Holding short of Runway 32, we commenced the litany of first-day pre-takeoff checks, including looking at operation of the electric pitch trim, prop overspeed governor and rudder boost, low pitch stop and primary governor, autofeather and engine anti-ice systems. Wuertz said that the checks can be done quite quickly with some practice. However, we believe it would be advisable to run through them before fare-paying passengers board the aircraft.
Various fuel system, cabin altitude, landing gear and fire protection system checks must be completed. Brake deice, TCAS and TAWS checks are performed before each flight.
Once cleared for takeoff on Runway 32, we advanced the power to about 85% torque as we began the takeoff roll. The pitot cowl inlets are so efficient at converting air velocity into air pressure that torque increased 5% during takeoff roll. We adjusted power to reach 100% torque. As the engines accelerated to 1,700 prop rpm, the aircraft interior noise levels rose accordingly; it wasn't particularly quiet.
We also noticed that we spent considerable time cross-checking engine output and making minor adjustments to set takeoff power. Quite clearly, the powerplants are long overdue for a FADEC upgrade to reduce pilot workload.
Rotation force was light, as was roll control force. The Beechcraft standard for gentle and progressive control force far exceeds any certification requirement, in our opinion. With a positive rate of climb, we retracted the landing gear, noting that there was virtually no pitch moment change. We observed a small lag in the pitch trim response to inputs to the pitch trim switch. The manual pitch trim wheel provided immediate response, but a comparatively small amount of rotation results in a large change in pitch trim.
Pulling back the throttles to 95% torque and then the prop levers to set 1,500 rpm resulted in a considerable reduction in interior noise. Quite clearly, the interior sound suppression system is tuned to sop up 100 Hz noise, the frequency produced by the four-blade props at that speed.
We also noted that the reduction from takeoff to climb power results in a significant change in yawing moment, requiring left rudder input and corresponding rudder trim to maintain balanced flight. A similar change in yawing moment was observed as we reduced power after level-off at cruise altitude. And the yaw damper doesn't compensate much for such changes.
Our assigned route of flight was radar vectors to Modena VOR, thence V3 to Solberg VOR and direct to Morristown, N.J., expecting 7,000 ft. in 10 min. as a final cruise altitude. But ATC kept us down to 4,000 ft. for the 93-nm jaunt. Reviewing our video footage, it was apparent that Pro Line 21's glareshield-mounted flight guidance control panel is quite effective at promoting situational awareness through hand/eye movements, particularly when the aircraft is being flown with two pilots.
We settled into a 200 KIAS cruise be–low the floor of the Philadelphia Class B airspace. Operating at low altitude at this speed, the King Air 350i shows off its large-scale advantage in fuel efficiency over similarly sized turbofan business aircraft.