KEYE).

The seven-day Twin Commander Maintenance Initial Training event takes the A&P mechanic (or equivalent) through the various systems in a classroom environment. The class uses AMM and AIPC documents along with associated publications, as well as physical training aids—including live aircraft—for visual and tactile reference. Participants are issued a training binder with a printed copy of the presentation and various handouts. The first day of class begins at 0830 and ends midafternoon on the last day.

The training culminates with a graded exam. Upon successful completion of the class, clients receive an official certificate of training and a record of training.

The price for the training class has been significantly reduced from $7,210.00 (USD) to a flat $5,000.00 per client. Payment is due prior to or upon arrival for the class, and may be made via wire transfer, credit card, company check, or cash. Contact Mike Grabbe at Eagle Creek Aviation Services if you have any questions on payment via wire transfer or credit cards.

Many hotels are located within easy driving distance of Eagle Creek, with the closest at just two miles away. Eagle Creek does not recommend any specific hotel.

The commercial airport is Indianapolis International Airport (KIND), 15-20 minutes south of Eagle Creek.

For more information about the class, contact:
Michael Grabbe, Technical Advisor,
Eagle Creek Aviation Services
4101 Dandy Trail,
Indianapolis IN 46254 USA
E: [email protected]


Eagle Creek Aviation Services is delivering a new Grand Renaissance Twin Commander to the Colombian Army—the fifth complete airframe overhaul and refurbishment of a Twin Commander that Eagle Creek has done for the South American country’s military.

The previous four Grand Renaissance projects that Eagle Creek performed for Colombia were on aircraft already being operated by the army. Eagle Creek purchased a Model 840 from a U.S. corporate operator for the fifth Colombian Grand Renaissance project.

The 840 came with recently overhauled TPE331-10T engines that met the requirements of the Grand Renaissance program, so no engine upgrade was required. The Colombians opted for the Garmin G950 all-electronic panel for their fifth Grand Renaissance along with an S-TEC Digital Flight Control System, Jeppesen Chart View, and a Garmin traffic detection system.

The country’s fourth Grand Renaissance Commander also had the Garmin G950 panel. Earlier ones were delivered with Garmin G600 Primary Flight and Navigation Displays and Meggitt Engine and Instrument Displays. Those aircraft may return to Eagle Creek for the G950 upgrade.

This Grand Renaissance also has been fitted with a modification that allows the main cabin door to fully open so bulky cargo can be placed in the cabin.

The Colombian Army uses its Twin Commanders for a variety of missions ranging from executive transport to military surveillance and intervention.


The Summer 2017 issue of Flight Levels Online led with a story on Steve Binnette and his journey to a Commander 980. One person who strongly encouraged him to move up from his Cessna 421 to a Commander was his friend and neighbor, Mark Dziuban, who had owned and flown the last Commander 1000 built. Unfortunately, we misspelled Mark’s last name, so we are correcting that now. Mark no longer has his 1000, but looks forward to the day when he will be flying a Commander once again. Meanwhile, he enjoys himself with adventure travel and blogging about it:

December 2017


The tax bill signed by the president includes some important changes to taxation for aircraft purchases and use. The National Business Aviation Association Tax Committee has summarized the most important of those provisions as follows:

100-Percent Expensing (Bonus Depreciation)

A 2015 Act extended bonus depreciation for qualified property (including commercial and non-commercial aircraft used in a trade or business with a recovery period of 20 years or less) through 2019, with a phase-down over time from 50 percent to 30 percent.

Under the Tax Bill, however, the current law would be amended to provide for 100-percent expensing, which will allow taxpayers immediately to write off the cost of aircraft acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2023 (Jan. 1, 2024 for longer production period property and certain aircraft). Through the efforts of NBAA and a coalition of general aviation groups, the new law would permit 100 percent expensing by the taxpayer for both factory-new and pre-owned aircraft so long as it is the taxpayer’s first use of the aircraft.

For tax years after 2022, the bill provides for a phase down of bonus depreciation in increments of 20 percent each year for qualified aircraft acquired and placed in service before Jan. 1, 2027 (Jan. 1, 2028 for longer production period property and certain aircraft).

Like-Kind Exchanges

Under current law, when property (including business aircraft) held for productive use in the taxpayer’s trade or business or for investment is exchanged for property that is “like-kind,” a special rule under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 1031 provides that no gain or loss is recognized to the extent that the replacement property is also held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment purposes.

The Tax Bill modifies this special rule only to allow for like-kind exchanges of real property. As a result, taxpayers will no longer be eligible to defer taxable gain on the sale of aircraft via a like-kind exchange, and the gain would be subject to recapture for tax purposes. This provision is effective for transfers after 2017, and is a permanent repeal of application of IRC § 1031 rules to exchanges involving aircraft and other tangible personal property.

However, a transition rule preserves like-kind exchanges of personal property if the taxpayer has either disposed of the relinquished property or acquired the replacement property on or before Dec. 31, 2017.

For a more detailed summary of provisions in the new tax bill that affect aircraft owners and operators, see the upcoming issue of Flight Levels magazine.


Still searching for that perfect holiday gift—for yourself? Here’s an idea: new seatbelts for your favorite Commander. And, there’s a special 25 percent off holiday sale going on.

A sister company to Twin Commander Aircraft, Aircraft Belts, Inc. (ABI), manufactures aircraft restraint systems for both crew and passengers, and is offering Commander owners a special discount on replacement restraints for their aircraft. Configurations range from traditional three-point restraints (lap and shoulder harness) to five-point crew restraints. Restraint buckles are available in lift-lever, push-button, and rotary configurations.

