View Full Version : Single engine public transport IFR

13th Jun 2002, 11:05
Single engine public transport IFR is on it's way by the sound of things.

What are the implications for those of us flying in the UK?

... and how do we feel about it?

13th Jun 2002, 15:16
They do it in Canada ,using Caravans (C-208) and the Pilatus PC-12s. The Caravans have been passenger operation for > 10 years.

14th Jun 2002, 02:29
I thought it had been done before in UK with a certain LN regestered C208 Caravan in scotland????????:confused:

Agaricus bisporus
14th Jun 2002, 18:10
It was done for a while ex LTN too, but the CAAput a stop to it.

The regs on SE IFR for Public Transport date back to the days of piston engines right after the war. It seems utterly ridiculous that modern turbine engines with a failure rate several orders of magnitude better than those old pistons are still prevented from earning money. Refusal to allow this is surely the worst kind of craven bureaucratic dinosaurism. Turbine singles are proven to be several times safer than piston twins which are allowed SE IFR, so what is the problem???

Think of the possibilities for Pax carying Caravans with operating costs of under $200 per hour in the UK. Imagine commuter services from Norwich, Exeter, Bristol, Bournemouth etc to London. People would buy season tickets! Imagine the improvement in services to the Highlands and Islands, no more costly Twotters. Imagine the postal delivery potential. Imagine the jobs and prosperity it would create in the general aviation environment.

Imagine coupling this with on-board precision approach systems (DGPS), aviation in Europe would never look back.

Don't hold your breath though...

basil fawlty
14th Jun 2002, 19:34
So Agaricus bisporus, regardless of the fact the propulsion is more reliable, where exactly does the aircraft go when an engine failure does occur and the cloudbase is below safety height??
Also how can a MULTI engine aircraft depart on a flight SE IFR??? Can you point me at the official statistics which back up your claim that turbine singles are "several" times safer? I'm no fan of the JAA/CAA, but on this issue they are absolutely right to ban SE public transport IFR. (what private flyers want to do is their business or should I say risk..) Also, many of these flights would be single crew operations, which is an even greater potential risk than one engine....

big pistons forever
14th Jun 2002, 20:23
Yup it would be pretty nice flying a spiffy new PC 12 or TBM 700. 300 knots, FL 290 , glass cockpit , new airframe... right up to the time the pilot light went out on the ( only ) stove.....

14th Jun 2002, 21:35
basil f - I can't point you at the statistics off the top of my head, and I can't be arsed to go looking for the them, but it's a fairly widely known fact that the highest accident rate of all categories occurs in the twin-engine piston category - the FAA has the stats somewhere. Something to do with the "I've got another one which will get me home if one fails" frame of mind. If you've ever flown a light piston twin you will know that most of them need to be VERY well flown to maintain altitude if they are anywhere near gross weight, and most of them won't maintain altitude at a density altitude of anything over about 3000'

You are right though, that if your single Primus goes out with the cloudbase on the deck you're in deep poo!

I reckon they should ban piston twins from public transport IFR too.

basil fawlty
14th Jun 2002, 21:44

you're not wrong!

Dale Harris
15th Jun 2002, 12:13
$200 an hour?????? I'll take 6............

Genghis the Engineer
15th Jun 2002, 18:01
Here in Europe, the debate unsurprisingly is polarised into the "Britten-Norman" camp and the "Pilatus" camp. The Pilatus camp seem to be slowly winning, whilst BNG are holding things off as long as they can.

It's a difficult one isn't it, we all know the safety benefits of a second engine, yet it would be nice to see a regulatory environment that allows a coherent air-taxi service around Europe.

I suspect that when JAA finally permits it, it will probably be tied to a maximum number of pax and some other additional safety requirements. What's probably really needed, is an honest statement of the relative risks to allow pax and aircrew alike to decide if they want to play, but I doubt if that will be forthcoming from any official source.


