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The ST-27 Saunders / Questions.  
User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2045 times:

Hi guys.

Way back in the late 80's, I was a ramp worker at the Toronto Island Airport (YTZ), for a regional carrier called City Express. We flew DeHavilland Dash-8's and Dash-7's.

We also had 6 Saunders ST-27's that were pulled out of service a year before my arrival. These aircraft were parked beside our main hanger for years. I always thought they looked pretty strange, because their vertical tail seemed way to short for the aircraft. I never got to see any of them fly. A few of them had been partially stripped for parts. A couple of them were not completely useless though...their cockpits made a great place to relax, eat lunch, and dream!

I suspect that the Saunders ST-27 aircraft is probably unknown to a lot of people who like airliners (I could be wrong). So, I have some questions for you.

Have any of the pilots and mechanics in this forum ever flown a ST-27, or worked on them? Also, have any members here ever been a passenger on one. If so, what were they like to fly, to fix and to travel on?
This is the only regional aircraft I've been in where you have to step over the main wing spar, because it runs through the aisle over a foot high!

Airliners.net's section on Aircraft Data and History has info about the
Saunders under the DeHavilland DH 114 "Heron" aircraft. The Saunders is a conversion of the Heron. The Heron used four 250 HP Gipsy Queen in-line engines. The Saunders was stretched and used only two of the new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 Turbo-Props. There were 13 Saunders versions built.

Here's a few photo's.

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Pierre Langlois



Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Caz Caswell


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © John P. Stewart

PS. Is it just me...or does the tail look to small?


Chris  Smile











"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16248 posts, RR: 56
Reply 1, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 1968 times:

Hey buddy,
I also remember the ST-27 flying out of YTZ (Toronto Island) to YOW via Peterborough, YXU (London ON).

I have no info to answer your questions though!

Neil/Toronto




Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 1966 times:

Hi Neil.

Thanks for your reply. Wow, a fellow Torontonian!

Hey, that's fine if you don't know what it's like to pilot one, maintain them, or travel on them. However, at least you got to see them flying!

What do you think about their overall appearance?

Myself, I LOVE anything that flys, but, some aircraft are just NOT sexy looking. I think the Saunders is in that group. Espesially when there's a Dash-8 parked beside one.

Another unique feature about this aircraft is how it's cockpit floor is a few feet higher then the cabin floor. Pretty different indeed!

PS. In what part of TO are you located? (if you don't mind me asking). I'm out in Scarberia! Near the 401 and Birchmount. I'm moving NORTH soon, up to Beaverton, on Lake Simcoe...Thank GOD!!!

Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16248 posts, RR: 56
Reply 3, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 1959 times:

Hey Chris,
I grew up near YYZ airport, which kindled my interest in aircraft.

I now live at Harbourfront, beside YTZ/Toronto Island. All I see down here is Air Ontario Dash 8's. Boring!

Yeah, I agree....the ST-27 is oddly proportioned!

If you're ever downtown, give me call...we can grab a beer & talk shop! Good luck on your move Chris!

Neil
416-203-8395



Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
User currently offlineAirplay From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 1963 times:

The ST-27 was "built" at the Saunders plant in Gimli just 60 miles north of here. (Winnipeg) Here's a picture of an ST-27 carcass abandoned in Gimli:


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Rui Dias



It's funny that you mention the step in the middle of the fuselage. Apparently that's what sunk the whole company. The FAA wouldn't type certify a aircraft of that size with a mid cabin obstruction that large. It completely closed the large American market to Saunders and the government pulled the plug on them becuase they didn't have enough money to finish development of the ST-28.

Here's a link to a picture of the fuselage with the infamous obstruction:

http://members.home.net/airplay1/134-3413_IMG.jpg

And a link to a picture of the cockpit step:

http://members.home.net/airplay1/134-3414_IMG.jpg

The ST-27 was the planned fore-runner of the ST-28. Saunders was going to mass produce the ST-28 which was going to be a completely new aircraft based loosely on the ST-27/heron.



User currently offlineAirplay From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 1953 times:

Sorry about this, but you have to capitalize the ".jpg" in the links in my last post to work.

User currently offlineMetwrench From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 750 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 1953 times:

Yes, the vertical looks small, but the horizontal tail plane looks suficient.

I'm just guessing, but in that time frame, late70's, the US FAA was trying to foster a more modern aircraft to fill the needs of a short haul, low density market. Swearengine/Fairchild was the first manufacturer to produce an aircraft to fill this niche, the Metroliner. In short, build a high speed, pressurized turbine powered commuter aircraft.

The FAA actually created a Supplemental Federal Airworthiness Regulation, (SFAR 41) to CFR 14 FAR 23 to build an aircraft to fill this need. Ed Swearengine was the first manufacturer to answer this call. He modified his Merlin by extending the fusalage to accomodate 19 passengers.

