Who wouldn’t want more power and more speed on a legendary airplane? That’s the message that Blackhawk hoped to deliver on opening day at NBAA when it shared new details on its program to re-engine the Beechcraft King Air 350 with latest-gen Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engines with the more powerful PT-6A-67A.
The program will be a first, to our knowledge, for a re-engine program on a large turbine aircraft to address models with every avionics option. The Blackhawk upgrade can be installed in airplanes with everything from the latest Garmin G1000 panels, to the Collins Pro Line 21, way back to the original Rockwell Collins CRTs.
Blackhawk’s Bob Kromer told reporters in a press conference on Monday that flight testing indicates the kind of performance boost the company had been hoping for. These include much faster time to climb, cruise speeds, and hot and high performance.
Kromer played a video of flight testing in which the airplane climbed to 20,000 feet at a 140-knot climb speed in 7 minutes and 41 seconds at an average rate of climb of better than 2500 fpm. It achieved a time to climb to its ceiling of 35,000 feet of 17:15, and at that altitude it cruised at 331 knots on just 750 pounds of fuel per hour total. At an altitude of 28,000 feet, the airplane burned more fuel, but hit a true airspeed of 341 knots at cruise, on 950 pounds per hour. The flight was conducted on a day when the temperatures were +15 C, which is to say, Texas-style hot.
The company is already taking orders, noted Blackhawk president Jim Allmon, who said the company has gotten a great deal of interest from DoD operators, who can fly more safely with the re-engined airplane thanks to its better climb speeds (to escape small arms fire) and quieter operation at altitude.
Blackhawk said that the swap to new engines instead of overhauling was about 25 percent more expensive, but added that the additional performance and fuel efficiencies were big drivers behind the strong interest from both private and military operators in the program.
Learn more at Blackhawk Modifications.