By Adam Doyle – Pant and Interior Sales Manager
While it may seem impossible, you can fit seventeen people in a King Air 350 or 350i, by modifying it from an executive layout to a 15-passenger commuter plus crew. When making this change, you will lose about a fifth to a quarter of your aircraft range depending on the weight of the passengers and the luggage.
When transforming a 350 or 350i from an executive layout to a commuter style layout, there are many obstacles that will need to be taken into consideration. The first thing to consider would be to eliminate all cabinets mounted to the seat tracks aft of the forward dividers. Next, whether it’s a 350 or 350i you are retrofitting, relocation of the lavatory from the standard location, across from the entry door, to the left handed aft baggage area is the next step, similar to a King Air 90. Along with doing this, you will need to incorporate an "L"-shaped curtain to provide the user some type of privacy, although it will be minimal.
When retrofitting a 350i in this manner, there are obstacles that you wouldn’t face on a 350. The 350i’s redesign of the drink ledge and lower side panel area affect what seats can be placed in the aircraft. At all table locations, the table housings and side panels arch inboard. The arch will not allow a commuter style seat to be placed in the tracks since they do not track inboard on the frame. On a typical King Air 350, this would not be an issue as the drink ledge and side panel area are flat and non-intrusive.
The preferred seating option would be AvFab’s Traveler Seat. These seats are engineered to be lightweight, durable and affordable. The Traveler Seat’s enhanced design creates increased leg, knee and foot room as well as ease of getting in and out for passenger comfort. Since you lose some of your range in this modification, keeping the seating as lightweight as possible will be to your benefit.
Oxygen requirements will need to be evaluated unless the aircraft was previously outfitted with dual aft jump seats. Placarding now becomes mandatory since both aft dividers and stub wall will be removed to accommodate the seating.
Considering the floor plan change, opting for alternative flooring designed for heavy use may be necessary. If you intend to retrofit a 350i and still want the look, there are options available to consumers looking for this solution. One of the biggest benefits is upgrading to LED downwash lighting instead of the fluorescent bulb/power supply issue.
Other modifications to consider include options for baggage. You lose the interior baggage area by eliminating the left handed aft baggage area to accommodate the new toilet location. However, there are still alternatives available. By adding wing lockers, you would gain 34 cubic feet total of baggage area.
Another topic to discuss is aesthetics. Are you considering function or appeal? You can always have closeouts fabricated to cover up the structure where items have been removed, though taking the next step to make your aircraft appear as if it came from the factory may be appealing. You may choose to have the drink ledges and lower side panels added onto and recovered, or gain a unique and seamless look by choosing to have all new fabrications. Fabricating new may sound over the top but taking into consideration the fact you won’t have to strip, prep and recover, some of the labor will be absorbed.
Seventeen people in a King Air? It is possible and a good shop that works on a lot of King Airs can do it. Knowing all of your options is the first step to knowing what modifications will fit your needs.
Adam Doyle joined Elliott Aviation in 2000 as an interior technician after graduating from Wyoming Technical Institute. While at Elliott Aviation, Adam has earned many different promotions on the shop floor including Install Team Lead, Soft Goods Team Lead, Assistant Interior Shop Manager and Seat Shop Manager. Adam’s most recent promotion has been to Paint and Interior Sales Representative for Elliott Aviation. He uses his experience with various vendors, products and processes to educate our clients by providing direction and helping plan for future investment with realistic and accurate figures.
Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA). More information can be found at www.elliottaviation.com