Immediately after the original PT6A-114 engine, nose gear and old avionics were removed, Ben Esterhuizen, CEO of 208 Aviation, began with the installation of the new engine and along with all the new avionics. Initially, the original engine mount was replaced with a new four-point engine mount and all the isolators were then replaced with new ones.
This was followed by the installation of the new Blackhawk engine itself along with the new 40% larger oil cooler. All the hoses were replaced with new ones that form part of the installation kit. The two new Frakes exhaust stacks were fitted and then the new wide-chord 100-inch diameter Hartzell four-bladed propeller was installed.
While all this was going on, the new autoclave carbon fibre composite cowling and high efficiency inlet duct, produced by Blackhawk Composites, arrived in South Africa and were then fitted to ensure all fasteners aligned correctly. Once this process was completed, the cowling and inlet duct were sent away for painting and were subsequently refitted.
In parallel with the Blackhawk engine installation process, there was a lot of activity in the cockpit as work started with the upgrade of the avionics. The Blackhawk upgrade includes a set of new Blackhawk Hawkeye DigiLog engine gauges. These new engine gauges are installed because Blackhawk no longer uses a wet engine monitoring system, but instead traducers are mounted on the engine which allow for the use of a digital engine monitoring system.
As a result, the wiring from the engine to the cockpit on the Cessna Caravan
needed to be upgraded. Hilton Minnaar, from Stealth Avionics Maintenance Services, was contracted to do this upgrade. Once the wiring upgrade is complete, the new Hawkeye DigiLog engine gauges will be fitted into the cockpit. Along with this engine gauge upgrade, Aeronautical Instrument & Autopilot, at Wonderboom, will install a set of Garmin 750 glass avionic systems into the cockpit.
All this work was reaching an advanced stage as this edition of World Airnews was being distributed. The Cessna Caravan is now approaching the imminent completion of the upgrade and will enter a series of ground tests and engine runs in preparation for its first test flight with the new Blackhawk PT6A-42A engine.
Jim Allmon, president and CEO of Blackhawk, was due to arrive in South Africa from the United States recently to witness the test flight of the first Cessna Caravan Blackhawk conversion in Africa.