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King Air Performance...

Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:19 pm

I have been flying quite frequently in my company's new King Air 350. Definately an amazing plane with great performance. My past few flights have been short 300-400 mile jaunts and we only reach around 22,000 feet. I will be flying a longer trip in a few weeks and the pilot was telling me that we would most likely be cruising at 30,000 to 32,000 feet. I can believe that a propeller plane can perform at that altitude. Is it because it's turbo-prop or is it just over-powered? Thanks!

On a sidenote, I don't see why you would take a jet over this plane if you only do shorter flights are even flights across half the continent. It is so much cheaper to buy/operate than a jet...

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RE: King Air Performance...

Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:32 pm

Don't know how the costs compare to a small citation, but TPs are just basicaly jets with spinny things bolted on the front. In my very limited experience with a -200 we rarely even thought about going above FL240
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RE: King Air Performance...

Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:46 pm

I'll answer your second question first. Time is money and 400 miles at 450 knots gets you there faster than 300 knots. However, if I had to get there and carry a lot of stuff, I'd be in that 350. Awsome airplane. Full seats and full tanks is a rare thing in aviation and this bird can do it. Second, they have a great stance on the ramp, tall on the gear and big props up front. You know it means business. It's one of my favorites  Big thumbs up

Now back to the first; it's a different plane, but I believe the B100 is rated to FL290. Because of the speed and fuel burn penalty paid to get up there we stick to the low 20s. I'll be doing groundschool for that again in a couple months(I get a little time in the right seat at my flight school). It's been almost a year so I don't recall and I'm too lazy to get my POH out. You have to remember that the prop is being turned by a turbine engine, not a reciporicating one. While there are differences, for simplification sake, it's a jet engine like you see on an airliner, it works on the same principles. Propellors loose efficiency at greater altitudes because there is less air to "bite". However, they can fly up there. It may be more efficient to climb high to grab a better tailwind, avoid weather or conserve fuel. However, it may be more reasonable to stay low and not take the penalty in consumption and speed to climb up into a stronger headwind. Proper flight planning is crucial.

Recently a highly modified reciporicating aircraft was flown to FL510 for a new altitude record. So they can go pretty high.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:26 am

I used to fly B200s, a wonderful aircraft in every respect.

The ceiling was 35,000', which was the limit of the aircraft's pressurisation to maintain 10,000' in the cabin. The big wing and powerful engines made high altitude flight a breeze. For sectors back from Western N.S.W. I would often climb to 29,000 or higher to take advantage of jetstream winds.

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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:18 am

Frankly I am surprised that more companies aren't getting into the buisness aircraft realm since 9/11.

It now takes longer to fly commerically say SEA-PDX then it does to drive.

Do it on a corperate aircraft and you still are ahead of either the other choices.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:08 am

All air-breathing engines derate with altitude, be they jet, turboprop, or piston.

That the propulsion is adequate for high-speed cruise at efficient altitudes does not suggest the aircraft is overpowered. Cruise is a primary design point for most aircraft (Though there are exceptions that focus more on loiter). Single-engine performance often sets design criteria, however, which does indeed tend to result in "overpowered" aircraft. But it beats the early light twins, in which it was said that the second engine was there to get you to the site of the crash.

According to my trusty Raymer text, a typical high-bypass turbofan (Jet) engine will derate to 20-25% of its rated static thrust in 0.8M cruise flight between 30,000 and 35,000 feet. A turboprop engine such as that in the King Air tends to see equivalent shaft horsepower between 60-80% of the takeoff value in cruise.

Naturally aspirated piston engines taper off from rated power at sea level to in the ballpark of 50% of rated power at about 15,000 feet. If you turbocharge or supercharge the engine, it is able to maintain rated power to some altitude (Raymer says for the TO-360, that altitude is 10,000 feet or so), whereafter available power tapers off at the same rate as the naturally aspirated version of the engine. There is also such a thing as a "turbonormalized" engine, which does not increase the rated power compared to the naturally aspirated version, and the turbo is used only for the purpose of maintaining that rated power to a higher altitude.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:54 am

The King Air product line is a great aircraft, with over 40 years of continuous production.
However, the target market for small business jets is the turboprop market. As a comparison, the King Air 350 is the highest performer of the King Air line. Compare that to the slowest of the Cessna Citation Jets, the CJ1:

Max speed: KA 578 km/hr CJ1 720 km/hr
Max climb rate: KA 2,731 fpm CJ1 3,290 fpm
Service ceiling: KA 35,000 ft CJ1 41,000 ft
Fuel flow: KA 773 pph CJ1 800 pph
I am not sure what a King Air 350 sells for, but a CJ1 sells for about $4M.
The figures above I took from the Raytheon and Cessna websites.

I am not saying that the King Air is a bad product, just that small jets compete with the King Air line for the same market.

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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 12:33 pm

You can't even begin to compare the 350 to a CJ. While the prices are similiar, that's about where the line is drawn. They both have very different missions. The B350 has the CJ beat in range, and payload. The 350 has no problem carrying 10 or even 12 pax with luggage and you can still fill the fuel tanks. The CJ 1, has five seats in the cabin, and don't even try filling both the seats and fuel tanks. It will be over max gross. In fact, you could even argue in certain situations where the 350 would be faster over a given distance because it would be able to do it non-stop. They are two totally different aircraft and likewise, they are targeted at different markets. The 350 is great for a company that needs to move a number of people at a lower operating cost. The CJ 1, is target at the owner who also flies his own aircraft.

There really isn't a product that compares to the 350. However, if you want to compare the CJ there are a number of competitors. The Raytheon Premere, Lear 31, and even the Piaggio 180 have performance and mission profiles much closer to the CJ.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:32 pm

Recently a highly modified reciporicating aircraft was flown to FL510 for a new altitude record. So they can go pretty high
What Aircraft model was this.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:56 pm


It's a modified RV-4. Bruce Bohannon has broken 25 altitude and time to climb records in the category that his aircraft falls under. The link I pasted states he climbed to 47,910 feet. It mentions trying to top 50,000. I haven't found it yet, but for some reason I remember reading that he set another altitude record later in the year. If I find a link I'll post it.
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RE: King Air Performance...

Thu Feb 17, 2005 1:11 pm

Hi All,

Yes the KA can be better than the light jets, it all comes down to mission. I used to work on RAAF KA 350s and they routinely fly 8 POB in the mid-30s ESL-AKL or to Darwin non-stop. There are other TPs that can do even better, the Cheyenne 400 and some models of Mitsu (remember them AJ?), and IIRC the Piaggio Avanti, now there's a sexy aeroplane. As to cost, I think a KA 350 is around $6m, so they are much more expensive, but for that you get 10-12 seats and a fully glass cockpit (Collins Proline 21)
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