Beechcraft Duke in Action
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 December 29, 1966, the prototype made its first flight. On February 1, 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 air stair 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. 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 Electro-mechanical systems, which were highly advanced when the aircraft was introduced, were superseded in other aircraft with simpler I/C controlled mechanical parts.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. Normally, pilots figure 45 gallons per 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 do not fly Dukes to economize. One area of particular maintenance concern involves the original construction of the tail section from a magnesium alloy, making that section of the airframe a common and expensive target of corrosion if not detected and treated quickly. The Duke has a presence about it and is a show stopper