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Flying the Beechcraft King Air 350i

Dal Kikin
April 16, 2019

The Beech King Air 350i with its rugged design, more than 40 years of heritage and robust systems make the 350 one of the most dependable and predictable turbine airplanes around. The entire King Air fleet has logged an estimated 40 million flight hours since the first one was delivered in 1964, and over 7300 have been built.

The King Air fleet has posted one of the best safety records of any business airplane, but the 350 stands out as the best. The Beechcraft® King Air® 350i surpasses its predecessor’s high-calibre performance with more payload capability and range, a quieter interior with standard Wi-Fi, and Pro Line Fusion™ avionics with full touch-screen simplicity. 

That provides room for a spacious dual club seating arrangement, plus a large and private lavatory in the rear. With full fuel tanks and a 200-pound pilot, 1,600 pounds of payload remains, so a full-sized person plus baggage can be carried in every seat. And 55.3 cubic feet of baggage can be stored in the aft compartment of the fuselage where it is heated and pressurized and accessible in flight. Long items such as skis or fishing poles fit nicely in the engine nacelle lockers. 

It cuts an impressive pose with highlighted by the towering T-tail rising to 4.37m and the winglets that rise at each end of the 17.65m wingspan. Away from the ground, the aircraft has a maximum ceiling of 35,000ft and a maximum cruise speed of 312kt. The 350i is a rare airplane that can carry full fuel and full seats, and it can do it under extreme conditions. High air temperature robs all airplanes of takeoff performance, but the 350i has enough margin to safely take off at maximum weight at sea level on a 52º ? day.

The 350i while certified for single-pilot operations, it is also certified under the Part 23, or ‘commuter category’, requirements. Firstly, this means that pilots require a specific type endorsement to fly it and secondly, it conforms to the rule set that calls for the aircraft to safely continue the take-off in the event of an engine failure within required performance margins and obstacle clearances. Like jet transport aircraft, the King Air 350i must have a nominated decision speed before which it can reject the takeoff with an adequate runway to stop and from which it can continue a single-engined takeoff.

The 350i has automatic propeller feathering and rudder boost to immediately feather the prop if an engine fails on takeoff and to step on the proper rudder to overcome the asymmetric thrust. An engine failure in the 350i is virtually identical to the loss of an engine in a jet because the autofeather immediately eliminates the drag of the windmilling propeller on the failed engine.

Possibly the most attractive aspect of the airplane’s performance is its ability to ‘gas up and go’. For so many aircraft, operations are a continual compromise between the uplift of fuel and the uplift of people and payload. The 350i has a range of over 1,500nm, yet when a single pilot seats eight passengers in the cabin, allowing 90kg for each person, the range is still greater than 1,400nm – that’s Sydney to Cairns.

The most striking elements in the cockpit are the three 14in widescreen LCDs that fill the flight instrument panel, the Pro Line Fusion system. Featuring synthetic vision, ADS-B Out, TCAS II and the ability to move various displays and their information about in a variety of formats, there is an additional element that is not so obvious – touchscreen functionality.

Everything from planning a weather diversion or setting the QNH, to accessing a checklist or selecting the flight director presentation can be done by touching the relevant LCD screen.

@Photos by The Beechcraft by Textron Aviation