16th Jun 2002, 03:04
There are various documents about in different countries addressing the regulatory worries. At the end of the day, it comes down to risk assessment and risk control.

The historical failure rates can be determined and, a bit like ETOPS, the aim will be to achieve the sort of rates acceptable on existing operations.

So far as the concern about what do we do if the only one stops, operational restrictions can be developed to provide a reasonable chance of a successful forced landing .. things like minimum cloudbase and below base visibility, maximimum distance from a suitable forced landing aerodrome considering operating heights, specific crew training programs etc etc

Nothing is perfect in this world .. all we can do is try to control the risks our way. Given the commercial pressures, it is likely to be only a matter of time, education, and development of sensible controls before SE commercial ops are an accepted thing.

16th Jun 2002, 15:26
--------Don’t confuse me with facts, my prejudices are already made up----

If one were to examine the facts on engine failures, and we exclude all the big pistons, ie R-3340’s and R-4360’s, etc, Aaaamazingly enough, we will discover that engine failure, as a cause of accidents is miniscule, regardless of whether it is a small turbo prop, or a piston engine.

Also, don’t confuse the reliability of the big turbo fans with small turbo props, it ain’t the Jet-A.
In fact, the engine failure rate for small turbo props and small pistons, caused by other than finger trouble, is very similar, ie not statistically different.

“Tis all on the various web sites that have the stats., particularly FAA and various NTSB and related.
In some areas pistons have fewer problems, no turbine likes stones and small babies, particularly little Garrets and Allisons ( or should I say Allied Signals and Rolls Royce)

The Australian Campaign Against Safe Aviation ( CASA) have topped and tailed JAR-OPS 1 for A Part 121A and done it again, more or less, for under 5700 kg, and called it Part 121B.

I am wondering how long before the penny drops, because they have ( amongst some truly amazing nonsense --- full ICAO Operational Control for everything “Public Transport” except local day VFR ,within 20 nm and no away landings, sightseeing.) built in a requirement for a quasi Pans-Ops Doc. 8168 obstacle clearance requirement---- engine out---- and I have yet to see any single with a (sustained) positive rate of climb engine out.

I wonder what we in Australia are going to do with all the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Ambulance PC-12s, sundry Caravans ets, won’t be much of a service limited to day VFR, after ALL THESE YEARS of H 24 IFR ---- and all the serious accidents have been with the King Airs, and engine failure has NOT been the cause of any.

Tootle pip !!

16th Jun 2002, 23:00
You can argue stats till you're blue in the face but I would'nt take the wife and kids across water at night in a single engined anything. Having said that, a turbo prop at fl 200 has a lot more options, especially with gps nav kit and a decent autopilot, when the front end does go quiet. It might work for night freight along specific routes. Funny how the RAF gets to fly single engine turbines all the time and they never break down do they?

17th Jun 2002, 15:03
Of course, if you are a Fleet Air Arm type chappie, the single engine only goes into Auto Rough when you are out of gliding distance of the water.
Tootle pip!!

17th Jun 2002, 22:21
The french "Armée de l'air" (Air Force) is using TBM 700's since 12 years, and they never managed to break one !
They use it to fly Generals and ministers around the country, so I guess they are reliable.
A Socata test pilot told me that they never had an engine related accident on the TBM fleet.
I am gonna have one soon to fly my boss around Europe, and I will feel definitely safer in this toy at night than in the Seneca we are presently using !

