Pricing is at near historic lows … a good time to purchase a used King Air.
Each spring, we take an in-depth look at the market for some of the most popular King Air models. This year we are going to do something a little different. Not only are we going to analyze the market for 2017, we are going to look long term at historic trends.
The King Air has been in continuous production since 1964; during those 54 years, there have been many different models produced. From the original 90 to the current 350i, there have been over 7,000 units manufactured encompassing an impressive 25 separate and distinct models of the King Air. There are at least ten variants of the Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine used, with several distinctive airframes.
With all of the various incarnations of the King Air, there are many submarkets within a market. For example, the B200, which was introduced in 1981, has at least seven submarkets within its production, making it impossible to generalize the entire market. The market for a 30-year-old B200 is different from that of a five-year-old 250.
Because there are so many market types, in this article we will again focus only on the variants that are still in production – the C90, the B200, and the King Air 350.
Although we are not going to discuss the older King Air models here, that doesn’t mean those renditions are not active aircraft without upgrade options. All King Air models, except the original 90 and some special mission aircraft, showed sales activity in 2017 and there are avionics, equipment and engine upgrades available for virtually all of these models.
For this discussion, I am going to talk about the King Air C90B through the model GTx. When looking at the C90 market, there are several defining points where the market views a production change significant enough to affect value beyond an adjustment for the model year.
The C90B was an improved version of the C90A. Introduced in 1992, this model featured new four blade propellers, Collins avionics, and cabin soundproofing. All but a handful of 1992 models had Collins EFIS-84 and all had Pratt & Whitney PT6A-21 engines. There are 416 units of this model currently in service. The King Air C90B was relatively uniform for its entire production run and, for the most part, the C90B market is fairly homogenous. It is moving in the same direction with little difference at either end. The average number of days on the market for the C90B in 2017 was 278, with 7.5 percent of the fleet sold. Market activity was up significantly in 2017 with eight more units sold over 2016. For the C90B, prices declined slightly in 2017. The selling prices for an average aircraft were between $750,000 and $1,100,000, which is down around eight percent from 2016.
Produced in 2006 and 2007, the King Air C90GT was an improvement over the C90B as the engines were upgraded to Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A models. This provided a nearly 30-knot increase in airspeed and created a distinct market segment within the 90 series. The C90GT segment is quite small with only 98 models produced. Prices for an average aircraft range from approximately $1,400,000 to $1,450,000. The average days on the market for a C90GT was 363 days with just over five percent of the fleet selling in 2017. Only five C90GTs sold in 2017, which is a decline of seven units when compared to 2016. The C90GT market appears to be trending downward slightly, with pricing declining around four percent in 2017.
In 2008, Collins Pro Line 21 avionics were added and the C90GT was rebranded as the C90GTi. This further segmented the C90 market and created, at one point, a large value difference between a 2007 and a 2008 model. The C90GTi production run consisted of 125 aircraft with eight units sold in 2017, representing six percent of the fleet. This is a significant decrease from 2016, which saw 12 sales of the model. The average days on the market for those sold in 2017 was 328 days. Pricing for an average C90GTi ranges from approximately $1,600,000 to $1,650,000 and dropped approximately three percent in 2017.
The final change to the C90 market came in 2010 with another rebranding. Winglets and composite swept blade propellers were added and the newest C90 was christened as the C90GTx. It is the most current version of the C90 and has a current production of approximately 165 aircraft. Five preowned units sold in 2017, which represents three percent of the segment, a decline of 50 percent or five units when compared to 2016. Average selling time was 300 days on the market. Pricing for a used C90GTx is between $1,750,000 to $2,350,000 for an average aircraft, which is a reduction of around three percent from 2016.
The C90SE, which was produced from 1994 to 1999, has not been mentioned. This aircraft was produced as a lower cost version of the C90B. It featured Bendix King Silver Crown avionics, three-bladed Hartzell propellers, and a more modest interior; it was equipped like an older C90A. Although priced $600,000 less than a C90B, only 14 units were produced as it wasn’t a favorite of the C90 buyers of the day. Today, they trade more closely with the C90A than the C90B.
It appears that the older C90B market was the star of 2017 as it was the only one of the C90 models to show an increase of activity over the previous year. This suggests that the C90 buyer is a price point buyer, focused on inexpensive models.
The King Air B200 model has been in production for nearly 45 years. Although the airframe has been largely unchanged, there have been some other significant changes throughout the years. As such, the B200 market doesn’t necessarily behave as a whole unit. For this reason, I broke down the B200 market into seven segments. The original B200 was an improved version of the King Air 200, produced from mid-year 1981 to 2007. Of the 1981-1984 produced B200s, approximately 280 airframes are still in service. Out of those, 27 sold in 2017, making up around 9.3 percent of this segment, which is four fewer units compared to what sold in 2016. The average number of days on the market for a 1981 to 1984 B200 was 292 days in 2017. Prices for an average aircraft of this vintage are between $850,000 and $1,000,000, down around 10 percent from 2016.
For model year 1985, improvements such as hydraulic landing gear, three element wing spar, and triple fed electrical bus created a separate segment within the B200 market. This segment of the market, produced in 1985 through 1993, contains roughly 250 aircraft that are still in service. Of those, there were eight sales to retail customers in 2017, which is four fewer than sold in this segment in 2016. This represents roughly three percent of that segment. The average hold time for these models that sold was 220 days on the market, and pricing was down around 10 percent from the year before. Expect to pay between $1,000,000 and $1,300,000.
For model year 1994, im-prove-ments such as a standard four blade propeller and a cabin noise reduction system created another market sector. In this segment, around 180 aircraft remain in service. Of these, 13 units sold to retail customers in 2017, which is on par for the activity in 2016. This represents six percent of that segment. The average hold times for those aircraft that did sell was 197 days. Expect to pay between $1,400,000 and $1,600,000 for an aircraft of this vintage. Pricing in this segment has shown some softness in 2017 with a decline of around five percent.
