Pre-Owned Twin-Engine Turboprop Market: What’s the Latest?

How competitive is the pre-owned Twin-Engine Turboprop market? What sales trends can be seen within the segment? With Beechcraft having a firm grip on new aircraft shipments, what is Piaggio’s best strategy for the future? René Armas Maes assesses...

René Armas Maes  |  08th July 2024
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    René Armas Maes
    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international...

    Beechcraft King Air 360

    The pre-owned Twin-Engine Turboprop market is dominated by Beechcraft which offers several sophisticated aircraft models designed to fit a variety of mission needs.

    With its King Air model, Beechcraft has labored long and hard in the Twin Engine Turboprop sector and the model has been in continuous production now for more than 60 years.

    Several decades ago, there were other key players building aircraft for this market, but they have long-since exited leaving Beechcraft and Piaggio to compete for market share. Our focus on pre-owned inventory will focus on the models produced more recently by these two OEMs.

    Would-be buyers wishing to evaluate and benchmark other pre-owned models with similar capabilities will find limited options available. Inevitably these buyers will be shopping much older markets (Cessna Conquest IIs, Piper Cheyennes and Twin Commanders, which were produced in the 1970s and 1980s), however.

    While displaying a wider range of older, out-of-production pre-owned models is beyond the scope of this article, it’s hoped that the models featured here will provide a good starting point from which buyers can widen their search.

    Twin-Engine Turboprop Inventory Levels & Asking Prices

    Beechcraft King Air C90GTx/250/260/350/360 Series: According to the AMSTAT, as of April 2024 the active Beechcraft King Air C90GTx, 250, 260, 350 and 360/ER fleet consisted of 1,640 aircraft.

    The percentage available for sale or lease stood at 4.5%, though additional aircraft were potentially available off-market too. Pre-owned prices ranged between $1.2m and $7.4m, depending on aircraft type, series, vintage, hours flown, maintenance and upgrade requirements, and the previous type of operation the aircraft has been deployed in (e.g. Part 91, Part 91K, Part 135 or medevac).

    Piaggio P180 Avanti/Avanti II/Avanti EVO: As of this writing there were 189 pre-owned Piaggio Avanti-series aircraft in operation worldwide, according to AMSTAT, with 13.7% of the fleet available for sale or lease. Prices ranged between $1.1m and $3.2m.

    Chart A shows the pre-owned market share for the two main Twin-Engine Turboprop producers between the years 2019 and 2023 (per AMSTAT), and accounts for Piaggio Avanti and Beechcraft King Air C90GTx, 250/260 and 350/360/360ER models.

    Chart A – Twin Engine Turboprop Pre-Owned Market Share (by OEM)

    Clearly, Beechcraft dominates, and since 2019 has enjoyed an average pre- owned market share of 94.8%. This is unsurprising given the much larger volume of pre-owned King Airs that are generally available for sale, though an extensive MRO support network for King Air models will also be a key factor in their pre-owned popularity.

    New Twin-Engine Turboprop Shipments, By OEM

    According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), new aircraft shipments within the Twin-Engine Turboprop segment averaged 72 units annually between 2019 and 2023.

    Indeed, between Beechcraft and Piaggio, a negative Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.9% can be found as only 57 units between the two OEMs were sold in 2023 (41% fewer than in 2019). It is worth noting that Beechcraft stopped producing its King Air 90 series in 2020.

    As Chart B reveals, over the five-year period Beechcraft maintained an average of 98.2% of new Twin-Engine Turboprop aircraft deliveries, while Piaggio averages just 1.8% market share.

    Chart B – New Twin Engine Turboprop Market Share (by OEM)

    Twin-Engine Turboprop Key Technical Specifications (Select Models)

    Following, we will focus on popular pre-owned Twin-Engine Turboprops on the pre-owned marketplace – and specifically those that have been produced within the last five years helping to represent the newer pre-owned market. These include the Beechcraft King Air C90GTx, King Air 250/260, King Air 350/360 and King Air 360ER, plus the Piaggio Avanti EVO.

    Table A - Twin Engine Turboprop Performance and Specifications Comparison

    Chart C shows the same selection of Twin Engine Turboprop models, highlighting how their cabin volumes compare (cubic feet) along with their range (nautical miles). The Piaggio Avanti EVO boasts the largest cabin volume and range within the field.

    Chart C – Selected Twin-Engine Turboprop Cabin Volume vs Range Comparison

    Nevertheless, the King Air 260 and King Air 360 are competitive in terms of range while offering very respectable cabin volume. The chart shows a gap exists between these and their out-of-production King Air C90GTx stablemate.

    Balanced Field Length vs. Range Comparison

    Of course, part of the appeal of turboprops (both single and twin-engine) is their ability to operate into and out of shorter runways, including those that are unpaved. In a Balanced Field Length (BFL) versus Range comparison, Chart D shows how our selected Twin-Engine Turboprop models compare.

    Chart D – Selected Twin Engine Turboprop BFL vs Range Comparison

    In terms of airfield requirements, the Beechcraft King Air 260 requires the least Balanced Field Length, the Piaggio Avanti EVO and King Air 360 are closely grouped with the Avanti EVO slightly shading its King Air competitor.

    What Lies Ahead for the Twin-Engine Turboprop Market?

    Beechcraft’s domination of the Twin-Engine Turboprop market could prove to be a very tall order for anyone else contemplating entering the market to penetrate.

    Other OEMs, including Cirrus and Pilatus, have bypassed the Twin-Engine Turboprop market, expanding instead in the Entry-Level Jet market.

    With Beechcraft holding more than a 95% share of both the pre-owned and factory new markets, perhaps their grip on the market is perceived as being impenetrable. Moreover, evidence of lower new aircraft delivery numbers at Beechcraft (when benchmarking shipment data between 2019 and 2023), and a negative CAGR over the past five years would suggest now is hardly a time when the Twin-Engine Turboprop market will see new models launched.

    Beechcraft recently updated its portfolio with the King Air 260 and 360/ER models, so the next move is more likely to come from Piaggio... if someone were to acquire the Italian OEM.

    A Piaggio press release issued in December 2023 requested for potential bidders to submit their final, binding offers for the sale procedure within the terms set forth in its tender. Interested bidders were advised to present offers no later than January 2024. As of May 2024, no further announcement had been made – so it is unlikely that Piaggio will refresh its Avanti EVO model anytime soon.

    Another good question is why Beechcraft stopped producing its C90GTx. In terms of units manufactured, only 18 aircraft were built annually between 2010 to 2021 (per AMSTAT data). In comparison, the King Air 250 averaged 25 units per year. Beechcraft appears to have simply focussed on its higher margin products.

    Based on this analysis, it’s fair to assume that Beechcraft’s newer King Air models (depending on market conditions and percentage of the total pre-owned fleet available for sale at the time of purchase) would command price premiums due to limited competition within the segment.

    Turboprops are rugged machines, though, and many upgrade options and aftermarket support exists to keep them viable, relevant, and attractive to buyers decades after entering service.

    Depending on the budget, prospective buyers should keep these in mind when drawing up their shopping list. Models that have long been out of production and are well depreciated could still be highly legitimate targets for those shopping with tighter budgets.

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    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes

    Editor, Buyer Strategy & Finance

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international aviation consultant and experienced C-Level professional. He has built a successful track record for developing and delivering Business Aviation strategies for Fortune 500 companies, Venture Capital firms, and HNWIs.

    René is a regular columnist for Bloomberg (financial), America Economia (business) and a speaker at aviation conferences worldwide.



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