About the King Air B200
The Beechcraft King Air B200 provides multi-engine pilot training, as well as familiarisation and air experience for trainee rear crew, or Weapon Systems Operators (WSOps). Pilot graduates go on to the RAF transport and tanker fleets, as well as the ISTAR community.
Two King Air B200 variants are in service, the basic B200, known as the ‘Classic’ and B200GT – the ‘GT’. The Classics have traditional ‘steam gauge’, or analogue cockpits featuring the dials and switches of an earlier era. As such, they help ease students into the far more complex King Air from the Tutor, which also has an analogue cockpit.
The GT has a glass cockpit and though a few students make the leap directly from Tutor to GT, most experience the GT in the advanced stage of their course. Thanks to its digital cockpit, the GT is more relevant to the Atlas, C-17, Hercules, Sentinel or Voyager that students are most likely to move on to, but the King Air’s nominated replacement, the Embraer Phenom, closes the gap between training and frontline even further.
Beechcraft produced the first King Air prototype by modifying a piston-engined Queen Air with PT6A turboprops and flying it as the King Air 90 on November 21, 1963. The aircraft spawned a number of variants and many examples entered military service – the model remains in production as the C90GTx.
The stretched Model 100 derivative first flew on March 17, 1969, followed by the Model 200 prototype on October 27, 1972. The latter introduced a ‘T’-tail configuration, longer wings, increased fuel capacity and other changes. It found widespread favour with military operators, especially the US services, but eventually appeared in service on a global scale. Like the Model 90 and 100 before it, the Model 200, or B200, evolved into a number of variants. With higher weights, more power and a revised airframe, the Model 300 flew for the first time on October 6, 1981 and although it and the subsequent Model 350 might be considered B200 replacements, the King Air 250 remains in production alongside the King Air 350i and 350ER.
In 2003, Serco was awarded a private finance initiative contract to supply and support seven B200s and provide other facilities to replace 45(R) Sqn’s veteran Handley Page Jetstreams in the multi-engine aircrew training role at RAF Cranwell. The initial five-year contract was extended so that Serco continues to supply and maintain the fleet and will do so until the Affinity-supplied Phenom 100 assumes the role around mid-2018.
Header image by Paul Heasman
Beechcraft King Air B200GT:
- Powerplant: two 850shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-52 turboprops
- Length: 43ft 9½in (13.36m)
- Height: 14ft 9½in (4.51m)
- Wingspan: 54ft 6in (16.61m)
- Wing area: 303sqft (28.15m2)
- Maximum take-off weight: around 12,500lb (5,670kg)
- Service ceiling: 35,000ft