Aero Commander 500 family

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Aero Commander twins
Jetprop 1000.jpg
690C Jetprop 1000
Role Utility and business aircraft
Manufacturer Aero Design and Engineering Company
Aero Commander
Rockwell-Standard Corporation
North American Rockwell
Rockwell International
Gulfstream Aerospace
First flight 23 April 1948 (Model L3085)
Introduction October 1952
Produced 1951–1986
Number built ~2,902 (1951 pistons, 951 turboprops)

The Aero Commander 500 family is a series of light-twin piston-engined and turboprop aircraft originally built by the Aero Design and Engineering Company in the late 1940s, renamed the Aero Commander company in 1950, and a division of Rockwell International from 1965. The initial production version was the 200-mph, seven-seat Aero Commander 520. An improved version, the 500S, manufactured after 1967, is known as the Shrike Commander. Larger variants are known by numerous model names and designations, ranging up to the 330-mph, 11-seat Model 695B/Jetprop 1000B turboprop.[1]

Design and development[edit]

The first model, the five-seat 520, was certified in January 1952 with two 260 HP Lycoming GO-435s

The idea for the Commander light business twin was conceived by Ted Smith, a project engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company.[2] Working part-time after hours throughout 1944, a group of A-20 engineers formed the Aero Design and Engineering Company to design and build the proposed aircraft with a layout similar to their A-20 bomber.[2][3] Originally, the new company was going to build three pre-production aircraft, but as the first aircraft was being built, they decided to build just one prototype.[2] The final configuration was completed in July 1946 and was designated the Model L3805.[2]

Registered NX1946, the prototype first flew on 23 April 1948.[2] The L3805 accommodated up to five people and was powered by two Lycoming O-435-A piston engines.,[1] it was an all-metal high-wing monoplane with retractable undercarriage using components from a Vultee BT-13 Valiant. The market segment planned for this aircraft to be sold to small feeder airliner firms and was originally designed to carry seven passengers, but instead found use in the private business aircraft and military market.[4] Walter Beech test flew the aircraft in 1949 and expressed interest in buying the project, but passed on it, to instead develop the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza. Fairchild Aircraft also evaluated the prototype at its Hagerstown, Maryland, headquarters.[3]

The prototype flew successfully and the company leased, at no cost, a new 26,000 square-foot factory at Bethany near Oklahoma City to build a production version, certified on 30 June 1950. Nearly 10,000 hours of redesign work went into the model, including more powerful Lycoming GO-435-C2 engines, with a combined rating of 520 horsepower. The production model was named the Commander 520. The first Commander 520 was rolled out of the new factory in August 1951. Serial number 1 was used as a demonstrator, then sold in October 1952 to the Asahi Shimbun Press Company of Tokyo.[citation needed]

Operational history[edit]

Special mission cabin for the NOAA

In military service, it was initially designated the L-26, though in 1962 this was changed to U-4 for the United States Air Force and U-9 for the United States Army.

Under ownership of Rockwell in the 1960s, World War II pilot R. A. "Bob" Hoover demonstrated the Shrike Commander 500S for decades in a variety of "managed energy" routines, including single-engine and engine-out aerobatics.[5][6] His Shrike Commander is displayed in the colors of his last sponsor, Evergreen International Aviation, at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Bob Odegaard continued the tradition in 2012, flying a 1975 Shrike 500S in a Bob Hoover tribute routine.[7]

One U-4B became a presidential transport aircraft for Dwight D. Eisenhower between 1956 and 1960.[citation needed] This was the smallest "Air Force One," and the first to wear the now-familiar blue-and-white livery.[citation needed] This aircraft is now owned by the Commemorative Air Force.[8]

As of 2004, Shrike Commanders remained in service with the United States Coast Guard and United States Customs Service.[1]

A single 560F was operated by the Belgian Air Force as the personal transport of the late king Baudouin of Belgium from 1961 to 1973.[9]

The unpressurized, long-fuselage 680FL was operated as a small package freighter by Combs Freightair in the 1970s and 1980s, and by Suburban Air Freight in the 1980s and 1990s. The aircraft was popular with pilots, because it was extremely "pilot friendly" and with its 380 hp supercharged engines did well in icing meteorological conditions. A number are still operated on contracts for cargo and fire control applications, as their piston engines offer good fuel specifics at low altitudes and longer loiter times.

