The Airvan 8
The FAR 23 compliant Airvan 8 was conceived from the ground up to be the perfect machine for its purpose. That initial purpose was to move people and cargo into the rough and unpaved dirt airstrips of the Australian outback. It turns out that Africa isn’t that different in terms of the hardships any aircraft would endure while operating in those conditions. That makes the Airvan 8 perfect for Africa, as proven by the many Airvans now operating out of Maun, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.
The Airvan is built to comply with the exacting requirements of FAA’s FAR 23 – this means that the airframe has many changes incorporated into the design learned from 80-odd years of commercial and general flight. Things like cable runs aft of the main wing spar make aileron lock-up due to a leading edge bird-strike nigh on impossible. One on/off fuel selector with integral sump tank and self leveling wing fuel tanks with optical sensors make pilots very aware of the fuel situation without the constant and unnecessary need to periodically switch fuel tanks. The seats have integral 3-point harnesses and crash structures and are very well proven to mitigate some of the G-forces experienced in emergency situations. The undercarriage contains no maintenance-intensive, leaky oleo struts and is constructed of extremely robust spring-steel components. All Airvan components are built to withstand hot, high and heavy and any rough and unpaved airstrips the continent can throw at it.
The 6-cylinder, fuel injected 300HP Lycoming IO-540-K1A5 engine is powerful enough to fly the aircraft comfortably at a maximum weight of 1905 Kg (4200 lbs), yet frugal enough to afford massive loiter times when operating in an ISR role. It is also cheap to maintain and there’s no need to worry about turbine cycles and hot section inspections on short hops. New to this configuration for 2018 was the addition of optional desert air filters to better cope with fine African dust often encountered on dirt strips south of the Sahara.