cessna caravan review

Cessna Caravan Review

Business and charter aviation operations are not only concerned with getting suit-clad executives to their meetings and outings quickly, Many business flight departments are also tasked with carrying important payloads into rough country on short notice.

The Cessna Caravan line of aircraft is certainly meant to carry out the role of being a tough and easy to operate work horse.

Its appearance on an executive ramp at the airport might disappoint a person looking for sleek CEO barges that fly at very high altitude and near supersonic speeds. The high-wing and lumbering look of the Caravan, while not eye candy, shows its true strength and lot in life – that of a dependable aircraft that can carry almost anything anywhere at any time.

If you want to travel from city to city perhaps a jet is for you, but if you need to get machine parts and people into a remote dirt strip in the mountains the Cessna Caravan is exactly what you need.

The Cessna 208 Caravan is a turbo-prop powered, high wing aircraft. It combines an age-old basic design with modern avionics and equipment to make it what many might consider it to be a flying pick-up truck. This Cessna is no beauty queen, but it is an economical utility airplane.

The Caravan has been on the market continuously since 1984. Its first prototype flew in 1982. Cessna produced a modified version of the Caravan named the Cargomaster; a model designed specifically with Fedex in mind as a launch customer and then later developed a stretched and upgraded Super Cargomaster. The Grand Caravan, a model designed to carry passengers, was a direct offspring of the Super Cargomaster. A higher-powered model, the Grand Caravan EX, will be produced by a Cessna-AVIC joint venture in China.


The Caravan – a true utility bird

There are many faces, layouts and designs available from Cessna for the 208. All different types of landing gear, with the exceptions of a tail wheel and a tail hook for aircraft carrier landings have been used on this aircraft, making it possible for it to operate in almost all imaginable environments. Available landing gear options include skis, enlarged tires for unprepared runways, and floats on the Caravan Amphibian model.

Interiors are available with seats or cargo areas or any combination of the two. The airline seating layout has four rows of seating behind the two seats in the cockpit. This variant is capable of holding up to thirteen passengers. The cabin can be laid out with just a few widely spaced seats or in a luxury executive office version.

Some Caravans come equipped with an underbelly cargo pod, which can be used to carry anything from passenger bags, to camping gear to oil drilling equipment. The Caravan is a popular aircraft for skydivers, who enjoy the left-side cargo hatch that has been converted to a roll-up door letting large groups of them exit the airplane easily.

If you have a need for speed the Caravan is not an airplane you would enjoy. It cruises around the skies at a placid 150 knots and it is limited to a twenty five thousand foot maximum altitude. Quickness is not what the Caravan is all about. This airplane was intended to be used hard. It was designed to be easy for one pilot to fly and it was meant to have most of its maintenance done in the field and in third-world locations.


The Flight Deck

The Garmin G1000 glass cockpit has been standard equipment on all new Caravans since 2008.

The updated flight deck in the Caravan with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite features the digital GFC 700 automated flight control system. Two LCD primary flight displays and a center multifunction display give are very easy for the pilot to see and provide critical data including traffic, topographic, and relative terrain data, along with all the necessary information needed for safe instrument flight, including a crew alerting system that helps reduce pilot workload and increase situational awareness.

Cessna has recently announced that Caravans will be assembled in China in a Chinese plant to serve that burgeoning market. The future for this model seems wide open because there is a continuing need for basic cargo and people carrying. The Caravan fulfils that niche’ quite well and does it with a quiet style.


Cessna Caravan – The Numbers

The base price of a new Cessna Caravan varies with equipment but it averages around $1.6 million dollars.

Performance data is based on the standard Caravan configuration, operating in International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) conditions with zero wind. Takeoff and landing field lengths are based on a level, hard surface and dry runway.

Other models of the Caravan will have slightly different numbers, but the ones listed below are a good representation of the entire Caravan line.

Actual performance will vary with factors such as environmental conditions, aircraft configuration and operational/ATC procedures.


  • Maximum Ramp Weight
  • 8,035 lb (3,645 kg)
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight
  • 8,000 lb (3,629 kg)
  • Max Land Weight
  • 7,800 lb (3,538 kg)
  •  Full Fuel Payload
  •  1,086 lb (493 kg)
  • Basic Operating Weight
  • 4,725 lb (2,143 kg)
  • Useful Load
  • 3,310 lb (1,501 kg)
  • Maximum Payload
  • 3,075 lb (1,395 kg)


  • Maximum Cruise Speed
  • 186 ktas (344 km/h)
  • Maximum Range
  • 1,071 nm (1,983 km)
  • Takeoff Distance
  • Ground Roll
  • 2,055 ft (626 m)
  • 1,160 ft (354 m)
  • Landing Distance
  • Ground Roll
  • 1,625 ft (495 m)
  • 715 ft (218 m)
  • Maximum Operating Altitude
  • 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
  • Maximum Climb Rate
  • 1,234 fpm (376 mpm)
  • Maximum Limit Speed
  • 175 kias (324 km/h)
  • Stall Speed
  • 61 kcas (113 km/h)



The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A turboprop engine is flat-rated to 675 shaft horsepower at 1,900 rpm. Engine operation is monitored by the engine indication system, which shows numeric readouts of critical engine fuel and electrical indications for torque, propeller speed, fuel flow and others. A wet type standby engine torque gauge is also installed.

• Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney Canada
• Model: (1) PT6A-114A
• Power Output: 675 shp (shaft horsepower)
• Propeller Manufacturer: McCauley
• Description: 3 blade metal, constant speed, full feathering

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