Blackhawk Wants To Upgrade Your Baby King Air

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Beech's smallest twin turboprop, the King Air 90, has always suffered somewhat for its reputation as, well, Beech's smallest twin turboprop. Basically an overpowered, more-reliable version of the classic cabin-class piston twin, the King Air 90 is neither faster nor larger than the company's other offerings yet it remains popular as an entry-level rung on the turbine ladder. Relatively stable and comfortable, the only thing it really needs is more speed. Enter Blackhawk Modifications, a Waco, Texas-based firm that has focused on supplemental type certificates (STCs) to upgrade the older '90's Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engines with more powerful versions. Blackhawk also upgrades Cessna's Model 425 Conquest I with larger engines. According to the company, Blackhawk's King Air XP modification is a "simple, bolt-on" replacement of the airplane's existing powerplants with factory-new -135A engines, flat-rated to 550 shp for takeoff. No airframe modification is necessary except for older airframes with smaller exhaust stacks, according to the company, but the modified aircraft can cruise at up to 280 KTAS and maintain takeoff power to approximately FL180. Single-engine climb rate and service ceiling are also improved, as might be expected.