The fact that Beechcraft twin engine aircraft are named after royalty should surprise no one. These machines are solidly built and carry an air of sophistication and reliability about them. In this King Air Review we’ll share why it is one of our favorite charter aircraft.
The King Air stands out as one of the most used corporate and personal travel aircraft in existence. It has been around since 1964, the year that the Beatles topped the American charts with “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” but much like Paul McCartney, it has aged well. It has also kept up with the times through frequent upgrades and improvements, while retaining its cutting edge technology and aesthetic appeal.
It is appropriate and logical that the King air was born out of the Queen Air – a piston engined corporate twin. It can also trace its lineage to the Twin Bonanza. Both of its forebears were unpressurized and powered by reciprocating engines. The King Air made the leap to the comfort of pressurized and turboprop powered flight.
For a short time in the mid-1960s, the King Air even served as Air Force One. It was used to fly President Johnson to and from his ranch in Texas.
It is a twin engined, turbo prop powered pressurized comfort barge that has more capability than many light jets but can almost match them in speed and altitude. You will likely never meet a King Air pilot who doesn’t love the aircraft and it is even less likely you’ll meet a less than satisfied passenger.
King Airs have come in many varieties through the years and you can find almost every version on airport ramps today. This comes as no surprise. Over thirty one hundred of these aircraft have flown off of the Beechcraft production line making it one of the most numerous corporate aircraft in existence.
The Model 90 King Air was the first to fly. The aircraft was first conceived as the Model 120 in 1961. Later, in 1963, a Queen Air was modified with Pratt & Whitney PT6A-6 engines. Once the King Air was established as a production aircraft in 1964 over one hundred and fifty two aircraft were initially ordered.
Once begun, the King Air literally took off as a best-selling aircraft; out selling all other production turboprop aircraft combined. The Beechcraft reputation for building quality aircraft was part of this sales boom. The fact that the King Air was a comfortable, high altitude, air-conditioned aircraft was another. The world had been waiting for this reliable executive barge and when it finally arrived it almost literally sold itself.
Many twin turboprop aircraft have been built over the years by such great aircraft manufacturers as Cessna and Piper aircraft, but the Beechcraft King Air is the only one still in production and selling today. To discover the reason for this you really have to go flying in one.
The King Air is a stable platform for all-weather instrument flight. It is solidly built and its systems are equally reliable and straight forward. Many are flown with a crew of two pilots but a single pilot can legally fly one and with today’s modern avionics and computer flight management systems that pilot can do so quite safely.
Entry into the aircraft is done using an “air stair” type door located at the back of the fuselage. No bending or contortions are necessary for a passenger to safely get onboard, even while carrying extra bags, coats and sporting equipment.
The aircraft comes with all sorts of passenger conveniences including lavatories, small galleys and electronic entertainment systems. The seats are comfortable and can be reached without too much hunching over. Depending on the model of the aircraft, between six and nine passengers can be carried. Once seated, there is lots of legroom and the cabin has an airy, expansive feel to it.
Families, charter passengers and even cargo carriers have used the King Air over the years to fulfill their needs. The militaries of the United States and its allies have found lots of utility in this tough and straightforward aircraft.
Beechcraft has never cut corners when outfitting its aircraft with the latest equipment and avionics. Each model, from the first one built to one coming off the assembly line today is equipped with top of the line navigation, weather avoidance and flight management gear. The largest current version of the aircraft – the King Air 350, sports a cockpit that has a more professional and modern avionics suite than most airliners. This equipment includes:
New Premier-style Control Yokes
IFIS and Flight Management System (FMS)
Digital Comm, Navigation, Surveillance (CNS) Radios
Dual Air Data Computer (ADC) Systems
Dual Altitude Heading Reference Systems (AHRS)
Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS)
ESIS from L-3 Communications
Four-Color Weather Radar System
Automatic Flight Guidance System (AFGS)
Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS II)
Cockpit Voice Recorder
Maintenance Diagnostic Computer
King Airs that are already in service or that have years of flight experience may not have this kind of sophistication but you can rest assured that every aircraft was outfitted with top of the line gear when it was manufactured and has been upgraded frequently since it began its service life.
This aircraft compares quite well to other corporate jets and turboprops. Although the King Air might fly a little slower than its pure turbojet counterparts it operates quite well and can keep up in the real world of aviation. This is because it can operate out of many more smaller and remote fields than the average corporate jet. The King Air can fly out of big city airports or back country gravel runways. It can carry more of a load to and from these places and can do so for much lower costs.
The King Air is a pilot’s airplane and is a cost-effective multi-mission aircraft that companies and individuals love to own and operate. Unlike its biz-jet counterparts the King Air can be asked to do just about anything your company or family.
The King Air also happens to be the workhorse of the JetCharters.com offerings. Consider one of our approved operators and aircraft by searching the Worldwide Air Charter Marketplace.