The world’s most popular turboprop aircraft brand can be found in the internationally known name, KING AIR. With an impressive legacy product line in addition to two newly updated King Air products, it’s clear this brand will now and forever be the king of turboprops.
After designing and manufacturing widely popular piston and jet engine aircraft, Walter H. Beech’s namesake company, then Beech Aircraft, developed a compromise between the two – the King Air. It was the perfect middle ground between the other two segments, flying faster and higher than the piston aircraft while also encompassing the capability to land at small airports on short runways. From 1964 on, the King Air family of turboprops outsold all its twin-turboprop competitors combined.
It began with the Model 90 BEECHCRAFT King Air which seated six to eight people with a 270-mph cruising speed, above weather capability and ability to land on small fields and airstrips. In just 90 days after the aircraft was first announced, Beech Aircraft accepted orders totaling $10.8 million dollars. After first flight, orders and deposits totaled more than $12 million and demand began to outgrow supply. Beech delivered 100 of these original King Air turboprops by 1966 and 400 by 1968. It took only five years for Beech to add to the line up with the King Air 100.
The late 1960’s and early 1970’s would bring two other King Air turboprops until 1972 when Beech would revolutionize the turboprop class with the start of the Super King Air. It was the first T-tail King Air that rested on four years of research and development. The new tail was raised out of the wing’s downwash, allowing the stabilizer and elevator to operate in relatively smooth, undisturbed air. This would set the standard for future King Air turboprops to come and is still seen on King Air aircraft today.
Courtesy: U.S. Air Force
But the aircraft family was not simply used for business or utility. Both the United States and Japan purchased King Air aircraft and used them for military purposes. In fact, while in office, President Lyndon B Johnson flew in a King Air Model B90 to his ranch, showing the design success and dependability of Beech’s creation.
The legacy of the King Air family of turboprops focuses heavily on reliability and durability. Many have said the King Air aircraft are built to last and they do just that. With the ability to handle rugged missions and the flexibility to meet specialized tasks, it’s no wonder the family of aircraft has not faced long-lasting competitors.
King Air turboprops are widely known as business and utility aircraft allowing companies to achieve business goals but with the versatility to reach those goals anywhere. The present-day King Air aircraft boast the latest features for the pilot, like the IS&S THRUSTSENSE autothrottle, while also having the capability of landing at smaller airports with shorter runways.
But aside from the business and utility sectors, King Air turboprops are widely used for specialized missions including air ambulance, surveillance, aerial survey and more. Countries across the world use King Air turboprops for civil and governmental usage as well as military and healthcare usage. The squared oval shape of the cabin allows for a variety of customizable configurations and the capability to land where many others can’t, provides customers with the true versatility they need out of an aircraft.
KING AIR 360
With updates to the airframe, avionics and interior, the Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprop represents the latest upgrade to one of the sky’s most iconic aircraft. Additional features and benefits include an enhanced digital pressurization system, Onboard Maintenance System updates, a full regime autothrottle system, and six new interior schemes. The latest iteration in the best-selling King Air family is designed for comfort and built for adventure.
Cabin improvements bring increased comfort and elegance to the King Air 360 turboprop. Most notable is a lower cabin altitude resulting from higher cabin pressure. The latest model also features contemporary design cues found in luxury SUVs, plus reshaped cabinetry, resculpted sidewalls with pinhole lighting, upgraded seat design, illuminated cupholders and low-profile air/light adjusters.
KING AIR 260
The most popular business turboprop in the world just got even better. The Beechcraft King Air 260 turboprop now provides a reduced pilot workload with digital pressurization and the advanced Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense Autothrottle system. This versatile aircraft continues to provide the cutting-edge touchscreen avionics technology and greater passenger comfort that you’ve come to expect from the King Air turboprop family.
The King Air 260 turboprop carries the versatility and reliability that the King Air family is known for, while delivering people where they need to go in unprecedented comfort. This allows for the flexibility to explore new horizons.