SINGLE-ENGINE IFR OPENS MORE PT6A FLIGHT OPPORTUNITIES IN EUROPE
Last year, Europe’s aviation authorities approved single-engine instrument flight rules (SEIFR) for commercial passenger missions across the continent. This is great news for PT6A operators.
For 20 years, operators of short-haul single-engine commercial passenger flights in North America and Australia enjoyed an advantage over their counterparts in Europe. The local aviation authorities allowed their operators to fly paying passengers at night or in low visibility under instrument flight rules (IFR), creating more revenue-generating opportunities for them.
In March 2017, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved single-engine IFR for commercial passenger flights throughout the continent. This was the result of a five-year collaborative effort involving 12 European regulatory authorities and aviation industry leaders. P&W participated fully in the process and provided hard data that was crucial in convincing all 32 EASA member states and 28 European Union (EU) nations to accept the drafted regulation—developed specifically to address the unique challenges of safe, effective single-engine operation within EU airspace.
SEIFR CREATES NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PT6A OPERATORS
The change has had a major impact, giving operators the ability to provide dependable, safe and economically viable air services that were previously uneconomical or impractical for multi-engine turbine aircraft.
The new EASA regulation specifies that operators must follow certain route planning procedures to establish a safe path within glide range of an emergency landing strip throughout the flight. However, the proven reliability of the PT6A engine allows operators to use limited additional route options outside the glide range of an airstrip, such as shorter flight paths that cross a body of water or mountainous terrain.
In the past, some individual European authorities permitted limited SEIFR for passenger revenue activity that was confined exclusively to the individual state. However, by allowing it across the whole continent, EASA has dramatically expanded the commercial opportunities for operators.
PT6A THE ONLY ENGINE THAT MEETS SEIFR REQUIREMENTS
It is not just any single-engine aircraft that is permitted to carry paying passengers under SEIFR in Europe, North America and Australia. Operators must prove their aircraft meets hardware, engine configuration, and reliability requirements, established following years of careful evaluation by the respective regulatory bodies.
Hardware requirements include the need for system redundancy such as an automatic ignition, a second oil system chip detector and a system to monitor engine health trends such as P&WC’s FAST™ solution. From a reliability perspective, only engine models with a cumulative time in service of at least 100,000 hours and a demonstrated power loss event rate of less than 10 in a million are qualified.
In practice, that means only one engine fits the bill: the PT6A, which powers single-engine turboprops such as the Cessna Caravan, Pilatus PC-12, Piper Meridian and Socata TBM. Operators of these aircraft effectively have exclusive access to the single-engine commercial and charter passenger flight market on three continents.
With the PT6A’s proven track record and innovative design, along with our millions of hours of service experience, we set the standard for reliability. That means we’re the only engine provider for operators who want to fly commercial passenger missions under SEIFR, so we’re doing everything we can to support them and help them generate new business.
HELPING OPERATORS GET EASA SUPPORT
To help operators understand the new regulations and how they will be applied, EASA organized a forum for them last year. Nathan and other P&WC representatives also took part.
“Some of the key operators in the region approached us for support after the forum. They were looking for help in obtaining endorsement from EASA, who requires them to provide specific reliability data from the engine OEM,” Nathan recalls.
In response to operators’ feedback, we have developed a reliability summary report for use when applying to EASA for endorsement. We have also published the relevant service bulletins in order to meet the configuration requirements.
With SEIFR flights for passenger revenue activity now growing steadily in Europe, P&WC continues looking for ways to help its customers there obtain approval. It is also stepping up its support for PT6A operators in other regions. Check out our recent feature on the Brazilian market for one notable example.