The Beechcraft 60 Duke is a twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft created by Beechcraft. The machine 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 close 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 Beechcraft A60, which came onto the market in 1970, represented an advancement with an improved pressurized cabin, 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 their very good performance, only a moderate seller, principally because the complicated technology demanded a high expenditure on maintenance. Production was stopped in 1982.
Most of the Duke B-60's still flying have retained their original equipment (except for required and needed original part replacements due to wear). Electro-mechanical systems, which were highly advanced when the aircraft was introduced, were superseded in other aircraft with simpler I/C controlled mechanical parts. Generators with elaborate bearings are required instead of more straight forward alternators (Alternators don't meet manufacturer safety recommendations, and are therefore not insurable). The aircraft design uses turbocharged, carburated Lycoming TIO541-B4 engines that develop 380hp each, and other systems for which parts and FAA certified technicians, are increasingly difficult to locate. In 2008, an owner reported that the typical required overhaul costs for both motors was 100 - 120 hours at approximately US$300/hour. The extra power and performance is not cheap either. 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 Duke's to economize.
Published in July 2009.
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