About two hours ago, I shut down the engines of the first production Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90GTx after a 90 minute demo flight. Whoa. The 2010 Model 90 aircraft surely is a far cry from the 1964 A65-90, even though it shares its basic wing, interior configuration and most systems. Departing Beech field [KBEC] at a weight of 10,000 lb, this airplane had no problem climbing directly to FL 280 in 20 minutes, even though the outside air temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees warmer than ISA.
Once level, we accelerated to 256 KTAS at ISA+12C while burning 470 pph. It'll do 262 KTAS at FL 280 on a standard day and down at FL 190, it will cruise at 272 KTAS. Granted that's not as fast as a TBM 850 or even a PC 12, but if one engine of C90GTx swallows a Canada goose on takeoff, it still will climb out at 400 to 500 fpm on the remaining engine assuming FAR Part 25 OEI rules.
C90GTx incorporates two STCs that boost its performance. The addition of 35 lb BLR winglets and a Centex 385 lb increase in MTOW gives the aircraft 350 lb more net tanks full payload. It's now able to carry three pax and 137 lb of extra baggage with full fuel. That's more tanks-full payload than TBM 850, Phenom 100 or CJ1+.
The winglets help takeoff field performance and they boost cruise speed by about three to four knots at high altitude.
Photo: Fred George
This aircraft has beautiful handling manners, upholding the highest Beech standards for refinement. We practiced engine failure at V1 in FlightSafety International's simulator and found the aircraft easy to control because of its auto-feather and rudder boost systems. The highly flat-rated PT6A-135A have plenty of reserve power for OEI takeoffs, even on warm days.
Stalling characteristics are quite docile, even with the new winglets -- at least as long as you keep the ball perfectly centered. The vintage NACA 23000-series airfoil will bite you with a sharp wing roll off at stall if you're in a slight slip.
Thunderstorms west of Wichita portrayed by XM during demo flight. EFIS reflections -- Fred George and Brad Stewart -- demo pilot
Photo: Fred George
The Collins Pro Line 21 avionics offers excellent situational awareness and the capabilities offered by both XM radio datalink weather and standard TWR-850 turbulence detection weather radar provide robust safety margins against weather threats.
But C90GTx faces stiff competition from Embraer Phenom 100, a entry-level light jet having virtually the same price tag, The Brazilian jet cruises 70 to 120 knots faster, it burns less fuel and, in my opinion, it's much easier to fly because it has FADEC-equipped engines. Two engine control levers -- not six. P100 also has much, much simpler systems having been designed four decades later. Entry level jets have up to a dozen fewer switches and considerably shorter checklists.
"This is no VLJ," said Randy Groom, former head of HBC's Beech division, at Oshkosh regarding the C90GT. Randy, I doubt that many people would argue that point. C90GTx, though, is the most capable baby King Air yet produced and for many Beech loyalists, that's plenty of enticement. This aircraft provides a nice step up for owners of Beech Barons or older King Air 90 aircraft.
We'll have much more to say about Beech King Air C90GTx in an upcoming report in Business & Commercial Aviation.