Pilot Journal
Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blackhawk King Air 200XP: “Simply Good Business”

The Blackhawk conversion allows you to fly one of the world’s most popular turboprops farther, faster and less expensively than ever before

blackhawkTurboprops have always occupied a unique niche in the world’s corporate aviation market. The type represents a middle ground in both price and performance between piston twins and pure jets, offering 2,000+ fpm climb and 50 to 75 knots’ more cruise speed than pistons, plus six-to-10-seat capability and the talent to fly well above most of the planet’s nastiest weather. " />

Corporate turboprops typically must work hard to justify their existence, and as perhaps the most popular of the business propjets, King Air 200s log an average of 250 to 300 hours per year. That means many of the early 200s have long since reached their 3,000-hour engine TBOs.

Enter Blackhawk Modifications [(254) 755-6711, www.blackhawk.aero] of Waco, Texas. With international offices in Brazil, Germany and Switzerland, Blackhawk is the world’s leading turboprop, aircraft engine upgrade company, concentrating exclusively on applications of the near legendary P&W PT6A turbine engine. The company is already well established as a modifier on the Beech King Air A90, C90, E90 and F90, plus the Cessna Conquest 1 and Piper Cheyenne I, II and IIXL. Since 2000, the company has generated some 120 engine upgrades of all types.

Blackhawk doesn’t actually do any conversions at Waco, but uses its large-volume purchase power to negotiate better prices for new engines in place of overhauled powerplants. Company president Jim Allmon and his engineering staff conceived a mod that would upgrade early King Air 200 P&W PT6A-41 turbines to the later, improved P&W PT6A-42 powerplants (fitted as standard in post-1981 King Air 200s).

The benefits of the upgrade are obvious. Original -41s are rated for 3,000 hours between overhauls, and the later -42s uprate TBO to 3,600 hours, a 20% increase. Also, though both models are rated for the same limiting thrust and shaft horsepower, the -42 maintains thrust to a higher altitude, permitting higher cruise speeds.

“In a sense, we were nearly ideal candidates for the 200XP upgrade,” says Mike Murdock of Dunagan Joint Properties in Huntsville, Ala. Murdock, a retired software executive, and Deason Dunagan, a well-known Alabama plastic surgeon, are partners on a 1979 King Air 200 that was rapidly approaching TBO a few years back.

“Deason and I both had a little history with other airplanes—Cirrus, Skylanes and a Cheyenne II— but our King Air 200 truly was an exceptional airplane,” Murdock explains. “We had enough familiarity with the market to recognize that there was something special about the King Air 200. It offered the classic Beech handling we’d heard so much about, reliable systems, good performance, excellent cabin room and comfort, and of course, the reliability inherent in the P&W PT6A engines. We really enjoyed that airplane and accepted that it was a cut above most comparable turboprops, but we knew we were facing a major financial decision regarding the engines.”


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