The Grand Caravan EX has received a great review. In the December, 2016, issue of Twin & Turbine magazine, LeRoy Cook reported on his test flight of the new Grand Caravan EX. He began by noting: “More horsepower is the answer to a lot of aviation shortcomings. The venerable Cessna Caravan, after 30-plus years in production, has grown into a dependable workhorse, seen all over the world in utilitarian roles. But there‘s always a desire for a little more…payload, climb, takeoff capability…the usual list.”
He then gives a brief history of the Caravan, from its beginning as a FedEx cargo van through the stretch of the fuselage, the increase horsepower from 600 to 675 then to 867 in the EX, and the addition of the Garmin G1000 avionics to today’s premier multi-use aircraft. Whether operating in the bush, on the water, or as a skydiving platform or plush executive transport, the Caravan has earned its reputation of reliable and economical operations.
As Mr. Cook noted: “There’s a lot of thought in the Caravan’s design, oriented toward keeping it running out in the field.” He mentions the ease of servicing the lead acid battery; the hinged cowl halves props to keep them out of your way; and the cockpit door restraint rod to keep them from flapping in the wind. The nosegear is right behind the propeller disc protecting it when taxiing over rough ground, and the main gear has plenty of flex from the long, maintenance-free springs. It also has the creature comforts of bleed air heat, and the optional air conditioning.
“For a single, the airplane casts a large shadow.” The wing span is 52 feet and covers 280 square feet of wing area. The rudder tip is 15 feet above the ground. Extra-wide Fowler flaps with vortex generators keep the stall speed in landing configuration at 61-knots. Roll control spoilers help the aileron control at low speeds. Vortex generators on the horizontal stabilizer enhance pitch control.
“There’s a lot of throw in the hefty rudder pedals; the Caravan can swing around in 33 feet…”
The test flight was relatively short, so they only climbed up to 4,500 feet after lifting off at 74 knots, climbing out at 1500 fpm at Vy – 108 knots. Flying at 2,145 ft/lbs of torque and 1600 rpm on the prop, the aircraft cruised at a TAS of 170 knots, burning 420 pph of fuel. At 10,000 feet, the fuel burn would be at 360 pph. Doing a short approach landing, they turned on final at 125 knots, the full flaps limit, and bled off speed to make the first exit, which makes the traffic controller happy at a busy airport with larger, faster planes coming in behind.
Mr. Cook concludes: “The powerful Grand Caravan EX is exactly what a lot of long-body Caravan operators have been looking for. It preserves the short-field capability of the other 208’s, but can deal more successfully with high-and-hot conditions. And its friendly manners haven’t changed.”