Beechcraft King Air 350i

By Fred George fred_george@aviationweek.com
Source: Business & Commercial Aviation

We extended flaps to approach on base leg, 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 KIAS with approach flaps so as not to impede arriving jet traffic. We extended full flaps over the BINGG final approach fix, slowing to 130 KIAS.

“It slows pretty easily,” Wuertz com–mented. But the inflight idle pitch stops prevented the blades from going almost flat when the throttles were retarded. Nearing 500 ft. AGL, we slowed to the 101 KIAS Vref 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 below Vref and there would have been less float prior to touchdown.

Conclusions?

The King Air 350i is a more fuel efficient and practical alternative to a business jet for short-range trips, ones that most business aircraft operators fly on an everyday basis. If you really needed to fill the tanks and fill almost every seat, the King Air 350i offers load-and-go operating flexibility. Typically equipped, it can carry seven passengers with full fuel and plenty of baggage in both the aft bay and wing lockers. It also has a wide center of gravity envelope for easy loading.

While few groups of seven people want to spend 5.6 hr. together, flying 1,500 nm in this class of aircraft, the King Air 350i would enable those seven people to hopscotch from White Plains to Montreal to Pittsburgh to Washington-Dulles and home to White Plains without refueling.

Some business jet advocates point out that their FAR Part 25-certified transport category aircraft provide one-engine-inoperative takeoff safety margins while normal category turboprop takeoff performance assumes no engine failures. The lackluster OEI takeoff performance of most twin turboprops disqualifies them as serious corporate air transportation assets.

But the King Air 350i is certified as an FAR Part 23 Commuter Category aircraft, so it provides essentially the same one-engine-inoperative takeoff performance margins as an FAR Part 25 Transport Category jet.

The Rockwell Collins Venue IFE system puts the Model 350i's cabin environment on par with best-in-class light jets. However, it needs an Apple-compatible IFE 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 system isn't 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.


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