FLIGHT DEPT OF THE YEAR
Sales continue to outpace those of jets, based on strong economics, large cabins and flexible mission profiles.
King Air C90GTx/250/350i
During the 2012 NBAA Convention, Hawker Beechcraft delivered its 7000th King Air to Indianapolis IN-based Herman & Kittle Properties (HKP).
In production since 1964, more King Airs have been sold than any other business aviation aircraft.
HKP is a typical King Air buyer. The company develops, builds, manages and owns multifamily rental housing and self-storage facilities in 10 states throughout the US Midwest and Gulf regions.
The company flies around 300 hrs per year, mostly to transport team members to current and potential properties.
"Our company was already excited about moving up from the King Air 200 that we've loved to a new King Air 350i," says HKP Pres & CEO Jeff Kittle. "Probably the biggest selling point for us with the 350i was the flexibility to load the plane up with full passengers and full fuel—there's almost no airplane you can do that with."
Kittle adds, "We fly less than 700 miles for most of our trips, and we get there as fast as a business jet while burning less fuel—and with our team being comfortable and productive in the cabin."
Since 1996, Hawker Beechcraft has delivered an average of 125 King Airs a year. With a production life of over 45 years, the King Air is an aristocrat. Current offerings are the C90GTx, 250, 350i and 350iER.
The King Air C90GTx was launched in 2009 and features an increased maximum gross weight (10,485 lbs), Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics and BLR Aerospace composite winglets, which improve climb performance and fuel efficiency.
Powered by the PT6A-135A (rated at 550 shp apiece), the C90GTx has a full fuel load capability of more than 750 lbs—more than any entry-level jet. Likewise, the squared oval cabin is 50% larger than most VLJs.
Certified by FAA in 2011 (and EASA in 2012), the King Air 250 is the latest version of the world's most popular business aircraft. According to Eurocontrol, the Super King Air series has been the most flown business aircraft in Europe for the past 4 years.
The King Air 250 incorporates composite components such as propellers and winglets, and the Raisbeck ram air recovery system (RARS), which ensures maximum power in icing conditions while reducing engine operating temperatures.
The Raisbeck RARS is a popular King Air aftermarket option and is now included as standard. The PT6A-52 engine (850 shp) powers the 250 to a maximum speed of 310 kts.
Rounding out the King Air lineup are the 350i and 350iER. The King Air 350 is a 2 ft 10 in stretch of the earlier 300 and seats 9–11 passengers. Max takeoff weight for the 350i is 15,000 lbs while the 350iER has a 16,500-lb MTOW.
Hawker Beechcraft has sold a large number of 350iERs to military customers worldwide for special missions roles.
These PT6A-60 (1050 shp) powered aircraft carry extra fuel in nacelle tanks and have the ability to loiter for over 8 hrs while carrying a load of sensors, antennas, advanced communications gear and people. In the civilian role, the 350iER can carry a full load of passengers almost 1750 miles.
Piaggio Avanti II
On paper, jetlike speed, great fuel efficiency and one of the largest cabins on the market make the Piaggio P180 Avanti II stand out from its peers.
On the ramp, the Avanti II further differentiates itself with an unusual shape that incorporates 3 lifting surfaces and a pusher configuration.
Piaggio claims that the Avanti II burns 40% less fuel than a similar-size jet, which means that it releases 40% fewer harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Certified in 2006, the Avanti II is 14 inches wider than the original Avanti and has upgraded engines and avionics.
Certified to FL410 and powered by two 850-shp PT6A-66B engines, the Avanti II can cruise at 398 kts. Passengers love the spacious cabin—largest of any turboprop surveyed—while pilots benefit from state-of-the-art Rockwell Pro Line 21 avionics.
At just over $7 million, the Avanti II competes effectively with the King Air 350i on price and range.
The Avanti wins in a head-to-head race, but has less payload capability with full fuel, and uses more runway than the big King Air.