Sometimes it's the small things that matter and, if the claims of Premier Aviation out of Concord, California, are true, a simple wheel cover has achieved impressive performance improvements for the Cessna 400 twin-series of airplanes. The company recently received the sign off from the FAA for an STC to install its dome wheel cover on the Cessna 421C, 414A and 402C. According to Premier Aviation's owner, Peter Danto, 45 to 50 kits have been delivered and customers who have installed the mod have seen a significant increase in climb performance — as much as 50 percent above 20,000 feet. Danto claims the mod will also increase the cruise speed by 5.5 ktas at 17,500 feet, but he said most owners have seen better speed improvements — as much as 13 knots at certain altitudes.
The mod looks very simple, but "the key to its success is the basis for which it is installed; that being to reduce induced drag, improve lift generated from the wing and change the resulting angle of attack, which further enhances speed gains," said Danto. Premier Aviation also designed a new, patented attachment system that connects the wheel cover securely without the potential for cracking the outer part of the wheel.
Danto is currently working on the STC paperwork for the Cessna 425 and 441, and the Citation series is next with prototypes already being test fit. Danto estimates a 5 to 10 percent fuel savings for the jets as a result of shorter time to climb and faster cruise speeds.