The logical question many ask about the C90GT is, why not buy a jet? The Cessna Citation Mustang is priced about the same, or maybe a little less, than the King Air, and is expected to have a top cruise speed almost 70 knots faster and a ceiling 11,000 feet higher. The answer for many owner-pilots is that the King Air's attraction is that it is not a jet.
The new light jets will have a cruise speed advantage on the C90GT, but it will be measured in just a few minutes over trips of several hundred miles. And if the little jets are held down low below their optimum altitudes-as is likely in congested parts of the country-the turboprop will save money at the fuel pump.
The King Air 90 family has an excellent safety record while being flown by owner-pilots. It is a logical step up from a piston twin with essentially nothing new for a pilot to learn in basic airplane handling. Pilots can have confidence in their ability to fly the GT, and more importantly, insurance companies understand the risks. The new crop of light jets has the potential to be very safe, but the industry has little experience with large numbers of single-pilot owner flown jets so there will be an abundance of caution by all.
The C90GT is already a hit with annual sales more than double the previous model, and orders are accelerating. It's an old-fashioned airplane in many ways, but gains in performance without sacrificing any of its proven qualities. As has happened so many times in the life of the King Air, it's time to take another look.
Beech King Air C90GT
The airplane flown for this report was the first one off the production line.It was equipped with Collins Pro Line remote-mounted avionics, including four-inch electronic flight instruments on the pilot's side. A Garmin GPS 400is also included. All information comes from the airplane manuals and represents standard day conditions at maximum weight unless noted.
Typically equipped price $2,952,000 Engines P&W PT6A-135A, 550 shp each TBO 3,600 hrs Propellers Hartzell 4-blade, 90-in dia Passenger seats (typical) 5 Cabin height 4.8 ft Cabin width 4.5 ft Cabin length 12.6 ft Overall length 35.6 ft Overall height 14.3 ft Wingspan 50.3 ft Wing area 294 sq ft Wing aspect ratio 8.6 Max ramp weight 10,160 lbs Max takeoff weight 10,100 lbs Typical empty weight 6,950 lbs Max useful load 3,010 lbs Zero fuel weight none Max fuel capacity 2,573 lbs Payload, max fuel 637 lbs Max landing weight 9,600 lbs Wing loading 34.4 lbs/sq ft Power loading 9.2 lb/shp Ceiling (certified) 30,000 ft Pressurization 5 psi Sea level cabin to 11,065 ft Takeoff runway 2,719 ft Climb to FL 250 17 min Climb rate 1,777 fpm Engine out climb rate 474 fpm Engine out climb gradient 708 ft/nm High speed cruise 270 kts Long range cruise 206 kts IFR range at max cruise 1,068 nm 600 nm mission 2 hr, 23 min Trip fuel 1,360 lbs Landing distance 2,290 ft Vmo 226 kts