B200 Props, 4 vs. 3


#1

I receive a lot of complaints about our 4 blade B200 being difficult to land smoothly because of the extra drag created at low pitch.
The boss wants me to look into the 3 bladed props (a couple are indicated in the TC Spec’s) but I’m skeptical and would like to hear from any of you that operate said configuration, and whether it is distinctly easier to land smoothly… and yeah, the rigging has been checked… the props, not the pilot! :laughing:


#2

I don’t remember if the physical stops are at a different angle or not but here is my take on it.

I flew a 3 bladed 200 for a few months. When we changed it to 4 blades along with the ram air recovery mod from Raisbeck I got to do the test flight. You only pull the power back to idle in the flare once!
It is true the 3 bladed prop does not have as much drag and the normal way to land is with the throttles at idle. I learned by trial and error to listen to the 4 bladed version in the flare, it will tell you when it is just about to stop the airplane. Stop pulling back on the throttles when you hear them start to enter beta and you will make better landings.
It takes a few times around the pattern to get it but honestly you can hear it and once you have that down you can fine tune your technique so your landing distance does not suffer from carrying a slight bit of power.

John in Saudi


#3

June 2008 FLYING review of KA200GT:

There was one more pleasant surprise waiting when I landed the B200GT. In earlier models you have to be careful not to pull power all the way to idle in the landing flare because the propellers will go to flat pitch, generating enormous drag, thus ensuring a very firm landing unless you are only inches above the pavement when you chop the power. Again, for some reason nobody can explain, the new engines don’t do that, even though they have the same propeller gearbox as the earlier version. Instead of feeling for both neutral thrust and the pavement at the same time as before, you can gradually reduce the throttles to idle in the flare and the B200GT won’t fall out from under you.


#4

I’ve flown several thousand hours behind each prop, and I don’t think either one is “harder” to land, just different. A`“3 blade” guy will tell you the 4 blades drop from the sky, and a “4 blade” guy will tell you that a 3 blade will float off the other end of the runway.

As PorterJet said, it’s a matter of technique. The 4 blades have a very distinct “hiss” at zero thrust and it doesn’t take long to figure it out.

Personally, I preferred the 4 blade. No real reason, except it was a great short field airplane.

For a HUGE difference in landing quality, try changing the tires to the “CAT Soft Touch” tires. I was stunned at how much softer the touchdown was compared to the standard tires. Like landing on a marshmallow!

commuterair.com/commercial-s … uch-tires/


#5

My experience in flying 4 bladed 200’s is to leave the props at cruise pitch (1700 RPM for example) during the approach and landing, which helps soften the touchdown.

If you are doing a short field landing, then you can use a higher prop RPM.

When flying 3 bladed props, I typically use 1900 RPM for the approach and landing.

“Approach” being defined as once I put the gear down.

It has been my experience that a 3 bladed prop at 1900 RPM and a 4 bladed prop at 1700 RPM act pretty similarly in the flare. Granted they will both be underdriven at those airspeeds, but I digress…

The CAT tires (also commonly referred to as “Wilderness Tire”) are as the other poster suggested, a worthwhile investment.

Stock 200 tires use like 92 psi, and the wilderness tire use around 60 psi (IIRC), so it makes for more of a cushion on landing.


#6

Good point on leaving the props at cruise. On most airplanes you can do that while waiting for the airspeed to slow to the point where the props hit the low pitch stops, as shown by a decrease in RPM, then shove them up without getting an actual pitch change. Now you are ready for the proverbial go around. It is not a technique you can use on a checkride, but is noise friendly.
P&W strongly advises against using reverse pitch without the prop levers being in high pitch however. Something to do with bending the linkage or other bad things. I forget.


#7

I have flown both and agree that it is just technique. I also found that climb performance was much better with the four blade. On paper the four blade should climb better and the three blade cruise better but we seemed to get a better cruise as well as a better climb with four. As long as they are rigged right and it slows straight ahead it is just technique. Some of the add on four blades went very flat as they don’t have a differential between air and ground and go very flat. We need to compare apples for apples. Our mechanics used to set the air side to the high end I believe it was 10 to 12 degrees and we pushed the 12. A four blade with 10 won’t land like a four blade with 12. Mechanics need to be sharp to work on KA props.