Beech Model Is King of Special Missions
Hawker Beechcraft’s King Air twin-turboprops continue to take the lion’s share of the Middle East turboprop business market, accounting for more than 70 percent of sales over the last three years. However, the type’s good endurance, configuration, capacious cabin and attractive operating economics have also made it a natural platform for a wide variety of special tasks, and many hundreds have been converted for special missions during the type’s long career.
There is little sign that the demand for special-mission King Airs may be diminishing, and the type is being promoted in the Middle East for a variety of such tasks. Quite apart from the obvious military duties, such as ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance), it has important applications in the maritime arena for civilian and government security agencies.
Here at MEBA Hawker Beechcraft (Chalet A12) is highlighting the King Air’s suitability for regionally important tasks, such as oil-spill detection and fisheries protection, as well as the increasingly important anti-piracy mission. The type is also well suited to other roles, such as air ambulance, aerial survey and flight inspection.
Hawker Beechcraft’s current King Air production family comprises the 350ER, 350i, 250 and C90GTx, which between them cover a variety of range/payload options. All but the 350ER are on show here at MEBA. The company is emphasizing the fact that all four versions are capable of receiving special-mission modifications.
There is a significant number of companies offering such conversions. Among them is French company Business and Commuter Aircraft (BCA), which is promoting its King Air modification capabilities at the show (Stand 345). Based in Lyon, BCA (and its forerunners) has provided maintenance support for Beechcraft aircraft for many years. It is also the French dealer for BLR Aerospace, and has installed the U.S. company’s winglets on King Airs. BCA has converted a King Air 350ER to test the Selex Galileo ATOS (airborne tactical observation and surveillance) system. o