In December 1944, military fighter pilot Sgt. John Toney of Muskogee and a crew climbed aboard the Tulsamerican, the last B-24 aircraft built at the Douglas-Tulsa plant, and headed out on a mission.
Since the first one was produced in 1964, the King Air has become something of an icon, with a reputation for low operating costs, durability and ruggedness. But just like a sport utility, it can be equipped with luxury fittings to complement its more adventurous side. Here’s a breakdown on the costs to buy and operate one.
Over 7,000 King Airs have been sold since that first one rolled out, so they are well known around the world, and there’s a good support network. You will find individuals, companies and governments using them in 105 countries. In addition to their business use they’ve been employed as air ambulances, as trainers, in the military and for surveillance among other tasks.
The King Air 350i is a twin turboprop aircraft, produced by Beechcraft, which is now part of Textron aviation (also the parent company of Cessna). The other aircraft in the family include the smaller King Air 250, the King Air C90GTx and an extended range King Air 350ER.
The price of a new King Air 350i is currently about $8m. A 6 or 7 year old one, built in 2009 to 2011, will cost in the region of $4m to $4.5m and models that are 15 to 16 years old, 1999 to 2001 vintage, are typically in the range of $2m to $2.5m. Prices on second hand ones vary depending on the level of use, maintenance, record keeping and upkeep.
The main cabin is 19ft 6in (5.94m) long and 57in (1.45m) high. It can be configured to carry up to 11 passengers, but is more typically configured as 8 passengers in business club seating. On board wifi is standard and there’s the Rockwell Collins Venue CMS and in-flight entertainment (IFE) system to make flights productive and entertaining. The latest King Airs also have improved soundproofing to reduce the cabin noise from the turboprop engines.
The two Pratt and Whitney PT6A-60A engines produce 1050 hp, and give a max cruise speed of 312 ktas (578 km/h). The maximum range is 1,806nm (3,345km), or with a full complement of 8 passengers it’s possible to go nearly 1,500nm. There’s 55 cu ft of onboard pressurized baggage space at the back of the cabin, with an additional 16 cu ft of external baggage space. The takeoff field length is just 3,300 ft.
The 350 is a rare airplane that can carry full fuel and full seats, and it can do it under extreme conditions. High air temperature robs all airplanes of takeoff performance, but the 350 has enough margin to safely take off at maximum weight at sea level on a 126º F day. Move up to Denver and it can still take off at maximum weight on a 90º F day. And if for some reason you need to fly a short hop, no problem, because the maximum landing weight is the same as max takeoff, 15,000 pounds. If you guessed the landing gear and airframe structure must be super strong, you’d be right.
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