Roughly three aircraft of FAA's 18 King Air Beech 1900 fleet are in various phases of a mid-life extension that entails an avionics upgrade.
Agency manager of the maintenance and engineering group based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Joseph Doubleday states through the upgrade the FAA is installing Rockwell Collins ProLine 21 glass cockpit avionics. Other changes in the upgrade include a 136.8kg (300lbs) reduction in weight through fewer wires and the removal of older cockpit instruments, says Doubleday.
Doubleday estimates it will take roughly three years to complete the upgrade to the Beech fleet, noting FAA is completing the modifications while conducting their fight inspection and certification of airport ground aids and other systems, including approach procedures. Once the aircraft mods are complete, the agency will also be the first to operate new required navigation approaches (RNP) to airports or automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) procedures designed for airports prior to revenue flights as part of the certifications process, verifying those procedures prior scheduled carriers gaining approval to operate with those next-generation (NextGen) avionics at a given airport. Currently the agency's six Learjet 60s and four Challenger 600s have those capabilities.
FAA uses its four Bombardier Challengers for international work, and expects to take delivery of two additional aircraft during he next two-to-three months.