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. " />

blackhawk interiorIn addition to the engine upgrade, the Dunagan airplane features the Raisbeck Epic Performance Package. Raisbeck Engineering of Seattle, Wash., has long been an innovator of King Air mods, and the current EPIC conversion includes optimized four-blade props, a ram air recovery system, and improved leading edges and strakes. Collectively, the changes add as much as nine knots of cruise to some King Airs, reduce operating temperatures and improve high-altitude performance.

“From a financial point of view, the Blackhawk conversion with the Raisbeck EPIC performance package made so much sense,” says Murdock. “When you combine the advantages of the higher speed and taller altitudes, plus the higher TBO and added aircraft value of new versus overhauled engines, the operating efficiencies paid back the additional investment in a very short time.”

The Dunagan partners converted to the Blackhawk XP mod last year, and they’ve had no reason to look back. Since the installation of the -42 engines, the company has operated the airplane about 100 hours in missions all over the United States. The differences in performance and operating economics have proven the wisdom of their investment.

“Our typical mission profile is probably similar to that of other King Air 200 operators,” says Mike Murdock. “We usually confine our trips to 500 to 700 nm, flying throughout the southeastern United States and the Gulf Coast, but we’ve sometimes ranged out as far as Albuquerque or Telluride. Our load is typically a pilot plus three to four passengers. The nice thing about the King Air 200, however, is that we have the flexibility to carry as many as 10 people total if we need to fly a short-range/heavy-payload profile. I have an early delivery position on one of the new Eclipse VLJs, but we have no plans to sell the 200XP. None of the new generation of little jets will ever offer the passenger loads of our quarter-century-old King Air. ”

Dunagan Properties operates its King Air once or twice a week, and now realizes a greater range of operations than before. “With the -42 engines installed, we’ll often file for FL240 or FL250, several levels higher than we could utilize with the -41s,” says Murdock. “We’re burning about 100 gph up there, but we’re also truing about 280 to 285 KTAS at that altitude, 20 knots better than with our old engines.

“If winds are favorable,” Murdock continues, “we’ll sometimes even file for FL280, the highest non-RVSM altitude. That’s an option that realistically wasn’t even available to us before. At that altitude, we’ll lose about 10 knots of cruise, but burn 15 gph less fuel, so the trade is more than worth it. Also, we’re virtually guaranteed to be cruising in smooth air and sunshine on top of the weather.”

Murdock says the partners expense the Dunagan airplane at about $400 per hour dry and roughly another $400 per hour for fuel. “If you’re going to operate an aircraft in this class,” says Murdock, “you may as well do it as economically and efficiently as possible. The Blackhawk conversion allows us to optimize our investment at the same time we utilize the airplane to the max. For our purposes, the Blackhawk mod is simply good business.”


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