Elliot Moose
18th Jun 2002, 16:25
I have a whole lot of time in both the 'van and the PC12, and I basically never felt scared by the whole thing. Granted, only a fool would head out of gliding distance of shore on one fan, but that's hardly necessary now is it?
The last I checked, the only reason a caravan engine had EVER failed in flight was due to lack of fuel (pilot induced) or oil (generally from leaving the dipstick in the bottom of the cowl). The only concern I ever had there was ice, because the 'van sucks in icing. That is of course an entirely different set of rules.
As for the PC12, I was seldom out of gliding distance of a field even in northern Canada where fields are few and far between. Departing Thunder Bay for Sault Ste. Marie, (right down the middle of Lake Superior--a huge puddle of fresh water) there is only a 10 mile stretch where one is not able to make an airfield. There is never a time where dry feet is not an option. I would (and have) take a PC12 down V300 any day, but wouldn't try it in any twin smaller than a B100. At FL250 you can glide 65 miles in still air, and with the GPS and moving map features there is never a question about where one might land. As training pilot, I would make 200hr co-joes do zero thrust (simulated dead stick) approaches (ILS in IMC) from at least FL200 as part of the mandatory line indoctrination (I wrote the rules for our company). They all made it. The captains had to do one to landing into a 3500' dirt strip on GPS alone under the hood. It was easy with the equipment on board that bird. Off strip would be little worse since the structures on those things are built like a tank for one, and the stall speed is so low that landing anywhere except directly into a rock face is almost certainly survivable.
I'll take the PC12 any day over some of the broken down old piston twins and B99's that are flying around here anyday!
But that's just my opinion....:)

Weight and Balance
19th Jun 2002, 00:58
Very informative post Elliot.

I think what we are seeing here is fear of the unknown, resulting in personal prejudices. Mr. Moose has done the single engine thing for some time, and appears to have done it right. If it's new to you, it probably does seem a little scary.

On the subject of personal prejudices, I can relate that in some 25 years working in flight test and other flying areas for several manufacturers, I have seen many engineering types (self included) with severe prejudices against flying with particular operators, but only one guy with a fear about a particular aircraft type. That was a Boeing field service rep who kept a list of which 707s had which SBs done. He always consulted it before boarding a commercial flight.

19th Jun 2002, 01:22
Like my old pa said "son the only reason I fly four engined aircraft is that they don't make one with five"

19th Jun 2002, 02:27
I should think that the Boeing rep was not being paranoid .. merely, with privileged knowledge, being prudent .....

Weight and Balance
23rd Jun 2002, 01:38
Quite right, John.

I was just trying to make the point that differences in operator's attitude will have a bigger impact on your chances of a safe flight than relatively minor design differences, like number of engines.

To follow up on TeeS's post, there are lots of well documented cases of simultaneous engine failure on 2, 3 and 4 engine airplanes (usually operator error). At the same time, guys like E. Moose are doing safe single engine commercial ops day after day.

It's not how many engines you have, it's what you with them.;)

Dale Harris
25th Jun 2002, 17:44
The real problem is not in coming up with rules and practices, that can and has been done. The real problem is in convincing the punters that one is "as safe" as two. Given what the single engine turbines will replace, this is likely the case. But the person who can convince the punters of that will be the real winner here.

A Very Civil Pilot
28th Jun 2002, 17:32
In NZ ther is (used to be?) a caravan operator going between Nelson in the S.Island and Wellington in the N. Island.

Carrying pax SE IFR was a no go, so when the wx was cr@p as it often is along the strait, they used to bounce along at 1500' VFR, out of gliding range of land, pax puking up all the way.

Once at the other end, they could take out the seats, fill it full of cargo, and as no pax on board, go SE IFR. Up to FL70, out of the wind, in the sunshine, and within gliding distance of the shore - a nice flight was had by all the bags.

Which makes more sense?

Weight and Balance
28th Jun 2002, 23:55
Very Civil's post reminded me of Scare West, and their harbour to harbour service between Vancouver and Victoria with Twatters on floats back in the 70s. TC declared float IFR pax operations as unsafe, so the Scare West boys would go to great lengths to "remain" VFR.

I remember many crappy winter days sitting in the hanger in Victoria, monitoring tower on the radio. Scare West would always be flying, they would always be denied SVFR into the control zone, and they would always reply "Really? The weather's OK where we are."

Safer, eh?