Single-engine safety[edit]

In 1950, when the developers were working to satisfy Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) regulations for certification of the 500, they chose a novel method of demonstrating its single-engine safety and performance: they removed one of the two-bladed propellers, secured it in the aft cabin, and flew from Bethany to Washington, D.C. on one engine. There they met with CAA personnel, then replaced the propeller and returned to Oklahoma in the conventional manner. The flight received nationwide coverage in the press.[10][11]

In 1979, the National Transportation Safety Board reviewed light-twin engine-failure accidents, involving the 24 most popular model-groups of light twins between 1972 and 1976. They found that the piston-engined twin-Commanders had averaged slightly over 3.4 engine-failure accidents per hundred-thousand hours, the second worst number of all aircraft under review.[12][13] The most engine failures were suffered by the small-engine versions of the Piper Apache, at 6.9 failures per hundred thousand hours; the third-worst, the Beechcraft Travel Air, averaged 2.9 failures; the average for all models was only 1.6.[12][13]

Countering the statistical evidence, Rockwell demonstration pilot Bob Hoover's famous airshow stunt routine, with the Shrike Commander, included a full aerobatic routine performed first with both engines, then with one engine out (and the critical engine, at that), then both engines out, and gliding. Then in his final airshow performance, in a supreme demonstration of conservation of momentum, he did all that, then landed the Shrike Commander dead stick (engines off), coasted the airplane down the runway then from the runway down the taxiway and silently let the craft roll slowly to a full stop right in front of the crowd.[14][15][16]

The turboprop twin-Commanders—with much more powerful engines (and most with longer bodies, allowing greater rudder leverage, critical for single-engine control[11][17]) – came out on the opposite end of the rankings, with one of the lowest rates of engine-failure accidents of all "light" twins examined, at only 0.4 per hundred-thousand hours.[12]

Wing spar fatigue[edit]

Beginning in June 1991, senior engineers met with FAA officials to discuss concerns over the Aero Commander's main wing spar, which was believed to be susceptible to stress fatigue and subsequent cracking, and was believed to have resulted in a number of fatal crashes.[18] From approximately 1961 to 1993, 24 aircraft crashed when spar failures caused the loss of the wing in flight.[18] 35 more spars were found cracked during inspections.[18]

Variants[edit]

