The Swearingen SA226-T Merlin IIIA is a twin-engine turboprop executive transport aircraft for
2 crewmembers and up to 11 passengers. In 1959, Swearingen Aircraft was formed by Edward J. Swearingen.
In the beginning, Swearingen Aircraft was specialising in carrying out development projects for other
manufacturers and turboprop conversions. The San Antonio plant moved into conversion projects like the
Excalibur and Queen Air 800. In 1964, Swearingen designed its first all new aircaft the SA-26 Merlin 1,
a low-wing twin engined pressurised cabin transport aircraft with many Queen Air design features. The prototype,
SA26 Merlin I N2601S, was powered by a pair of Lycoming TIGO-541s turbocharged piston engines. Soon the piston engines
were replaced by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprops and the reengined prototype SA26-T Merlin II N2601S flew on 13 April 1965.
The aircraft was certificated on 15 July 1966 and went into production with various minor improvements as SA-26T Merlin IIA
in 1966. In 1970, the SA226-T Merlin III was introduced, an extensively redesigned Merlin II with a completely new fuselage,
swept vertical tail, taller undercarriage and two TPE-331-3U-303G turboprops. On 27 July 1970, the Merlin III received its type
certificate. The Merlin IIIA has two extra starboard windows and an extra port window, next to some minor changes to the cockpit
controls and instrument panel, fuel system and air conditioning system. A total of 141 airframes of the Merlin III series were
built (51 Merlin III, 42 Merlin IIIA, 48 Merlin IIIB). Since 1968, Swearingen had been in cooperation with Fairchild-Hiller.
This let to a deal under which Fairchild took over Swearingen's assets on 2 November 1971. A new company, Swearingen Aviation
Corporation, was formed by Fairchild to build the Merlin and the Metro. On 5 january 1981, the company name was changed to
Fairchild Swearingen Corporation.
In 1975, the Belgian Air Force ordered six Swearingen Merlin 3A aircraft as replacement for the Percival Pembrokes with
21 smaldeel. Deliveries were made between 28 March 1976 and 30 September 1976. The 1976-built Swearingen SA226-T Merlin 3A
c/n T267 was testflown as N5382M before entering service with the Belgian Air Force (Belgische Luchtmacht - Force Aérienne Belge)
as CF-06 on 30 September 1976. Merlin IIIA CF-06 was equipped for vertical aerial photography and operated mainly on behalf of
National Geographical Institute. In 2003, the remaining five Merlin IIIA's in service with the Belgian Air Force were sold to
CAE Aviation Luxembourg and the CF-06 was registered LX-PIX. The aircraft was bought by Aerodata International
Surveys BVBA, Deurne, Belgium, and used for aerial photography. On 20 December 2007, the Merlin was registered PH-PIX with Aerodata
Remote Sensing BV, Prinsenbeek, the Netherlands. The aircraft is still owned by Aerodata International Surveys BVBA, Deurne, Belgium.
On 9 February 2008, the PH-PIX arrived at Groningen Airport Eelde and departed the next day.