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. " />

The partners progressively upgraded every other aspect of their King Air as the engines approached TBO. The Dunagan Joint Properties airplane received a new custom interior with improved sound and vibration insulation, new paint and an avionics upgrade to flat-panel displays. At 300 hours short of engine TBO, however, it was decision time on the next major improvement.

“With the old engines in place, we usually opted to cruise in the lower flight levels, generally 19,000 or 20,000 feet,” Murdock admits, “and our max cruise speeds rarely exceeded 260 knots. Above 20,000 feet, thrust and speed fell off rapidly, and we were pretty much tapped out by the time we reached 25,000 feet. If we needed to fly higher for weather or better winds, the airplane wasn’t enthusiastic about the taller altitude.

“We were, of course, well aware of the Blackhawk conversion, and in many respects, it made a lot of sense,” Murdock continues. “Our existing engines were already second run—they’d been overhauled once and were coming up on their second TBO—and that made the Blackhawk mod seem even more logical, as overhauls don’t become cheaper with age. We knew a second overhaul would cost us somewhere between $690,000 and $750,000—there was no way to pin down the exact price until the engines were opened up.”

Partners Murdock and Dunagan also knew that the benefits of the Blackhawk conversion relegated the price difference to insignificance. At $798,000 for the Blackhawk mod, the -42 engines were only about $50,000 more costly than a common second-run overhaul. The new engines represented a known quantity and a return to zero time, a bolt-on mod, with no weight penalty associated with the higher thrust at altitude. In exchange for the slightly higher price, their ’79 King Air would be reinvigorated with new engines, offering more power up high and a 20% longer TBO. The -42 engines basically upgrade a straight King Air 200 to a B200.


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