Nextant Aerospace's G90XT programme made a giant leap towards the finishing line on 15 January when it flew for the first time.
The maiden sortie of the remanufactured Beechcraft King Air C90 was originally slated for late last year, but bad weather hampered efforts to get the twin-engined turboprop into the sky.
The flight-test programme is expected to last around six weeks, leading to certification and first deliveries in the second quarter of this year.
The G90XT replaces the C90’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engines with GE H75-100 engines – the first twin-engined turboprop application for the powerplant.
Other upgrades include the addition of a Garmin G1000 flightdeck, a new interior and a refresh of all life-limited components.
"We spent several months with existing King Air operatorsduring our feasibility studies trying to understand what types of enhancements would significantly improve their ownership experience," says Nextant president Sean McGeough. "We believe we are delivering a product that will have a large impact within this market segment."
Nextant's chief test pilot Capt Nathan Marker – who was at the controls of the G90XT – reflects this view. “I was impressed by the lower noise levels in the cockpit," he says.
"The change in position of the propellers relative to the fuselage combined with the new engine makes for a much quieter and more comfortable flight experience for passengers. We will spend the next several weeks running the aircraft through a full test flight envelope.”
The G90XT is projected to have a cruise speed of up to 280kt (519km/h), a range of 1,240nm (2,300km) and a maximum take-off weight of 4,760kg (10,500lb).
Nextant is offering the aircraft for around $2.6 million. Alternatively it will retrofit existing C90s with the new engines, avionics and interior for around $2 million. This price also includes a two-year warranty, McGeough says.
Source: Flight International