Friday, December 21, 2007

Back in the saddle again

Hello Good Readers,

It's been awhile, but I'm back to torture you with more transportaion ideas for Labrador. I've had time to study alot of different things and hopefully have found things to your liking(or maybe not). I've also been a bit concerned about the lack of tourism planning that seems to be the course. I'm starting to see that could be an important key to unlocking valuable revenue streams that would benefit all. The problem is certainly not the lack of interest. It's the lack of information on the precious few available assets we have(motels and operators,ferries etc.). So really it matters not what fancy equipment you bring in. If you can't find a place or tourist operater to take them, it's all for not. Some people do take the time to figure out our transport system. However, many times more then them will not bother. There are plenty of other places that figure it out for them, and part them with their money accordingly. And those customers are most pleased about it. What's the point of a holiday if traveling about is too complex? Come to Labrador to get stressed out trying to see the place? Not a very good marketing plan I'm afraid. This has me wondering if pulling those assets together in Labrador and creating a marketing/reservation system that works together might be the best first option to follow. An intergrated and responsive system that all Labradorian businesses can interact with.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Harbin Y-12IV The econobox of STOL

In today's money hungry aviation field, someone has made quite a bargin. And that someone would be Harbin Aviation of China. Not widely known in the west, yet already CAA certified due to joint production in Canada as the "Twin Panda". All of the 200 odd produced being sold to South American countries after fully westernizing the plane. Harbin astutely took their base Y-12 and produced the "E" and "IV" models slanted particularly at the west, based heavily on what happened with the "Twin Panda" project. The result is probably the most affordable small STOL airliner in it's class.
Looking a bit like a twin Otter with a double tail, the Y-12IV is the slowest of all our entries, but also the one with the greatest range. Almost double some of our other contestents.The aircraft has an accident shadow, but nearly all of the accidents were of the very early models, not one of the newer ones having any problems. The Y-12IV is said to cost around $2.25 million USD in 2005 terms. So far the few operators that have them, namely Pacific Airline fleets, seem to be very happy with them.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Antonov's Heavy Hauling AN-70

One of the primary problems facing Labrador is moving goods in and out of the area. Clearly when talking about products available, there is an embarrassing amount of good traded at regional trade ports not that far away. The issue is no one is offering the bulk carriage ability to fetch these goods, and more importantly, deliver them to outlying Labrador and Quebec North shore communities. There are some important factors to consider. You need an aircraft which can carry a heavy load. You'd be very luck to find one which could take a heavy but reduced load to the smallest fields in Labrador. You are now entering the special world of military air freighters. These can be alarmingly costly aircraft. Hence this dictates not operating a large number of them. You would benefit most by having a small troop of them. These would from time to time service our small communities as needed. However, they could also earn their keep operating on certain trade port routes, handling commercial loads.

Powered by four amazingly powerful 14,000 hp turboprops driving D-27 contra-rotating props. The AN-70 can leap from a 600 meter strip with an unheard of 20 ton payload.All hats off to Antonov for yet another engineering feat And best of all, when given a nice big strip like Goose Bay, the AN-70 can carry a 47 ton payload a full 3000 KM. This puts many North American Trade ports suddenly on Labrador's doorsteps. They'd naturally be quite attractive to serving Labrador's burgeoning Natural Resources Industry. Al tough that would rate further down on it's priority of service charter, especially in light of not wanting to damage such valuable porters.

These AN-70's have all necessary gear to handle the job built right into them. In addition to the big yawning tail ramp, they have no less the four overhead hoist rails with a 12 ton lift capacity. And for mulish cargoes, there are front and back horizontal 1.5 ton winches to convince the load otherwise. Indeed I believe you can easy get most forms of transportion on board.
Currently there is a shortage of haulers in the AN-70's class, with only the long toothed and elderly C-130J it's only real analogue. Comparatively, there is no comparison. Antonov wins on oh so many fronts as to almost be laughable. What is not laughable is the seemingly internal Russian Air Force complaints that seem to be a planted story to sell Illushin products. But the brutish Turboprop Antonov still whips the competitor's IL-76 jet aircraft . To be quite honest, Germany has the right idea with the seemingly stillborn AN-7X project. The vaunted EAD's A400 beast is walking the cash tightrope thanks to the Airbus fascination with the A380. Both it and the C-17A are wildly more expensive. In fact for the price the RCAF paid for four lousy C-17A's, they could have purchased 30 AN-70's! When I see rampantly overpriced deals like that, I honestly feel like I've been robbed. Especially given the availiability of the marvelous AN-70.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The LET L420 The mighty little Czech

When thinking of aircraft in the old Eastern block, the mind normally springs to the words Anotov or Tupolev as the big names in aircraft. Surprisingly one of the most successful makers in terms of overall production was a medium size firm based near Kunovice. The company produced the remarkably successful L410 light airliner, over which 1000 have been built. In the intervening years, LET produced their gliders while quietly improving their basic L410 design. Clearly the western oriented L420 features a number of attractions for the airline operator to consider. And it could be considered a pleasing visual design:

Another good feature which is unusual for this class is a "Stand up" Flight deck, where you can walk aboard head held high, rather then folding up and bowing your way to your seat. At least for most folks. Powered by a pair of 750shp Walter M601E engines, the LET L420 comfortably handles all adverse weather. Indeed the current L410 fleet daily navigates some of the earth's most unforgiving environments, with a very high degree of safety. Like most in this class, it features wide track, low pressure landing gear and is claimed to operate on ground supporting 85pd/inch, which is like rain soaked grass or gravel..Unlike the others, the Avionics are standard first rate western as basic fit, including weather radar and altimeter as well as EPGW and GPS. This speaks to LET's superior experience with rough field operators, it knows it's customers well. For all intents and purposes, the 15 seat, extra freight cabin would be just what Labrador ordered, with Tip tanks.


