Turboprop owners have a variety of modification options available for boosting the performance and handling of their aircraft. Among the rarified King Air 350 crowd, Blackhawk Modification’s new XP67A Engine+ Upgrade is gaining traction in the bid for the modification-of-choice title, delivering jet-like speeds at turboprop costs without sacrificing King Air utility. The speed surely sells, but Blackhawk — and customers — say operational and financial benefits are key to the mod’s appeal.
Operationally, the upgrade significantly boosts performance, safety and comfort. The modification’s factory-new Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A-67A engines increase top cruise speed to over 330 kt — a more than 40 kt boost — and reduce time to climb 60 percent, while their greater efficiencies and power provide more safety in critical situations. All climb segments are improved, with better margins in high/hot conditions, the aircraft arriving at its 35,000-foot service ceiling in just 18 minutes. Comfortwise, the mod’s benefits begin at engine start: The five-blade composite MT props included in the conversion are 5dBA quieter than the factory props, and have no minimum-ground-idle RPM, allowing smoother, quieter ground ops.
On the accounting side, the Engine+ Upgrade reduces operating costs, provides a solid ROI, and enhances resale value. Owners typically fly Blackhawk King Airs 4,000 feet higher than factory King Air 350s, according to the company, producing more-efficient fuel flows and economical operations. Meanwhile, the improved climb and faster speeds translate to 75 fewer flight hours for operators flying 500 hours per year. The 16 percent reduction in flight time can save more than $100,000 annually — a healthy ROI. Finally, when it comes time to sell, recent preowned transactions show King Air 350s with the Engine+ Upgrade command premiums that can practically pay for the mod.
That’s why a growing number of King Air 350 operators are making the mod their choice for big increases in speed and performance — operators such as energy-services company MG Dyess, which recently completed the upgrade.
“We demoed two or three jets but just could not find one that could do the mission like a King Air 350 can,” company pilot Matthew Miller says.
Now, instead of a King Air 350, the company has a Blackhawk-powered King Air 350.
“The takeoff, the climb, the cruise, all exceeded my expectations,” he says, adding, “When we found out about the Blackhawk conversion, it was a no-brainer.”