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Tag: King Air modifications

By: David Sylvester
Banyan Air Service
Technical Sales


It is almost 2 PM Pacific Time as the aircraft turns on final to commence the approach for landing at Seattle Tacoma International in Washington. Moments later, our pilot places the Boeing 737-800 smoothly onto the land of its birth, Boeing Field, being only minutes from Seattle Tacoma International.  A glimpse of a mechanic as we’re being pulled to the gate, his breath condensing into the cold air, I wonder to myself, why did I leave Banyan in Fort Lauderdale and 80 degrees?

It is my first trip to Raisbeck Engineering’s dealer seminar, an annual event held by the preeminent manufacturer of King Air Modifications.  Ed Bracero is my colleague and we venture into the 44 degree weather to catch a quick shuttle to the hotel.  As luck would have it, I have forgotten my jacket, I am mortified but Ed, the seasoned traveler lends me his spare saving the trip.  We are at the hotel a short while later and grab a bite to eat, before returning to the hotel to change for the reception at 6PM.

We meet Scott Keefe, Raisbeck Engineering’s Director of Untitled-1Sales when we get downstairs, then into the reception hall, where we meet the rest of the Raisbeck Customer Support team: Tiffany, Bill, Paul, Jill and Donna, (who ends up by the end of the seminar as the quintessential “mother” to us all, and who has a complete handle on everything including making sure no one’s left behind), it’s easy to see how she has worked with James Raisbeck for over a decade.  Finally it’s the man himself, James D. Raisbeck, Founder and CEO of Raisbeck. Still spry at 77 years of age, he is unmistakable and can’t be lost within the room with a full head of white hair, his list of aeronautical design achievements longer than two proverbial arms.


After dinner, while meeting the other 15 or so dealers from across the United States, one in particular, George from National Airlines Corporation, who has flown all the way from South Africa, turns out to be a larger than life presence and the soul of the party. There are folks from California, Nebraska, Washington D.C., Port St. Lucie, FL and the Midwest from companies as large Hawker Beechcraft Services and Landmark to small self described Mom and Pop shops, all with the common goal of selling the best King Air Mods in the world.  Commuter Air Technology and George from National Airways Corporation in South Africa both received awards for their sales achievements. As the reception starts to wind down, Ed and I are both exhausted as it is now


It’s 6 AM Eastern on Saturday morning, 3 AM Pacific and I am up already. I had forgotten how much I hate being jetlagged.  Still, I force my head back onto the pillow for a couple more hours and head downstairs to breakfast. We have a pleasant breakfast with Jeff G

roethe of Aircraft TurbineWorks, who used to work at Banyan, remembering days of old and discussing colleagues in common.  We were then joined by Bob Greer, from Steven’s Aviation in Greenville, South Carolina, which leads to us discussing some of the latest trends in maintenance in our respective regions. We’re off to Raisbeck’s headquarters just outside of Boeing Field, a 10-minute drive at most from the hotel.

We spend the day discussing the benefits of the wide range of modifications available to the entire line of King Airs and how to achieve the most efficient packages and sales strategies. Special emphasis was on the latest products, sharp looking but highly efficient swept blade propellers, if any part of a King Air aircraft’s design could be said to look sexy, these propellers would be it.  During this time, James Raisbeck is present, interjecting occasionally with bursts of sharp insight and the occasi

onal story; like his modifications’ designs, James’ genius, I now find is his ability to reduce everything to its’ simplest form and elegantly solve it with no superfluous additions.  At 77 years old, his mind shows no signs of slowing down, and he later teases us with hints of his latest projects.  It is at one of these junctures I finally realize how long James has been around when he shares that he was at Robertson STOL as Chief Engineer and CEO.


James Raisbeck Swept Blade

10 PM Pacific Time, 1 AM Eastern and we have been up since 4 AM.  We make our apologies and turn in for an early start next morning.

Twenty Five years ago, I got my initiation into aviation as an apprentice working on a Cessna 402B out of tiny airstrip in Guyana, not much more than 1900 feet by 75 feet.  The Cessna 402B in stock form from the factory didn’t have the best take-off/landi

ng performance, and in the year round 90 degree heat, with any meaningful payload or passengers on the tiny unpaved airstrips that our company operated out of; it constituted a a recipe for disaster. In James Raisbeck’s parlance, it enhanced your chances of a “once in a career occurrence” with little chance of there being a repetition.  Still, once the Cessna 402B was fitted with Robertson STOL fowler flaps, safety margins increased all around, as approach and decision speeds all dropped dramatically and made its operation into these difficult strips almost but not quite mundane.


Scott fields all our questions patiently throughout the presentations, in fact encourages us, and we are urged to pepper Davud Kasparov, one of the design engineers, with technical questions, since as James indicated “he hates speaking”. Davud endures and survives really well, a couple more of these sessions and he might even be talkative.


