The King Airs Revisited

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The following article appeared in the March 2017 issue of King Air Magazine and is reproduced with the editor’s permission

An Appraiser’s View of the King Air Market

By Jim Becker – Accredited Senior Appraiser for Elliott Aviation
Find out more about Jim Becker’s Appraisal services here.
Each Spring we take an in depth look at the market for some of the most popular King Air models. We are going to revisit these markets to see what they have been doing during the past year.

Because there are so many market types, in this article we will focus on only the variants that are still in production; specifically, the C90, the B200, and the King Air 350. We have been producing this market analysis for the past three years and have never focused on after market modifications as these can greatly affect the value of the aircraft. This year, however, we’d like to provide the information so that operators are aware of the popular modifications available for aircraft customization. There is no hard and fast rule to determine how much value a modification adds to an aircraft. Many factors need to be taken into consideration, factors such as the popularity of the mod, time since installation, health of the overall market for that particular aircraft, and longevity of the mod. Modifications such as engine upgrades and certain avionics upgrades seem to retain the most value. This is due to the fact that most operators like to go faster and want the latest electronic equipment.

Popular Modifications for All Models

Garmin G1000
There are several upgrades available to address the upcoming ADSB mandate. If your King Air has an EFIS, you are additionally facing the issue of the EFIS CRT tubes becoming harder to find, and the supply will eventually be exhausted. By far, the most popular total solution avionics upgrade for the King Air is the Garmin G1000, with an estimated 500 aircraft in the fleet already modified.
The G1000 system features a 15-inch Multi-Function Display (MFD), with a 10-inch Primary Flight Display (PFD) on each side. This system replaces virtually the entire avionics suite, even replacing the radar and autopilot, significantly reducing your sustainment costs of the aircraft and avoiding obsolescence issues well into the next decade.

BLR Winglets
Available for the C90, 200, and 300 series, BLR makes a carbon fiber winglet that not only gives your King Air a more modern look, but also improves performance. With these winglets, you can expect reduced fuel burn, improved short field performance, extended range, and reduced tile to climb. The reduced drag and fuel consumption can be five percent or more.

Raisbeck Modifications Available for All Models
Raisbeck has been modifying King Airs for decades. Some of the mods for all of the King Airs: Wing lockers. Wing lockers add external storage to the King Air by modifying the existing nacelle and adding a fiberglass storage area. The lockers can each accommodate 300 lbs of cargo with a 17 cu. ft. capacity. Wing lockers are available on all King Airs, and have been standard on the 350 since 2004.
Another Raisbeck option available for all King Airs are the Dual Aft Body Strakes. According to Raisbeck, Dual Aft Body Strakes improve directional stability, passenger ride quality, pilot control and aircraft handling characteristics, and climb and cruise performance. These have been standard on the 350 since 2001.

Raisbeck offers propellers for nearly every King Air model. The newest propeller, produced by Hartzell, is the Swept Blade Turbofan Propeller. This design features a curved propeller blade. Benefits of this system, other than the obvious cool look of a four-blade swept propeller, are increased thrust and acceleration, all while producing less cabin noise.

King Air C90

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. For example, the King Air C90B was pretty uniform for its entire production run. All but a handful of 1992 models had Collins EFIS-84, and all had Pratt & Whitney PT6A-21 engines. For the most part, the C90B market is fairly homogenous. It is moving in the same direction with little difference at either end.

The C90 market continues to be the most sluggish of the King Airs. The C90B, market continued to fall in 2016. The average number of days on the market in 2016 for the C90B was 254 days, with just over 5% of the fleet sold. Market activity was down slightly in 2016, with five fewer units sold over 2015. The selling prices for an average aircraft are between $800,000 and $1,200,000, which is down around 9% from 2015.

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 $1,450,000 to $1,500,000. The average hold time of a C90GT was 266 days, with just over 11% of the fleet selling in 2016. Seven C90GT’s sold in 2016, which is an increase of four units when compared to 2015. The C90GT market appears to be weakening at this time, with a pricing decline of approximately 10% in 2016.

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 a large value difference between a 2007 and a 2008 model. The C90GTi production run consists of 125 aircraft. Eight units sold in 2016, representing 6% of the fleet. This is an increase from 2015, which saw five units sold. The average days on the market in 2016 was 168 days. Pricing for an average C90GTi range from approximately $1,600,000 to $1,700,000. Pricing dropped approximately 10% in 2016.

