May_June_2022 - 35
On the scientific side, the BT-67s are often used for geophysical
research. The planes have been used for mapping and looking for
precious metals, for example.
" When they had the hurricane down in Puerto Rico, our plane
went down and essentially, with LIDAR equipment, mapped all
of the devastation and destruction down there, and then helped
FEMA figure out where are the bridges out, where are the roads
most destroyed, and how do they prioritize the rebuilding of the
country? " Varkoly said.
The trend Varkoly has seen is that the BT-67 jumps from niche
to niche, selling airplanes to a specific segment for a few years,
then switching to another the next.
" Right now, for us, that whole ISR marketplace, especially with
the geopolitical world that we're living in today, this ISR market,
we're seeing a lot of interest from customers and from countries
that want to kind of watch what's going on in their borders and
watch what's going on around them, " he said.
" The thing that's cool about this is we're
rebuilding something that had a really
amazing history and we're giving it a fresh
life to do something all over again.″
-Joseph Varkoly, president, Basler Turbo Conversions
Customizing the plane to fit these niches often comes down
to fuel tanks.
" The biggest variation is whether we put long range fuel tanks in
the wings. The traditional aircraft had fuel tanks just in the center
wing, we've modified with an STC that lets us put fuel tanks in the
outer wing that literally double the fuel capacity of the airplane,
therefore doubling its flight time. So for customers to take advantage
of that, that obviously is one difference, " Varkoly said, adding the
BT-67 can fly for 12 to 13 hours.
Other than that, customizations can vary from adding spots
for equipment such as LIDAR to leaving the body mostly empty
for cargo operators.
" We've got an STC to put holes in the belly of the aircraft so that
they can put equipment, like a LIDAR unit, and essentially shine it
through the bottom of the airplane, and then have workstations with
computer stations set up inside the aircraft to gather that information
and send it back down to folks on the ground, " Varkoly added.
600 Planes and 50 More Years
Given the number of estimated C-47s left, Varkoly says Basler Turbo
Conversions has at least 50 years' worth of BT-67s to make.
" I think for us, arguably we've been doing the same thing for 30
years. We do one thing, we take a C-47 and we convert it. And that
there's enough of them out there for us to do this for 50 more years,
and we're taking an airplane that's 80 years old and giving it 80
more years. And I think with that indefinite service life, there will
always be a need for this aircraft in the world, " he said.
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As they look to those next 50 years, Varkoly said it will be a matter
of keeping up with aviation technology as it advances.
" We, as a company, have evolved with the needs of our customer
to continue to make the plane serve their needs, so the modifications
that we've developed as the years go by continue to get better.
The avionics that we put into the aircraft continue to get better, "
Just this year, Basler Turbo Conversations got an STC for a brand
new auto pilot, effectively giving the BT-67 a glass cockpit.
" It is a very modern airplane in an 80-year-old frame that's been
rebuilt, " Varkoly said. " And if you look at the ADSB and all of the
things that are making airplane flying safer than it has over the
years, we continue to put all those upgrades into our aircraft, and
we'll continue to do that in the years to come. "
Varkoly said the entire process of taking the C-47 and turning
it into the BT-67 is the most fun job he's ever had.
" The thing that's cool about this is we're rebuilding something
that had a really amazing history and we're giving it a fresh life to
do something all over again. And I've really never had the opportunity
to do that before, so it's a unique feeling to, again, to see
that conversion and to see us rebuild these things and give them
a brand new life. And that's what I think is the coolest part of this, "
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May_June_2022
Your Mobile Home
The Hunt for Parts
An Inconvenient Truth
Getting Aircraft on Ground Flying Again
In the Post-Pandemic World, General Aviation is Taking Off
The Dos and Don'ts of Communication System Maintenance
Basler Turbo Conversions Makes the Old New Again
A Promising Outlook for General Aviation
How Naval Aviation is Combatting Its Billion- Dollar Corrosion Problem
May_June_2022 - 1
May_June_2022 - 2
May_June_2022 - 3
May_June_2022 - So What?
May_June_2022 - 5
May_June_2022 - Industry Inspection
May_June_2022 - 7
May_June_2022 - 8
May_June_2022 - 9
May_June_2022 - 10
May_June_2022 - 11
May_June_2022 - Your Mobile Home
May_June_2022 - 13
May_June_2022 - The Hunt for Parts
May_June_2022 - 15
May_June_2022 - 16
May_June_2022 - 17
May_June_2022 - 18
May_June_2022 - 19
May_June_2022 - 20
May_June_2022 - 21
May_June_2022 - An Inconvenient Truth
May_June_2022 - 23
May_June_2022 - Getting Aircraft on Ground Flying Again
May_June_2022 - 25
May_June_2022 - In the Post-Pandemic World, General Aviation is Taking Off
May_June_2022 - 27
May_June_2022 - The Dos and Don'ts of Communication System Maintenance
May_June_2022 - 29
May_June_2022 - 30
May_June_2022 - 31
May_June_2022 - Basler Turbo Conversions Makes the Old New Again
May_June_2022 - 33
May_June_2022 - 34
May_June_2022 - 35
May_June_2022 - A Promising Outlook for General Aviation
May_June_2022 - 37
May_June_2022 - How Naval Aviation is Combatting Its Billion- Dollar Corrosion Problem
May_June_2022 - 39
May_June_2022 - 40
May_June_2022 - 41
May_June_2022 - Advertiser’s Index
May_June_2022 - 43
May_June_2022 - 44