October 29, 2001
Pacific Aerospace Corporation has approximately 20 hours of flight time on the PAC 750XL. At the moment they are fine-tuning the aerodynamics. Because of the aft center of gravity generated by skydivers lineup on exit, it is important to configure the aircraft for this condition.
This condition is not usually a concern of an aircraft manufacturer. But for skydiving, it matters, and it involves careful airflow modification to the wings, flaps, and tail group. So far everything is moving steadily forward.
Utility Aircraft Corporation has been busy in a couple of areas. The most noticeable being the reworking of our web site www.utilityaircraft.com. If you haven't visited it lately, check it out. The information is easier to bring up and the navigation is easier. You may find some pages that you missed previously.
We spent some time recently testing seating, seatbelts and the straddle bench. Most of you are familiar with the straddle bench in the King Air and the Caravan. We tested at the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical institute (CAMI) www.cami.jccbi.gov/National-Resource/CAMI21st.html, in Oklahoma City. They have a sled that can generate a 9g impact and the instrumented dummies to quantify the results. We were conducting tests in an effort to prove safer configurations of restraining skydivers. It became fairly clear that there is room for great improvement over what is in common use today. The really good news is that the improvements are not expensive, and can be used in any aircraft. We came away much more knowledgeable and we are now looking into doing a little more fine tuning and more sled runs. The PAC 750XL will be the safest jump platform, bar none. One thing that was proven was that a great deal more security can be generated, even with the standard lap belt anchored to the left and right of the skydiver. Simply thread the lap belt through the leg straps or main lift web and anchor the belt to the floor so the belt angles forward from the anchor point (seat rail) on approximately a 45 degree angle, to the skydiver. This places the skydiver about 20 inches forward of the anchor. Also, its better to have a double seat rail anchor than a single, when the belt is pulling on a 45-degree angle. We all have seatbelts and these three minor changes will not require further approval. If everyone in the plane were to do this, the chances of getting hurt in an off airport landing are greatly diminished. The safety margin should be greatly improved. We are exploring new ground, its very sobering and a lot of fun.
We will be going into more detail with this subject in a magazine article, photos too.