Wichita, Kansas-based Yingling Aviation has announced an agreement with Alpine Air Express, a US FAR Part 135 on-demand air cargo operator, to reconfigure and upgrade Beechcraft 1900D aircraft to boost the capacity, range, performance and versatility of the Alpine Air fleet. Alpine currently has 32 Beech 1900Ds and 72 aircraft in its fleet. Yingling will utilise facilities that were newly acquired in 2021 to convert the airliners into cargo haulers. Work on the first aircraft is already underway at Dwight D. Eisenhower National airport in Wichita and the second aircraft arrived a few weeks ago.
“This programme is a 'win-win' for both Alpine and Yingling,” explains Andrew Nichols, president of Yingling. “We are able to accommodate this exceptional opportunity because we have spent the past 18 months expanding facilities and upgrading our capabilities to handle this type of comprehensive programme. Alpine Air has already acquired a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the conversion of the Beechcraft 1900D that boosts the capacities of the aircraft. By working together, we will help them increase its hauling capabilities and customer base in a timely and efficient manner. We will start by working on two aircraft at a time and have the capacity to add more as we gain expertise.”
“This arrangement is an important next step for Alpine Air as we grow our fleet and expand our customer base,” adds Michael Dancy president and CEO of Alpine Air Express. “This cargo conversion for the Beechcraft 1900D took four years to accomplish, and it's great to have the STC approved by the FAA. Teaming with a proven provider like Yingling means we can rapidly realise the potential and leverage the competitive edge we will gain by operating the largest fleet of single-piloted cargo aircraft in the world. We will be able to ship more with less.
“Our primary goal has always been to create a more cost-effective shipping service for our clients such as UPS, USPS, Amazon and more. With our strategic new fleet that incorporates these re-configured Beech 1900 aircraft, we can now provide more efficiency for individual shipments and at more affordable costs for us and our clients.”
Yingling, which has earned a reputation for refurbishing cargo aircraft over the years by updating more than 250 Cessna Caravans for Federal Express, will partner with Alpine Air to do the same for its Beech 1900 twin turboprops, utilising the supplemental type certificate granted to Alpine Air by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2020. The STC includes improvements that will contribute to impressive gains in performance and utility and offer 40 per cent more cargo capacity than the 1900C model. The cargo conversion will feature an increase in useful payload to 7,439 lbs., a 23 per cent maximum range increase to 1,356 nm and a seven per cent speed increase, as well.
Perhaps most significant for Alpine Air Express is the inclusion of single pilot aircraft certification. “Single pilot operations will result in obvious cost savings and give us more versatility in scheduling and positioning of our fleet,” Dancy points out. Other key conversion features include the installation of new Z tracks for maximum cargo loading, a new crew emergency exit, cargo netting, brackets and clips, cargo conveyor rollers, robust floor panels and structural modifications. There will also be updates to the oxygen system, air ducts and lighting, as well as the CB and audio panels and associated placards.