The performance improvements with Raisbeck’s 200/B200 Epic Platinum package, which includes dual aft body strakes, quiet turbofan propellers, enhanced-performance leading edges, ram air recovery system and fully enclosed high-flotation gear doors, are truly remarkable. Even with Raisbeck’s generally conservative performance claims, takeoff distance over 50 feet is reduced by more than 1,000 feet, accelerate-go distance is reduced by more than 3,000 feet, time to climb to 33,000 feet is reduced by five minutes and max cruise speed at the same altitude is increased by 11 ktas. Maximum allowable takeoff weight is increased by 2,300 pounds over the factory B200 under typical conditions. In addition, the company claims noise levels are reduced by 2.3 decibels.
I wanted to see for myself what the Raisbeck modified King Air B200SP could do. Standel and I taxied out of Atlantic Aviation at Santa Ana, where West Coast Aviation Services is based, with Standel’s son Jeff, who works for West Coast Charters as a pilot, at the controls. The departure was impressive. Even without using short field technique, at ISA +20 conditions, the airplane was off the ground in about 2,500 feet.
Unfortunately, climbing out of the busy airspace out of Santa Ana, we couldn’t time the climb. However, at 20,000 feet we were still climbing at 2,200 fpm at 145 knots indicated. We leveled off at 27,000 feet to test the cruise speed and reached an impressive 294 knots TAS at ISA +20. That is about 5 knots above the figures in the Raisbeck flight manual supplement. Under the same conditions, the unmodified B200 King Air would cruise at 281 knots.
Performance aside, I can also attest that the noise level is low. Unless you’re communicating with ATC, there is no need to wear a headset. It’s worth noting that the wing lockers are not part of the flight manual performance numbers. But the wing lockers certainly do not seem to degrade performance, even though they add a lot of exterior storage space.
Package pricing for Raisbeck Engineering’s 200/B200 Epic Platinum package and wing lockers adds up to $173,365, not including installation. The mods can be purchased individually as well. While the company is best known for its focus on King Air mods, Raisbeck Engineering also offers a number of modifications for other airplanes. Its aft fuselage locker for Learjet’s 31, 35 and 60 models can carry up to 300 pounds while apparently acting as a drag reducer. Another Lear product is the ZR Lite for the Lear 31 and 35 — a wing modification that adds trailing edge and wingtip extensions to the Learjet wing to reduce drag. Additionally, quiet turbofan propellers are available for Twin Otters.
But Raisbeck’s legacy goes way beyond the products offered by his company. Raisbeck appears to have a crystal ball, being able to see what the future needs of the industry might be. He had developed a hardened cockpit security system long before 9/11 and was able to deliver cockpit security doors only two weeks after the devastating event occurred. Raisbeck says he’s sitting on a few other ideas that provide solutions to problems he foresees. It will be interesting to see what those ideas may be and what else Raisbeck’s innovative brain will come up with next.