Raytheon Aircraft has introduced a souped-up version of its smallest Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop to compete more effectively with very light jets (VLJ). Meanwhile, final certification of the company’s Hawker Horizon super mid-size business jet has been pushed back from the third to the fourth quarter by “delays at the key avionics supplier”, writes Graham Warwick.

The $2.95 million King Air C90GT has more-powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A engines, which increase cruise speed by 25kt (45km/h) to more than 270kt and significantly improve climb performance. Speed is now the same as single-engined turboprops, and “within minutes of a VLJ on typical trips”, says Beechcraft president Randy Groom.

The new 750shp (560kW) engines are flat-rated to the same 550shp take-off power as in the C90B, but maintain that rating to higher altitude, the C90GT reaching its maximum cruise speed at 18,000ft (5,500m) compared with 15,000ft for the C-90B. Because of its better altitude performance, operating costs are expected to be similar, says Groom.

Production will switch to the C90GT with certification in December, and deliveries are sold out to June next year. With 70-80% of C90s being owner-flown aircraft, the market targeted by VLJs, Groom says Beechcraft is emphasising the turboprop’s larger cabin, shorter field performance and easier insurability for owners trading up.

Raytheon delivered 35 business jets and 27 King Airs in the second quarter, compared with 28 and 22 in the same period last year. Piston shipments were steady at 25. Orders for jets slowed to 28, from 72, but rose for turboprops, from 31 to 42, and pistons, from 12 to 14.

Source: Flight International