According to many, the Model 60 Duke is a broad-shouldered twin with bulging nacelles that is one of the most impressive-looking planes ever built. Even though its owners are dissatisfied with its economics, no one can dispute how enticing it is.
The aircraft was introduced in 1968 and has had small tweaks throughout the years. It was created to bridge the gap between Baron and Queen Air and is sometimes referred to as “pumped-up Baron.”
Even though the high cost of engine overhaul nearly caused the company to fail with Duke, Beechcraft was able to capitalize on the attraction of their aircraft by promoting it like a high-end sports car.
The A60 was enhanced as a result of further development. It debuted in 1970, with an improved pressurization system and longer-lasting but lighter turbochargers that raised the maximum altitude at which the engine could generate maximum power, thereby boosting performance.
The B60 is the definitive model of the Duke family. The primary modifications to this model, which debuted in 1974, were new interior layouts and improved turbochargers. In 1982, production ended.
Featuring an electronically retractable tricycle gear, the aircraft is a stunning four- to six-seat pressurized and turbo-supercharged model with twin-piston engines. Duke is a people-pleaser on both the pilot and the passenger side. The systems are straightforward and typical Beech.
The cockpit is spacious, with excellent vision, and the controls are solid and responsive, similar to those found in other Beechcraft models. The elevators are a little hefty, but the ailerons are quite responsive.
The Duke is designed with passenger comfort in mind; it is luxurious and silent, with optional club seating for four passengers.
Cabin-class twins have long been praised for their comfort, but the Duke has a distinct advantage. With remarkable cruising performance, a complex yet easy system, significant comfort, and superb stability, the Duke is a standout up-and-away airplane.
Beechcraft Duke Specifications
The Duke was a pioneer in the pressurized high-performance, light business twin class, with a cabin that maintains a 10,000-foot altitude at 25,000 feet, comparable in size, performance, and general features to the Beech Baron and Queen Air.
The Duke is powered by turbocharged Lycoming TIO541 engines with three-blade rotors and a 0.32 bar (4.6psi) difference in cabin pressure.
The wing and undercarriage were substantially based on those of the Baron, with a new fuselage constructed of bonded honeycomb. Wing-mounted fuel tanks were an option for enhancing the range.
The Model 60 Duke’s low wing was a cantilever wing with NACA 23010.5 wing sections at the roots and NACA 23012 wing sections at the tips. The aspect ratio was 7.243 and the dihedral angle was 6 degrees.
The wing featured a typical aluminum-alloy two-spar semi-monocoque box-beam and single-slotted aluminum alloy flaps that were electronically actuated. The fuselage is also constructed of semi-monocoque aluminum alloy with heavy-gauge chemically milled skins.
With a central aisle, typical seating consisted of four pairs of individual chairs. The equipment and avionics included blind-flying instrumentation, a heated pitot tube, anti-icing for electric fuel vents, and other avionic instruments.
Model A60 was introduced following the Model 60. It included lighter turbo-superchargers with internal improvements that extended their life, new interior textiles and leathers, and a modified pressurization control system that enabled smoother overall operation and increased cabin comfort throughout the final stages of manufacture.
Beechcraft then built the Model B60, which was the most widely produced Duke sub-model until 1982. With the Model B60, Duke gained a wider and longer interior, as well as redesigned seats for increased comfort.
Additionally, it received a new, lightweight AiResearch pressurization system with Lexan valves and a compact control unit that enables cabin altitude adjustment before takeoff or landing.
Additional changes, such as wet-cell wingtip fuel tanks, were incorporated during the last phases of B60 production to increase the range.
While the Duke is not a six-seater when fully loaded, it still beats the competition in terms of practical load capacity and range. Even when fully loaded, late-model Dukes have a useful load capacity of over 2000 pounds.
These figures compare well to the Cessna 421’s seven seats vs the Duke’s six. The Duke’s low fuel consumption is one drawback since it results in a lesser payload.
