The venerable and venerated King Air turboprop is getting a mild but noticeable makeover with the 360 and 360ER versions announced today. Key features include new autothrottles and digital pressurization management in addition to a heavily revised interior. Updates to the pressurization include a higher differential pressure limit to provide a 10 percent decrease in cabin altitude at most common cruise altitudes.
While some King Air watchers wondered if Textron Aviation would go full FADEC with the 1,050-SHP Pratt & Whitney PT6As, the company instead has adapted the Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) “ThrustSense Autothrottle.” According to Textron, the autothrottle control “supports pilots in their critical mission of delivering people or cargo safely by automatically managing engine power from the takeoff roll through the climb, cruise, descent, go-around and landing phases of flight. This enhancement reduces pilot workload and supports them in their continuous vigilance to prevent over-speed or under-speed, over-temp and over-torque conditions.”
Textron Aviation also updated the King Air 350’s manual pressurization control to a new digital controller that “automatically schedules cabin pressurization during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall passenger comfort. The pressurization gauges have been integrated with the powerful Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck,” the company says.
“The Beechcraft King Air 360 builds on decades of renowned versatility and reliability in the King Air family, and this upgrade further elevates it with the aircraft’s superior features and engineering advancements designed to create an enhanced flying experience for passengers and crew alike,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. “The aircraft is a result of our extensive conversations with our turboprop customers worldwide as we continually increase innovation and next-generation capability to help them achieve their varied missions with greater comfort, technology and ease.”
With seating for up to nine passengers, the King Air 360’s new interior is said to have nicer materials, better attention to detail and upgrades like a multitude of USB charging ports and LED lighting. “We created an environment that provides passengers with a greater sense of openness inside the King Air,” said Christi Tannahill, senior vice president, customer experience. “The cabin experience is such a critical element when choosing an aircraft, and it was important for us to surpass customer expectations. Their journey will not only be comfortable, but also a relaxing, enjoyable experience. The Beechcraft King Air 360 offers many of the amenities that our customers desire.”
The stalwart big King Air cruises at 312 KTAS for a maximum range of 1,806 NM for the 360, or almost 2,700 NM for the 360ER with 775 gallons of Jet A aboard. Textron expects to deliver the first 360 in the fall. Prices have not been announced.