While it’s a niche market for Pratt & Whitney Canada, the company still places great emphasis on the experimental aircraft segment, which is driven by grassroots aviation enthusiasts who buy “kits” to assemble and fly their own aircraft. These aircraft are not certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but operate under a special airworthiness certificate, obtained only after a rigorous evaluation of the entire build process by the FAA. This includes providing proof that more than 50 percent of the fabrication and assembly tasks have been completed by the builder. The current PT6 engine-powered kit aircraft can be assembled and flying in six months to one year, depending on the builder’s time commitment.
“The attendance numbers at the annual AirVenture fly-in show and convention held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) speak to how popular this segment is with diehard aviators,” says Ryan Densham, Marketing Account Manager, General Aviation, P&WC. “Every year, half a million people show up for the week-long event, and their real passion for flight is clearly on display.”
Experimental aircraft are used for personal use, so the PT6 engine is desirable for its light weight, compact package and overall dependability. The design of the engine is quite simple, making it easier to integrate it into the airframe. Many of these experimental aircraft owners do much of their own routine maintenance, so the PT6 engine’s ease-of-maintenance features also make it attractive to this market.
“Experimental aircraft owners are passionate about aviation in the same way that PT6 engine enthusiasts are,” notes Densham, “so there is a strong link between the two. These operators are offered the same level of support as all PT6 engine owners. We will continue to support the segment as it provides new opportunities to harness the power and versatility of the PT6 engine.”
OEM and Aircraft
Lancair International: Evolution
Epic Aircraft: LT