Cyclic Hotline
30th Jun 2002, 00:01
Always a pleasure to see a reasoned and considered range of viewpoints on PPRuNe, rather than some self perpetuated uninformed bias!;)

I have operated the Caravan for 5 years now. It is the single most reliable aircraft of any type I have ever operated. It is well designed and manufactured, it has excellent flight characteristics and performance, enjoys unrivalled support from the factory, has parts and services that are readily available and perhaps most significantly, it does EVERYTHING the manufacturer claims, at the PRICE they claim! It is predictable, capable and SAFE.

That individuals might decline to fly in the aircraft if it were available for service in their market, is indeed their personal decision. No-one would ever be made to fly in them, nor indeed travel by road or rail! The ability for the Caravan (and other single engine aircraft) to draw an economically sound customer base is well proven, and passenger acceptance of the type is very positive.

No operation can succeed without adequate attention to safety and economics. That these modern aircraft can achieve both is not something to be overlooked. They have no rivals for thin regional routes, and in many cases can succesfully succeed were no other aircraft can. The upside of this, is the ability to expand routes (and business) into progressively larger sectors by offering the services and pricing that the consumer wants. Combined with the expansion of low-cost airlines into airports outside the major hubs, and the combination is an extremely attractive proposition. The number of regional airports in the UK without any viable air service is increasing, as the regionals have been absorbed, or simply gone out of business. The Caravan offers the ability to offer exceptional pax and freight service were none currently exists, or alternately to expand upon existing service.

I fail to see how the Caravan cannot enhance the overall aviation business in the UK. It will provide a needed service and offer employment in a sector that is currently unfullfilled.

Considering the options for other aircraft in this sector, the only modern products that meets the demand are leagues ahead of their twin engined counterparts, many of which have nothing to offer in terms of safety, passenger appeal or economics.

One final thought. In my experience the vast majority of operators of these types, having made the financial commitment to the product, are also the same operators that have made the neccesary commitment to safety, training and maintenance that are reflected in the safety statistics that demonstrate the integrity of the product and type of operation. There are specific issues and areas of concern for these types, but they are largely unrelated to the fact that the aircraft has a single engine.

In many instances the final contribution to safety produced by these modern capable aircraft is that the consumer has shown that this product is their transportation of choice, leaving the operators with lesser levels of equipment and operating practices to find some other line of business.

Some interesting reading (and facts)! (http://www.ainonline.com/issues/10_01/10_01_singletwinpg28.html)

30th Jun 2002, 10:40
In my humble opinion I would love to see SE IFR. I am a lowly PPL wannabe. We have all these under utilised airfields, under utilised pilots. What a waste.

I went to Aerofair 2002 and saw the Pilatus demo.


G-EELS was on show, so I clambered on board. Incredible machine.


capt waffoo
30th Jun 2002, 17:31
I would like to endorse Cyclic Hotlines remarks about the caravan without reservation.

I have a litte less time on type than he does, and never felt the slightest qualm about operatng SE IFR on sectors up to 550 miles over some of the most inhospitable (and unpopulated) terrain in Africa where SAR are only letters in the alphabet and we carried goolie-chits as insurance.

SE IFR would open the UK and European commercial aviation wide at a level it has never seen before, huge, huge opportunities are available for market expansion if this is allowed and as others have said itseems there is little if any evidence to suggest this would be more hazardous than any other form of aerial operations.

My one caveat would be this; SE IFR is no place for brand new inexperienced pilots. I would hate to see this innovative way of bumpstarting entry-level commercial aviation (from a commercial aspect) hamstrung by a requirement for an utterly unnecessary second pilot - SP is as critical to this as is SE, but this will never be a job for new CPLs. This, I guess, will be the challenge to the new SE operators - finding pilots with sufficient experience to do the job on the low rates of pay likely at this level of the business.

I sure hope they get this right. The Caravan was the best start to a siezed wing career that I could have wished for! I'd wish that luck on scores of others too.