AIN Special Reports

Meet the Mod Masters: Hampton Aviation

 - March 29, 2018, 6:06 AM
Hampton King Air (Photo: Matt Thurber)

From outward appearance, King Air N713GD looks like a relatively ordinary B200, although a sharp observer can probably tell that it’s been modified. In fact, this King Air has a new lease on life, having been rescued by the experts at Hampton Aviation, completely torn down, repaired, then put back together with fresh interior and paint, Raisbeck Epic upgrade, and more recently, two unique modifications—anti-skid brakes and electric air-conditioning.

The two modifications are not easy to spot, so here is a guide.

Looking at the King Air’s main landing gear, each wheel sports a special hubcap filled with electronics. The wires from the hubcap are routed through the axle and emerge in a bundle clamped parallel to the brake line, so that’s another clue. The final change that’s apparent is a special Vivisun switchplate on the instrument panel.

Those are all the physical hints that this King Air carries the Advent Aircraft Systems eABS (electronic anti-skid braking system) supplemental type certificate (STC) upgrade. Of course there is more to it, such as additional wiring, an electronic control box mounted in each wing’s forward root, and two brake control modules (BCMs) mounted in the inboard wing leading edges. The result of this installation is the ability to land using less runway without reverse thrust, which is better for the propellers, and most important, no more flat-spotting or rupturing tires from pilots standing on the brakes too hard and causing a wheel to lock up.

The other modification is even more subtle, apparent from the outside by a 220-volt male plug recessed into the aft belly. Inside the cabin, the gasper air outlets mounted in the headliner are supplemented by evenly spaced heat-exchanger vents. This is the Peter Schiff Aero (PSA) air-conditioning STC, and what makes it unusual is that it is electrically driven, replacing the King Air’s original engine-driven-compressor air-conditioning with a system that delivers cold air directly from heat exchangers located at the headliner vents.

Hampton Aviation opened seven years ago, after the current owners purchased the former Mac Air, moving into a new 100- by 200-foot hangar, then opening a paint shop. Earlier this year, Hampton added another hangar measuring 110 by 125 feet. The company’s specialty is heavy airframe structural repairs, particularly on the King Air 200/300 series, including the military RC-12. For that airplane, Hampton Aviation is the only repair facility to have designed its own tooling to manufacture replacement bonded lower-
wing spar caps. Under Hampton’s service life extension program, which is done under contract to Northrop Grumman, Hampton doubles the King Air’s airframe service life to 15,000 hours. Another Hampton military program is major repair to Air Force T-1As (Beechjet 400s), due to lavatory leaks that caused corrosion.

Hampton Aviation sheet metal technicians can manufacture parts in the company’s machine shop, including King Air wing leading edges on a massive bending machine. For finer sheet metal crafting, an English wheel and an electric shrinker and stretcher are available. “When it comes to structures, we’re not afraid of anything,” said sales and marketing manager Tom Canavera.

Because of its military contracts, Hampton Aviation must comply with strict quality standards. All toolboxes are shadowed (tools tracked individually and inventoried at the beginning and end of every shift). Even the smallest debris is inventoried and disposed of inside the secure tool room, including seemingly innocuous items such as acid brushes. No electrical equipment is allowed below 18 inches above the floor, a fire-
prevention measure. Before any engine run and test flight, a complete inventory of the facility and tools is done, and personnel conduct a FOD walk on the hangar floors and ramp areas. The facilities and the airport undergo a four- to five-day military aircraft operations inspection every three years.

Every airplane that has left the Hampton facility after major rework, which is now more than 30 King Airs, “left with zero discrepancies,” said Canavera. Hampton has the capacity to handle additional work and is expanding into the civil market, offering maintenance and repair services, paint, interior refurbs, and modifications such as Advent’s eABS and PSA’s air-conditioning and products from Raisbeck, BLR, and StandardAero. Recently, Hampton Aviation became a Garmin authorized dealer and expects to add Rockwell Collins and L-3 Aviation Products dealerships shortly, which will allow the company to offer ADS-B Out upgrades.

The company’s quality standards, he said, “have a direct benefit to the [civil] side. When airplanes leave here, they are super clean. We like doing things right.”

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AIN 2018 Meet Mod Masters (275K)

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