Airframes, powerplants, avionics or cabin mods: Where will owners and operators put their discretionary dollars in aftermarket upgrades this year? Trevor West highlights the demand forecast for 2019 from five major MROs and upgrade specialists…
Who: Blackhawk Modifications
What: XP67A for the King Air 350
The XP67A upgrade for the Beechcraft King Air 350 replaces the two standard Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A engines with -67As, providing a 24% boost in horsepower that delivers “jet-like speeds, twice the payload, one-third the operating cost, and access to more airports than jets,” according to Edwin Black, Sr. VP, Sales and Marketing.
Approved for aircraft with Garmin G1000Nxi and Collins Pro Line 21 flight decks, the top cruise speed of more than 340kts. gets the headlines, but “Pilots are more impressed with the climb,” Black adds. “Most pilots are filing for 4,000 feet higher (FL320 rather than 280) and getting there ten minutes faster.”
The five-bladed MT composite propellers included in the upgrade reduce weight and have no minimum ground rpm limitations, allowing quieter ground operations. Since certification in 2017 some 30 installations have been completed, making this the fastest-growing program in Blackhawk’s 20-year history.
Cost: The installed price with new propeller assemblies and all hardware is $1.787m. Original engines receive a $70 per hour credit for remaining TBO.
Downtime: About two weeks. The PT6A-67A is two inches longer than the -60A, but the extra length is accommodated by an extended propeller spinner, so no engine cowl modifications are needed.
Slot availability: Installations are performed by a network of dealers, providing ample space, but the supply of -67A motors is limited. Blackhawk, a member of Pratt & Whitney’s CEP (Converter Exchange Program) group, places its orders with the Canadian engine OEM at the beginning of each year, and ordered 26 ship sets for 2019. Purchase agreements for eight are signed. “That puts us down to 18,” Black highlights.
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Who: Duncan Aviation
What: Citation CJ3 Pro Line Fusion Flight Deck
The Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck upgrade replaces the CJ3’s legacy Pro Line 21 Displays with larger 14.1-inch landscape touchscreen PFDs providing a Synthetic Vision System with terrain, obstacles and airport highlighting; lower landing minima with WAAS and LPV approaches; and graphical flight planning. Among optional add-ons are graphical weather via data link, XM and wireless data loading.
More than 20 Fusion upgrades have been performed since Duncan Aviation completed the first in 2017, and the pace isn’t slowing. “We have several more scheduled to be completed and I would anticipate even more will be installed” this year, offers Jeff Simmons, Duncan Aviation’s avionics modification sales representative.
Some of the anticipated demand is likely due to the mandate elephant in the hangar: The Fusion meets the coming ADS-B requirement and provides a clearer path for future mandates. But the true allure of the upgrade is that “it transforms the pilot’s flight experience,” according to Collins Aerospace. It’s not surprising, then, that “…95% of the upgrades are done to owner-flown aircraft,” according to Simmons.
Cost: The Pro Line Fusion upgrade costs $335,000 including installation.
Downtime: Between five and six weeks. Duncan Aviation encourages owners to schedule the upgrade in conjunction with major inspections and/or paint and interior upgrades to take advantage of the downtime.
Slot availability: While there’s no shortage now, “…closer to mid- and end-of-year, will be some issues with hangar, parts and manpower availability due to the [ADS-B 2020] mandate,” warns Simmons.
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Who: Elliott Aviation
What: Garmin G5000 flight deck for the Citation Excel/XLS
This flight deck makeover will replace the Citation Excel/XLS Honeywell Primus 1000 with a Garmin G5000 integrated avionics suite with GFC 700 autopilot, substantially lowering cost of operation and eliminating ongoing maintenance challenges facing the legacy system.
The Excel/XLS “still has a great hull value,” says Conrad Theisen, director of avionics sales, but the cost of upgrading the Primus 1000 (up to $200,000, plus the eventual cost of replacing the old CRTs at about $80,000 per unit) make a compelling argument for the G5000 upgrade.
The switch is also expected to provide enough weight savings to allow additional baggage, passenger, and/or fuel load flexibility. Certification is expected by the end of Q1 2019. Garmin has signed up 40 airplanes for upgrades – 15 to be performed at Elliott, which has its first install scheduled for mid-May.
Cost: The G5000 upgrade, including installation, with trade-in credits for existing avionics, is about $475,000 without options. A five year warranty and five year free database subscription are included as part of early sign-up incentives. The optional Awareness and Protection package, which includes synthetic vision, surface watch, under-speed protection and Flightstream 510 costs $35,000.
Downtime: Four weeks.
Slot availability: Elliott plans on doing two of these upgrades per month, and as two current orders are scheduled for 2020, “We still have three more slots available for this year,” Theisen reveals.
More from www.elliottaviation.com
Who: Raisbeck Engineering
What: Five-Blade Swept Composite Prop for the King Air 300-series
The new five-blade propellers for King Air 300-series turboprops will be in high demand, said Michelle Lieuallen, Raisbeck Engineering’s director of marketing.
Created in collaboration with Hartzell Propeller, the 106-inch diameter propeller is composed of a metal blade shank retention section, with a low-density foam core molded over it, supporting built-up layers of composite laminate. Nickel cobalt leading edges protect against foreign object damage.
The propellers provide a combined 54-pound weight savings over the stock models, and the composite blades have unlimited life, maintain optimum airfoil shape over time, and are relatively easy to repair. Additionally, the tailored airfoils extend fully into the spinner, increasing prop efficiency and airflow into the engine.
Cost: A set of the propellers is $149,375. If purchasing Multiple Systems, the price is $141,906, shaving just under $7,500 from the price.
Downtime: Installation (included) requires 37 hours.
Slot availability: The propellers are installed by Raisbeck dealers which are widespread, and no availability issues have been reported.
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What: Systems, solutions and STCs for broadband connectivity
StandardAero is seeing broad demand for 4G Ka- and Ku-band connectivity. “The trend is for more bandwidth for streaming, video conferencing, Facetime - just like in our households,” explains Jerry Sanders, StandardAero’s director of business development, Business Aviation.
“Those streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime – are really starting to make their way into the cabin.”
StandardAero has multiple STCs for Honeywell JetWave installations, which has owned BizAv’s global Ka-band space with its exclusive agreement for offering Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX service. But ViaSat now offers Ka-band service in North America and Europe, and StandardAero is developing an STC for installations on Bombardier Global Express jets and plans to expand the approved airframe list further. ViaSat also offers a Ku-band system that can be upgraded to Ka-band.
Only Super Mid-Size jets and larger are big enough to accommodate the weight of the tail-mounted antenna installations current Ka-band requires. Smaller aircraft and others operating domestically are opting for new generation Air-to-Ground (ATG) systems. Gogo’s Avance L5 is “a great, viable option for [owners and operators] looking for a true streaming solution,” Sanders adds.
Cost: Ka-band solutions usually run to about $600,000 installed. Components and labor costs can vary depending on the system. ATG systems typically cost $180,000-$200,000 installed.
Downtime: Ka- and Ku-band Installations are usually performed during major inspections when the aircraft must be opened up allowing the necessary access.
Slot availability: “Capacity has not been an issue with JetWave,” said Sanders. Installations can be performed at the StandardAero facilities in Augusta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; and Springfield, Illinois.
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