- 16 Jun 2021
- Sherryn de Vos
- AvBuyer Africa Articles
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Depending on the age and condition, buyers can purchase a used Rockwell Commander 690 model at a variety of price points. Aircraft Bluebook lists the 690 model under ‘Twin Commander’ and its summer 2021 data shows that a 1979-model Commander 690B costs $450k, while a 1972 Commander 690 costs $225k.
In April 2021, JETNET reported there were 361 Rockwell Commander 690, 600A and 600B aircraft flying worldwide (listed under ‘Turbo Commander’). The Commander 690B has the largest in-operation fleet, with 163 units. At the time of writing, there had been 181 Rockwell Commander 690-series retirements from a total 542 units built.
Rockwell Commander 690s offer maximum ranges between 1,100nm for the Commander 690A model up to 1,424nm for the Commander 690B Renaissance, according to Conklin & de Decker (which lists the models under Twin Commander). These ranges are based on four passengers and available fuel aboard.
The twin-engine Rockwell Commander turboprop was introduced to the market to compete with some of the popular Beechcraft King Air models of the day.
Rockwell Commander Turboprops Overview
By Gerrard Cowan
The Rockwell Commander range made a significant impact on the twin-turboprop market over the years, and although the aircraft are no longer manufactured, the provision of spares and MRO work is still overseen today by Twin Commander. The aircraft still in demand on today’s pre-owned market.
The brand has changed hands over years, having been acquired by Rockwell-Standard & Associated in the 1950s, eventually becoming Rockwell International, and eventually being bought by Gulfstream Aerospace. It was latter acquired in the mid-1980s by Chrysler Corp when the range of turboprops ceased production.
Following further ownership changes, today Twin Commander Aircraft LLC is a specialist OEM parts, Type Certificate holder, and support provider for the fleet, and is owned by Ontic.
Rockwell (Aero) Commander aircraft date back to the 1950s, with the ‘twin commander’ range of twin-engine turboprops beginning life in the 1960s in the shape of the Rockwell Commander 680T.
However, a major milestone came in 1973, with the production of the Rockwell Commander 690A, which used the powerful 251K variant of the AiResearch/Honeywell TPE331 engine, along with Hartzell propellers.
The 690A model has a pressurized cabin that can seat up to seven passengers and two crew members. Some have been upgraded to Supreme Commanders, which have 1,000shp TPE331-10T engines.
Next came the Rockwell Commander 690B, which first flew in 1976. While this aircraft was similar to the 690A, it had increased weight ratings, a number of modifications to the cabin (such as larger baggage space) and two engine options.
The Rockwell Commander 690C, introduced in 1979, was another major step for the line, increasing the wings by 30 inches and adding canted winglets to increase the total wing area.
Powered by the 254K variant of AiResearch/Honeywell TPE331 engines, an increased fuel capacity of the wet wings and the engine’s fuel efficiency boosted the range to 2,040nm. The later Rockwell Commander 690D was identical to the 690C, except that it utilized Honeywell TPE331-511k engines, which had 733shp.
In 1981, the line was joined by the Rockwell Commander 695 (designed under Gulfstream’s ownership), which again saw advances in the engine power and increased the landing weight by almost 1,000lbs to 10,500lbs.
According to Twin Commander, however, the key change in the 695 model was in the interior, which was lengthened by three feet, increasing total cabin volume to 278sq.ft. This was achieved without extending the overall length of the fuselage.
Finally, 1981 also saw the certification of the Rockwell Commander 695A, the second of the range to be designed in the ‘Gulfstream era’. The Rockwell Commander 695A – was the same as the 690D, except that it was powered by TPE331-511k engines.
A second version with greater horsepower was released in 1984 (the Rockwell Commander 695B), giving the aircraft a range of 2,080nm.
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