The redesign of the B200’s interior occurred in 1999, as well as an increased TBO to 3,600 hours. The 1999 to 2003 segment contains approximately 190 aircraft. There were 21 retail sales in 2017, making up 11 percent of this segment. Sales were off by five units when compared to 2016. Average days on the market for those that sold was 147 days. Prices for an average B200 in this segment range between $1,700,000 to $1,900,000, which has declined only around three percent during the past year.
In 2004, the B200 received Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. This was a significant improvement over the previous avionics platforms. Because of this, there is a fairly wide price difference between the 2003 and 2004 model years. This segment was produced during 2004 to 2007, and contains 158 aircraft with 13 sales in 2017, two more than 2016. Roughly eight percent of this segment traded hands last year with an average hold time of 247 days on the market. Pricing on a B200 in this segment is still relatively soft with values declining. Expect to pay between $2,100,000 to $2,300,000 for an average B200 of this vintage, which declined around four percent last year.
Another significant model change occurred in 2008 with the switch to Pratt & Whitney PT6A-52 engines, resulting in the aircraft being rebranded as the King Air B200GT. It has an active fleet of 115 units. There were 12 retail sales in 2017, double of the previous year, representing 10.4 percent of this segment. The average number of days on the market for the aircraft that sold was a lengthy 449 days. Pricing on the B200GT is still soft. Expect to pay between $2,400,000 and $2,600,000 for an average aircraft. The B200GT market lost around nine percent of its value in 2017.
The final model segment was with yet another rebranding in 2011. Composite curved propellers, winglets, and Raisbeck’s Ram Air Recovery were added to the B200GT to make the new King Air 250. There have been an estimated 187 King Air 250s produced since its introduction. There were 19 used retail sales of the model in 2017, eight more units than in 2016, representing 10 percent of the fleet. The average number of days on the market for the aircraft that sold was 310 days. Pricing on the 250 is trending downward. Expect to pay be-tween $3,000,000 and $3,800,000 for an average aircraft, which results in the market falling slightly in 2017, losing around four percent of its value.
King Air 350
The King Air 350 debuted in 1990, and although it was largely unchanged until upgraded Collins Pro Line 21 avionics were added in 2004, there are still some areas of segmentation with often different activity levels at either end of the market.
Although the 350 didn’t really have any modifications from 1990 to 1997, the newer models perform differently in the used market than do the older ones. For this market segment, there are roughly 180 airframes with 19 retail sales in 2017. This equates to about 11 percent of the fleet in this segment. Compared to 2016, there were eight more sales for this model type, and the average days on the market for these aircraft was 186. Pricing on this part of the 350 market was between $1,400,000 to $1,800,000 for an average aircraft. This represents about a six percent drop from 2016.
For the 1998 to 2003 model years, there are about 195 airframes still in service with 22 retail sales last year, up eight units from 2016. This represents 11 percent of the fleet with an average hold time of 229 days. Expect to pay $1,850,000 to $2,250,000 for an average aircraft. This segment has also declined approximately five percent from 2016.
The 2004 to 2009 segment included the change to Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. There are 255 of these aircraft in service with 14 retail sales in 2017, three more sales than 2016. This represents 5.5 percent of this segment with an average hold time of 168 days on the market. Pricing on these 350s are still relatively soft. Expect to pay $2,900,000 to $3,100,000 for an average aircraft, which is a drop of around four percent from 2016.
The 350i was introduced in 2010, and featured an upgraded interior, as well as a sophisticated cabin management system. There have been 404 King Air 350i’s produced with 17 retail sales last year, nine fewer than in 2016, representing four percent of the total fleet. The average hold time was 211 days. The 350i market is still trending downward with prices falling around five percent from 2016. Expect to pay between $3,300,000 and $4,300,000 for an average aircraft.
The Current Value of a Five-Year-Old King Air
The following graphs depict the value of a five-year-old King Air in any given calendar year since 1990. For example, calendar year 1990 depicts a 1985 model, and 1991 depicts a 1986 model, etc. Data was provided by Aircraft Bluebook, and the numbers were adjusted to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to reflect 2017 dollars.
C90 Series: The highest value of a five-year-old C90 was in 1997. Since then there have been three significant periods of decline and two major recoveries. Adjusted prices in 2017 were the lowest in the last 27 years.
B200 Series: The B200 reached the height of its value in 1999. After a steady decline for the next five years,
it made a significant recovery in 2008. Not withstanding a small rebound in 2014 and 2015, prices have continued to fall since then.
300 Series: The King Air 350 reached its peak value in 2000. Like the other King Airs, prices fell in the recession years and had several recoveries.
One item of note: There are instances where the graphs show a price increase when the market was declining. This is caused when the five-year-old aircraft had a significant model improvement. For example, for the B200 and 350 both, prices increased between 2008 and 2009. This is likely because in 2009, the five-year-old aircraft was a 2004 model which was equipped with Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. The market really didn’t increase, but the value of the five-year-old aircraft did. You can see this in other models as well.
Summing it Up
As demonstrated, prices are down in 2017 for all of these King Air models. The newer models tend to take the biggest hit as they are still on the steep part of their depreciation curve. Although pricing for the King Airs continues to be soft, we are seeing signs of stability in certain markets compared to previous years.
As you can see from the graphs shown, pricing is at historic or near historic lows. With the growing optimism in the used aircraft market, it is a safe bet that 2018 would be the perfect time to purchase a used King Air.
Figures for days on the market and aircraft transaction numbers are courtesy of JETNET LLC. Graph data courtesy of Aircraft Bluebook.