TOOLS FOR THE HARVEST 
A PROJECT TO EQUIP THE FLIGHT MINISTRY OF AFRICA INLAND MISSION INTO THE NEXT DECADE
Our Goal: 3 Cessna Grand Caravans placed in 3 Strategic bases, Staffed and equipped for the next 10 years in service of Christ and his Kingdom. Phase Three of the project has begun. AIM AIR is seeking partners to seed the fundraising effort toward our goal of $1.56 million. You can help.
About the Project
The Cessna Grand Caravan is the workhorse of the AIM AIR fleet. It is the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective aircraft we fly. With nearly two decades of experience operating Caravans throughout Africa, AIM AIR’s ministry has come to depend on this remarkable ministry tool. Today, with three operational bases strategically placed in East and Central Africa, there is an emerging need to base one Caravan at each location. A dispatch-ready aircraft at each base allows us to respond to flight requests effectively and improves reliability by providing cover during maintenance events. The engine upgrade brings added performance as well as cost savings, and standardizing both the engine and avionics installations makes AIM AIR a safer and more efficient operation. The Fleet Upgrade and Standardization Project will ensure the AIM AIR turbine fleet is prepared for another decade of service.
- Phase 1 100%
PHASE I / ACQUIRE A THIRD CESSNA GRAND CARAVAN
COMPLETED in April 2015. A refurbished Grand Caravan (N685KS), equipped with new Blackhawk engine and Garmin G600/GTN upgrades, became fully operational as part of the AIM AIR fleet. This step was completed in partnership with SIM, a Christian mission organization heavily reliant on AIM AIR’s support for its ministries in South Sudan. In the Caravan’s first month of operation, it logged over 14,000 miles (85 flight hours), providing supplies to dozens of missionaries and pastors and conducting five medical evacuations.
- Phase 2 100%
PHASE II / UPGRADE 5Y-PCS
COMPLETED from May 2014 to June 2015. With only 9000 hours on the airframe, the younger of AIM AIR’s two original Caravans (5Y-PCS) still had years of useful service. This airframe was an ideal candidate for an upgraded engine and avionics package. A Blackhawk engine upgrade was accomplished in May 2014 in South Africa. The Garmin avionics upgrade was completed in Nairobi in May 2015. The aircraft returned to service in June, fully standardized to match N685KS.
- Phase 3 5%
PHASE III / RETIRE 5Y-XPA AND REPLACE WITH A NEWER, UPGRADED CARAVAN
5Y-XPA, the oldest Caravan in the AIM AIR fleet, has over 16,000 hours on the airframe and less than 800 hours remaining until engine overhaul. This engine has already been overhauled three times and a complete engine replacement is now required. The airframe life is in the range where extensive inspections are required every 2500 hours. We have determined that putting considerable money into upgrading such an old airframe is not wise. PHASE 3 of this project involves selling 5Y-XPA and raising the additional funds necessary to replace it with a low to mid-time airframe. Adding the higher-performance Blackhawk engine and advanced Garmin 600/GTN avionics to the replacement Caravan would bring it into compliance with the two already upgraded Caravans. It is anticipated that 5Y-XPA will run out of hours on the engine in August of 2016.
$1.8 million ($1.56 million in new funds)
Standardization – Safety – Stewardship
Details about the Upgrade
The upgrades chosen as part of the AIM AIR fleet standardization will have a number of positive outcomes, enhancing the reliability and safety of our operations as well as saving money.
What is Fleet Standardization?
All of our pilots fly all of our planes. When all of the airplanes are flown in the same way and use the same instrumentation, it improves the safety and security of the flight team and passengers.
The Blackhawk -42 conversion is more powerful than the original Caravan engine. With an increase in available horsepower from 675 to 850, the aircraft is now able to take off in a shorter distance and climb faster over obstacles. This greatly improves safety when operating from the marginal airstrips common to Africa bush flying. Flights are more cost-effective due to increased cruise speeds and a faster airplane can fly more miles in the life of an engine, reducing costs for the missionaries who charter the aircraft. Passenger comfort is also improved as climbs to smooth air are dramatically reduced.
Updated technology replaces equipment that has become difficult to maintain or obsolete. “Glass cockpit” components bring lower maintenance costs, new functionality, and increased safety to the flight environment.
G600 – The original gyro-equipped avionics package has been replaced with state-of-the- art, solid state, glass panel instruments. This robust instrumentation will drastically reduced maintenance costs and downtime while adding remarkable enhancements to the pilot’s main source of flight information.
G750/650 – The GPS package we have been using for the past 15 years is becoming “not- available/non-supported” by the manufacturer. The new Garmin GPS cluster improves on the previous version and promises continued reliability.
Radar Altimeter – New to our aircraft, this system allows us to know the exact distance from the ground in an environment where current barometric pressures and exact altitudes are ambiguous.
Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) – As we operate in arguably two of the busiest general aviation airports in all of Africa, near- miss encounters with other aircraft are not uncommon. TCAS allows pilots to detect the location of aircraft in the area before they are able see them with their eyes.
The Spidertracks satellite tracking system allows us to visually track each aircraft online according to our selected time interval. Messaging is available, together with SOS and other features, that allow us to know the status of the aircraft even when radio reception is weak or non-existent.
What’s so Grand about the Caravan?
Cessna first introduced their “Cargomaster” in October 1984, with its primary utilization as a short-haul cargo aircraft for Fed Ex. It was the largest single engine aircraft Cessna ever built, and the addition of a turbine engine offered new possibilities. The Caravan readily exceeded expectations and soon found a niche beyond package delivery, replacing many smaller piston-powered aircraft doing hard labor around the globe.
The “Grand Caravan” (Model 208B) was introduced in October 1990. It included a longer fuselage and a cabin that could be quickly converted from a people-hauler to a cargo truck or a combination of the two. Over the last three decades, the Grand Caravan has become a staple in the world of bush flying – from Alaska to the plains of Africa. Rugged, practical, reliable, safe, and mission-tested, it is a coveted and capable tool. With modifications to the landing gear and wings, and the addition of a more powerful engine like the Blackhawk conversion, the Grand Caravan is perfect for unexpected loads out of short, muddy airstrips – which makes it perfect for the work of missionary aviation. AIM AIR has been operating Caravans since 1996.