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New Commander Nose Wheel Fender Deflects FOD

Going back to the 1950s, piston-powered and the later turboprop-model Twin Commanders have had a commanding presence on general aviation ramps the world over thanks to that big, high wing and long, low-slung fuselage. But having one of the most distinctive profiles in all of aviation comes at a bit of a price. When the landing gear is extended, the belly of the airplane is vulnerable to debris thrown up by the spinning nose wheel, especially when operating from grass, gravel, or deteriorating paved runways. Twin Commander Aircraft has engineered a unique solution to the problem of damage from nose wheel FOD—a nose wheel fender.

The predecessor company to Twin Commander Aircraft had developed a nose wheel fairing intended to deflect debris, but the design caused significant drag, which forced the pilot to use lower airspeeds and angles of attack when the nose wheel was extended.

Twin Commander Aircraft used a supercomputer to apply computational fluid dynamics to identify sources of the drag, and to test more advanced, lower-drag solutions. The result is the new Custom Kit (CK) 199 Belly Skin Protection System. The heart of the system is a small, louvered fender positioned immediately aft of the nose wheel that deflects debris picked up on the takeoff and/or landing roll, preventing it from striking and possibly damaging the fuselage belly skin.

The new design was tested on a Commander in September 2016. Ground taxi and flight tests were performed to confirm its effectiveness while ensuring the kit does not contribute to nose wheel shimmy or nose wheel extension or retraction problems. The louvers in the fender allow air to pass through the fender, resulting in less than half the drag of the previous design while significantly reducing the potential for FOD.

CK199, which also includes mounting braces and installation instructions, does not interfere with the use of a tow bar or most powered tugs. The kit can be installed on any model Twin Commander.

CK199 is expected to be available in late April. For more information, contact your authorized Twin Commander Service Center.