Type certificate data sheet 6A1[19] and 2A4[20]
model name approved TC engines power MTOW ceiling seats fuel built[a]
L.3805 1
520 1952-01-31 6A1 GO-435-C2/C2B 2× 260 5500-5700 5 145 150
560 1954-05-28 6A1 GO-480-B/B1C 2× 270 6000 7 145 80
more powerful 520 with increased weight and swept tail, revised wing, landing gear, fuselage, vertical tail, and primary control system
560-A 1955-07-01 6A1 2× GO-480-D/C/G 2× 275 6000 7 156
560 with longer fuselage, revised engine installation, wing, landing gear, fuel and oil systems
560-E 1957-02-21 6A1 2× GO-480-C/G 2× 295 6500 7 223 93
560-A with Larger wings and greater payload[a], revised engine installation, wing, wheel and brake installation, fuel system with outboard tanks, and landing gear location
560-F 1961-02-08 2A4 IGO-540-B 2× 350 7500 7 223
680-F with unsupercharged engine and reduced gross weight
360 2× 180 4 1
Lightened 560E[a]
500 1958-07-24 6A1 O-540-A2B 2× 250 6000 7 156 101
560-E with decreased gross weight, powerplants, and 560A landing gear
500-A Aero Commander 1960-04-07 6A1 IO-470-M 2× 260 6000 7 156 99
500 with new nacelles,[a] fuel injection engine and new landing gear
500-B 1960-07-13 6A1 IO-540-B/E 2× 290 6750 7 156 217
500A with fuel injection[a]
500-U Shrike Commander 1964-12-11 6A1 2× IO-540-E 2× 290 6750 7 156 56
500B with pointed nose and squared off tail[a]
500-S Shrike Commander 1968-03-15 6A1 2× IO-540-E 2× 290 6750 7 156 316
500U with minor changes[21][page needed]
680 Super L-26C → U-4B[b]
L-26C → U-9C[c]
1955-10-14 2A4 GSO-480-A1A6 2× 340 7000 7 223 254
supercharged 560A [a]
680-E 1958-06-19 2A4 2× GSO-480-B1A6 2× 340 7500 7 223 100
680 with Lightened 560E/560A type undercarriage[a], extended wing and increased maximum weight
720 AltiCruiser 1958-12-05 2A4 2× GSO-480-B1A6 2× 340 7500 6 223 13
Pressurized 680-E, structural modifications to the fuselage, extended wing and increased maximum weight
680-F 1960-08-23 2A4 IGSO-540-B 2× 380 8000 7 223 126
680-E with fuel injection engine, new nacelles, new main gear and increased maximum weight
680FP 2× 380 223 26
Pressurized 680F[a]
680-FL Grand Commander 1963-05-24 2A4 2× IGSO-540-B 2× 380 7000-8500 11 223 157
680-F with larger tail, 2 built for the US Army as the RL-26D → RU-9D with SLAR, Courser Commander after 1967;[a] stretched
680-FL(P) Grand Commander 1964-10-08 2A4 2× IGSO-540-B1A/B1C 2× 380 8500 11 223 37
pressurized 680-FL
680-T Turbo Commander 1965-09-15 2A4 TPE-331-43 2× 575 8950 25,000 ft 11 286.5 56
680FL/P turboprop[a]
680-V Turbo Commander 1967-06-13 2A4 2× TPE-331-43 2× 575 9400 25,000 ft 11 286.5 36
680T with slightly improved cargo capacity[a]
680-W Turbo II Commander 1968-02-05 2A4 2× TPE-331-43BL 2× 575 9400 25,000 ft 11 286.5 46
680V with pointed nose. squared off fin, one panoramic and two small cabin windows and weather radar [a]
681 Hawk Commander 1969-03-20 2A4 2× TPE-331-43BL 2× 575 9400 25,000 ft 11 286.5 43
680W with improved pressurisation, air conditioning system and nose[a]
681B Turbo Commander 25,000 ft 29
Marketing designation for economy version of the 681[a]
685 Commander 1971-09-17 2A4 GTSIO-520-F/K 2× 435 9000 25,000 ft 9 256-322 66
690 powered by piston engines[a]
690 Commander 690 1971-07-19 2A4 2× TPE-331-5 2× 717.5 10250 25,000 ft 11 384 79
681 with new wing centre section and engines moved further outboard[a]
690A Commander 690A 1973-04-25 2A4 2× TPE-331-5 2× 717.5 10250 31,000 ft 11 384 245
690 with changed flightdeck layout and increased pressurisation[a]
690B Commander 690B 1976-10-05 2A4 2× TPE-331-5 2× 717.5 10325 31,000 ft 10 384 217
690A with improved soundproofing and internal lavatory[a]
690C Jetprop 840 1979-09-07 2A4 2× TPE-331-5 2× 717.5 10325 31,000 ft 11 384 136
690B with increased wingspan, wet wing fuel tanks and winglets[a]
690D Jetprop 900 1981-12-02 2A4 2× TPE 331-5 2× 748 10700 31,000 ft 11 425-474 42
690C with internal rear cabin extension, improved pressurisation and five square cabin windows[a]
695 Jetprop 980 1979-11-01 2A4 2× TPE-331-10 2× 733 10325 31,000 ft 11 425-474 84
more powerful 690C[a]
695A Jetprop 1000 1981-04-30 2A4 2× TPE-331-10 2× 820 11200 35,000 ft 11 474 101
more powerful 690D with higher takeoff weight, built for the NOAA[a]
695B Jetprop 1000B 1984-02-15 2A4 TPE-331-10 2× 820 11750 35,000 ft 11 474 6
695A with minor changes[a]

