Traditionalists argue the above statement because the Caravan is a single engine aircraft and by nature, aviation historians don’t believe single engine aircraft can be as safe as multi engine aircraft. This argument continues and is based on the long held experience that the engines of the pre-turbine age were subject to high in-flight failure rates. The Pratt & Whitney PT-6/A, which powers the Caravan, has destroyed that logic.
From nose to tail the Caravan combines a mix of design applications that make it friendly to operate as well as remarkably safe in the flight environment. Following is a sample of these safety applications including the PT-6/A-114A engine, split bus electrical system, redundant roll command flight controls, avionics redundancy including dual pitot/static systems, and landing gear designed to fold under in a crash.
- The heart of any airplane is its engine. The Caravan employs the PT6/A-114A series engine that develops 675 SHP (Flat Rated) to 8000 feet on a standard day. A free spool turbine engine, the PT6/A-114 series engine has accumulated over 11 million hours of operations in the Caravan fleet since 1985. During this time the Caravan has held a steady in-flight shutdown rate of less than one in 200,000 hours. To put this into perspective, if an engine were running continuously for 23 years it may experience one unexpected in-flight shutdown. Furthermore, if all the Caravans ever built were operated strictly by the manufacturers’ guidelines, then the shutdown rate would be even better. Simply amazing.
- The electrical system employs a redundant split bus system that enables the pilot to isolate a portion of the electrical system if it is malfunctioning. A feature normally found on modern jet aircraft, the split bus electrical system provides redundant paths to access electrical systems. This allows the aircraft to operate normally even when a portion of the electrical system may be seriously malfunctioning. With a single bus system, found on most single engine aircraft, the malfunctioning electrical component would threaten the operation of all aircraft systems and instruments requiring electrical power to operate.
- The Caravan roll axis flight controls include the combination of both ailerons and spoilerons. The benefit of this duplicity is to provide similar yoke forces in all phases of flight including all approved airspeeds. In fact, the outside six feet of the wing could be sheared off and the airplane can be still controlled adequately through the spoilerons. Believe it or not, this has actually happened when a telephone pole was hit on a very low approach.
- The C208 incorporates an avionics panel that includes redundant instruments on both the pilot and copilot side of flight deck. Furthermore, the Caravan sports a dual pitot/static system which offers reliable flight instruments on both sides of the cockpit.
- With bush flying in mind during the airplane design, the Caravan landing gear are built with shearable trunnions that are designed to fold in the case of crash landings. This attribute serves to reduce crash forces being transferred to the main airframe, protecting both occupants and diminishing the damage to the airframe. Not something you want to test, but still a unique and valuable safety feature.