Table 1: Beechcraft Duke A60 – Specs – Source: Used Aircraft Guide by Ethell, Jeffrey L.
|Beechcraft Duke Model A60 Specifications|
|Gross Weight||6,725 lb||Height||12 ft 4 in|
|Empty Weight (Approx.)||4,100 lb||Cabin Length||142 in|
|Useful Load||2,625 lb||Cabin Height||52 in|
|Baggage Compartment, Rear||315 lb||Passenger Door||47.5 in * 26.5 in|
|Baggage Compartment, Front||500 lb||Baggage Door||23.5 in * 37.5 in|
|Wing Area||212.9 sq ft||Standard Fuel Capacity||142 Gal Usable|
|Wing Loading at Gross Weight||31.6 lb/sq ft||Optional||204 Gal Usable|
|Wingspan||39 ft 3 in||Oil Capacity (4 Gal Each Engine)||6.5 Gal Usable|
|Length||33 ft 10 in||Engines||Two Lycoming TIO-541-E1A4, 380 hp|
Table 2: Beechcraft Duke B60 – Specs – Source: Beech Aircraft by Al Pelletier
|Beechcraft Duke Model B60 Specifications|
|Span||39 ft 0.25 in||Empty Weight||4,275 lb|
|Length||33 ft 10 in||MTOW||6,775 lb|
|Height||12 ft 4 in||Wing Loading||31.8 lb/ sq ft|
|Wing Area||212.9 sq ft||Engines||Two Lycoming TIO-541-E1C4, 380 hp|
Beechcraft Duke Performance and Handling
The Model 60 was powered by two 380 horsepower Lycoming TIO-541-E1A4 six-cylinder horizontally opposed air-cooled turbo supercharged engines, each driving three-blade Hartzell constant-speed and fully feathering propellers measuring 6 ft 2 in diameter.
The Model A60’s turbo-superchargers were lighter, allowing the TSIO-540-E1C4 engines to operate at their maximum rated horsepower at a higher altitude. On the other side, the Model B60 used two 380 horsepower Lycoming TIO-541-E1C4 engines with some enhancements.
These engines enable the Model 60 Duke to reach a top speed of 248 knots (460 kilometers per hour) and a cruising speed of 214 knots (395 kilometers per hour). With optional fuel and 45 minutes of the reserve, the range is 1020 nm (1890 km).
The latest version of the Model B60 Duke, on the other hand, has a top speed of 246 knots (455 kilometers per hour) at 23,000 feet and a top cruising speed of 239 knots (443 kilometers per hour) at 25,000 feet.
The Model B60’s initial rate of climb is 1601 feet per minute, with a service ceiling of 30,000 feet. The B60’s maximum range is longer than the Model 60’s, at 1122 nautical miles (2078 kilometers), with reserves at 20,000 feet.
Duke has a good performance with its speed but consumes an excessive amount of fuel. Fuel usage is approximately 40 gph at 65-70 percent power.
Duke outperforms all other pressurized twins in its era, except for the pressurized Aerostars, which are slightly quicker and consume less fuel. Duke is also not particularly adept at landing on short runways. Duke has an average range for its class. On the other side, Duke gains admiration for his climb performance.
Duke has a good overall performance for its time, allowing it to compete with its performance while also allowing it to flaunt its appearance.
Beechcraft Duke Modifications and Upgrades
The most popular upgrade for the Beechcraft Duke is Rocket Engineering’s Royal Turbine. The Royal Turbine eliminates the inefficient piston engine and propeller in favor of compact turbines with thin nacelles that generate 1,050 shaft horsepower.
Duke is now a whole different machine in terms of performance because of the upgrade.
Table 3: Royal Turbine – Specs – Source: AOPA
|Beechcraft Duke – Royal Turbine|
|MTOW||7,050 lb||Range||900 nm|
|Takeoff over 50-foot obstacle||1,200 ft||Engines||Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-35|
|Max Cruise Speed||290 kt|
There are also Grand Dukes with BLR Aerospace winglets and more than 160 with aft body strakes, which reduce stall speed and improve other characteristics. The same firm also sells a VG kit, which is a popular Duke mode. Minor changes, such as FAA-approved de-icer adjustments, are also available.
Beechcraft Duke Prices
Today, a pre-owned Beechcraft is available for between $100,000 to $350,000, with the majority of aircraft being Model B60s. Prices are influenced by a variety of factors, including configuration, manufacture year, and flying hours.
For instance, a 1975 Beechcraft B60 Duke with a total flying duration of 5,076 hours is being sold for $320.000. It features new engines and a variety of modes (upgraded avionics and equipment).
On the other hand, a 1974 Beechcraft B60 Duke with an even lower flight time of 3,106 hours is being offered for $100,000 owing to the aircraft’s lack of modifications.
Beechcraft Duke Maintenance Schedule
The pertinent information may be found in Chapter 5 of the Beechcraft Duke 60 Series Maintenance Manual, Time Limits/Maintenance Checks. While timeframes for overhaul and replacement are provided for some critical parts below, you may go to the referenced paper for more reading.
