July 2018


What’s the best way to get from Yukon, Oklahoma, to Johannesburg, South Africa, a Great Circle distance of about 9,600 nm? For Michael Johnstone, the answer was easy. He first did it in reverse—Johannesburg, which is home for him, to Yukon—by airline so he could do the return trip his way, in his newly acquired Commander 695B.

Johnstone and ferry pilot Antony Maitland left Legacy Aviation Services in Yukon, where Johnstone had purchased the Commander, on December 13, 2017, and five days later landed at the Commander’s new base at Lanseria International in Johannesburg after logging about 34 flying hours.

“The trip was an amazing experience for me as it was my first flight from the USA through Europe back to South Africa,” Johnstone says. “Temperatures ranged from -40 C to +37 C with large snowfalls in Canada and Greenland, and seeing Mont Blanc in Switzerland, the Mediterranean, the desert in Egypt, the Nile River, Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya, and Lake Malawi (bordering Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania) were all wonderful sights.”

The trip was the culmination of a long process to upgrade from the Cessna 402C Johnstone had owned and flown for 10 years to a more capable aircraft to travel throughout Africa with more weather-avoiding performance and comfort.

Read Michael Johnstone’s full story, including a detailed account of the trip from Maitland, in the new Summer 2018 issue of Twin Commander’s Flight Levels magazine. The issue has been printed and distributed to subscribers. It’s also available online at www.FlightLevelsOnline.com.

The issue also profiles Winner Aviation, a factory-authorized Twin Commander Service Center located at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in eastern Ohio. Winner is on the move. The company hasn’t changed its physical location—it’s been in continuous operation under a variety of owners and names since its founding in 1941 as Youngstown Airways, soon to become Beckett Aviation, named after founder Forest Beckett. In 1985 it became Aero Services, and in 1995 Winner Aviation. Winner is expanding the scope and reach of its operations, opening new airline-service locations even as it adds Twin Commander customers.

As in every issue, this Flight Levels also has tips on flying, maintaining, and upgrading your Twin Commander. Subscriptions to the quarterly Fight Levels are free. Just go to www.FlightLevelsOnline.com to sign up.



As it has done for a number of years, Eagle Creek Aviation Services, brought a nicely refurbished Twin Commander to display at the world’s largest aviation gathering—EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh—July 23-29 at Wittman Regional Airport in east-central Wisconsin.

Eagle Creek has managed to secure a highly visible spot each year in the manufacturers display area bordering the flightline and two major pedestrian walkways. The Commander is visible to the tens of thousands of AirVenture visitors who amble by on the walkways.

This year Eagle Creek brought a customer’s aircraft that is for sale, a 690B Commander that was one of the first airplanes Eagle Creek upgraded to the Garmin 950 all-electronic panel.

The 2018 edition of AirVenture opened with good weather and a robust economy, which made for record-breaking attendance. By the end of the first day, all available parking spots on the airport were occupied. Companies displaying aviation products and services reported brisk activity and sales.


One of the hardest-working components on any airplane is the nose landing gear, and the secret to long and reliable service is regular, thorough inspections and preventive maintenance.

Custom Kit (CK) 159 delivers that preventive maintenance by replacing the nose landing gear support structure with new parts. CK159 takes the later-model Twin Commander factory improved nose gear support design and makes it available to all model Twin Commander aircraft as an upgrade or replacement. This kit contains new, later-designed parts featuring machined fittings that replace earlier sheet-metal formed parts. No significant change to W&B is required with kit installation.

CK159 is being offered at a reduced price, but only for a limited time. Check with your Twin Commander-authorized service center for details. See www.twincommander.com/service-centers/

May 2018


Twin Commander Aircraft has a new leader. Allen Goad, an experienced executive in aerospace, defense, service, and industrial markets, has been named President of Twin Commander Aircraft LLC.

Allen replaces Matt Isley, who after 10 years at the helm has taken an executive position with another company but still remains within the Twin Commander family.

Allen has more than 20 years of experience leading complex businesses for high profile, public and private organizations. Prior to being named President of Twin Commander, he was the CEO at ATS Systems in California.

Along with leading Twin Commander Aircraft LLC, Goad has been named President of the Aerospace Technology Group (ATG) for parent company H-D Advanced Manufacturing. ATG is comprised of H-D subsidiary companies involved in the aviation, aerospace and manufacturing arena.

Allen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Chemistry from Arkansas State University and a Presidential and Key Executive M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. He also holds an FAA Private Pilot’s certificate.

“Allen brings an incredible breadth of experience and capability to the senior leadership team,” commented Michael J. Vincent, President & CEO of H-D Advanced Manufacturing. “His strong leadership background in operations, sales, engineering, finance, and strategic initiatives for multi-national firms fills a critical need as ATG endeavors to grow its business.”

“I am excited to join the Twin Commander team,” Allen said, “and look forward to meeting and getting to know everyone—especially our factory-authorized service center partners—responsible for making a Twin Commander such an incredible aircraft to own and operate. Events such as the Twin Commander University will also be important to continue building the communication and support of our network for all involved—owners and operators, our authorized service center personnel, and our suppliers and vendors.”

For more information contact Twin Commander Aircraft LLC at 1176 Telecom Drive,
Creedmoor, NC 27522; 919-956-4300; 919-682-3786 fax; Brian Harbaugh, Sales [email protected]

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 www.twincommander.com. You can also view the issue online at www.flightlevelsonine.com.


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 www.twincommander.com 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: http://markdziuban.net.