Nextant Aerospace has announced a partnership with GE Aviation to launch a comprehensive upgrade programme for the Beechcraft King Air family, starting with the C90 version.

The upgrade project will seek to duplicate the success of Nextant’s remaking of the Hawker 400 light jet, but on a vastly larger scale, with tens of thousands of King Airs still in service.

The King Air C90 upgrade program will replace the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 turboprop engine with the GE Aviation H80, which is a modernized version of the Walter M601. Other upgrades will add a Garmin G1000 flight deck, including a digital stand-by display, a new interior and a refresh of all life-limited components.

There are about 1,500 King Air C90s in service today, says Jay Heublein, ­executive vice-president of global sales and marketing for Nextant Aerospace. But the company expects the greatest interest to come from ­operators who use the C90 for surveillance and similar roles.

“We see a lot of opportunity in special missions,” Heublein says. The partnership with GE Aviation also will introduce new technology in the King Air C90. A single-lever throttle control will be installed in the new cockpit, replacing the older throttle quadrant,

Since recovering from bankruptcy, Beechcraft has targeted aftermarket and upgrade programs as a key area of growth. Nextant, however, does not seem worried about the competitive threat. “They’ve had 40 years to do it, and they haven’t done it,” Heublein says. “When they have a product then we’ll look at it.”

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Source: Flight Daily News