Operators[edit]

Military operators[edit]

 Algeria
 Angola
 Argentina
 Bahamas
 Benin
 Bolivia
 Burkina Faso
 Colombia
 Costa Rica
 Cuba
 Dominican Republic
Air Force of the Dominican Republic[33]
 Greece
 Guatemala
 Honduras
 Indonesia
 Iran
 Ivory Coast
 Jamaica
 Kenya
Laos Kingdom of Laos
 South Korea
 Mexico
 Nicaragua
 Niger
 Pakistan
 Panama
 Philippines
 Thailand
 United States
 Venezuela

Government operators[edit]

Civil operators[edit]

 Sweden

Notable accidents[edit]

  • On 19 June 1964, Senator Ted Kennedy was a passenger in an Aero Commander 680 airplane flying in bad weather from Washington, D.C., to Massachusetts. It crashed into an apple orchard in the western Massachusetts town of Southampton on the final approach to the Barnes Municipal Airport near Westfield.[57][58] The pilot and Edward Moss, one of Kennedy's aides, were killed.[59] Kennedy suffered a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding.[60]
  • World War II hero and actor Audie Murphy died in an Aero Commander 680 crash while flying as a passenger on 28 May 1971. The aircraft was flying in bad weather at night and was on approach to Roanoke, Virginia when it flew into the side of Brush Mountain outside Blacksburg, Virginia, West of Roanoke. Four others and the pilot were also killed.[61]
  • On 11 August 2002, photographer Galen Rowell, his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, pilot Tom Reid, and Reid's friend Carol McAffee were killed in an Aero Commander 690 crash near Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop, California.[62]

