The Cessna 208 Caravan
INCOMPLETE DOCUMENT -Work in Progress
Cessna C208, C208-B and C208-EX Caravans -Cessna's Swiss Army Knife with Wings.
As PinC, it is solely your responsibility to ensure the aircraft is in all respects ready for the intended flight. Allow yourself whatever time is necessary to meet that responsibility completely, whether for the 1st flight of the day or any subsequent flight during the course of the day. Never ask someone else to pre-flight your aircraft for you, or even to dip your fuel tanks. It is your responsibility. Never execute a pre-flight or any part of a pre-flight for someone else. If you are asked to do so, best you invite them to remove themselves in short, jerky movements and get out there and do it themselves. In common with most aircraft, its best to start your pre-flight in the cockpit.
The first stage of preparing for a days flights commences as you approach your aircraft at the start of the day. Be in the habit of making a non-detailed, general scan of your airframe, in which you check only the gross, general condition she's in. You're looking for any gross anomalies, like obvious damage, major leaks or maybe a flat tyre. Sure, you'll do a far more comprehensive check during your External Inspection shortly... but it's surprising what you might see in a wider, more non-specific glance initially. And it's a bit like saying 'good morning' to your mount for the day. If you have a ground-crew (as I do) they'll most likely have the hatches and cowls already open, loading underway and the engineer will have completed his Daily Pre-flight Inspection and (if appropriate) have done a compressor/turbine rinse already. You'll have your Flight Bag with you. Get in the cockpit, first for me is Remove Control Locks & One fuel-tap ON, Battery Master ON and Avionics 1 ON. Then I set-up my seat position and confirm the track-locks engage as I expect. Then I install my headset and conduct a slow, careful Full and Free Controls check of Ailerons/Spoilers, Elevator and Rudders. Manually roll your Trims through too. All of the while, listening for any abnormal sounds from any of the control surfaces or linkages. By the time you've done that, the G1000 Avionics have completed their own self-checks and the L side PFD is ready to go. Leave your overhead Speaker selected ON  (the default on power-up) too. That way, you can listen to other traffic, get airport conditions and airport QNH. Dial it in. Check and totalise your Fuel and check internal battery voltage. With that done, select your External Battery Master to BUS and confirm the Voltage displayed. Check all your Circuit Breakers are IN. Beacon selected ON. Parking Brake is SET, Inertial Separator free, correct and OPEN, EPL NORM and locked, PWR Lever IDLE, Propeller FINE and Condition Lever CUTOFF. All Fuel and Firewall Cutoffs are IN and Secure. Trims SET. O2 OFF and Contents Adequate. SBY Flap switches Guarded. Then, I complete all the necessary cockpit paperwork, and the cockpit setup is, for the time-being at least, complete. Yes, I do leave BATT and EXT Masters ON -I'm still keeping an ear on the radios as I conduct the External preflight. As I get down from the cockpit, I take a look and check both Fuel Caps are properly installed and secure.
You DO need a Torch. Have one available. In point of fact, when the batteries on my ANR Headset need replaced, I usually flick one or 2 of them into my gear-bag, specifically for later use in the torch. There won’t be enough energy left in them for the ANR, but there’s plenty left to run the torch during daily inspections for several weeks.
My External starts at the Nosewheel, checking tyre condition, tyre slip indicator marks, tread condition and sidewall for cuts or serious abrasions. Check the nose wheel torque-links for slop/wear (grease if necessary), fork for any evidence of damage or cracks, strut for extension and lubrication (look as far up the strut as you're able -you'll need the torch) and check that the nose wheel steering over-centre indicator has not dropped-down into view -that will indicate that the nose wheel steering limits have been exceeded during ground handling, which will require engineering review, checking and resetting prior to dispatch. Don’t ignore the nosewheel drag-link either. It’s the heavy, round bar disappearing aft up into the lower cowling. I’d personally looking for obvious corrosion, cracked paint -or a break in the drag-link. From there, into the L engine cowling.
FBI, NG and EPL
Tips & Tricks
- Unintentionally hitting the Start switch with the engine running will illuminate the "Generator OFF" annunciator.
- If you've done an EXTERNAL PWR engine-start, and you have the "Generator OFF" annunciation after completing the start, along with the SBY ALT annunciation, it's possible that your EXT PWR Guarded switch is not completely closed. Check it. It only needs to be up 1mm! If that does not resolve the problem, there is an issue with your Starter/Generator (possibly worn brushes) that will require engineering attention.
- If after shut-down you notice the yellow SBY ALT light (forward of the SBY ALT switch) illuminated, you've left the SBY ALT switch ON.
- Should you lose all engine TRQ indications in-flight, set your power by using Fuel Flow. In a -114A, set CLIMB 400pph, Cruise 300pph and DESCENT 200pph. In the -140 powered EX, add 50pph to all those figures. Ensure that you are not at or exceeding any ITT or NG Limits. If your are, reduce FF by 20pph, let it settle a moment and check again.
- If you ever see the Red RESERVOIR LOW Annunciation, you have 90 SECONDS of fuel remaining!!!
- In G1000-equipped Caravans, there is a "Blue Bug" Power-setting indicator displayed on the TRQ Gauge. On occasion, you may notice the bug disappear. If that happens, simply slow your propeller by 10-20 RPM (Blue Lever, Prop RPM) to bring your RPM back to 1900 or less. It seems that the internal mathematics upon which the bug is calculated, do not extend beyond 1900 NP (MAX PROP RPM), causing the bug to "disappear".
- That’s a book I thoroughly recommend. Mine was a gift from a good friend years ago -and is still today my “go to” text. It ain’t easy to find in your local bookstore, so try a good pilot shop, or order online from the likes of Amazon or Sporty’s Pilot Shop. It’s full of incredibly useful information, tips & tricks.
- Some people I know insist that the overhead Speaker be selected OFF... I also know some people that have taxied onto an active strip RWY in the face of landing traffic which they didn't know was there, (Some of them, more than once!) being in the habit of starting their engine Headset off, Speaker OFF.
- Regrettably, voltage is the only measure of battery health available to us in the cockpit. Of more importance is the Amperage the battery is capable of producing -that's what does the work to spin our engine up. Insufficient Amps, it'll be a sluggish start, at best. There have been times I've initiated a start, everything looks good with NG accelerating through 14%, when I've heard the engine acceleration slow and then decrease, just as I was about to put the fuel in. Immediate aborted start and motoring run on the battery.
- Personally, I have a LEDLenser P5.2 which lives in a wee pouch on my belt. It goes on when I get dressed in the morning. Always carry spare batteries. Mine runs almost endlessly on a single AA battery.
- I recently saw an aircraft upon which one snapped “over-night” we’re told. Engineers I have personally spoken to have never heard of a circumstance remotely like this one. These drag-links apparently never fail in other than an airframe damaging crash! The pilot of that aircraft has somewhat a reputation for heavy and nose-wheel 1st “arrivals” that have caused damage recently, so perhaps for his company, the answer may lie there.