In 2010, Beechcraft added winglets and the C90 GTI became the C90GTx, which is the most current version of the C90 and has a current production of around 150 aircraft. Ten preowned units sold in 2016, which represents 6.5% of the segment, and is an increase of four units over 2015. Average hold time was 220 days on the market. Pricing for a used C90GTx is between $1,800,000 to $2,400,000 for an average aircraft, which is off around 10% from 2015. The pricing on the used C90-GTx is trending downward.

Engine Upgrades for the C90

For the C90 there are a couple of choices for engine upgrades. Blackhawk offers an XP135A upgrade that provides an increased airspeed and reduced operating costs. GE Aviation offers the H17 engine, which boasts 750 shaft horsepower. This increases the cruise speed, while allowing for a reduced fuel burn. Another choice for both the C90 and F90 is the Pratt & Whitney PT6-135A engine. This engine is also rated at 750 shaft horsepower. Operators can expect a 20 to 30 knot increase in cruise speed for any of these engine upgrades.

The King Air B200

The King Air B200 has enjoyed an amazing production run with a basic aerodynamic design that has been largely unchanged for over 40 years. At first glance, it would be easy to group all of the B200s together as one single market, however they can be grouped into seven distinct submarkets.

The original B200 was an improved version of the King Air 200, produced from mid-year 1981 to 1984 and approximately 280 airframes are still in service. Out of these, 31 sold in 2016, making up around 11% of this segment. This is slightly more than the number that sold in 2015. Average number of days on the market for a 1981 to 1984 B200 was 228 days in 2016. Price for an average aircraft of this vintage is between $900,000 and $1,100,000. Pricing for this segment is down slightly from last year, but remains fairly stable.

The next segment of the B200 market, produced in 1985 through 1993, contains roughly 250 aircraft that are still in service. In this section of the B200 market, improvements such as a hydraulic landing gear, three element wing spar, and triple fed electrical bus created a separate segment within the B200 market. Of these, there were 24 sales to retail customers in 2016, which is two fewer than what sold in this segment in 2015. This represents roughly 9% of that segment. The average hold time for these models that sold was 191 days on the market. Expect to pay between $1,150,000 and $1,450,000. Pricing is down from last year around 5%.

For model year 1994, improvements such as a standard four-blade propeller and a cabin noise reduction system created another market segment and out of these, around 180 aircraft remain in service. Of these, 16 units sold to retail customers in 2016, which is an increase of five units over 2015. This represents 9% of that segment. The average hold times for those aircraft that did sell was 120 days. Expect to pay between $1,500,000 and $1,700,000 for an aircraft of this vintage. Pricing in this segment has shown some softness in 2016 with declines of around 6%.

Models produced from 1999 to 2003 saw the redesign of the B200’s interior, as well as an increased TBO to 3,600 hours and contain approximately 190 aircraft. There were 19 retail sales in 2016, making up nearly 10% of this segment. Sales increased by four units when compared to 2015. Average days on the market for the ones that sold was 216 days. Prices for an average B200 in this segment range from between $1,750,000 to $1,950,000. Pricing in this segment has declined around 8% during the past year.

Model year 2004 encompassed the biggest changes to date with the switch to Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system. This created a several hundred thousand dollar difference in value between the 2003 and 2004 model years. This segment contains 157 aircraft with 20 sales in 2016, which was an increase of eight units over 2015. Roughly 13% of this segment traded hands last year, with a hold time of an average of 218 days on the market. Pricing on a B200 in this segment is still relatively soft with values declining. Expect to pay between $2,200,000 to $2,400,000 for an average B200 of this vintage. Pricing for this segment has declined around 4% last year.
Another significant model change occurred in 2008 with the switch to Pratt & Whitney PT6A-52 engines, which resulted in the aircraft being rebranded as the King Air B200GT. The B200GT currently has an active fleet of 116 units. There were seven retail sales in 2016, which is one fewer than in 2015, representing 6% of this segment. The average number of days on the market for the aircraft that sold was a lengthy 324 days. Pricing on the B200GT is still soft. Expect to pay between $2,600,000 and $2,900,000 for an average aircraft. The B200GT market lost around 10% of its value in 2016.

