Newton, Kansas-based business aircraft modification specialist Avcon ISR Solutions has embarked on a rebranding, expansion and new platforms as it seeks to grow its presence in the intelligence market , Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Formerly known as Avcon Industries, the company’s mainstay has been the Beechcraft King Air series for special mission applications.
In fact, earlier this year the company received Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for the installation of inboard and outboard fender-mounted hardpoints on the King Air. They are available with an optional satcom radome on the King Air 200, B200, 300 and 350.
At the same time, Avcon has expanded the aircraft platforms on which it offers its special mission modifications, including developing and receiving STCs from the FAA for the fuselage sensor ports and a camera hole on the Cessna 208 Caravan and 208B Grand Caravan. More recently, he has developed underwing sensor hardpoints, pods and a target rolling machine for target towing on the Bombardier Learjet 60.
Avcon is particularly optimistic about the prospects for the Learjet 60 hardpoints. For many years, the company has modified the Learjet 35 with internal hardpoints and underwing hardpoints for target towing as well as l stores or pylons.
“These planes are getting old, obviously, and a lot of customers are looking for that next best plane,” Avcon president Marcus Abendroth told AIN. “And the Lear 60 was a great fit for this modification. We just brought the Lear 60 to the same type of role and operation that the Lear 35 has been doing for over 30 years.
Abendroth added that the Learjet 60 hardpoints are considered a long-term product for Avcon. “We anticipate the Lear 60 to be the next tow target aircraft replacing the Lear 35,” he said. “That’s the feedback we get from customers.”
Avcon’s customer, Air Affairs Australia, purchased two Learjet 60s, one of which was used for STC hardpoint development. Chris Sievers, CEO of Air Affairs, said his company was committed to implementing hardpoints on the Learjet 60 “to meet a need in the future market”.
Development of the Learjet 60 hardpoint STC took approximately 18 months, including a flight test program that Abendroth – who performed the flight tests alongside an FAA DER test pilot – described as “ probably 75% of what you do when you certify a new aircraft. ”
With the addition of the Learjet 60, trailer and expansion of the King Air works, he said the 45-employee company needed more space, so Avcon bought an existing hangar of 12,000 square feet at Newton City/County Airport, where it was already operating out of four buildings, including two major modification hangars. This will solve its space needs at least in the short term, he said.
“A lot of customers come for the custom engineering on the SRI aspect,” added Chris Reedy, executive vice president of Avcon’s parent company, Butler National. “We have chosen a niche where we seem to have a lot of success.” z