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During a Dec. 2 press conference at the NBAA’s inaugural Virtual Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (VBACE), Textron Aviation announced the introduction of the Beechcraft King Air 260 turboprop, calling it a new era for its Beechcraft King Air 200 series aircraft.
The King Air 260 features technological advancements to the cockpit and improvements in the cabin “that not only bring greater ease of operation for pilots, they bring a whole new era of flying,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation. The aircraft is an improved variant of its King Air 250 predecessor. The 260 will replace the King Air 250, as production of the latter type will cease.
The announcement follows the recent introduction of the Beechcraft King Air 360, which achieved FAA type certification in October, and customer deliveries are underway.
“We place an immense value on our conversations with our customers, and the investments we make in our aircraft are a direct result of listening to their input,” said Draper. “I’m proud of the impressive effort by our team for taking a legendary aircraft and adding technological advancements that will allow customers to achieve their varied missions.”
Powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada 850-shaft-horsepower PT6A-52 engine, the King Air 260 seats nine and has a range of 1,720 nautical miles, with a maximum cruise speed of 310 ktas and a useful load of 3,760 pounds. Assembly production is already underway, and certification and deliveries are expected in early 2021.
New in the cockpit is the Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) ThrustSense Autothrottle, which Textron also announced has received supplemental type certification (STC) approval for Pro Line Fusion-equipped Beechcraft King Air 200 series aircraft, including new production King Air 260 turboprops.
The IS&S ThrustSense Autothrottle “reduces pilot workload by automatically managing engine power from the takeoff roll through the climb, cruise and descent phases of flight,” the company said in a press release.
STC approval of the autothrottle on Pro Line 21-equipped Beechcraft King Air 300 series aircraft is anticipated soon.
The King Air 260 cockpit also features a new digital pressurization controller, and the Collins Aerospace MultiScan weather radar system, which will be a standard feature on every King Air 260.
“This system is widely regarded as one of the premium weather radar systems available,” said Draper. The MultiScan weather radar system automatically senses precipitation contours, maps turbulence, and suppresses ground clutter at ranges out to 320 nm.
The seats in the King Air 260 cabin use a pressure mapping technology to enhance comfort, which is especially key on longer flights.
Draper concluded, “We’re receiving good feedback from our fractional charter and membership customers like NetJets and Wheels Up who are seeing aircraft usage returning to normal levels and new customers entering into their fleets.
“While the global pandemic has greatly affected our industry, we continue to see some positive signs,” he added. “Private aircraft use continues to rise into the approaching 2019 levels. We’re also witnessing growing interest from a new group of individuals who are exploring the benefits of private aviation for the first time.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the reaction of our customers when they take delivery of their first King Air 260.”