Raisbeck Engineering and Raytheon are considering offering the Raisbeck enhanced performance system on new production Beech Super King Air 200s in an attempt to boost sluggish sales.

The surprise move is expected to be officially revealed at the National Business Aviation Association show in New Orleans starting 18 September. At least one aircraft fitted with the system by Raytheon at Wichita is expected to be displayed at the show. The aircraft has been used for a series of flight tests which Raytheon Engineering required as part of its due diligence before going ahead with the programme.

The flight tests, which began after the initial aircraft was modified in July, focused on performance validation and establishing that "the addition of the Raisbeck system did not adversely affect the aircraft in any way," says company president James Raisbeck, who adds that, since the kit became available in 1982, more than 5,000 systems have been fitted and are flying on more than 30% of all Beechcraft 200/B200s built to date.

The system produces enhanced field performance, greater range and high-cruise altitudes. The two-phase test effort began with evaluation of the aircraft fitted with the bulk of the kit. This included the four-bladed, Hartzell-Raisbeck propeller, engine ram air recovery system, enhanced performance leading edges, dual aft body strakes and doors that fully enclosed the main landing gear. The second phase included large nacelle wing lockers.

The test results alleviated Raytheon's chief concerns that the ram air recovery system was actually pushing engine inlet turbine temperatures (ITT) higher with a subsequent impact on engine life and the warranties offered on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-41/42 turboprop. Back-to-back flight tests of the aircraft with and without the modifications showed that under identical conditions at 25,000ft (7,625m) and an outside air temperature of -10°C, (14°F) ITT temperature was 2íC lower on the Raisbeck-equipped flights, and N1 speed was 0.2% lower at around 1,800 rpm.

The company hopes the revamp will rekindle dwindling B200 sales. Deliveries fell to 27 aircraft in the first half of the year compared with 40 in the same period last year, leading to a cut in production.

Raytheon plans to have 10 new built Beech 200 Super King Airs modified by January and is expected to provide a further eight used aircraft for re-marketing. It is expected to begin installing the system later in 2002 and is considering re-branding the modified aircraft under a new name. Suggested designations include the Super King Air 250, 200XP or 200 Raisbeck.

Source: Flight International