Monday 11 December 2017

Government plane broken up for spare parts after more than 30 years in service

The Beechcraft Super King Air plane
The Beechcraft Super King Air plane

Don Lavery

A PLANE which spent decades working alongside the Government jet flying ministers around Ireland and Europe has ended its days being broken up for spare parts in America.

The Beechcraft Super King Air plane which ferried Government ministers around the country at a cost of €1,700 an hour and which has been in service since 1978, was in storage for the last three years before being offered for sale by the Department of Defence.

The twin turboprop aircraft and spare parts were offered for sale “with all faults and errors” according to the tender documents and there was no guarantee that it would be able to fly.

In the end that didn’t matter to US firm Davis Aviation, of Mississipi, which specialises in providing spare parts for King Air aircraft.

The Department of Defence said today the aircraft had been sold to Davis Aviation for €231,007.77 and the aircraft has been shipped to the US.

The sale price contrasts with the £250,000 (€317,000) the Department paid for the plane in 1978.

The Department said there had been no proposal to keep the long-serving aircraft as a static museum display.

A spokesman for Davis Aviation said: ”We came across the aircraft and knew it would be a great candidate as what we call a ‘part-out’ aircraft. Davis Aviation will be disassembling the aircraft and turning the material into inspected and tagged parts to be used in the King Air market.

“This is a perfect example of another aircraft we can turn around to further provide service to the continued flying King Air aircraft today.”

“Rather than purchasing new material for your aircraft, we’ve essentially developed a program to ‘reuse’ these parts and spend only a fraction of the cost. It’s a bit of a ‘going green’ mentality. An analogy once given to was it being similar to a person tragically passing but their organs are used to sustain another life.“

Vice-president of operations at the firm, Carl Davis, said: “We are using this aircraft to sustain a fleet of King Airs around the world.”

The Beechcraft, which has been replaced by a Learjet 45 in the Air Corps Ministerial Air Transport Service that flies the President, Taoiseach and Ministers around the world, is the third such aircraft to serve with the force.

Two earlier Beechcraft Super King Airs were used for maritime patrol after Ireland joined the EC.

But long periods of flying low over the salty atmosphere of the sea took its toll and they were retired, selling for €679,000. They were later operated in the United States.

Their role in the Air Corps today is undertaken by two far more capable Casa 235 maritime patrol planes.

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