- Landing Gear:
Main Gear: Every 2000 hours
Actuator Assembly: Every 4000 hours or on condition.
- Power Plant:
Engine: Every 1600 hours for new engines with serial numbers L-804-59 and up and remanufactured engines shipped after March 1, 1976.
Propeller (Hartzell): Every 2000 hours or 5 calendar years, whichever occurs first.
Dry Air Pressure Pump: Every 600 hours or on condition.
- Fuel System:
Fuel Pump, engine-driven: Every 1200 hours.
Altimeter: Every 24 months per FAA directive.
It should be emphasized that owners must consult the most recent directions for maintenance, the majority of which may be obtained from approved maintenance facilities. The hours specified are illustrative. The TBO on the Lycomings increased from 800 to 1,600 hours between 1968 to 1978. Ensure that you verify these data.
Beechcraft Duke Model Common Problems
The most frequently encountered issue with the Duke is its engines; owners frequently complain about their high maintenance expenses. There are also engine-related incidents; in 2020, a B60 Duke attempted an emergency landing and sustained irreversible damage owing to engine failure in both engines.
The flaps may potentially develop issues, and a SAFO has been developed for their appropriate maintenance following an accident.
Due to the strong rudder forces behavior of the aircraft during single-engine failure, the single-engine operation can be hard.
Beechcraft Duke Where to Find Replacement Parts
Since many Dukes are still flying, and it has been a long time since they were manufactured, there are numerous spare parts accessible online or via aviation service businesses around the United States. Not only spare parts are available, but also a variety of modifications for the aircraft.
Beechcraft Duke Insurance Options
Aviation insurance is a highly specialized market, with rates changing depending on the aircraft’s make and model, hull value, intended usage, pilot experience and qualifications, and even the specific make and model’s and industry’s loss history.
As with other types of aircraft, the Beechcraft Duke’s insurance is separated into two components. The first is basic liability coverage, which safeguards the aircraft against damage, and the second is optional hull coverage, which covers the aircraft against damage.
Beechcraft Duke Resale Value
Dukes will keep flying for their owners. As previously stated, a well-maintained Duke with current modifications may be purchased for $300,000.
On the other hand, resale prices might go as low as $80,000 if the aircraft is in bad condition and no modifications have been done. Maintaining an airplane in good hands with a reasonable timetable will enhance its resale value.
Beechcraft Duke Owner Reviews
Many people acquire a Duke for aesthetic reasons but end up selling it because of the high maintenance costs. Because of this, they understand that the airplane’s worth is dependent on the engines and describe King Air maintenance expenses in a piston-twin airframe.
Gear-up landing calls for dismantling the vehicle’s engine, replacing the propellers, and doing some sheet metal repair. Due to the enormous repair costs compared to the airplane’s worth, the insurance company may declare the aircraft a total loss.
As a result, most Duke owners will agree that Duke is the Rolls Royce of the twins, it is amazing to own it, but it is not cheap to maintain it.
Beechcraft Duke Similar Aircraft
The Piper Aerostar, a twin-engine propeller-driven executive or light transport aircraft, and the Cessna 421, a pressurized variant of the Cessna 411, are extremely similar to Duke in terms of performance and appearance.
Beechcraft Duke Clubs You Can Join
The Duke Flyers Association, formed in 1988, is an excellent club with a rich history. They post Duke-related information on their websites, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with Duke owners.
Additionally, they host an annual fly-in each year with the assistance of members and sponsors, which provides an opportunity to mingle, learn, and strengthen relationships with other Duke flyers.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Much Does a Beechcraft Duke Cost?
Answer: Depending on many variables, it changes, but an average range of $150,000-$200,000 is the current range for the Duke. The price can go up to $300,000 and down to $100,000.
Question: What is the Range of a Beechcraft Duke?
Answer: While Model 60 has a range of 1020 nm (1890 km), Model B60 has a range of 1122nm (2078 km) with reserves at 20,000 feet.
Question: How Fast is a Beechcraft B60 Duke?
Answer: It can reach up to 246 knots (455 km/h) at 23,000 feet with a top cruise speed of 239 knots (443 km/h) at 25,000 feet altitude.
Question: Is a Beechcraft Duke Pressurized?
Answer: Yes, it is pressurized, and later models of it have automatic systems to set the cabin altitude.
Question: Is the Cessna 421 Pressurized?
Answer: Yes, it is pressurized as well, and it is one of the biggest competitors of Beechcraft Duke. It has the advantage of being able to have 7 seats against the 6 seats of Duke.
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