Turbine Baron Touted As VLJ Substitute

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If your Baron could climb at 4,500 fpm and cruise at 300 knots, why would you need a jet? That's the thought process Rocket Engineering is promoting as it celebrates first flight of its fourth turbine conversion. The company, which already has turbine STCs on the Bonanza, Duke and Piper Mirage, has fitted the 500-shp Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-21 to a Baron in hopes of having a retrofit package STC'd by late 2009. "The combination of speed, performance and economy of the new P-Baron PT6A turbo-prop are very realistic, and will serve as a viable and compelling alternative to the yet unproven VLJ market," said Rocket Engineering's president, Darwin Conrad.

Rocket Engineering is calling the souped-up Baron the Cougar and is predicting it will be as efficient as it is speedy. The company is predicting an average fuel burn of 52 gph. Structural analysis, flutter testing and flight characteristics will all be tested over the next year prior to submission to the FAA for an STC.