It’s a nice tour around the office at lunch, and Bill Lally sneaks a few of us off to look at the latest Raisbeck Modification that has just finished certification testing, the Lear 60 Aft Locker which adds significant additional baggage capacity to this aircraft.


We close at 3 PM, with James inviting us to visit with him later and view his collection of Antique cars.  Back to the hotel and scant hours later we’re off to visit James’ home where he greets us and leads us to his garages.  I am blown away by a pristine E-type jaguar and MG, then finally view in person a Jaguar XJ-220, and several other wonderfully preserved vehicles, beautifully restored.  James regales with stories of his child hood and career, as we wonder amongst the vehicles.


We finish up and head to Anthony’s, a charming seafood restaurant on the waterfront, where we split into 3 groups at the various tables, Scott Keefe and his charming wife Katie are with us at the table, and the rest of the Raisbeck team take turns rotating between the various tables.  Delicious appetizers are served, and as we enjoy a few drinks, conversations run the full gamut from colleges attended to places visited, world affairs, children, sport and accents punctuated by the arrival of delectable seafood entrees for the majority.  Our table presided over by Katie is by far the loudest with lots of mirth, and banter back and forth.


As the night comes to a close, James Raisbeck rotates in for a finale, a round of good conversation and jokes. It has been an outstanding and very warm end to a wonderful weekend and my mind wonders ahead to the long trip back home, but I have met new friends and made lots of acquaintances at this seminar that was very graciously hosted by all the Raisbeck Team.  Team Raisbeck has all the virtues that I have learned from Don Campion and our own team at Banyan Air Service, an ethos of hard work, exemplary customer service and principled dealings with your customers resulting in companies with over 35 years in being and still growing.


If you ever have the chance to visit the Raisbeck Team in Seattle, ensure that you do so, you’ll never notice the gloomy overcast days that so reminded me of my student days in Scotland due to the warmth of these great hosts, and what’s more, you can be sure their products do work. Finally, when you meet Scott Keefe, be sure to ask him why “5” is the magic number.




If you take the total number of systems sold as an indicator of popularity, Raisbeck’s Dual Aft Body Strakes are the most popular performance system in the Raisbeck arsenal for making a great airplane—Beechcraft’s King Air—even better.

INCLUDING OEM SALES of systems installed on new King Airs coming off the Wichita production line, the three top sellers of 2011 to date are, in order:
1. Dual Aft Body Strakes
2. Wing Lockers
3. Ram Air Recovery System

One might conclude that, because strakes and lockers have been factory-standard equipment since 2001 and 2004, respectively, those two systems would ‘naturally’ enjoy top-seller status. And now that the new King Air 250s are all being equipped with Raisbeck’s Ram Air Recovery System, one should expect it to be among the Big Three.

To King Air owners and operators, DUAL AFT BODY STRAKES [DABS] offer an unmatched benefit-to-cost ratio. What else can you do to improve a King Air for around $20K that increases performance, improves handling, enhances passenger comfort, and modernizes the look of your King Air? Indeed, strakes were the first performance system to be adopted by the factory as standard equipment on all new 350-series King Airs.



WING LOCKERS [CWLS] represent excellent utility and value as well. It’s no wonder they take second place on the sales list. FAA-certified to carry 600 pounds of cargo in 16 cubic feet of external, watertight space, they return the cabin to your passengers, keeping aisles and seats clear and uncluttered. Many operators use the right locker to store airplane gear and their own luggage, reserving the left locker for easy loading and unloading of passenger luggage as they board and deplane. Moreover, the lockers handle skis, snowboards and other equipment that are too large to legally carry inside.

RAISBECK POWER PROPS [TFPS] deliver better thrust, overall performance and value than any other available King Air propeller. The props are often purchased by King Air owners when it’s time to overhaul or replace their OEM props. Noted for their quietness and virtually vibrationless operation, they meet the most stringent noise regulations around the globe. Plus, operators enjoy trouble-free operation between the 6-year, 4,000 hour overhauls.

Raisbeck’s RAM AIR RECOVERY SYSTEM [RARS] significantly increases climb and cruise performance in both normal and anti-ice operation modes. Because RARS reduces torque loss with ice vanes deployed, and can be deployed for all ground, take off and landing operations, the system offers excellent protection against foreign object damage (FOD)—even when using dirt and gravel airfields.

The ideal combination of Raisbeck Performance Systems is, of course, EPIC PLATINUM + LOCKERS. By deliberate design, EPIC performance is greater than the sum of the contributions of the separately available systems.

These and other King Air upgrades are available at Banyan Air Service.
For more information on enhancements for your King Air, contact ebracero@banyanair.