Hawker Beechcraft is exhibiting its new King Air C90GTx in the EBACE static park for the first time. The aircraft on display recently completed a demonstration tour of the eastern U.S. showing off its increased performance and efficiency. The company has delivered the first customer aircraft to Pedro Zeballos of Panama.
The King Air C90GTx, which was launched at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last July, features an increased maximum gross weight and composite winglets yielding better fuel efficiency. The twin turboprop’s max takeoff weight is now 10,485 pounds and its maximum payload of 750 pounds is almost double that of the C90GTi, enabling the new aircraft to carry four passengers 200 nm farther than its predecessor.
The GTi version had already been upgraded to a glass cockpit (Rockwell Collins ProLine 21), while the GTx is equipped with an upgraded Doppler weather radar (with turbulence detection) and Waas GPS as standard.
As a turboprop, the King Air offers several advantages over comparable jets in that it can operate from shorter runways and it is far more fuel-efficient for sectors under about 600 nm, although its maximum range is now up to 2,200 nm. Its fuel consumption per-seat-nautical mile is in the range of 0.45 to 0.48 pounds–a performance figure rivaled among Hawker Beechcraft’s jets only by the Premier I. For a balanced field length of 3,300 feet, an equivalent jet would require 4,000 feet.
The airplane is also well suited to more rugged airstrips and to dealing with adverse weather conditions, the Wichita-based company told AIN at the show. For example, the King Air is better on an icy runway than a jet because it can be steered with differential thrust by feathering the propellers independently. The King Air also offers reverse thrust, which–although it cannot be taken into account for performance calculations–does offer an additional safety margin in many situations.
The efficiency of turboprops is particularly noticeable when jets cannot attain their most efficient cruising altitudes. Turboprops typically cruise at 15,000 to 20,000 feet whereas jets are more efficient between 35,000 feet and 45,000 feet.
Hawker Beechcraft told AIN that with a five-year, free-maintenance arrangement, the King Air offers lower seat-mile costs than the single-engine Pilatus PC-12.