Textron Aviation has secured a multi-engine training system (METS) contract from the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) via an open competition process. 

This contract is intended for up to 64 Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft, with the initial Lot I award being for ten new Beechcraft King Air 260 commercial aircraft and related support.

The second and the third lots would see procurement of up to 27 aircraft each, if the two options are exercised.

Deliveries of the aircraft, which will be called as the T-54A, are planned from next year to 2026.

These aircraft procured under the contract are intended to replace the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) fleet of T-44C Pegasus aircraft, which is a variant of the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 90.

Since 1977, the T-44 has been in service.

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Textron Aviation vice president for Special Missions Sales Bob Gibbs said: “We are honoured the U.S. Navy has again selected the Beechcraft King Air to fulfil its training needs.

“METS will modernise multi-engine aircraft training at CNATRA, providing an intermediate and advanced training platform for US Navy, US Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard aviators into the P-8, EP-3, KC-130, E-6, E-2, CMV-22, CV-22 and MV-22 aircraft.”

The METS contract includes factory options for capabilities associated to angle of attack (AOA), tactical air navigation, V/UHF radio, digital audio system, engine trend monitoring, condition-based maintenance, observer/jump seat, passenger mission seats, and full-face oxygen masks.

The aircraft will be delivered by Textron in a configuration ready for METS mission from its King Air production line in Wichita, Kansas.

Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Programme Office (PMA-273) programme manager Captain Holly Shoger said: “With its advanced technology, the new METS platform will be more representative of fleet aircraft.

“The T-54A will include an updated avionics suite, automation qualities and virtual reality and augmented reality devices to better prepare students for the advanced aircraft they will fly in the fleet.”

Over 7,700 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered since 1964.

The King Air 260’s cockpit comes with a digital pressurisation controller that can automatically schedule cabin pressurisation during climb and descent events, which in turn cuts down pilot workload and raises passenger comfort.

Furthermore, its pressurisation gauges have been integrated with Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck.

It is also equipped with Collins Multi-Scan RTA-4112 weather radar, offering pilots a completely automatic system that can detect short, mid and long-range weather.