Factory set to debut new models to the Ag Aviation market.
Thrush Aircraft recently announced a major milestone in their development program for new models. In June, the company received the Type Certificate for the 510P2+, a process that has taken over a year to accomplish.
In 2012, under different ownership, the company launched a new 500-gallon aircraft powered by the GE H80 turboprop engine. The airframe/engine combination was an instant success, with a newly redesigned engine mount that extended the nose and provided exceptional balance in the flight envelope plus spar caps that had a 60,000-hour life. However, lack of support from the engine manufacturer proved difficult to overcome long term.
Fast forward a little under a decade – Thrush has now celebrated the certification of the 510P2+, a feat that was accomplished after a complete relaunch of the company. Thrush embraced the design success of the 510G airframe and added multiple engineering improvements, as well as the PT6A-140AG turboprop engine, which boasts 867 shp. The P2+ comes standard with a four-blade prop.
The Thrush 510P2+ engine is positioned on slightly modified H80 engine mounts which extend the nose to improve stability and performance over the 510P model. Additional baggage/tool space is also available in the front of the aircraft. Other design changes in the 510P2+ are improved air intake filter arrangements that provide quick access to the filter, stainless steel and aluminum hard lines for fuel and oil (eliminating the need to replace hoses in service), and a new electrical harness in the engine compartment. A new air plenum sealing feature that uses “P” seals will provide improved and efficient intake sealing has also been added.
The 510P2+ has new data plates and is available in a single cockpit configuration. The dual-cockpit configuration is expected to be certified in the fall of 2022. The PT6-34AG powered P2 single cockpit is the next configuration to be certified. The P2 will utilize the same airframe and propeller.
Design concepts were well on the drawing board before the 2020 Ag Aviation Expo in Savannah when Thrush President Mark McDonald held a meeting with the array of Thrush dealers in attendance to garner general feedback and suggestions on the upcoming aircraft. Currently, there are nine Thrush dealers around the globe: ASI Jet (US), Mid-Continent Aircraft (US), North Star Aviation (US), Yorkton Aircraft (Canada), Aerotec (Argentina), Thrush do Brasil (Brazil), Statewide Aviation (Australia), Orsmond Aviation (South Africa) and Africair (Africa).
Final design of the new models began shortly after the convention followed by fabrication and assembly activities. Flight testing on the 510P2+ started in September of 2021 and completed in June of 2022. As of this writing, over 50 firm orders and dealer slots have been reserved for the new airframes. Dealers are taking orders for those slots now. Thrush expects to increase production in the latter part of 2022 and throughout 2023.
With this increase in production also comes an increase in support. According to McDonald, “The new Thrush Aircraft cares about your aircraft from the moment we begin to build it until you retire it.”
In addition to the two new airframe certifications, Thrush Aircraft is also introducing a conversion program for owners of the 510G, currently powered by the GE H80 turboprop. Owners will have the option of selecting a new PT6A-34AG engine or one that is owner-provided that must meet specific build specs and be within TBO. The conversion process will take approximately 60 – 75 days to complete. Airframe refurbishment and annual inspections are also available during this process. The conversions began in November of 2021. Once the type certificate for the P2+’s sister ship, the P2, is approved, international Thrush Service Centers will also perform the conversions.
The 510P2+ brings impressive performance data. The aircraft has a standard 228-gallon fuel tank and boasts a maximum takeoff weight of 10,500 lbs. Maneuvering speed is 158 mph, never-exceed speed is 186 mph, and the maximum flap extension speed is 157 mph. The single-cockpit version has two baggage compartments rated at 100 lbs and 60 lbs. The useful load is approximately 5,800 pounds, depending on the configuration. The 510P2+ has 117 more horsepower than the earlier model 510P and a lighter empty weight.
Thrush factory test pilot Terry Humphrey, who has flown every model of Thrush aircraft, comments, “Pilots are going to be taken back by the performance of this airplane. The abundance of power, coupled with the overall balance of the extended airframe, makes the 510P2+ a sports car, but with solid, Thrush flying characteristics. It is one of the best aircraft I have ever flown.”
The 510P2+ also has a newly debuted 4-blade Hartzell propeller. The 510P2+’s takeoff RPM is only 1900 and, during general working conditions, is reduced to 1700. This, combined with an overall 103” diameter, dramatically slows the prop’s tip speed and equates to a quieter airplane.
The demands of obtaining new aircraft certifications (and an additional certification for the 510P2 nearly complete) and rebuilding a company haven’t prevented Thrush Aircraft from focusing on its larger airframe product line, the 710P. The 710P program is slated to have many improvements in the upcoming years.
Even amidst a launch of the “new” Thrush Aircraft and all the nuances that accompany it, Thrush has emerged with a new model aircraft that boasts excellent performance and flying characteristics. More type certificates are on the immediate horizon, and the future of the tried and true Thrush airframe is a solid one.