October 2018


Twin Commanders serve a unique and important role in helping to fight wildfires. Dozens serve as bird dogs or lead plane, helping to coordinate the aerial fire bomber response. As fire season begins to wind down, those airplanes will be flooding shops and companies will be buying parts while technicians furiously work on major maintenance packages, 150-hour inspections, and preventative maintenance in advance of next season’s flying.

Bird Dog Twin Commanders operate in a punishing environment. Airspray’s Paul Lane said, “We basically take the aircraft apart and put it back together again.” Like many other fire operators, Airspray has in-house maintenance, but they use the downtime to do more than just fix and inspect. “Over the years we’ve done interior changes, changes to panels, etc. It’s not just the maintenance side, it’s improving the aircraft.” The company operates seven Twin Commanders on active status, plus a few more in waiting that are used as corporate aircraft or ready spares. “690 and 695 are both the platform that everyone really likes,” Lane said.

In Canada, fire season is already winding down, but it remains strong in the United States. Beat the rush and get your Twin Commander into a service center and complete your 150-hour inspection before the rush of firefighting aircraft


Just because seat belts serve an essential safety function doesn’t mean they can’t also look great.

Upgrading your safety restraints not only improves the look of the aircraft, it can increase safety too. With a promotion from Twin Commander Aircraft and sister company Aircraft Belts, Inc. now is a great time to look at new equipment.

NBAA’s special promotion on safety restraints is being extended. Now through the end of the year Twin Commander owners will get special pricing on a set of customized engraved belts from Aircraft Belts. 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.

If you have another type of aircraft, Aircraft Belts can help. They are offering similar pricing, with a modest additional charge for artwork. Get your airplane’s front or profile view on your aircraft seat belts, and refresh a key piece of safety equipment at the same time.

Contact Twin Commander Aircraft’s Brian Harbaugh at 919-956-4385 or [email protected] for more information and pricing.


You’ve successfully purchased your Twin Commander in a state that allows you to fly it away without paying sales tax, and you have determined no sales tax is due in your home state. That’s a good start, but you’re not free from a tax bill yet.

It’s time to determine if your state has a use tax on aircraft. “Use tax complements sales tax and is a tax on the consumer for the privilege of storing, using, or consuming within the state any tangible personal property,” writes Suzanne Meiners-Levy in the latest issue of Flight Levels. Meiners-Levy’s column explores the complex relationship between sales and use tax, and describes a few of the many exemptions that may be available to you.

Read more in the Fall issue of Flight Levels online


AOPA Senior Editor Tom Horne flying the simulator with Flight Safety International Twin Commander instructor Fred Sandoval. Houston, TX USA www.mikefizer.com 07-564_086.CR2,Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

Twin Commander simulator training provider SIMCOM Holdings, Inc. announced in late October Directional Aviation had acquired the Orland-based simulator center. The transaction is expected to close in November.

Directional Aviation is the parent company of fractional operators Flexjet and Flight Options, as well as Nextant Aerospace, and other aviation businesses. SIMCOM CEO Eric Hinson will remain in the top job at the sim center.

SIMCOM is the exclusive factory authorized provider of pilot initial and recurrent training for 690/A/B and JetProp models, held at its Orlando facility. A SIMCOM representative said there would be no changes to the training programs as a result of the sale, although there was hope of renewed investment in the company’s simulators.

August 208


The IRS has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would clarify the definition of a used aircraft for the purpose of obtaining the bonus depreciation provision included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in late 2017. The Act provides for 100 percent bonus depreciation for qualified new and used property acquired and placed into service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2027. Beginning in 2022, bonus depreciation would be reduced by 20 percent each year through Jan. 1, 2027.

The Act offered a significant stimulus for purchasers of new or used aircraft. However, the legislation includes a stipulation that preowned (used) property qualifies only if it was not previously used by the taxpayer. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) requested guidance from the IRS on the definition of “previously used” because, according to NBAA, incidental uses, such as a demonstration flight or charter operation before a purchase of an aircraft, should not disqualify the purchase from bonus depreciation.

The NPRM says “the property is treated as used by the taxpayer or a predecessor at any time before its acquisition of the property only if the taxpayer or the predecessor had a depreciable interest in the property at any time before the acquisition.”

NBAA said the IRS proposal broadens the types of transactions that qualify, such as if an organization leased an aircraft from an owner and then bought it.

The IRS also clarified that an aircraft is considered acquired when the taxpayer enters into a binding written contract.


AOPA’s Air Safety Institute has produced a chilling but instructive case-study video titled “Unintended Consequences” that examines how a string of seemingly innocuous events and circumstances led to a fatal CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) accident involving a Twin Commander 690A in November 2011.

The airplane departed Mesa, Arizona’s Falcon Field Airport on a clear, moonless night for a VFR flight to Safford, Arizona, 110 miles to the southeast. The tower controller instructed the pilot to fly runway heading (40 degrees), then two minutes later cleared him to turn right on course. At that point the pilot apparently configured the installed KLN90 GPS for a direct-to course to the destination airport. Two-and-a-half minutes later, flying level at 4,500 feet MSL—500 feet below the base of Phoenix Class B airspace—the Commander impacted the Superstition Mountains, killing the three adults and three children aboard.

In its report on the accident the NTSB cited the pilot’s complacency in that two days earlier he had flown the same route VFR at night. The NTSB also noted the pilot’s lack of situational awareness; the airplane was not equipped with a terrain warning system.

To view the video and hear the lessons the Air Safety Institute says are to be learned from this tragic accident, go to www.airsafetyinstitute.org/acs/consequences. When you’ve finished viewing the video, be sure to scroll through the comments from other viewers.


The seven-day training course, set for September 17-25, covers 690 thru 695B models. The course takes the A&P mechanic (or equivalent) through the various aircraft systems in a classroom environment. It is comprised of 20 study modules, plus a review, and uses AMM and AIPC documents along with associated publications as well as physical training aids including aircraft undergoing maintenance. The training culminates with a graded exam. Upon successful completion of the class clients receive an official certificate and record of training. The course is conducted at Eagle Creek Aviation Services in Indianapolis.

For a complete syllabus of the 42-hour course, click here. 

Cost is $7,210 (USD) reduced to $5,000 per client. Payment is due prior to or upon arrival.

For more information and to register, contact Michael Grabbe, Technical Advisor, Eagle Creek Aviation Services, 317-293-6935 or email [email protected].


The FAA has issued AD 2018-13-05 calling for more frequent SOAP (Spectroscopic Oil Analysis Program) inspections of Honeywell TPE331 engines, including those installed on Twin Commanders. The FAA said the AD was prompted by “recent reports of failures of the direct drive fuel control gears and bearings in the hydraulic torque sensor gear assembly, P/N 3101726-3.” The AD is intended to “prevent failure of the hydraulic torque sensor gear assembly. The unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in failure of the hydraulic torque sensor gear assembly, in-flight shutdown, and reduced control of the airplane.”

The AD requires that a SOAP inspection be performed within 150 hours time in service following the June 14, 2018 release of the AD. If the SOAP analysis indicates a resample is necessary, and that inspection calls for a second resample, the hydraulic torque sensor gear assembly must be inspected.

The AD has negligible effect on Twin Commander operators because SOAP samples already are routinely performed at 150-hour inspections.

For more information about AD 2018-13-05 contact your authorized Twin Commander Service Center.


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