The 2013 Twin Commander University returned to Scottsdale, Arizona, last April after a four-year hiatus from that venue, and once again the desert location proved to be popular. It was one of the best-attended Universities in years, with Commander owners and operators from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand participating.
The University is designed to be, first and foremost, a continuing education opportunity for Commander owners, operators, and authorized service centers, and with three full days of seminars attendees got their money’s worth.
The University weekend began with Erik Eliel’s complete, six-hour airborne weather radar class. Eliel, who flies for a major U.S. airline, is a master instructor and the designated successor to Archie Trammel and his highly regarded airborne weather radar training program.
As at past Universities where Eliel has taught, his presentation garnered the highest scores from attendees. The typical reaction from a first-time attendee of Eliel’s class is, “Who knew there is so much to learn and understand about convective weather and using my radar system!” Many Commander operators have attended his class multiple times because there is always something new to learn.
“Erik has become a much-desired fixture at the University,” commented Twin Commander Aircraft President Matt Isley. “You can count on his continued participation at future Universities.”
Another headliner and favorite presenter at this and past Universities is Helmuth Eggeling who, as Honeywell’s TPE331 Pilot Advisor, is the designated expert on operating the direct-drive, fuel-efficient engines that power all Twin Commander turboprop models. Eggeling delivered his full four-hour “Flying the Engine” program at the 2013 University. The presentation is patterned on a typical flight in a Twin Commander beginning with preflight and concluding with shutdown and post-flight inspection.
Dr. John Raniolo, a Phoenix-area cardiologist and senior Aviation Medical Examiner, spoke about recent positive changes in the FAA’s approach to reissuance of previously disallowed pilot medical certificates. Dr. Raniolo strongly urged pilots who are seeking a reissuance to confer with expert consultants who are familiar with the process and decision-makers involved.
Following Isley’s welcome address to University attendees, a panel of experienced Commander pilots convened to discuss techniques for extracting maximum performance, reliability, and enjoyment from Twin Commander aircraft. At least that was what the program called for. However, the discussion quickly shifted to comments and questions from audience participants. The wide range of issues that were brought up made for a lively and interesting session.
Next up was Levan Tabidze, Twin Commander Aircraft’s Engineering Manager, who briefed University attendees on the ongoing engineering, product upgrade, and regulatory issues the factory is addressing.
NationAir insurance executive Dale Barnard analyzed fleet statistics covering eight different turboprop aircraft including Twin Commanders. Barnard said there is stability in the size of the worldwide Commander fleet, which is positive news in terms of continued market value and support. A more detailed report can be found in Barnard’s “Insurance Insight” column in this issue of Flight Levels.
David Tenenbaum, a Commander 980 owner and pilot, gave a special lunch presentation on a new product he has designed and certified for Commanders as well as many other aircraft makes and models –– a belly-mounted pod that holds four GoPro HD video cameras. The combined video images give a 360-degree unobstructed view of the world below as seen from the airplane. Read more about Tenebaum’s Airborne Sensor in his story in this issue of Flight Levels.
Other seminar topics at the 2013 University included “The Proficient Pilot” delivered by SimCom instructor Johnnie Adams, who also taught a “Right-Seat Responders” course to Twin Commander companion pilots; “Departing Safely in High Terrain” and “PIC Attitude, Authority, and Awareness,” both given by Erik Eliel; an interesting primer on ADS-B by Garmin International’s Creighton Scarpone; an inside look at business aircraft tax issues given by Advocate Consulting’s Lou Meiners Jr.; and a presentation on the new Garmin 1000 Commander by Eagle Creek Aviation Services’ Matt Hagans. Eagle Creek is developing the STC for the major panel upgrade.
Highlighting the University’s social agenda was a dinner at the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing Aviation Museum in Mesa, Arizona. The meal was served in the museum’s hangar which, along with the adjacent ramp, was filled with priceless airworthy warbirds that University attendees got to see up close and personal –– and, in the case of the museum’s B17, tour.
“The 2013 University was an outstanding success,” Isley commented. “The presentations were uniformly excellent, and the Commander owners and operators who attended were enthusiastic and engaged.”
The next University will be held in 2015. Twin Commander Aircraft is evaluating potential venues for the event. Stay tuned for details.