- 01 Dec 2020
- Mike Chase
- Turboprops Compare
How do the Beechcraft King Air 350iER, Piaggio Avanti EVO, and King Air 250 compare in the twin-engine turboprop market? What are the advantages offered by each model, and to whom would they appeal? Mike Chase explores…Back to Articles
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Beechcraft King Air 350iER, the Piaggio Avanti EVO, and the King Air 250 (including payload, range, speed, and cabin size) to establish which aircraft provides the better value in the twin-engine turboprop market, and to whom.
For example, how might the desire for higher speed, longer range, or lower operating costs influence an aircraft buying decision? It’s hoped that the following turboprop comparison will help clarify.
Beechcraft King Air 350iER
Nearly 7,600 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered to customers around the world. The Beechcraft King Air 350iER was introduced to the market in 2010.
The ER option is available to anyone seeking more range and endurance than the earlier King Air 350 models offered, or wanting to tanker fuel. The King Air 350iER provides an additional fuel tank to the rear upper portion of each engine nacelle, increasing total fuel capacity from 3,611lbs to 5,192lbs.
To allow this additional amount of fuel to be carried, the aircraft also incorporates a heavyweight landing gear which allows for an increased maximum takeoff weight. Currently, there are twelve wholly-owned King Air 350iERs in operation worldwide, according to JETNET.
Piaggio Avanti EVO
A radical design from Italian manufacturer Rinaldo Piaggio, the Avanti P180 is unique in appearance, using a pusher-prop arrangement in which the engines are reversed on the wing. The wing itself is placed aft of the passenger cabin and a small forward wing is mounted at the end of the nose cone.
The Piaggio P180 Avanti II succeeded the P180 Avanti, before an even newer Piaggio Avanti EVO entered production in 2015. The Avanti EVO is the fastest turboprop available currently. Compared to the Avanti II it has redesigned nacelles, winglets, and a reshaped front wing, leading to a 3% reduction in emissions along with a 3% increase in climb performance.
There are ten wholly owned Avanti EVOs in operation worldwide, according to JETNET. These join a fleet of over 200 Piaggio P180 and Avanti II aircraft previously built.
Beechcraft King Air 250
The Beechcraft King Air 250 started production in 2011. It offers composite winglets and propellers that deliver substantial improvements in take-off performance, while also increasing speed, range, and climb over previous models.
On December 2, 2020, Textron updated the King Air 200 series with the introduction of the King Air 260. In March 2021, Textron Aviation achieved type certification from the FAA launching a new era for the renowned King Air 200 series aircraft. The new 260- model offers even greater range and speed compared to the King Air 250 and offers significant cockpit changes as standard equipment.
Of the 267 King Air 250 turboprops in-operation at the time of writing, 256 were wholly owned, with the other eleven being under shared ownership, according to JETNET. With three more units at the OEM, a total of 270 aircraft had been built. Since production began, no King Air 250 aircraft had been retired.
When comparing business turboprops, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the King Air 250 has an ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ of just 115lbs, which is significantly less than the Piaggio Avanti EVO (973lbs) and the King Air 350iER (1,193lbs).
TABLE A: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Payload Comparison
Chart A shows the cabin width of the Beechcraft King Air 250 and 350iER is 4.5ft., which is less than the Avanti EVO (6.1ft). The King Air 250 and 350iER also offer less height (4.8ft) than the Avanti EVO (5.8ft). However, the King Air 350iER has more cabin length 19.5ft., compared to the King Air 250 (16.7ft) and the Avanti EVO (14.9ft).
CHART A: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Cabin Comparison
One of the main selling points of the Avanti models are their substantial cabin volumes, and in this comparison the 393cu.ft offered by the Avanti EVO is greater than the 303cu.ft provided by the King Air 250 and 344cu.ft offered by the King Air 350iER.
In terms of luggage space, the King Air 250 and 350iER provide more internal volume (60cu.ft. vs 16cu.ft.), but the Avanti EVO offers an additional 44cu.ft externally whereas the King Air 250 and 350iER have none.