Specifications (Rockwell Aero Commander 500S)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77.[63]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Capacity: four passengers
  • Length: 36 ft 9.75 in (11.22 m)
  • Wingspan: 49 ft 0.5 in (14.95 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
  • Wing area: 255 sq ft (23.69 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 9.45:1
  • Airfoil: NACA 23012 modified
  • Empty weight: 4,635 lb (2,102 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,750 lb (3,062 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Lycoming IO-540-E1B5 air-cooled flat-six piston engines, 290 hp (216 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 215 mph (346 km/h, 187 kn) at sea level (TAS)
  • Cruise speed: 203 mph (326 km/h, 176 kn) at 9,000 ft (2,750 m), 75% power, TAS
  • Stall speed: 68 mph (109 km/h, 59 kn) flaps and landing gear down, CAS
  • Minimum control speed: 75 mph (121 km/h, 65 kn)
  • Range: 1,078 mi (1,735 km, 936 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 19,400 ft (5,913 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,340 ft/min (6.8 m/s)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x [citation needed]
  2. ^ 2 built for the US Air Force
  3. ^ 4 built for the US Army
  1. ^ a b c "Rockwell U-9A Aero Commander". March Field Air Museum. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e Collman, B.J. (May–June 1973). "The Aero Commander Twins". Air-Britain Digest. 15 (3): 79–86.
  3. ^ a b Nicholis M Williams (Spring 1990). "The Aero Commander 520". AAHS Journal.
  4. ^ "What's New in Aviation: Feederliner Makes Debut". Popular Science. Vol. 153, no. 2. August 1948. p. 90.
  5. ^ "Shrike Commander". Flying. July 1972. pp. 72–73, 76.
  6. ^ Collins, Richard L. (January 1999). "Grand Renaissance: The rebirth of the tough bird". Flying. Vol. 126, no. 1. pp. 80–83.
  7. ^ Sport Aviation: 30. June 2011.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  8. ^ [1] Archived 27 October 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ [2] Archived 17 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Harris, Richard. "The Aero Commander Line – A short history". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  11. ^ a b Smith, T. M., "Multiengine Airplane Rating", 2nd Ed., Zweng / Pan American Navigation Service, North Hollywood, California, 1968.
  12. ^ a b c Special Study: "Light Twin-Engine Aircraft Accidents Following Engine Failures, 1972–1976," NTSB-AAS-79-2, 1979, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, D.C., as retrieved from ERAU Library, 16 May 2017
  13. ^ a b Ibold, Ken, ed., Aviation Consumer's Used Aircraft Guide, 9th Edition, vol. 2, 2001, Belvoir Publications, Greenwich, Connecticut
  14. ^ Cochrane, Dorothy, "Robert A_ "Bob" Hoover, The Greatest Stick and Rudder Man, is Honored in Hollywood National Air and Space Museum.htm", 20 February 2014, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., retrieved 16 May 2017
  15. ^ "Bob Hoover flies west". GeneralAviationNews.com. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Bob Hoover's Last Air Show". youtube.
  17. ^ "Checkout in a Multiengine Airplane", excerpted from Flight Training Handbook, Advisory Circular 61-21A, Federal Aviation Administration, at website of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, retrieved 17 May 2017
  18. ^ a b c Swift, S. J. (1 May 1995), The Aero Commander Chronicle (PDF), Civil Aviation Safety Authority, retrieved 1 August 2007
  19. ^ "Type Certificate data sheet No. 6A1" (PDF). FAA. 25 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Type Certificate data sheet No. 2A4" (PDF). FAA. 25 September 2015.
  21. ^ Simpson 1995
  22. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 32
  23. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 33
  24. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 12
  25. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 13
  26. ^ "Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) – Air Wing". LA MILITARY. 9 April 2016.
  27. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 26
  28. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 37
  29. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 39
  30. ^ "División de Aviación Asalto Aéreo incorpora nuevo avión Turbo Commander 690D". webinfomil.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  31. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 128
  32. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 18
  33. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 49
  34. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 94
  35. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 55
  36. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2021". FlightGlobal. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  37. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 106
  38. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 107
  39. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 109
  40. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 110
  41. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 126
  42. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 141
  43. ^ "Royal Lao Air Force Aircraft Types". aeroflight.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  44. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 143
  45. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 156
  46. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 42
  47. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 167
  48. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 172
  49. ^ Andrade 1982, p. 173
  50. ^ Hagedorn 1993, p. 120
  51. ^ "World Air Forces 2013" (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  52. ^ Flight International 29 November 1986, p. 92
  53. ^ a b Andrade 1979, p. 134
  54. ^ Seymour, Paul (28 December 2018). "AERO COMMANDER 560A, P-2001 / 310-73, INDONESIAN POLICE / POLISI". abpic.co.uk. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  55. ^ Team, DPS Web. "TxDPS – Aircraft History". www.dps.texas.gov. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  56. ^ "When in Samoa, Fly With Talofa and its Twin Commanders". Flight Levels Online. 21 (3). 2016.
  57. ^ "Teddy's Ordeal". Time. 26 June 1964. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  58. ^ "The Luck of the Kennedys". Check-Six.com. 8 May 2008. Archived from the original on 1 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  59. ^ "John F. Kennedy Jr. – Timeline: Misfortunes of a Family". CNN. July 1999. Archived from the original on 23 March 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  60. ^ Swidey, Neil (16 February 2009). "Chapter 2: The Youngest Brother: Turbulence and tragedies eclipse early triumphs". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 22 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  61. ^ "Biography for Audie Murphy". IMDb. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  62. ^ Ray Delgado (12 August 2002). "Galen Rowell 1940–2002". sfgate.com. Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  63. ^ Taylor 1976, pp. 346–347

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]