February 2018

FLIGHT LEVELS PROFILE: I’M ‘LOVING MY COMMANDER’

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.

GO SOCIAL

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.

FAA ISSUES HONEYWELL TPE331INSPECTION A.D.

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

COMMANDER MAINTENANCE CLASSES SET FOR 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 PERFORMS FIFTH GRAND RENAISSANCE FOR COLOMBIA

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.

CORRECTION

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.

December 2017

NEW BILL BRINGS CHANGES TO AIRCRAFT TAXATION

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.

NEED A NEW BELT FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

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 aircraftbelts.com.

LAND’S END OFFERS TWIN COMMANDER SWAG


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 CERTIFIES COMMANDER FIVE-BLADE COMPOSITE PROP


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].

TWIN COMMANDER SERVICE CENTERS AT UPCOMING NBAA


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.

WEATHER THROWS PUNCHES AT COMMANDER SERVICE CENTERS


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.

MORE OF WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ON TWIN FACEBOOK PAGE


“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.

August 2017

SHRIKE FEATURED IN HOOVER TRIBUTE

PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Slocum

The opening day of AirVenture 2017 was an experience Bruce Byerly will never forget. Byerly, of Byerly Aviation in Peoria, Illinois, was aboard the Shrike Commander that participated in the Bob Hoover Tribute flight on Monday, July 24. Hoover, who died October 25, 2016, was revered for his flying skills, which he demonstrated at air shows by performing one- and two-engine-out aerobatic routines in a Shrike. He performed the routine at Oshkosh for years, and continued to attend the event after he stopped performing. AirVenture paid tribute to Hoover this year with a fly-by and missing man formation featuring four of the North American/Rockwell aircraft he flew—an F-86 Sabre, T-28 Trojan, P-51 Mustang, and the Shrike.

PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Slocum

Months before AirVenture Byerly was asked if he knew anyone who could provide a Shrike for the planned AirVenture Tribute flight. “I’ll be there!” he answered. Byerly called Pat Hossman, Jr., to whom he had sold a Shrike, and Hossman offered his airplane for the AirVenture event. Byerly picked it up in North Carolina and arrived at OSH Sunday evening. The next day all the pilots involved in the Tribute flight met for a detailed briefing, and then took off for a formation photo shoot followed by two low-altitude formation fly-bys for the tens of thousands of AirVenture spectators. On the second pass the P-51 slowly pulled up and out of the formation in a missing man tribute to Hoover.

Byerly flew in the Shrike with veteran air show pilot Doug Rozendaal. “We made a plan, and it was executed like clockwork with military precision,” Byerly said of the Tribute.

“It was an honor and a privilege,” Byerly said of the experience. “Bob Hoover is my hero. He was there from the birth of flight through the jet age, and those guys are few and far between. It was an honor to have known him.”

EAGLE CREEK DISPLAYS COMMANDER 1000 AT AIRVENTURE

Eagle Creek Aviation Services was on the ground at AirVenture with a prominent display featuring a Commander 1000 fitted with the new Garmin 950 electronic panel. Eagle Creek, a regular participant in AirVenture, occupies a spot in the manufacturers’ display area that is on the main thoroughfare adjacent to air show center. Thousands of people walk by the display daily, and it is a preferred spot for watching the air show, especially the Friday night air show.

Eagle Creek also hosted a Tuesday evening barbecue for customers at its RV compound in Camp Scholler, a large campground just to the west of KOSH Runway 18-36 that operates only during AirVenture.

Many companies host evening social get-togethers during AirVenture, and Eagle Creek plans to make the barbecue an annual event.

PERSONALIZE YOUR COMMANDER BELTS

Aircraft restraints—seat belts—typically don’t get much consideration when it comes to adding style and presentation to your interior. Aircraft Belts, Inc. is out to change that perception.

A sister company to Twin Commander Aircraft, Aircraft Belts manufactures and sells aircraft restraint systems for both crew and passengers. 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.

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 http://aircraftbelts.com/.

LAND’S END OFFERS TWIN COMMANDER SWAG

You have the option of having the Twin Commander logo applied at this phase of your purchase.

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, go to:
https://business.landsend.com/store/twin_commander_aircraft/

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.

SUMMER FLIGHT LEVELS IS IN PRINT


The Summer edition of Twin Commander’s Flight Levels magazine has been published and distributed to subscribers and authorized service centers.

The issue features a profile of Commander 980 owner Steve Binnette, a senior American Airlines pilot who, with his wife, owns and operates a business requiring frequent travel to a variety of U.S. cities. Binnette, who had flown piston Commanders as a young freight pilot, says that when he went looking to upgrade from a Cessna 421, “My earlier experience with Commanders left quite an impression on me. I wanted to get back into a Commander.”

The issue’s “Service Center Profile” features Naples Jet Center, a busy Twin Commander Service Center in Naples, Florida. The accompanying “Commanding Profile” is on Scott Dillon, Executive Vice President of Naples Jet Center and its parent company, Eagle Creek Aviation Services in Indianapolis. Dillon rose from a newly certificated A&P mechanic at Eagle Creek to managing all the company’s properties, which also includes Montgomery Aviation at Indianapolis Executive Airport.

In his “From the Factory” column, Twin Commander LLC President Matt Isley writes about how the concept of reinvention realizes its highest form in Twin Commanders. Advances in airframe, engine, and avionics technology and service have kept Twin Commanders on the sharp edge of the turboprop market, Isley says “Change…is an absolute necessity if you want an airplane that keeps pace with contemporary standards of performance, comfort, and reliability.”

If you do not currently receive Flight Levels, you can sign up for a free subscription at www.twincommander.com