Beechcraft and the 'King Air' 90/100 series of aircraft are iconic in the business / utility category of aviation. It is an aircraft series which has not only been in constant production since 1964, but its success has been outstanding, having outsold all of its turboprop competitors combined. The Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is the current production model in this prestigious line.
Some recent Carenado productions have seen a focus on current aircraft production models. Having previously produced the earlier Beechcraft C90B 'King Air' variant, it is exciting to see the addition of the current production Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' to the ever expanding Carenado range.
The Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is a very versatile twin engine turboprop. It has a great range and payload capacity, making it very adaptable for use in a variety of roles.
The Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is a twin engine turboprop, low wing monoplane of conventional construction. It is powered by a pair of Pratt and Whitney PT6A-135A turboprop engines. The incorporation of composite winglets, Raisbeck swept blade propellers, and dual aft strakes provide increased performance and load capacity over previous variants in the model range. Certified for single pilot operation, the C90GTx 'King Air' can have seating for up to eight passengers and is used for passenger, utility, and cargo services.
The C90GTx 'King Air' is the 18th and latest production variant in the 90 series 'King Air' range. The first flight of this series of aircraft was in May 1963 and it has been in constant production since 1964. With over 3,100 units produced across the 90/100 series to date, it is one of Beechcraft's biggest success stories.
The Carenado Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is currently available direct from Carenado and Carenado resellers as a 'download only' product (some resellers also offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a minor additional cost). It is priced at US$39.95, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. If you have previously purchased the Carenado C90B 'King Air', you will receive a US$10.00 discount. The download file size is 310MB and it requires 800MB of HDD space for installation. An 'activation key' is issued on purchase and is used during installation and the installation process is intuitive and seamless.
General. If first impressions count for anything, then you will certainly be impressed by the visual look of the Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air'. Even just sitting on the ramp 'cold and dark', this aircraft looks fantastic. Carenado have modelled a business passenger variant of the C90GTx 'King Air' and the aircraft displays the excellent, high quality detail we have come to expect from Carenado.
Exterior. The C90GTx 'King Air' follows the classic lines of earlier production variants in the range. However, the differences are immediately noticeable with the winglets and the swept blade propellers. These features alone give the C90GTx 'King Air' a certain "je ne sais quoi". For the bulky looking aircraft it is, the winglets and the swept blade propellers give the C90GTx 'King Air' a fast, sporty look which Carenado have captured very nicely in the 3D modelling of the aircraft. As is consistent with Carenado models, the finish on the various liveries portray very real, lifelike representations of this aircraft. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Carenado's rendition reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be very accurate and a true representation of the real world aircraft. Any noted variations were minor and are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer.
Interior. Carenado have modelled the interior of the C90GTx 'King Air' on the standard seating configuration offering with a club seating arrangement for four and two additional seats to the rear. The real world aircraft has a typical business aircraft interior with a quality leather and rich wood finish and Carenado have captured this quality nicely with the textures of the seating, carpet, wood panelling and side and roof panelling display the Carenado trademark for quality and detail. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Carenado's rendition reveal the interior shape and dimensions to be very accurate and an excellent representation of the real world aircraft. Any noted variations were minor and are, again, considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer.
Flight Instruments and Systems. The cockpit of the Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is centred around the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system. All elements of the cockpit are highly accurate and very detailed, and are clear and easy to read, with various alternative cockpit camera views available to provide more detailed clarity. There is a limited selection of 2D pop-up displays for the primary function display (PFD), multi-function display (MFD), flight management system (FMS), and autopilot which provide further clarity and access. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft reveal the panel layout to be a highly accurate rendition of similar real world panel layouts. A noted issue was with the secondary altitude and heading reference system (AHRS) display to the right of the MFD. When the aircraft is loaded, the display on this gauge is blacked out. All other displays turn on when the avionics master switch is cycled on and I could find no other switch for turning the display on. Using the 'Engine Setup / Info Setup' pop-up display and setting a 'cold and dark' situation and then following the start-up procedure does nothing to rectify the problem. The only way I could turn the display on was selecting 'Ready for taxi' from the 'Engine Setup / Info Setup' pop-up display. Two version updates have been issued since the C90GTx 'King Air' was released and this problem still exists. Whilst it does not adversely affect the operation of the aircraft, it is nonetheless annoying and disappointing that such an obvious issue has not been corrected.
