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|First flight||29 December 1966|
|First flight||29 December 1966|
The Beechcraft 60 Duke is an American-built twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft created by Beechcraft. The aircraft has a nose-wheel, retractable landing gear and a pressurized cabin. The two piston engines are turbocharged and the turbochargers also pressurize the cabin with bleed air.
The development of the Beechcraft 60 began in early 1965 and it was designed to fill the gap between the Beechcraft Baron and the Beechcraft Queen Air. On 29 December 1966 the prototype made its first flight. On 1 February 1968 the FAA issued the Type certificate. Distribution to customers began in July 1968. The passenger cabin is fitted with club seating and entry is by means of a port-side airstair entry door in the rear fuselage.
The Beechcraft A60, which came onto the market in 1970, represented an advancement over the Baron, with an improved pressurized cabin utilizing advanced bonded honeycomb construction, lighter and more efficient turbochargers, and improved elevators. The last variant, the B60, was introduced in 1974. The interior arrangement was renewed and the engine efficiency again increased by improved turbochargers. The Beechcraft 60 was, despite its very good performance, only a moderate seller, principally because the complicated technology demanded a high expenditure on maintenance. Production was stopped in 1983.
Most of the Duke B-60s still flying have retained their original equipment. Electro-mechanical systems, which were highly advanced when the aircraft was introduced, were superseded in other aircraft with simpler I/C controlled mechanical parts. The aircraft design uses turbocharged Lycoming TIO541-B4 engines that develop 380 hp each. Other systems, parts, and FAA certified technicians are increasingly difficult to locate. Normally, pilots figure 45 US Gallons/hour, plus another 40 gallons for each takeoff and climb as typical fuel consumption for cross country planning. Owners compare the Beechcraft B60 to classic sports cars—noting that they don't fly Dukes to economize. One area of particular maintenance concern involves the original construction of the tail section from a magnesium alloy, making that portion a common and expensive target of corrosion if not detected and treated quickly.
Some Dukes have been modified by Rocket Engineering of Spokane, Washington, replacing the Lycoming reciprocating engines with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-21 or -35 turbine engines. The modification increases fuel capacity by 28 gallons and the maximum useful load by 400 lbs. The take-off length required is shortened by over 1,500 feet to only 1,000 feet and the landing distance is reduced by over 2,000 feet to only 900. The maximum rate of climb is increased from 1,600 feet per minute to 4,000 feet per minute, reducing the time to climb to 25,000 feet from 25 minutes to 9 minutes. The cruise speed is increased to 290 knots at 29,000 feet. The modification does have some disadvantages as it increases fuel burn from 56 US gal/hr to 66 and lowers the certified ceiling from 30,000 feet to 28,000.
The Duke was purchased by corporate and private pilot owners. Most were registered in the United States but examples were exported to many countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and the United Kingdom. One Duke was flown by the Jamaica Defense Force. Many remain in service in the early twenty-first century.
Data from Janes's All The World's Aircraft 1976-77 
Media related to Beechcraft Duke at Wikimedia Commons