King Air 350 Bulks Up

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Raytheon late last month said it had obtained Commuter category certification of a heavier Beechcraft King Air 350. The new model features a host of airframe modifications, including heavyweight landing gear, designed to allow operations at a maximum gross takeoff weight of 16,500 pounds, an increase of 1,500 pounds over a standard Beechcraft King Air 350. Once a set of nacelle-mounted fuel tanks is certified, the bulked-up model will be dubbed the King Air 350ER. Aimed at the special mission market, the new version will have the ability to fly a short-range positioning leg of 100 nm, perform a low-altitude surveillance mission for up to eight hours and return to its base, landing with more than 45 minutes of fuel on board. Certification of the King Air 350ER is still slated for the summer of 2006.

"This certification represents the achievement of a significant milestone in developing and certifying the Beechcraft King Air 350ER which Raytheon unveiled at the Paris Air Show earlier this summer," said John Brauneis, vice president of contracts and special mission aircraft. "When fully certified, the Beechcraft King Air 350ER will surpass anything in its class in payload and endurance. It will provide the proven reliability of the King Air and unparalleled cost-effectiveness over a wide variety of military and civilian special missions," he added. In 2004, Raytheon recognized the 40th anniversary of Beechcraft King Air continuous production and celebrated delivering the 6,000th copy of the type.