Honeywell’s TPE331 turboprop engine is celebrating its 50th birthday and Bill White, chief pilot with Keller Companies, Inc. is believed to have clocked up more TPE331 flying hours than anyone else on earth.
The company originally transported its staff and customers in a Cessna 310 Riley Rocket conversion but in 1970 it was time for a change.
“Growth in the business meant that we needed to go further and faster and we looked at several different airplanes to replace the 310,” explained Bill White.
“We needed an aircraft that would fly fast and high with a good payload, with slow approach landing speed and just all-round safety.”
Keller chose the Mitsubishi MU-2, powered by two Honeywell TPE331 engines, because it was built specifically as a turbine airplane from the start and was not just a piston engine aircraft with added pressurization and turbine engines.
“I find the TPE331 is from ten to 15 percent better on fuel efficiency than similar engines, which lowers the operating costs, and engine overhaul times are longer which also means it’s substantially less expensive to operate.
“It has been a bullet-proof power plant for us over the years and bang for the buck, they are great.
“The engines are very efficient and safe, and the reliability is almost 100 percent. For more than 25 years we’ve not had a TPE331 engine malfunction that kept an airplane on the road overnight. We’ve always got home. After 26,000 hours, I can say it’s been the ride of a lifetime.”