Regarded by many as the most popular business turboprop in the world, the Beechcraft King Air 90 series has gotten a new lease on life, flying faster and higher at less cost, thanks to new GE H80 turboprop engines. GE Aviation, long a leader in engines for business jets and airliners, recently entered the turboprop market with the acquisition of Czech Republic-based Walters company. GE revamped Walters’ sturdy M601 engine, refining internal components while increasing horsepower and fuel efficiency. The M601 had previously logged over 17 million flight hours, mostly on European regional airliners.
The new 800-shaft-horsepower GE H80 engine is now certified for King Air C90 and E90 airframes through an STC owned by Smyrna Air Center, a full-service fixed base operation with a 50,000-square foot maintenance and avionics facility, located at the airport in Smyrna, Tennessee, a former military base, just south of Nashville.
Dan Sigl of Clintonville, Wisconsin, the company’s market development manager, is thrilled with the first flights of the GE-powered King Air, and feels that its performance numbers are incredible.
“We probably have the fastest King Air C90 in the world,” said Sigl. Sigl previously had completed more than a dozen Walters conversions.
In addition to engine upgrades for existing King Air owners, Smyrna will be offering a number of newly-refurbished hand-selected C90 and E90 aircraft with new engines, props and avionics for sale.
The Wisconsin connection sparked a friendship between Sigl and Manitowoc-based Lakeshore Aviation President Curt Drumm, who had been working on putting together a King Air partnership. When Drumm heard about the performance of the GE engines, he got excited.
“Our first flights confirmed cruise speeds of nearly 300 knots TAS at 28,000 feet,” said Drumm. “Climb performance was almost jet-like, with the plane still climbing at 1700 feet per minute through FL210.”
Drumm noted that most traditional C90s cruise between 225-240 knots, with much lower climb performance at higher altitudes. The new 800-shaft-horsepower GE H80 engine has the same fuel burn, but cruises at 300 kts.
Combined with the increased speed and climb performance are dramatically reduced maintenance costs and downtime. Through its design, the GE H80 eliminates hot section inspections, long a costly and time-consuming drawback of the Pratt & Whitney engines normally installed on King Airs. With its unique “slinger ring” technology to inject fuel into the engine, costly nozzle inspections (every 300 hours) are eliminated, as well. Drumm estimates this could save the aircraft owner over $200,000 over the lifetime of the engine. The H80 has a 3600-hour TBO.
Lakeshore Aviation is in the process of adding this new King Air to its air charter operation. The King Air will join Lakeshore’s fleet, including a Piper Seneca and a newly refurbished Cessna 340A with RAM VII engines. Drumm has targeted small to mid-sized businesses to charter the aircraft, much like his father’s company, which manufactures the Nesco Roaster.
Lakeshore’s new King Air not only features brand new engines and props, but a stunning new paint job, a new dark leather interior, and a state-of-the-art glass cockpit. All new Garmin avionics were installed, centered on dual G600 PFD/MFD displays, driven by GTN-750 and GNS-530 GPSs, and interfaced with an S-Tec 65 autopilot. Garmin’s latest GWX-70 color digital radar combines with XM satellite, a stormscope and new ADS-B technology for ultimate weather avoidance.
The aircraft features XM Radio and a PS Engineering 8000BT intercom with Bluetooth technology.
Drumm and PS Engineering President Mark Scheuer were high school classmates, making their intercom the only choice for him.
“We tried to implement redundancy and the latest technology in the cockpit to complement the powerful GE engines to make this a truly state-of-the-art airplane,” Drumm added.
For more information on the GE Engine conversion or refurbished aircraft, contact Dan Sigl at 715-250-1864. For charter or real-world performance information on the King Air, contact Curt Drumm of Lakeshore Aviation at 920-682-0043.
Websites: GE Aviation – http://www.geaviation.com/bga/engines/h80.html.
Smyrna Air Center – http://www.smyrnaaircenter.com/departments/power90-upgrade/.
Lakeshore Aviation – www.lakeshoreaviation.com/kingair.