April 13, 2018:
Aeroclub Gdanski, located in Gdansk, Poland, is to operate a Pacific Aerospace P-750 aircraft for Sky Camp, a Polish skydiving centre. Sky Camp has been using rented aircraft up to now, but two years ago decided that it would like to acquire a new one, opting for the P-750.
“Right now Pacific Aerospace is offering the Super-Pac XL, which is faster than its regular model,” Aeroclub Gdanski board member Mariusz Przybylski tells EBAN. “Sky Camp considered choosing this one, but the problem is that it is too fast for the drop zone. You need to consider that after every load, you must be prepared for the next one. Packing parachutes takes about 20 minutes, so if you go both ways up and down in about 18 minutes, the parachutes are not ready yet.
“Our runway is also located far away from the place where we pack parachutes, and we need an extra couple of minutes to get there when preparing for a jump. So although this model was very impressive, we didn't go for it. Added to that, the latter model didn't have all the required certificates with it yet; it was in an experimental phase.”
The chosen aircraft can accommodate up to 17 people and is considered economical to run. “You can load eight people and it will still work in your favour,” Przybylski explains. “We used to use a 50-year-old Antonov-2, and the problem was that it is very slow and takes about 30 minutes to complete a jump trip. Furthermore, it doesn't reach 4,000 metre altitude; it can only reach 3,000 metres to remain economical, and altitude is very important for us of course.” For tandem jumps, an altitude of 3,000 versus 4,000 metres is not crucial, but the difference is important to the solo jumper who goes up several times a day. “You need to consider that we open the parachute at about 1,000 metres. So if you compare the drop before that then you are talking about a 2,000 metre drop versus 3,000 metre, which is proportionately a lot more free-fall time.”
The Grand Caravan was an option, but was considered slightly too big, and the operator had a good look at the Pilatus PC-6 too, before deciding that maintenance would not be straightforward. “In the case of the P-750, maintenance is once every 150 hours, so it is very easy to plan it. With the PC-6, it is much more complicated. Sometimes you need to service it after 100 hours, which is not good, and there is no dedicated service centre in Poland. For Pacific Aerospace there is a service centre in the Czech Republic, and we will have to go there twice a year, so it is not too bad.
“The price of the Pilatus is also more expensive because it is from Switzerland, and the exchange rate is not good. ”
Sky Camp is located between three cities that have a combined population of one million people. Using the Antonov, it struggled to load up more than 12 flights a day.
“We will now be able to get more utilisation,” Przybylski says. “More and more people are coming to jump and undertake skydiving training. Without this new aircraft we wouldn't be able to meet this demand.”