New York directed us to descend to 3,000 ft. on downwind to Runway 23 and slow to 160 kt. Those 105-in. props function effectively as speedbrakes, and the aircraft easily goes down and slows down simultaneously. We extended flaps, noting a slight ballooning tendency. Turning base to final, we descended to 2,000 ft. and were cleared for the ILS approach. We elected to fly the initial part of the procedure at 140 kt. with approach flaps so as not to impede arriving jet traffic. We extended full flaps over the final approach fix, slowing to 130 kt.
“It slows pretty easily,” Wuertz commented. But the inflight idle-pitch stops prevented the blades from going almost flat when the throttles were retarded. Nearing 500 ft. above ground level (AGL), we slowed to the 101-kt. final approach speed. We disengaged the yaw damper at 100 ft. AGL. Over threshold at 50 ft. AGL, we gradually reduced power. We could have chopped the power to idle sooner to slow the aircraft and there would have been less float prior to touchdown.
The King Air 350i is a more fuel-efficient and practical alternative to a jet for the short-range trips most business aircraft operators fly daily. If you really needed to fill the tanks and almost every seat, the 350i offers load-and-go operating flexibility. Typically equipped, it can carry seven passengers with full fuel and baggage in both the aft bay and wing lockers.
While few groups of seven people want to spend 5-6 hr. together flying 1,500 nm. in this class of aircraft, the 350i would enable them to hopscotch from White Plains, N.Y., to Montreal to Pittsburgh to Washington and back to White Plains without refueling. The lackluster OEI takeoff performance of most twin turboprops disqualifies them as serious corporate transports, but the King Air 350i provides essentially the same single-engine performance margins as an transport-category jet.
The Pro Line 21 avionics increase situational awareness, but its state of development leaves room for improvement, including synthetic vision, a fully integrated engine-indication and crew-alerting system and an FMS with an airport performance computer and climb/cruise/descent performance projections. The Venue system puts the 350i's cabin environment on par with the best light jets. But it needs an Apple-compatible Wi-Fi distribution system so that iPads, iPhones and MacBooks can double as personal video monitors.
The aircraft is not as easy to fly as a business jet, particularly because its avionics are not fully integrated with aircraft systems, the engines lack Fadecs and the cockpit has dozens of legacy switches and manually operated systems, some of which date back to the original 1964 King Air.
Tap the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST to fly along with Fred George as he evaluates the King Air 350i, or go to AviationWeek.com/video
Beechcraft King Air 350i Specifications
|Engine||2 x 1,050-shp P&WC PT6A-60A|
|Payload with Max Fuel||1,299|
|Fuel with Max Payload||2,600|
|Max Cruise||313 kt.|
|Range (4 pax)||1,714 nm|
|Max Altitude||35,000 ft.|