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.