The aero-concern of Short Brothers was established as far back as 1908 and was based out of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since its humble beginnings, the company took part in production efforts centered around World War 1 (1914-1918), the inter-war period, World War 2 (1939-1945), and the long-running Cold War (1947-1991) and has managed to continue operations today (2019). One of their more modern offerings, appearing during the Cold War period, became the Short "Model 360", a twin-turboprop utility-minded passenger/freight hauler that saw modest success globally. A first-flight, in developmental form, of the this aircraft was recorded on June 1st, 1981.
Certified in September of 1981, the Model 360 was introduced in November of the following year and production went on to span from 1981 until 1991 to which 165 total units were built and delivered to operators ranging from Argentina and Australia to the United Kingdom and the United States. Both the United States (Army and Air Force) and Venezuela (Air Force) have used, or continue to use, the product militarily.
The Model 360's commercial marketplace launch customer became Suburban Airlines.
At its core, the Model 360 is a further evolution of the earlier Short Brothers "Model 330" which first-flew in August of 1974 and was introduced in 1976. Offshoots of this entry have included the United States Army and Air Force's C-23A/B "Sherpa" derivative.
The utilitarian-centric nature of the Model 360 is embodied by its equally-utilitarian design approach which is highly conventional. The cockpit is situated over the nose in the usual way while the sharply-sloped nose design provides exceptional views for the piloting crew of two (seated side-by-side) in the cockpit. The passenger section takes up most of the internal space of the aircraft and is concentrated at center mass with rectangular window ports lining either side of the fuselage. Hinged access doors are positioned fore and aft. The fuselage itself sports a slab-sided appearance giving the aircraft a wholly boxy and utilitarian appearance.
The mainplanes are straight-edged and considerably slim, braced by a support structure running from the main landing gear housing to the wing's midway span. Each mainplane is home to a single turboprop engine housed in an underslung nacelle. The engines drive six-bladed propeller units (Model 360-300). Power is from 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AR turboprops developing 1,425 horsepower each.
Performance specs (Model 360-300) include a maximum speed of 250 miles-per-hour, a cruising speed near 210 mph, a range out to 990 miles, a service ceiling of 20,000 feet, and a rate-of-climb up to 955 feet-per-minute. The strength of this aircraft class is in range and hauling capability which the Model 360 provides.
The high-winged nature of the design encourages good lifting principles which aid in low-and-slow flying while also reducing take-off and landing runs. It also clears the spinning propellers of debris intake and personnel when ground-running.
The undercarriage is of conventional arrangement incorporating a short single-wheeled nose leg and short main landing gear legs. The latter are housed in streamlined fairings for aerodynamic efficiency as the none of the legs are retractable in the design. The short nature of the legs gives the aircraft low ground clearance.
The tail unit is comprised of a single vertical fin with low-mounted horizontal planes. The empennage tapers upwards to help clear the tail unit during take-offs.
Variants of the Model 360 line include the initial Model 360-100 production models (powered by PWC PT6A-65R turboprops followed by the Model 360 "Advanced" of 1985 with its uprated PT6A065AR (1,424shp) engines (these became the "Model 360-200" in 1985). The Model 360-300 appeared in March of 1987 with uprated PT6A-67R series turboprops driving six-bladed propeller units which led to enhanced performance specs. The Model 360-300F was introduced as a dedicated freighter form based in the Model 360-300 passenger hauler. A militarized variant was taken into service by the U.S. Armed Forces as the aforementioned C-23 "Sherpa".