The Reims F.406 is a twin-turboprop light utility and commuter aircraft for up to 2 crew and 12 passengers.
The Reims F.406 was originally manufactured and designed as Reims Cessna F.406 Caravan II by Reims Aviation S.A.
in cooperation with Cessna Aircraft Company. On 16 February 1960, Cessna Aircraft had acquired a 49% shareholding
in la Société des Avions Max Holste, which was entitled the Société Nouvelle des Avions Max Holste. In 1962, the
company name was changed into Reims Aviation S.A. In 1989, Reims Aviation bought back all the shares held by Cessna
and became a private French aircraft manufacturer. Nowadays, the company is nowadays known as Reims Aviation Industries
and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GECI Aviation. The Reims Cessna F.406 Caravan II is in fact a development of the Cessna
404 Titan. It uses essentially the same fuselage as the Cessna 404 Titan; components of the Cessna 425 and the wings of the
Cessna 441 Conquest. The prototype F-WZLT flew first on 22 September 1983. DCAG certification was received on 21 December 1984.
Every Reims F.406 aircraft tends to be individually configured with customer-specified equipment and, while Reims have used various
marketing names for variants (e.g. Vigilant; Surmar - for maritiem surveillance - and Polmar - for anti-pollution patrol - ), they
never appear as the official name for individual aircraft. In October 2000, Reims Aviation announced the F406 NG (New Generation) or
F.406 Mark II turboprop twin, which has upgraded avionics, increased endurance and better hot-and-high performance than its predecessor,
the Mark I, the original Reims Cessna F.406 Caravan II or Reims F.406. The Mark II retains the same fuselage as the original F.406, but
while the former uses two 500-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-112 engines, the new-generation F.406 is powered by two 635-shp Pratt
& Whitney Canada PT6A-135As. The new version has four propeller blades, one more than its predecessor, which
has two McCauley three-bladed propellers. Early 2011, GECI subsidiary Reims Aviation was assembling the 100th F.406 twin turboprop at
Aérodrome Reims-Prunay. Reims Aviation plans to increase F.406 production from two aircraft in 2010 to six
in 2011, ten in 2012, twelve in 2013 and fourteen in 2014.
F'Airlines was established early 1995 as successor of Twente Airlines
and operated a number of
EMB-110P Bandeirantes and four Reims Cessna F.406 Caravan IIs. These feeder
liners were operated on the scheduled services Enschede-Amsterdam and
Groningen-Amsterdam. The Groningen-Amsterdam service was flown first on
30 January 1995, first five times a day. Due to the succes of the line,
the number of daily roundtrips increased to six in 1998. In autumn 1998,
F'Airlines was integrated in KLM Exel and flew its last regular services
on 24 October 1998. In November 1998, KLM Exel decreased the number of
flights on both services to three times a day. Within six months KLM
Exel stopped the regular services.
On 26 February 1988, the 1987-built Reims Cessna F.406 Caravan II s/n F406-0020 was registered PH-FWF with Aviation Service
Holland BV as holder. The Caravan IIs registered with Aviation Service Holland BV were leased via Aviation Lease Holland BV
to different lessors. The PH-FWF was leased to Freeway and entered service with F'Airlines in January 1995 as 'Twente'. On
3 June 1996, Duijvensteijn Aviation BV, Lelystad, was registered as holder/owner of
the PH-FWF and in Ireland registration EI-CND was reserved but was not taken up.
On 17 October 1996, registration PH-FWF was cancelled and the same day, the Caravan II
was registered G-TURF in the UK with Air Alba Ltd., Inverness. On 27 April 1998, the G-TURF was
registered with RVL Aviation, Coventry, and modified into a reconnaissance aircraft, fitted with
Sideways Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR), Ultra Violet (UV), InfraRed (IR)
and visual sensors. The registered owner name changed to Reconnaissance
Ventures Ltd., Conventry, on 11 May 2007. As before with RVL Aviation, the aircraft is
operated under contract for locating and reporting maritime pollution.
Reims F.406 G-TURF uses callsign 'Coastguard 406' when on duty for the UK MCA
Coastguard Pollution Control.