ABI also is offering replacement restraint systems that feature distinctive custom engraved lift lever lids featuring the Twin Commander head-on or profile view.

The restraint belts are available in hundreds of colors, so you’re sure to find one that matches your style and interior.

If the restraints in your aircraft are looking a bit worn, or are a mismatch with your interior colors, call Brian Harbaugh of Twin Commander Aircraft at 919-956-4385, or email him at [email protected]. He will refer you to Aircraft Belts, Inc. for a quote on a stylish and distinctive set of new restraints.

For more information see


While you’re adding style to your aircraft interior, why not add some Twin Commander style to your own wardrobe, home, or office. Twin Commander Aircraft has a partnership with Land’s End to provide a full range of quality men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories to Commander owners, pilots, and enthusiasts. A variety of Twin Commander promotional products also are available from Land’s End.

To see Land’s End Twin Commander products, click here:

Depending on the clothing or promotional products you select from the site, you will be given the option of having the Twin Commander logo applied. In many cases, you can specify the logo color and where on the item it will be applied.

September 2017


MT-Propeller Entwicklung GmbH has received FAA Supplemental Type Certification of its “Quiet Fan Jet” five-blade scimitar composite propeller on the Twin Commander 690/695 series with either the Honeywell TPE-331-5 or Dash 10T engine. The installation is already EASA certified.

MT-Propeller President Gerd Muehlbauer says the installation offers a number of advantages over conventional metal props:

  • An approximate 10-percent reduction in takeoff distance (MTOW, SL, ISA conditions).
  • Slightly faster cruise performance (3 to 4 kts at MTOW and ISA).
  • Cooler ITTs during engine start up, therefore less engine wear and reduced risk of hot start.
  • Lighter than the original propellers by 8 kg (17.7 lbs) per propeller assembly.
  • A reduction in Cabin noise of between 3-5 dB(A).
  • The STC complies with strict German noise regulations for unrestricted airport operations in Germany and other European countries.
  • Serious ramp appeal.

The MT-Propeller has no life limitation, and is repairable in the event of FOD-related damage. The prop has bonded nickel alloy leading edges for erosion protection. The five-blade prop also provides near vibration-free propeller operation.

TBO is at 3500 or six years, with plans to increase that to 4000 hours or six years. The retail price for a pair of five-bladed, constant-speed propellers with feathering and nickel leading edges is $98,500.00 (including exchange for the existing propellers and spinner assembly). Freight from Germany and Installation are additional.

The STC Kit includes two five-blade full-feathering constant-speed propellers, spinner assemblies, slip ring assemblies, and deice kits.

For more information contact Mike Laver at Air 1st in Aiken, South Carolina, the exclusive distributor for the MT Twin Commander props; telephone 803-641-9999 or email [email protected].


Several Twin Commander factory-authorized service centers will have displays at the National Business Aviation Association Convention and Exhibition at the Las Vegas Convention Center October 10-12.

Banyan Air Service, based at the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Executive Airport, will be at the Avfuel collection of service providers in Booth 4314 and the FXE booth, N924. Executive Aircraft Maintenance, based at the Scottsdale, Arizona, Municipal Airport, will be at Booth #11438 in the Central Hall, and National Flight, based at the Toledo, Ohio, Express Airport, will be in Booth C10836.

If you will be at the NBAA Convention and Exhibition, plan to stop by these Twin Commander Service Centers to see what they might offer in the way of service and parts support for your Twin Commander, and in the case of Banyan and National, FBO services when flying to KFXE or KTOL.


Hurricanes Harvey and Irma dealt some damaging blows to Houston, Texas, and Naples, Florida, where two authorized Twin Commander Service Centers are located, but fortunately both escaped major damage.

Global, located in the Tomball Jet Center at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport in northeast Houston, escaped the major flooding or damage that affected much of the Houston area, but the area surrounding the airport was flooded. Global was shut down for five days after Harvey because the water was high “all around the airport,” said Sherrie Ray, who along with her husband Doug own and operate Global. “It’s still slow going, but we are thankful we came through it okay,” she said.

Naples Jet Center at the Naples, Florida, Municipal Airport, took a near direct hit from Hurricane Irma that made landfall in Florida in early September with winds clocked at 143 mph at the airport. NJC had moved all the airplanes in its storage and maintenance hangars, and no staff were on site when the storm hit. The Category 4-strength winds destroyed the mesh doors on two large storage hangars owned by NJC, but no other significant damage was reported.

The company resumed operations several days after the storm. The two hangar doors will be replaced.


“All the news that fits” is an appropriate slogan for the hefty New York Times, but limited space in the Twin Commander eNews and Flight Levels magazine sometimes forces us to limit the photos or words accompanying a story. Well, to use another famous media slogan (this one from Paul Harvey), “the rest of the story” often can be found on Twin Commander Aircraft’s Facebook page.

For example, in last month’s eLetter we published a dramatic photo of a Shrike Commander in formation with an F-86 Sabre, P-51 Mustang, and T-28 Trojan taken during EAA’s 2017 AirVenture. The occasion was a tribute to the legendary Bob Hoover, who flew all of those aircraft in his post-war career.

We had more great photos of the formation, but no room in the eLetter to publish them, so they have been placed on Twin Commander’s Facebook page.

You can find lots of other interesting information and photos on the Facebook page, which has grown dramatically in popularity since it was launched two years ago—more than 1,000 people have “Liked” the page.

For all the news that fits Twin Commander, see our Facebook page.