Beechcraft Corporation, a subsidiary of Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, today announced at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) that Wheels Up has exercised its option to purchase the next 35 King Air 350i turboprops from its initial order placed in 2013. The additional aircraft will help expand the membership-based private aviation company’s fleet throughout the United States.
Nearly two years ago, Wheels Up made the largest order in history for general aviation turboprop aircraft, encompassing up to 105 King Air 350i aircraft and including maintenance, service and support. The company took delivery of its first King Air 350i at NBAA 2013 and immediately began service.
To date, Wheels Up has taken delivery of 31 of its initial order of 35 King Air 350i aircraft. Deliveries of the additional 35 aircraft, which will be outfitted with the new Pro Line Fusion avionics system, are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016. The private aviation company also has taken delivery of 10 factory-custom refurbished Cessna Citation Excel/XLS aircraft.
“The Textron Aviation family is proud that Wheels Up not only chose the King Air 350i to launch its revolutionary company, but that we can now offer them the industry’s widest range of aircraft solutions to support their growth,” said Scott Ernest, Textron Aviation president and CEO. “We look forward to expanding our relationship for years to come as Wheels Up continues to grow its membership.”
“I feel like we are just getting started,” said Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up founder and CEO, in connection with exercising the option for the next tranche of King Air 350i aircraft. “Our current Wheels Up fleet plan calls for 175 King Air 350i and 50 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS by 2021, and we are exploring ways to incorporate additional Textron products onto the Wheels Up platform. Europe is an ideal market for the King Air 350i and remains a focus for future expansion for Wheels Up.”