I know a multitude of people hate this aircraft, but over a thousand were built and Airline owners love this aircraft because it is the most efficient, rugged, reliable commuter aircraft ever built. Many Airlines that exist today owe their roots to the "Metroliner". To name a few, Horizon, Skywest, American Eagle, US Air, ComAir, Mesaba, MidWest, Chitauqua, UPS, DHL, US Air Force, US Army, DEA, to name a few.

Just food for thought.


User currently offlineOld Virgin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 1948 times:

Those Saunders photos have got me head scratching. Are you sure that these were new design aircraft? I can't get a feel for the scale of them but they look very much like the De Havilland Dove/Heron modified with turbo-props. A couple of manufacturers tried that route, replacing the two Gypsy Majors on the Dove and the four on the Heron with appropriate sized twin powerplants. Seating capacity would be approximately 8-10 on the Dove and 19 or so on the Heron. There would appear to be a fair amount of fuselage modification done as well - the originals were much better looking.

User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 1938 times:

Hi guys.

>Yyz717, Thanks for the invitation. I drive by the Harbour Front several times a week, along the Gardner. However, I always have 18 wheels and around 55,000 pounds strapped to my back. In the past, I used to visit a few bars along the water front, so I could have a cold beer and watch the planes landing on YTZ's RWY 26 & 24. Sounds good. I'll call you when I'm free. (hopefully before it snows!)

>Airplay, Thanks for that info, plus those photos are great. They looked like they were taken during the building of that Saunders instead of during stripping it to pieces (because it's so clean inside). Man, you can really see that wing spar good! PS. I used to live in Winnipeg myself, (Oops, I mean Winterpeg). I lived out near the airport in "Polo Park" on Ashburn St, off Sergant Ave. I never made it up to Gimli.

>Metwrench, I think the Swearingen Metro's are great aircraft. When I worked at Toronto Intl (YYZ), in the early 90's for an FBO called SkyCharter, a company called "JetAll" had 9 metro's based in our hangers. From a ramp workers point of view, you had to keep your wits whenever you were connecting or disconnecting the ground power, if the right engine was running, and especially at night! You can see in the photo below, that the port for the GP unit's plug is on the right engine's cowling (on the right side), between the wing's leading edge and the prop. (it's the dark rectangle beside the small light). In the winter of 1990, a 19 year old ramper was killed when he walked into the prop at night, while attempting to pull the GP plug out. I almost did this myself one night, but I was lucky...by an inch!!!

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Eduard Marmet



Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Frank Sonntag


>Old Virgin, If you re-read my origional post, you'll see that I mentioned that info about the Saunders being a conversion of the Heron. You should check out the Aircraft Data & History section. You are correct about your head scratching.

Take Care.

Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 1931 times:

The Saunders ST27's are remanufactured DeHavilland/Riley Herons. The fuselage was lengthend to accomodate 24 passengers and the 4 piston engines were replace with2 PT6A-27 turboprops. A total of 13 Herons were remanufactured by Saunders. One ST28 was built to comply with US FAR regulations. The ST27 was only certified by the UK and Canada.

Richard Silagi



User currently offlineOld Virgin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1933 times:

Chris
Apologies - I missed the last para. My interest was from having flown on the military version of the Dove - the Devon - for a couple of years. Very similar outline to the Heron, just smaller. The 'flight deck' was, indeed, a step-up, or , more accurately, a wriggle-up. It was a very 'cosy' operating environment from the space point of view but getting on board after sitting in the Far East sun for a few hours was a very good weight loser!!!
The 'Dripsy Majors' were marginal powerplants to say the least, even operating, as we did, three crew. We only once tried a little single engine flying - at a safe height!! Not very confidence inspiring. Mind you the flying was magical. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet-Nam (pre the nasty bit) and Burma (Myanmar). Great days... nostalgia isn't what it used to be  Smile


User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1927 times:

Hi guys.

>Old Virgin, you seem to be the "Man Of The Hour" regarding Hands On experience in flying on a predessesor (the DH-104 Dove) of the ST-27 Saunders.
Because only 149 Herons were built in the early 50's, of which only 13 were converted to the Saunders, I really didn't expect much of a response from people who have actually flown on the Saunders (or her older sisters). It sounds like you really enjoyed flying on the military version of the Dove over in the Far East. If you were flying around in Viet Nam before the war broke out, it sounds like you were over there before I was even born! (Nov, 1966). Old Virgin, I'm a little confused about one thing though...were you a Pilot or a passenger on the Dove? I'm asking this because you first said you had "flown on" the military version of the Dove for a couple of years (not that you "flew" it), then you mention about a crew of 3, and testing her out on 1 engine etc, so I'm just wondering. Also, what was the 3rd crew member's job? Where did he sit?

