After more than six years in the making, Transport Canada has authorised the work required by Valdor Aircraft to modify the De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, the most versatile bush plane ever built in the world of aeronautics. This project is part of a sustainability initiative designed to extend the Beaver's lifespan by several decades.
"The Beaver was originally built in the late 1940s, and maintaining radial engines that are nearing end-of-life has become increasingly more difficult. We worked with Pratt & Whitney Canada to retrofit the Beaver with a PT6A-34 to increase its reliability, durability and performance," says president and senior director Gaétan Gilbert.
The TC STC allows for the replacement of the Beaver's original piston engines with high-performance turboprop engines from P&WC, along with the installation of BX wings, built entirely at the company's Val-d'Or facility in Quebec's Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
"We've been committed to this project since the very beginning, and believe that it's one of the biggest aeronautical development projects for a small to medium- sized company in Canada," adds Gilbert.
The ambitious retrofit programme meets Transport Canada's latest requirements and, to achieve this, many of the Beaver's original systems and features have been modified and upgraded. The ambitious certification programme was carried out by a partnership of Transport Canada design approval companies, with BAC Aerospace providing systems engineering and design approval in the aspects related to aircraft propulsion and interdisciplinary programme integration, and Deca Aviation Engineering, SDC Consulting and Avionics Design Services covering the remainder of the technical disciplines involved.
"We're proud to be working with Valdor Aircraft on this important project because together we're giving new life to a legacy aircraft. This year, Pratt & Whitney Canada's PT6 engine celebrates its 60th anniversary and marks 500 million flight hours. Our know-how and, most of all, our determination to create a sustainable environment in which existing technologies are revisited, are helping to showcase not only our products but also local companies," says P&WC president of global sales and marketing Anthony Rossi.
"I would like to thank Transport Canada for seeing this project as an opportunity to breathe new life into the legendary Beaver and for recognising the quality of the work accomplished by the team at Valdor Aircraft. Thank you to our investors and partners for their support, and thank you to our employees for their determination and professionalism, which has made this great project possible," says Gilbert.
Beaver owners and operators have been waiting for the approval of the STC, and Valdor Aircraft's team of experts is now ready to begin modifying the aircraft. The project is helping to diversify the Abitibi-Temiscamingue economy, all while creating new jobs in an exciting field.
Today's PT6 engine is up to four times more powerful, has a 50 per cent improved power-to-weight ratio and up to 20 per cent better specific fuel consumption compared to the original engine. The recently launched PT6 E-Series is the first engine in general aviation to feature a dual-channel integrated engine and propeller control. Each new model of the PT6 engine is developed and designed with a specific mission, platform and customer in mind, while pursuing a reduced environmental footprint.