The Beechcraft Super King Air, part of a line of twin-turboprop aircraft produced by Beechcraft, includes the Model 200 and Model 300 series, which were originally marketed as the “Super King Air” family.
Beechcraft currently offers the 250 and the larger 350i models, as well as the 350ER, which is available to government, military and commercial customers for special mission operations such as aerial survey, air ambulance, flight inspection, and surveillance.
The Super King Air has been in continuous production since 1974, the longest production run of any civilian turboprop aircraft in its class, outlasting all of its previous competitors. Currently, the only other pressurized multi-engine turboprop utility aircraft in production is the Piaggio P.180 Avanti. The 6,000th King Air was delivered on January 24, 2005.
Retired military King Airs have entered civil service with United States law enforcement and other government organizations such as State Police and Sheriff Departments; others are used by the Missionary Aviation Fellowship and subsidiary organizations. It was projected to be replaced by the Beechcraft Starship but only 53 were produced, ending in 1995, while the King Air continues to be sold.
According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Super King Air has several advantages.
“These aircraft are not banned from certain noise-sensitive airports, and a turboprop can be flown by a single pilot; private jets must be operated by a crew of two. And because the Beechcraft Super King Air tips the scales at only 12,500 pounds, the lone pilot is not required to seek a type rating from the FAA,” the AOPA says.
The Super King Air is also renowned for its comfort, exceptionally quiet cabin, surprising stability, superb control response, and design.
“Without going into a lot of colorful adjectives, the Super King Air‘s flight characteristics are easily summed up as being simply marvelous; it’s an easy airplane to maneuver,” the AOPA says.
The Super King Air is known as a “go anywhere, go anytime” plane that is certificated for flight into known icing conditions. The engine inlet ducts are heated with exhaust gas; the engine oil heat exchanger automatically heats the fuel to prevent ice from collecting in the fuel controller, the pneumatic fuel-control lines are wrapped in electrically heated blankets, and the fuel tank vents, include electrical heating.
The windshields are also electrically heated and the leading edges of the wings and horizontal stabilizers are protected with electro-pneumatic boots, while both pitot masts and propellers are electrically heated. To prevent damage to the heating elements on the propellers, a timing device alternately routes electrical current to each propeller for 30 seconds at a time, enough to protect the blades during the worst conditions.
The aircraft is also well suited to the changing demands of air traffic control since its somewhat high landing-gear and flap speeds allow the aircraft to slow down quickly and fly the pattern with slower, single-engine aircraft.
“When the original Model 90 King Air was introduced, it was difficult to imagine how the basic design could be substantially improved. But it has been. The Super King Air is a super airplane and an outstanding example of a family of superior aircraft,” the AOPA says.