Textron Aviation is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Beechcraft 58 Baron flight with the latest model on centre stage at Oshkosh this week.
The protoype Beech BE58 Baron was first flown on 23 June 1969 and since has been through many innovative changes including being upgraded with glass cockpit technology to form the current model G58.
“Through constant innovation and technology upgrades since its introduction in 1969, the Baron 58 is the perfect combination of combination of versatility, superb performance and handling, offering the latest in technology and cockpit/cabin comfort,” said Chris Crow, Textron VP, Piston Sales.
“As the industry’s fastest light twin, the Baron 58 was a success as soon as it entered the market, and our commitment to investing in the piston product line and ensuring our customers have access to the latest technology is why this airplane continues to lead the class in performance after five decades.”
The most recent upgrade to the G58 is new standard and optional equipment as part of the Garmin G1000 NXi next-generation integrated flight deck, which provides pilots with enhanced control and connectivity in the cockpit. The new equipment includes Garmin GMA 1360 audio panel, GFC 700 Autopilot with Enhanced Automatic Flight Control System (E-AFCS) and GWX 75 Doppler weather radar.
Over 3000 BE58 Baron's have been built since the first delivery in 1970, but over the past 10 years has struggled against the new breed of twins, with Diamond's DA42 and DA62, and Tecnam's P2006T easily out-selling the venerable Beech. In 2018, the 19 Barons delivered has been estimated to be only 10% of the the light piston twin market, with Diamond holding 46% and Tecnam 22%.
The BE58 grew out of the Beech 95 Travel Air, with the first model 95-55 flying in 1960. This was a re-engined version of the Travel Air. First deliveries to customers occured in 1962 before the type was superceded one year later by an improved A55. The stretched-fuselage B58 arrived in the late 1960s, following the Bonanza, which was also stretched from the B33 into the A36.
The short versions of both the Baron and Bonanza are no longer in production.