There are a few truly iconic aircraft in the world, which everyone recognize. The P-51 Mustang is an obvious example of perhaps the most recognizable warfighting aircraft in history. The Boeing 747, the original Jumbo Jet. The Learjet was the original, most iconic corporate jet. And the Beechcraft King Air is the most successful turboprop corporate aircraft the world has ever known.
A Strong Heritage
Since production commenced in 1964, the King Air line of turboprops have outsold all direct competitors combined. The original aircraft, the 90-series, were powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PT-6A turbine engines, each producing 550 shaft horsepower (shp). The 90s had seating for seven plus pilots, although it was certainly somewhat limited in terms of power-to-weight.
Fast-forward just a few years and we see the 200-series in development. The need arose for a turbine aircraft with higher payload, seating, and range than the 90- and 100-series could provide. Essentially, the Super King Airs use a stretched 100-series fuselage, adopted a T-tail rather than the conventional empanange, and beefed up the engines.
King Air 250 Vs. Everyone Else
The B250 is the “entry level” Super King Air (Note: Beechcraft dropped the “Super” monicor years ago, but it is the only way to differentiate between the 90s and the big King Airs). With a capacity of ten occupants, the King Air 250 is a competitor to a number of small business jets. Not necessarily a direct competitor, per se, but a competitor in the it is more like a Swiss Army Knife; it’s greatest strength is not cruising speed or altitude, or range, but in doing a number of things well. It has excelled as a Jack-of-all-trades.
The King Air is never going to compete directly with a Citation or a Learjet 60 in cruising speed or cruising altitude. But those jets are not equipped with a full-size cargo door capable of loading pallets. The King Air 250 can operate out of very short airports, requiring only about 2,100’ to operate out of, and those can be from rough an unimproved runways. Don’t try that in a CJ2.
With a maximum cruise of 310 ktas, the King Air 250 is no slouch; it can fly from the Beechcraft factory field (KBEC) to Chicago O’Hare in 1:44, no sweat. Feeling a little cold in Wichita (pro tip: Kansas winters are cold)? The King Air 250 makes it in three hours flat with tons of fuel to spare.
While certainly not exactly cheap, the King Air 250 is still significantly more cost efficient than a Citation CJ2. It is going to run about $899k per annum to run the CJ2 for 400 flight hours, whereas the King Air 250 is going to cost about $904k for 632 flight hours. This is roughly $800 per flight hour less to operate the King Air over the CJ2. Granted, the CJ2 cruises at about 407 ktas maximum, so if speed is your prerogative over utility and ruggedness, a jet may be your best pick.
The King Air 250 is perhaps the very best combination of speed, durability, short-field performance, and comfort, which is why they are the supreme reigning champ of turboprop aircraft. With significantly lower operating costs than comparable jets, as well as initial purchase prices, they are a great entry-level business class aircraft. No matter which end of the spectrum you are coming from, you will not go wrong with taking a look at the King Air 250.