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King Air 360: Refit For A King

Beechcraft’s King Air 360 Asserts its Claim to Twin-Turboprop Crown

For 58 years, Beechcraft’s venerable King Air has steadfastly lived up to its auspicious moniker.

Thousands of pilots and millions of flight-hours attest the design-brilliance, durability, and enduring desirability of what is, ostensibly, the world’s best-loved, twin-turboprop. 

For many pilots, this writer/pilot included, the King Air has provided a comprehensible transition from reciprocating engines to turbines. In all of its incarnations, from the spirited C-90 to the ubiquitous B-200, to the mighty B-350, the King Air delivers excellent flight-control feel and response, stability about all axes, docile stall characteristics, and power enough to stay out of trouble. Features like rudder-boost, auto-feather, brake-heat, overspeed governors, and auto-igniters augment safety. 

Generation by generation, the King Air has evolved, improved, and expanded its capabilities to remain relevant in a world inclined to look upon propeller-driven aircraft as passe. The current iteration of Beech’s storied marque, the King Air 360, features a surfeit of technologies formerly the exclusive province of Gulfstreams, Falcons, and other such, high-dollar, high-performance, high-prestige machines. 

Principal among the top-shelf upgrades with which Beech has fortified the 360 is the IS&S ThrustSense auto-throttle. The system delivers optimized power output, including both over-torque and over-temp protection, and the ability to maintain preselected power-settings. Anyone who’s flown King Airs knows it’s not easy to set take-off torque while anticipating ram-air rise, while maintaining directional-control as the props hit the governors, and the aircraft accelerates. The auto-throttle system promises to temper the adventure King Air take-offs can be—especially to pilots new to the airplane. 

Beech complements the engine-control technology with a host of additional up-to-the-minute boons, to include: digital pressurization; a Collins, Pro Line Fusion avionics suite featuring a trio of 14-inch, touch-screen displays, synthetic vision, graphical flight planning, and integrated charts and maps; EICAS; dual FMS systems; multi-scan weather radar; integrated TAWS; and TCAS-II.

Perhaps the most impressive feat pulled off by the boffins at Beechcraft is the manner in which they so dramatically upgraded the King Air without significantly changing its cockpit layout or adversely affecting the robust DNA that’s endeared the King Air to flight-departments, militaries, governments, and aviation enthusiasts across the world.  

FMI: https://beechcraft.txtav.com

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