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Read our latest feature:   Show issue: MEBAA
RVL pilots complete transatlantic King Air trip
An RVL King Air 200 required a modification in the US to improve its ability to perform maritime missions. The journey began with a five-hour flight from East Midlands to Keflavik airport in Iceland, then on to Greenland.
The King Air will need to withstand a wintry return leg back to the UK.
Read this story in our November 2020 printed issue.

RVL Group pilots Stuart Carmichael and Frazer Conway have completed a 20-hour flight across the Atlantic, connecting five countries and covering almost 4,000 miles aboard a twin turboprop. Their mission was to ferry a Beechcraft B200 King Air to the home base of modification expert Avcon Industries in the central US state of Kansas, which is 3,840 miles as the crow flies from the East Midlands airport headquarters of RVL in the UK. The modification will support the maritime missions the company performs on behalf of customers who will benefit from this upgrade.

“With all the regulations and COVID-19 complications it was a minefield,” says Carmichael. “Fortunately we were able to get one of very few visas currently available for entry into the US but there was a constantly changing landscape as to what each country would allow. We planned to stop in Iceland, but we could stay no longer than 24 hours, and Canada is mostly shut unless you follow strict rules.”

The journey began with a five-hour flight from East Midlands to Keflavik airport in Iceland. “The Iceland leg was the hardest,” Carmichael continues. “We had headwinds the whole way, and though we had a generous margin of safety it was still just about as far as you would want to go in a King Air.”

It was not until they reached Iceland that Carmichael and Conway could be sure they'd be able to tackle the next leg to Narsarsuaq on the southern tip of Greenland. “The weather in Greenland is so changeable that you can only get an accurate forecast six hours in advance. Effectively that meant that we did not know if we could get there until we landed at Keflavik. In the event everything was fine, and we enjoyed perfectly clear weather and some amazing views of the ice caps during the three hours down to Greenland.”

The first day of the jaunt closed with a three-hour flight from Greenland to Goose Bay Airport in Labrador, Canada, where the two-person crew was escorted from aircraft to hotel room, where they had to remain overnight under COVID restrictions.

“The following morning we set off from Goose for the five-hour flight down to Detroit Metropolitan airport, where the air traffic was as busy as Heathrow, so that was good fun. After an hour there to clear customs and refuel we were off on the final leg, the three hours down to Newton, just north of Wichita, where the whole Avcon team came out to welcome us when we jumped from the aircraft.

“It was an amazing trip, my longest flight by a considerable margin. The planning had to be meticulous and of course the guys at RVL Engineering did a fantastic job to prepare the aircraft. We had a plan B, as well as plans C, D and E, but in the end we couldn't have asked for a smoother trip. Everything went perfectly.”

Dean Simpkins, RVL's head of engineering, adds: “Being ready for the unusual is part of the daily routine for the engineers at RVL. Preparing an aircraft for a transatlantic flight is well within the skills of our experienced engineering team, and they worked very hard not to leave anything overlooked and unaccounted for, ensuring the crew had the best possible journey.”

The aircraft will remain in the US for approximately three months and planning is already underway for the return trip, which will have the added difficulty of winter weather conditions.

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