Choosing a Conversion Provider: Considerations
Cost of Aircraft Conversion
Choosing a conversion provider should be carefully considered. Nel says operators should shop around to see what’s available and carefully evaluate credentials what they are willing to pay.
“We always recommend that operators look to reliable conversion companies if they are considering getting the work done,” he says. “At P&WC we thoroughly vet potential conversion partners before we start working on helping them put the STC together. Our customers expect us to maintain P&WC standards at all times, and we do. So obviously, when we are asked to recommend a conversion company we provide a list of those we have fully vetted.”
Degree of Aircraft Conversion
In addition to the amount of money they want to invest, operators should consider to what degree they want to convert their aircraft engine power. Turboprops are typically more expensive than piston engines but they are in an entirely different class when it comes to power, fuel consumption and reliability.
Depending on aircraft use, decisions should be based on the most valued benefits.
Downtime During Aircraft Conversion
“There’s also the downtime of the aircraft to be considered,” Nel explains, saying that If the operator is converting from an older model turboprop to a newer turboprop that’s roughly the same physical size, it usually takes about a month to conduct the conversion from start to finish.
But if the conversion is from a piston engine to a turboprop engine then there are likely alterations required to the airframe itself which could require up to two to three months to complete, he said. “Obviously, the timeframe could be even longer if the entire aircraft is being converted and upgraded.” He explained that operators should get a clear idea of how long the conversion process for their individual aircraft will take, before they start the process.
Finally, Nel said prospective conversion customers should have a solid understanding of the customer service capabilities that will be placed at their disposal in terms of both the airframe and the engine.
“If an issue arises, you want to have the parts, people and expertise on hand to ensure it is resolved quickly and professionally, and ultimately an STC extends your aircraft’s useful and economic life.”