A different breed of Catpass
The Commuter Air Technology (CAT) NBAA ’02 exhibit (Booth No. 1460) emphasizes new additions and improvements for its Catpass King Air program. Sharon Thuell, president of the Scottsdale, Ariz. company, noted that Catpass stands for commuter air technology performance and safety systems. Thuell reported the exhibit focuses on three King Air programs: development of three new versions of the Exhaust Gas Extractor (EGE); delivery of a special missions catpass 250 to an Israeli aircraft company; and delivery of another Catpass 250 configuration to a Canadian charter carrier.
Once Commuter Air gains STCs from the FAA on the new EGE versions, Thuell noted, the approvals would cover all King Air 200 aircraft produced since 1987 and all King Air C90s. The EGE system, first certified five years ago, is designed to reduce back pressure by porting hot gases out faster than the original unit and employs a special ceramic coating (Ceramatile) on the inside and outside surfaces of the exhaust manifold to “virtually eliminate cracking, pitting and surface soot.” Experience with hundreds of King Airs worldwide, the company stated, has indicated almost no racking while improving aircraft performance by up to 10 knots and “reducing fuel consumption up to 20 lb/hr per engine.”
The new STCs, according to Commuter Air, will extend these capabilities to many more King Airs including a unique group of King Air 200s made with the Hot Lip Conversion Kit Part no. 101-9048-1, as well as the 550 King Air 200s produced since 1987 and the more than 2,000 C90s built by Beech Aircraft. Approval of the new STCs is expected by year-end.
The Catpass 250 Special Mission aircraft, a modified King Air B200, was delivered to Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), for delivery to an unnamed customer. The aircraft, originally acquired by IAI in 1998, was returned to Commuter Air for installation of Catpass enhancements and a long-range mission package. James Marett, v-p of international sales for CAT, said that some of the features of the long-range design are a 10.5-hr endurance (2,200-nm range), low direct operating cost of about $450/hr and a short field landing and takeoff capability. The Israeli aircraft operator will use it for surveillance, counter terror, anti-narcotic operations and search and rescue missions.
The Canadian customer for a Catpass 250 model is Air Nunavit, based at Iqaluit, capital of Nunavit Province (formerly Northwest Territories). This is the charter carrier’s second Catpass aircraft. Company spokesman Michael Rogers said, “We have been operating a Catpass for seven years. It is extremely reliable and provides us with 1,400 flight hours per year.” The newly acquired Catpass 250 is a remanufactured version of a King Air 200 formerly operated by Sunrise Airlines. The upgraded aircraft, which underwent a Phase 1-4 inspection and a general overhaul, is valued at $1.5 million, according to Thuell.