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The Fairchild Swearingen Merlin is a business aircraft whose design laid the foundations for the Metro commuter series. Introduced in the late 1960s, the Merlin was known in some quarters as the flying pencil, given its low 4.8 ft ceiling, narrow 5.2 ft cross section and 33.1 ft length.
Previously, Swearingen had specialised in building conversions of existing aircraft into corporate transports. Its piston-powered Merlin I never entered production. The Merlin II is a twin turboprop aircraft that combined the wing of the Queen Air with the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza's undercarriage and a pressurised fuselage and tail. The first Merlins were powered by two 400 hp Lycoming TIGO540s, while the Merlin IIA was powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A20s. The prototype IIA flew for the first time on 13 April, 1965 and production models then switched to the AiResearch TPE331-1-151G powered Merlin IIB.
The Merlin III combined a stretched version of the Merlin II fuselage with a new tail plus the wings and landing gear of the Metro II, along with more powerful TPE331-3U-303G turboprop engines. It was certificated on 27 July, 1970, production began in February 1972 and it entered service the following year.
The Metro was a stretch of the Merlin II with room for up to 22 passengers. Prototype construction began in 1968 and the first flight was on 26 August, 1969. Two TPE331-3UW turboprops drive three bladed propellers, and it features a pressurised fuselage and double slotted trailing edge flaps. Certification was awarded in June 1970 and it entered service in 1973.
The Merlin IV designation applies to corporate configured versions of the Metro series. The Merlin IV is a 21 seat corporate version of the Metro, with two TPE331-3U-303G engines. In 1974, the original Merlin IV and Metro models were replaced by the Merlin IVA and the Metro II, with their larger windows and optional provision for a small take off rocket in the tail cone. The same year the Merlin III was replaced by the Merlin IIIA: more windows.
In January 1979, production turned to the Merlin IIIB; more powerful TPE331-10U-503G engines drive four bladed propellers that turn in the opposite direction to those of earlier models. The Merlin IIIC came next, redesigned to meet SFAR-41 standards. It was introduced concurrently with the wider-winged Metro III, with its TPE331-11U engines and drag-reducing airframe modifications. The Merlin IVC version of the Metro III followed shortly after; a corporate aircraft with increased MTOW.
|World fleet||Charter fleet||Typical pax||Cabin volume||Cruise||Range||Years|
|SA226||135||34||19||549 cu ft||255 kts||595 nm|
|SA227||224||114||19||549 cu ft||293 kts||1,115 nm||- 1999|
|Canada||Bearskin Airlines , Carson Air , Perimeter Aviation , SkyCare Charters & Air Ambulance , Sunwest Aviation|
|U.S.A.||Ameriflight , Aspen Helicopters , Berry Aviation , Castle Aviation , Key Lime Air , Kolob Canyons Air Services , Mauna Hele , McNeely Charter Service , Sierra West Airlines , TransNorthern Aviation , Western Air Express|
|Canada||West Wind Aviation|
|U.S.A.||Berry Aviation , Corsair Turbines , National Flight Services , Precision Air , Signature TechnicAir (INT) , Straight Flight , Worldwide Aircraft Services|
|U.S.A.||FlightSafety San Antonio Learning Center|
|October 15, 2019||Dowty authorises Pacific for metal prop R&O|
|April 7, 2015||Me & My Aircraft - Twin turboprops: The masters of longevity, twin props offer utility and charter for decades|
|June 11, 2013||Me and My Aircraft–Twin turboprops: The turboprop faithful sing the praises of rugged workhorses everywhere|
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