News From Kunovice!

We have heard from the Marketing Director at LET a Mrs.Pospíšilová . There are some items I may have been remiss in pointing out. The L420 is normally a 19 seat airliner. The configuration I mentioned is that of a replaceable freight module allowing more freight by removing four seats and replacing them with this handy freight rack:

This option allows the plane to rapidly switch between 15,17 or 19 seats as required. Quite handy. I also forgot to mention the option of TCAS II if that is desired. Finally, I failed to address some rather comforting looking seating arrangements:

Some rather nice looking seats at that. My thanks to the folks at LET for the added information. I'm sure our readers will appreciate the added information.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Beriev BE-32K

When dealing with flying into tough ice and snow cover short fields with nasty crosswinds, you hopefully have a craft designed for the task. That is precisely the idea behind the Bereiv BE-32K. The most amazing fact I can find about the BE-32K is that it is not in production. It already meets numerous certification types and likely would have no difficulty doing so. The quality of Beriev aircraft and the tough level of build usually exceeds that of western types. One must remember that this company's main business involves slamming large amphibious craft into violent sea states, so they know quite a bit about toughness. Particularly when given that those same aircraft are noted for fairly long life cycles doing so.

As you can see this is a twin engined craft, powered by two licensed production PT6-65B turboprops giving 820kw(1100shp) with a fuel load of 2250liters(594 us gal). The maximum payload is 1900KG, or 16 passengers . It has a span of 17meters, length of 15.7 meters and height of 5.52 meters, with a wing area of 32m2. . MTOW(max.takeoff weight) is 7300KG. It is an unpressurized aircraft with heated cabin, max altitude being 4200 meters. The wings and tail feature hot air de-icing, the windows and nose has electrical de-icing. The plane is designed to easily handle crosswinds up to 18meters per second. It has a 5.20 wide ground track with large low pressure tires to allow it to land on unpaved fields.

This aircraft is most suitable to the mission of servicing Labrador's short fields. There are a few changes to recommend. Seating would be limited to 14 to allow for extra freight carriage. Preferably more fuel could be added to increase the range a bit. The avionics would have to include an advanced EPGW terrain avoidance unit and also good weather radar. One also wonders if any "stretched" models are available, although that would certainly require moving up to the next stage of PT-6 engine to compensate. All in all, this plane could quite honestly thrive in Labrador.


Mr. Vladimir Romanov from Beriev has contacted us and was pleased with the report. I have asked him some more questions and hopefully we will hear back soon. from him.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Those Tourist! How do we get them

Do you not pity those who have not seen the masjesty of Labrador. Labrador is a rare etheral creature these days. A place modern people crave to visit. Yet saddly in many ways we are not prepared to greet them yet. And I'm sure most agree, bringing in tourist should not be allowed to spoil our pristine lands. It needs to be done well and thoughtfully. I can guarentee you, I could travel to many an outdoors show and fill a notebook with people willing to pay good money to visit Labrador. It's really an opportunity we should explore. And we should address all areas of how to get there and where they can go. Please discuss your thoughts.

Think outside that old box

Has it come time to think about a new type of service for Labrador? We have boats,ships,planes and trains, as well as Ski-doos and Autos. But do we have Hover power? If you stop and think about it, large commercial hovercraft are a great fit for much of Labrador. Especially the coastal areas. They are not too weather dependant, unless there are particularly violent sea states. They are mostly diesel powered, and cost alot less to operate then ships or planes. And when was the last time you drove the Labrador Highway with 50 of your friends at 136KPH? I'd bet not alot of us. So maybe we should start to wonder wheter this is something we should think about. Please Discuss.

Aircraft for Labrador

Flying in Labrador is clearly different then most regional areas. Most of the populus is spread out in small communities serviced by quite small un-paved runways, most 2500 ft or less. Thankfully there are three longer runways available that are paved. However two are located at the west end of Labrador. Of course that leaves the priceless Goose Bay with it's world class 11,000 foot runway complete with advanced facilities. Quite clearly this offers the best site to hub local flights from. Part of the problem with current transport options is tie ins to traditional routes. This ties the current flyer from Labrador into some rather expensive flights. Apart from flyers, there is also trade which occurs. There are un-tapped opportunities to expand trading ties at a number of airport venues. This could stream demands for labrador goods as well.

Looking at our situation so far tells us at least three separate craft will be needed. First off, a small nimble Short takeoff and Landing capable plane that is adept at flying in cold climate adverse weather, as well as manuevering in and around mountainous territory. There are actually quite a few aircraft that fit this description, and we will study these individually later. The second part is a competent Air Freighter. A craft that can pick up a heavy haul of groceries and drop them off at ANY of Labrador's demanding short feilds. There are only a few types that can pull off that stunt, and will be discussed later. Lastly if we've flown all these people into Goose Bay, do you really think they want you milling about aimlessly? Of course not, hence we need a standard larger airliner type to send you down the road. There are plenty of those types floundering about. And I'd be alot more interested to know where you'd like to go rather then look at all of those. So chime in and say where you'd like to fly to for much cheaper then you can now! Your input is priceless and highly valued here.

I hope that you will tell us where your at and the kind of places you wish today's air system would take you too. Mind you I do not intend this to be a critical attack on the current services. This is a forward looking and positive thinking approach to a workable and realistic safe alternative to today's standard. I hope to hear from you.