Tropic Air is investing in an aircraft that supersedes any in its current fleet. It’s a 1900D Beechcraft which, according to Tropic Air President, Johnny Greif III, will add a whole new dimension to their fleet, possibly even a weekly flight to Havana, Cuba. Tropic Air’s 1900D will be the first aircraft of its type owned and operated by a Belizean airline and the only one of its type, not only in the country, but in the whole of Central America.
“This is a significant investment for the company and it just goes to show the commitment that Steve and my father have made for the future development and expansion of Tropic routes and the confidence that we need to move forward at a sizable pace," commented John Greif IV.
Tropic Air CEO Steve Schulte and Johnny Greif recently travelled to Calgary, Canada to inspect the airplane and company before purchasing the 1900D that is expected to be delivered sometime in November. The aircraft is a pressurized, twin engine, turboprop, fixed wing airplane. The 1900D is designed and primarily used as a regional airliner and is the most successful 19 passenger airliner.
Tropic chose the Beechcraft 1900D to be the flagship for international routes because of its speed, roomy cabin and its maximum cruising altitude of 25,000 feet which means that it can climb over most bad weather. The 1900D is approximately 110mph faster than the Cessna Caravan, Tropic Air’ previous flagship, which means that a flight to Cancun will be only 50 minutes instead of 90 minutes. The walk in cabin (5ft. 11in) is pressurized for comfort, has the range to fly fully loaded with 19 passengers and their baggage within a 500 mile circle allowing Tropic to fly to more destinations within Central America.
These features represent a marked enhancement in passenger comfort. The 1900D’s acquisition marks a significant investment and step up for Tropic in terms of capacity and is another indicator of the commitment to advance aviation in Belize. Tropic Air will use the 1900D to service its Belize to Cancun and return to Belize route as well as for Tropic routes to and from Roatan, Honduras and Flores, Guatemala. Johnny Grief says that the 1900D’s range will enable the company to open up new regional routes to better serve Belize and the region.
The 1900D’s specifications and systems will require that the company make additional investment in training both pilot and maintenance personnel in order to meet the regulatory requirements. Pilots and maintenance staff commenced formal, type specific training this month. Additional training for ground, dispatch and operations staff will occur over the next couple of months with the aim of having all relevant staff ready to assist with the seamless incorporation of the 1900D into Tropic Air’s fleet.
To start, the new aircraft will be used for Tropic’s existing international flights and possibly expand to Merida, Guatemala, SP Sula, and possible a weekly flight to Havana. The operating costs of the 1900D are lower than the Caravan on international routes, so it should lower ticket prices.