PRODUCTION ALREADY UNDERWAY
By Thomas A. Horne
Textron Aviation announced its new Beechcraft King Air 260 December 2. The twin turboprop is a new and improved variant of its predecessor, the King Air 250. The company stated that the new airplanes are already in production, and that certification and first deliveries will take place early in 2021.
King Air 260s will come with three major cockpit changes as standard equipment. One is the addition of the Innovative SoIutions and Support ThrustSense Autothrottle. This integrated system allows pilots to select an airspeed on the airplane’s Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics suite, after which ThrustSense will automatically adjust the power levers to satisfy the command. This lets pilots fly the takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, and landing phases of flight with precise airspeeds—without manual input.
The ThrustSense system can be installed as a retrofit on all earlier King Air 200-series airplanes equipped with the Pro Line Fusion avionics suite. This aftermarket upgrade is available through Textron Aviation Service facilities and starts at $88,500. Supplemental type certificate approval for ThrustSense installations in Collins Pro Line 21-equipped King Air 300s is anticipated soon.
A digital pressurization controller is another improvement over earlier King Airs. Gone are the traditional analog pressurization controls and their round gauges. Replacing them are digital inputs and readouts, visible on the Pro Line Fusion’s multifunction display. The Collins Multi-Scan weather radar system is also standard. The system operates automatically, sensing precipitation contours, mapping turbulence, and suppressing ground clutter at ranges out to 320 nautical miles.
A new cabin seat design fills out the King Air 260’s standard offerings. According to Textron, the seats use a pressure mapping technology to provide more comfort, especially on longer flights.
Production of the King Air 250 will cease, with the King Air 260 taking its place. Textron says that certification and first deliveries of the $6.7 million airplane will take place in early 2021.
In a similar move, in October 2020 Textron used all the above new features to transform its top-of-the-line turboprop twin—the King Air 350—into the new King Air 360 models. The first King Air 360 was delivered to its launch customer, California-based Stamoules Produce Co., on November 12.