The latest model segment occurred in 2011 with yet another rebranding. 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 approximately 160 King Air 250’s produced since 2011. There were 11 used retail sales in 2016, which is an increase of four units over 2015, representing 7% of the fleet. The average number of days on the market for the aircraft that sold was 214 days. Pricing on the 250 trending downward. Expect to pay between $3,000,000 and $3,900,000 for an average aircraft. The 250 market fell significantly in 2015, losing around 10% of its value.

Engine Upgrades for the King Air 200

For the King Air 200 users, there are three engine upgrade options, the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42, PT6A-52, and PT6A-61. For the King Air 200 operator, the original Pratt & Whitney PT6A-41 engines can be fitted with any of these engines.

For King Air 200 operators, it can make a lot of sense to upgrade to the -42 engine, rather than overhauling their existing -41 engines. This is the least expensive of the three options, and provides modest performance gains. However, the biggest benefit is that it replaces a 30-40 year old engine with a newly manufactured one.

The other engine upgrade options are for a -52 or -61 model. These two engines are very similar, with the -52 providing a slight cruise speed increase over the -61. In either case, you can expect to realize a 17 kt. increase in cruise speed for the -61, and a 26 kt. increase for the -52. The -61 engine is priced.

Raisbeck Modifications for the King Air 200

Ram Air Recovery is available on the King Air 200 series. This modification improves airflow to the engines, decreasing the engine I.T.T, and increasing the available horsepower, delivering significantly improved climb and cruise performance.

Enhanced Performance Leading Edges is another modification available to King Air 200 series owners. This system is a modification to the leading edge of the wing between the fuselage and nacelle. According to Raisbeck, this modification significantly improves climb and cruise performance and reduces stall speeds.

King Air 350

The King Air 350 debuted in 1990. Although the model was largely unchanged until upgraded Collins Pro Line 21 avionics were added in 2004, there are still some areas of segmentation, often with different activity levels at either end of the market.

Even though the 350 is largely unchanged 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 14 retail sales in 2016. This equates to about 8% of the fleet in this segment. Compared to 2015 there were two additional sales for this segment. The average days on the market for these aircraft were 169 days. Pricing on this part of the 350 market was in a decline for 2015. Expect to pay between $1,500,000 and $1,900,000 for an average aircraft. This represents about a 10% drop from 2015.

For the 1998 to 2003 model years, there are around 195 airframes still in service with 14 retail sales last year, which is down six units from 2015. This represents 7% of the fleet, with an average hold time of 187 days. Prices in this market segment have also softened a bit in the latter half of 2015. Expect to pay $1,950,000 to $2,300,000 for an average aircraft. This segment has also declined approximately 10% from 2015.

The 2004 to 2009 segment included the change to Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. There are 255 of these aircraft is service with 14 retail sales in 2016, which is the same as 2015. This represents 6% of this market segment with an average hold time of a lengthy 297 days on the market. Pricing on these 350’s are still relatively soft. Expect to pay $2,400,000 to $3,200,000 for an average aircraft, which is a drop of over 15% from 2015.

There have been 340 King Air 350i’s produced with 10 retail sales last year, one fewer than in 2015, representing 3% of the total fleet. Average hold time was a scant 63 days on the market. The 350i market is still trending downward. Prices have fallen over 15% from 2015. Expect to pay between $3,500,000 and $4,500,000 for an average aircraft.

As you can see, prices are down in for all of these King Airs. The newer models tend to take the biggest hit, as they are still on the steep part of their depreciation curve. After an unprecedented nine years of price declines there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight. The good news is that the King Airs have generally held their values better than their jet counterparts. Until we are able to see a healthier new King Air sales market, we will most likely continue to see annual price declines.

Engine Upgrades – Coming Soon

Although engine upgrades are not currently available, Blackhawk’s XP67A engine upgrade is currently in the works. It is expected for this upgrade to have an increased rate of climb, shorter high/hot take-offs, faster cruise speeds and higher single engine service ceiling. The installation will include two factory new MT five blade composite propellers.

Figures for average days on the market and aircraft transaction numbers are courtesy of JETNET L.L.C.

About Jim Becker:

Jim Becker is a graduate of the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and also holds a F.A.A. Airframe & Power Plant Mechanic license. With over 25 years in the aviation industry, 20 of those years have been with Elliott Aviation in the capacity of valuing aircraft. Jim is also an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers. For any specific questions on the value of your aircraft, you can contact him at jbecker@elliottaviation.com or call 515-285-6551.