>Flygga, Thanks for that info. It's interesting that only 1 St-28 was built to comply with U.S. FAR regulations. I have another question for you. Airliner's Data section states that the Heron 2A was certificated for use in the USA. Does this mean the Heron didn't have the large mid cabin obstruction (the wing spar) that the saunders has? Airplay said earlier that [apparently] it was the cabin obstruction in the Saunders that kept her from being certified for the U.S. market. Why would Saunders convert 13 DH-114 Heron's (which could fly in the U.S.) into the ST-27 (which couldn't fly in the U.S.)? This doesn't make much sense to me.

Airliners.net's Aircraft Data section states that a handfull of these aircraft are still flying commercially. I wonder where?

Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 1928 times:

From what I remember the Herons also had the wing spar cutting through the cabin. I have flown on them twice (Swift Aire out of SFO)


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © John P. Stewart



and it was many many years ago but if I remember right I do remember stepping over the spar to get to my seat behind the cockpit.

I think there may still be Herons flying in Australia.


Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Brian Wilkes



Richard


User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1919 times:

Hi Flygga.

It's great to hear that you got to fly in these old birds a few times. Did you like the interior. Perhaps you had mixed emotions, such as...I love flying, but the inside of this thing looks pretty funny!!! That's how I remember the inside of the Saunders, and it was always parked!

Cool photos! The paint scheme on the one in Australia is nice, however I don't think it was going anywhere soon. At least not in the direction of UP! (it's missing an engine).

Chris  Smile/happy/getting dizzy




"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1918 times:

By todays standard, the interior was very cramped and very noisy! But we are talking about a plane designed in the 1950's before there was such a thing as commuter airliners. I loved it. In fact my flights on Swift Aire's Herons, were for no other reason than to ride on a unique airplane.

User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1916 times:

Hi again.

Well, if the whole idea of flying on those old Herons was because they were unique, you sure pulled it off!

It's to bad that I started working for City Express after their saunders were grounded. I would have flown in one for sure because I was always flying to Ottawa or Montreal in our Dash-8's to cover for their City Express rampers that had called in sick.

I'm signing off...my girlfriend wants me to go buy some steaks!

Take Care

Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (12 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1913 times:

Yes I figured it would be my only chance to fly on a 4 piston engine 19 passenger airliner so I saved up my money (I think I was 15 at the time) and went for a ride. I made round trip from SFO to Santa Maria CA. We flew SFO-SJC-Paso Robles-San Luis Obispo-Santa Maria and the same route back home. And the best part was the pilots left the cockpit door open the whole time.

User currently offlineOld Virgin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (12 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 1907 times:

Hi Chris
Sorry for the delay in responding but haven't been here for a while.
As regards my job on the Devon, I was Co-pilot, Navigator, Radio Operator and general dogsbody !!  Smile  Smile It was one of those oddball jobs that the British military have. The aircraft was the Brit Air Attache's and he was the pilot. The third crewman was our ground engineer who always flew with us and looked after the old girl - treated her like his most prized possession. We were based at Don Muang airport, Bangkok and covered most of South East Asia. The visits to all of the various airfields in 'our patch' were interesting and made more so since I was navigating mainly on map-reading ... but on severely out of date maps!! They were relics of WWII and some of the contour information was either incorrect or missing !! The Sugar Loaf, for instance, which is just to the north of Phnom Penh and a pretty large lump of rock, was missing completely. Thankfully, we VERY rarely flew IMC.
By the way, one of the pre-requisites for being considered for the job was that one had to be a bachelor ..... dreadful hardship, living in Bangkok !!  Smile  Smile
Oh yes, and the dates were 1961 to 1964....happy days. Finally, the intrusive spar ... no big problem, really. We were quite used to that sort of wing set-up ..Valetta, Lancaster etc.


User currently offlineMr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2787 posts, RR: 9
Reply 18, posted (12 years 10 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1906 times:

Hello Old Virgin.

Thanks for your reply. Please don't worry about a bit of time passing by between contacts...we all have places to go and things to do. There's no rush!

So, you were a Co-Pilot in the Far East during the early 60's. That's Great! At that point in time, I was just a twinkle in my fathers eye. I was born in 1966.

Like you mentioned...Thank God you guys didn't fly in IMC conditions very often. Those "Sudden Stops" while in the clouds can be Deadly! Some current maps would have been nice.

Surely, you must have many neat flying stories in your memory. Hopefully, future post's in this forum will allow you to tell some more of them. I'm sure they're very interesting.

Let's see now...you were a bachelor, living in Bangkok in the 60's, and your user name is Old Virgin! Hmm, something dosen't seem right, does it???

Chris  Smile



"Just a minute while I re-invent myself"
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