Using Wichita, Kansas as the start point, Chart B shows the King Air 350iER has the longer range of the field, at 2,271nm. In the middle of the group is the Avanti EVO (1,510nm range), while the King Air 250 (1,038nm) offers the least range, based on each aircraft carrying four passengers with available fuel.
Note: The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 100nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
CHART B: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Range Comparison
All aircraft in this field of comparison utilize a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada powerplants. The King Air 250 uses a pair of 850shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-52 engines, while the King Air 350iER uses PT6A-60A powerplants with 1,050shp output. Both the King Air 250 and King Air 350iER’s engines burn 92 gallons of fuel/hour (GPH).
By comparison, the Avanti EVO has two PT6A-66B engines providing 850shp output, but burning less fuel at 79 GPH.
Cost per Mile Comparison
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’, comparing the King Air 350iER, King Air 250 and the Avanti EVO, and factors direct costs with each aircraft flying a 600nm mission with an 800lbs (four passengers) payload. The King Air 350iER has the higher cost per nautical mile at $7.10, compared with the King Air 250 at $5.64, and the Avanti EVO at $4.78.
CHART C: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Cost per Mile Comparison
Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D is defined as the estimated cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew, and catering). These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses.
For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences, since these may vary from one flight department to another. The King Air 250 ($1,357) shows the higher variable cost per hour compared to the Avanti EVO ($1,198) and the King Air 350iER ($964).
CHART D: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Variable Cost Comparison
Market Comparison Table
Table B contains the prices for a 2020- model aircraft (per B&CA). The King Air 250 ($6.39m) costs less to buy than the Avanti EVO ($7.695m) and the King Air350iER ($8,795m). The long-range cruise speed and range numbers listed are also from B&CA, while the number of aircraft in-operation, the percentage for sale, and average sold are from JETNET.
TABLE B: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Market Comparison
At the time of writing, the King Air 250 had 4.1% of its fleet ‘for sale’ on the used aircraft market. By comparison, the Avanti EVO had 20% ‘for sale’ (which is still only two units), and the King Air 350iER had 8.3% (one unit) of its fleet for sale.
The average number of new and used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months was four for the King Air 250, and less than one per month for the Avanti EVO and King Air 350iER.
Asking Prices & Quantity
At the time of writing, 11 King Air 250s were available on the used aircraft market for sale. Six displayed prices that ranged between $2.895m and $4.725m. By comparison, there were two Avanti EVOs for sale, one of which showed an asking price of $4.950m. There is only one King Air 350iER for sale with an unconfirmed price of $7.395m.
While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture.
The final negotiated price must ultimately be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
Representative MACRS Depreciation Schedules
Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favourable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.
There is a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized.
For example, aircraft used in charter service (Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.
Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a seven-year recovery period. There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022, the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business aircraft until December 31, 2026.
Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2020- edition King Air 350iER in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June B&CA Magazine.
TABLE C: Beechcraft King Air 350iER Sample MACRS Schedule
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2020- edition Piaggio Avanti EVO in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June B&CA Magazine.
TABLE D: Piaggio Avanti EVO Sample MACRS Schedule
Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2020-model Beechcraft King Air 250 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June B&CA Magazine.
TABLE E: Beechcraft King Air 250 Sample MACRS Schedule
The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in the June 2020 B&CA magazine. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.
CHART E: Beechcraft King Air 350iER vs Piaggio Avanti EVO vs King Air 250 Productivity Comparison
For comparative purposes, we have also factored into the Productivity Chart the newly introduced King Air 260 to show how Textron Aviation is developing its King Air 250 model.
The Piaggio Avanti EVO offers considerably greater speed and cabin volume than the King Air 250 and King Air 350iER. However, the King Air 350iER offers greater range, and a higher payload capability with available fuel, while costing more to buy.
Among the important questions is whether individual operators require the extra space and speed of an Avanti EVO, or the range and higher payload (when fully fueled) of the King Air 350iER? For those who do not require the higher capabilities, the lower-cost of the King Air 250 is attractive, for what is still a highly capable aircraft.
Within the preceding paragraphs of this turboprop comparison we have touched upon several of the attributes that business turboprop operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance, and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision, however.
Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them. These turboprops offer great value in the twin-engine turboprop market today, serving their respective markets well.