The U.S. Navy announced on Jan. 25 that it awarded Textron Aviation a single, firm-fixed-price contract to develop the T-54A Multi-engine Training System (METS) aircraft. The T-54A (Beechcraft King Air) will provide advanced instrument and asymmetric engine handling training to student naval aviators selected for multi-engine fleet communities. The base contract is for $113.1 million for 10 aircraft. The total contract value, including the base and contract options, is $677.2 million for the procurement of up to 64 aircraft. The contract also covers support equipment, spares and initial training. The aircraft deliveries are scheduled from calendar year 2024 to 2026.
The T-54A aircraft will replace the T-44 Pegasus aircraft, which is an older King Air model originally manufactured by Beechcraft and will feature a pressurized aircraft cockpit with side-by-side seating and a jump seat. The cockpit will be equipped with multifunction displays with a digital moving map; redundant ultra-high frequency and very high frequency radios; an integrated global positioning system/inertial navigation system; automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast; flight management system; weather radar, radar altimeter, and a cockpit data recorder. The METS aircraft will also have tricycle landing gear and a reconfigurable cargo bay in the cabin.
“The new METS aircraft will give us the ability to train pilots across the services with an advanced platform that better represents fleet aircraft. The T-54A will include the latest avionics and navigational updates, such as virtual reality and augmented reality devices, to ensure pilots are ready to face any challenges that come their way in tomorrow’s battlespace,” said Capt. Holly Shoger, Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office (PMA-273) program manager.
Additionally, the aircraft’s technology will capture data that allows for Conditioned-Based Maintenance Plus, a capability that enables the Navy to trend aircraft health over time to facilitate improved maintenance planning and efficiency. This contract award will provide new aircraft to train Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard pilots to fly non-centerline thrust aircraft such as the V-22 Osprey, E-2D Hawkeye, C-130 Hercules and P-8 Poseidon. The T-44C sundown will begin six months after METS’ first delivery. PMA-273, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, oversees the METS program. PMA-273 develops and oversees diverse and carrier-capable naval flight training systems where student pilots and undergraduate military flight officers acquire mission-critical aviation skills necessary to carry out current and future missions of the U.S Navy.
By Daniel McCoy – Reporter, Wichita Business Journal
Jan 26, 2023
One of Wichita’s largest employers has won a defense contract that will help drive output on one of its most important production lines.
The Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) unit of Textron Aviation has been awarded an initial contract worth $113.1 million on a program that will have it supply the U.S. Navy with Beechcraft King Air turboprops to be used by the service for pilot training.
But there is plenty of room for growth with the Multi-Engine Training System (METS) program.
According to a contract announcement from the Navy, the contract allows for the procurement of up to 64 of the King Air 260 twin-engine turboprops to push the total potential value to $677 million.
Textron Aviation builds the King Air at its plant in east Wichita.
The aircraft will be called the T-54A with the Navy and will be used to replace the T-44 Pegasus, which is an older King Air model originally manufactured by Beechcraft.
The upgraded King Air 260 variant was originally introduced in 2020 as part of a broader refurbishment of the company’s turboprop portfolio.
Textron Aviation, now the parent of both Beechcraft and Cessna, will also provide support, spare equipment and initial training on the T-54A.
Deliveries are expected to run from 2024 to 2026.
The aircraft will be used to train pilots from the Navy, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
“The new METS aircraft will give us the ability to train pilots across the services with an advanced platform that better represents fleet aircraft,” said Capt. Holly Shoger, program manager of the Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office. “The T-54A will include the latest avionics and navigational updates, such as virtual reality and augmented reality devices, to ensure pilots are ready to face any challenges that come their way in tomorrow’s battlespace.”
Textron Aviation delivered a total of 35 King Air 250/260 aircraft in 2022, up 59% year over year.