Bits and Pieces
Meet Don Jewitt. Don is a major shareholder and director of Frontier Petroleum Services, and an operating “personality” in the “Oilpatch.” Don loves aeroplanes, having owned and flown several Bonanzas and built a beautiful RV-8A he currently flies.
In the summer of 2006, Don together with Milan Aviation Services decided to invest and develop a utility aircraft that they believed would have great potential for commercial and private operators flying passengers and cargo into remote areas. The particular aircraft that provided this interest was a proven design, originally scheduled for production in the LET Kunovice factory in the Czech Republic. This aircraft is a variant of the SCF Technoavia SM-92 “Finist.” (To date, 37 Finists have been built and are in service in Russia, Great Britain, Italy, and Germany.)
Don thought this aircraft should be modified and developed as the ‘RHINO’ (and its variants) for the North American and world markets. To do this it would need certification to US Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 23 in North America and Joint Aviation Requirements (JAR) Part 23 overseas. Its airframe should be manufactured at some suitable location with appropriate facilities and workforce. It would be powered by a suitable engine; efficient, more powerful, and backed-up by availability for parts and service. And finally, it should have its final assembly and finish completed in the USA or Canada for delivery to its American and worldwide markets. Don recently demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to reverse the prop pitch and taxi backwards, thereby giving it enhanced ground-maneuvering abilities.
So Don bought the rights to the aircraft.
The project Rhino is based on the following assumptions:
- It is a proven design with known operating statistics;
- It is simple and easily constructed, allowing cost effectiveness in manufacturing;
- There is a market niche or gap in aviation for this type of aircraft;
- Design costs for additional improved versions are relatively low.
Baseline version RHINO A: This aircraft would be the standard version, powered by an Orenda TE600 piston engine, and equipped with conventional landing gear.
RHINO B: This aircraft would have the same configuration, but the engine would be fitted with electronic ignition or FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) engine control. This modification would allow operators in remote, underdeveloped areas of the world without access to aviation gasoline to operate the aircraft with standard low octane automotive fuels. This engine will be rated at 800 shaft horsepower.With the available power-to-weight ratio, it is also expected that the standard fuselage would be stretched by two feet to allow a greater cargo volume. It is expected that this version ‘B’ would be the predominant variant.
RHINO T: This would be the stretched version fitted with a turbine engine.Available optional equipment would be amphibious floats, conventional floats, skis, external cargo pods, etc.
The target market is presently being served by the DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver, the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter, and the Pilatus Turbo-Porter (all out of production), and the Cessna 208 Caravan. The Caravan is substantially larger and sells for twice the projected price of the RHINO.
“The Beaver is the oldest, most versatile (aircraft) currently serving this market, and also the one in most need of replacement,” states Don. “The Beaver was produced between 1947 and 1967. There were 1693 Beavers built and sold in 62 countries. There are now between 900 and 1000 Beavers in worldwide service, and still over 750 registered in North America. All are over 30 years old, and many have 12,000 to 25,000 flying hours on their airframes. There are 285 operators flying Beavers in Canada alone. Since no suitable replacement has ever been developed, used, rebuilt, and remanufactured Beavers sell for $325,000 to $750,000 depending on age, engine, condition, and equipment. With its increased cargo carrying capacity and performance outstripping the Beaver, the RHINO is expected to sell in the $900,000 to $1.2 million range.”
The RHINO, with relatively few variances dependent on configuration, has a 6,000-pound gross take-off weight, and a cruise speed at maximum continuous power and maximum take-off weight of approximately 170 KPH. At economy cruise and full fuel it has a range of 1120 nautical miles.
Viatcheslav Kondratiev, the renowned designer of the Sukhoi line of world famous aircraft and owner of the SCF Technavia Ltd. Firm, designed this aircraft. He will continue to be involved in its further development.
The object of ‘Project RHINO’ is the low-cost development of a new utility airplane. The development consists of modifications to the existing SCF Technoavia SM-92 ‘Finist’ military, utility, and bush airplane. The program is referred to as ‘low-cost’ because of extensive work completed by Technoavia, thereafter purchased by Frontier Petroleum Services and Milan Aviation Services. The company (FPS/MAS) owns the design, manufacturing, and distribution rights to this new model under the preliminary name “Project RHINO.” When FAR/JAR certification is completed, sales of this aircraft will be offered worldwide.
- Jack Dueck, EAA CC