Models and Liveries. Carenado provide the Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' in a single model with five individual liveries (a selection only shown below), each having a unique aircraft registration number, and a blank texture for aircraft painting enthusiasts. The liveries display the usual Carenado high quality. Surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a crisp and realistic appearance, with additional characteristic scrape effects, dirt, oil, and grease stains providing a worn, used appearance.
The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other moving elements on Carenado's Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' are all modelled faithfully and include:
primary control surfaces - ailerons, elevator, and rudder;
secondary control surfaces - flaps;
others - elevator trim tabs, aileron tabs, cabin door, engine access panels, cockpit quarter windows, cockpit window visors, and pilot chair armrests; and
various static elements.
The lighting and lighting effects on the C90GTx 'King Air' provide a realistic representation of the real world aircraft. In particular, the interior night light effects for the instrument panel and the cockpit replicates the night lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft. There was another noted issue with the cockpit overhead flood light, in that the corresponding switch on the overhead panel did not turn this light on even though it could be turned on/off using the keyboard key, 'L', for switching all lights on/off. Likewise, the cabin lighting switches in the cockpit did not turn on the lighting in the cabin, though the 'L' keyboard key did turn the cabin lighting on.
The digital 3D stereo sounds for the C90GTx 'King Air' are very good. They provide good stereo separation with view movement in the Virtual Cockpit view and external views and are a reasonably good representative of the real world aircraft.
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' are provided in the table. This is based on data from the official Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' Pilot Operating Handbook, data provided by Carenado, and general research sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an approximation due to variances in data and the specific aircraft modelled by Carenado.
A specific Test Flight was conducted to test the flight performance of Carenado's Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air'. The flight was conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). A cruise altitude of 10,000 ft was adopted and the route distance was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the C90GTx 'King Air'. Like most aircraft of this type, adjustments must be made to the fuel / pax loading to remain within the MTOW limitations.
The aircraft was easy to taxi and with flaps set to the 'APPROACH' position aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 110 KIAS and the climb out was consistent with the performance specifications for the aircraft. Even at MTOW, the C90GTx 'King Air' is very nimble and responsive to control inputs and it quickly establishes on the climb to cruise and climbs effortlessly.
During cruise, a power setting for maximum range cruise performance was established, with a torque setting of 1015 ft lbs per engine, a propeller RPM of 1750, and a total fuel flow rate of approximately 414 lb/hr. This cruise setting produced an average speed of approximately 202 KTAS and an endurance reasonably consistent with the range characteristics of the aircraft. Whilst there were some noted variances in performance, in particular the fuel flow for the specified cruise setting in the performance tables, they are considered minor and have negligible impact on the operation of the aircraft. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the aircraft for speed and range performance to be reasonably accurate.
Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft's approach speed was approximately 130 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 110 KIAS, with a landing roll out comparable with the specifications for the aircraft.
In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator, were consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured minute, and a standard rate turn was achieved within the measured two minute period using the turn coordinator.
The performance of Carenado's Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' was very good in flight, displaying the expected general flight characteristics of this aircraft. For a reasonably large general aviation aircraft, the C90GTx 'King Air' is nimble and responsive, handles beautifully, and is a delight to fly. Overall, the aircraft model displays a reasonably accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and performance expected of the real world aircraft. However, a note of caution, watch your engine management carefully or you may find yourself with an over torqued engine (or worse, two engines) and then the loss of that engine all together - it can really ruin a day's flight!
There are seven manuals / documents provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air':
Pro Line 21 Manual - this 13 page manual details the operating of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics system;
Radio Tuning Unit Manual - this six page manual details the operating of the radio tuning unit;
Normal Procedures - this 17 page manual details the procedures for the normal operation of the aircraft;
Emergency Procedures - this 27 page manual details the emergency procedures for the aircraft;
Performance Tables - this five page document details the performance tables for the aircraft;
References - this four page document details the airspeed limitations for the aircraft; and
Recommended Settings - this two page document details recommended display and realism settings for the aircraft.
On a value for money assessment, the Carenado Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is considered excellent.
The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. There was no discernible frame rate impact directly attributable to the Carenado Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' and FSX continued to perform smoothly.
The Beechcraft C90GTx 'King Air' is excellent and displays the typical Carenado traits of attention to detail and quality. Minor issues have slipped through beta testing and subsequent version updates, and whilst these issues do not affect the operation or performance of the aircraft, they are annoying and disappointing nonetheless. The flight characteristics and the overall performance characteristics of the C90GTx 'King Air' make this a fantastic aircraft, and one which will provide hours of enjoyable flying.