The Beechcraft 1300 airliner was tailor-made just for Mesa Airlines. In an earlier post, I reported that Larry Risley bought two CATPASS 200 airplanes in 1987 (modified B200 Beechcraft Super King Air corporate airplanes). He later approached Beechcraft to see if they could make a factory version of the modified King Air by adding an external cargo pod under the belly and replacing the corporate interior with thirteen passenger seats. They agreed and the new airplane was designated the B200 HDC (high density configuration). Larry Risley preferred to call the airplane a Beech 1300 and the name stuck. Mesa put the first one into service in January 1989.
By October 1990, the BE1300s had replaced all of Mesa’s C-99 airliners. They were used quite extensively in New Mexico and Arizona. When Mesa took over the Aspen Airways routes to become a United Express carrier out of Denver, some of the BE1300s were painted in United Express colors and used in the northern markets.
Before long, Larry realized that the 1300 was simply not built for the rigors of airline service (up to 10 flight hours 10 cycles per day). The maintenance costs were considerably higher than those for the BE1900 airliners, So the decision was made to replace the 1300s with BE1900s. Beechcraft only manufactured 14 of these BE1300 models (1989 to 1990) and all of them were delivered to Mesa Airlines. Once Mesa decided to drop the 1300 line, Beechcraft quit manufacturing the high-density configuration. Some of them still remain in service today around the world.