In reference to the article announcing the King Air 360 in the September 2020 issue of King Air magazine, I started flying King Airs a little over 30 years ago before going into the airline industry. Due to 9/11, I was furloughed in December 2001 from the airlines. During that time, I received my BE-350 type rating and flew the airplane for about 100 hours before being called back by my airline employer. After five more years there, I grew tired of the commute to Minneapolis and left to take a job flying a Beechcraft King Air 350. That was in 2008, and I have been flying the 350 ever since. I have accumulated about 3,600 hours in the aircraft since getting the type rating. It is a marvelous airplane that actually delivers on almost all of its selling points. There is no other turboprop out there that compares to the dispatch reliability and capability of the King Air 350.
When Beechcraft recently introduced the new King Air 360, I was ready to see what they had come up with … only to be totally disappointed with the reality of what the new airplane actually was. The company could have made a couple of changes that would have enhanced the airplane even more. First of all, in my humble opinion, they should have put the -67 engines on the airplane with an increased gross weight; second, it should have the new 5-blade props for both efficiency and quietness. And … auto throttles on a King Air? Really? I don’t understand that one at all. Maybe I am just getting older and apply too much practicality to everything.
Please don’t get me wrong here; I love the 350 and what it does for our corporate flight department, but if you are going to upgrade an airplane I want to see some real changes made that will increase the performance first of all, and then maybe some other add-ons. The new 360 is not an airplane that I would recommend to my owners to replace our “good ‘ole 350.”
John Bumpers, Chief Pilot
Saulsbury Aviation LLC