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Nextant G90XT

Nextant Aerospace is preparing to open the order book on its G90XT twin-engine turboprop. The aircraft completed the FAA certification process last year. It is a rebuilt and thoroughly modernized Beechcraft King Air C90 series, an airplane that has been around, in one form or another, since 1964 and is still being made by Textron Aviation. 

The longevity of the 90 series is nothing short of amazing. Thirty years ago, the conventional wisdom was that business turboprops were all but dead, destined to be stripped of their executive interiors and consigned to hauling small packages, dropping skydivers, or spraying bugs before meeting that big smelter in the sky. Surely, the market would opt for a new generation of fuel-efficient light jets as opposed to something from the aeronautical Stone Age with—gasp—propellers. 

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Bizjet Deliveries Up, King Airs Dip at Textron Aviation

Last year, the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer shipped 180 Citations, up six from 2016, and 86 King Airs, 20 fewer units from the previous year.

That prediction proved wildly wrong. Deliveries of new business jets totaled 703 in 2018 but those of general aviation turboprops were close behind at 601, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Moreover, deliveries of new Textron Aviation Beechcraft King Air twin-engine turboprops totaled 497 over the last five years; and Kenny Dichter, CEO of charter membership company Wheels Up, says he could see his company having up to 1,000 of them by 2030. 

Considering that Wheels Up had 63 King Airs in 2017, that may be slight hyperbole, but the influx of new activity and the enduring popularity of turboprops remain undeniable, and the scarcity of good used aircraft has convinced owners to pour money into upgrades and modifications for older turboprops. One firm that specializes in modifying older King Airs reported that business was up 40 percent in 2018 from the previous year. 

Nextant clearly thinks this trend will continue. The Cleveland-based company is best known for its Beechjet modernization program, the 400XTi, which has delivered more than 73 of those remanufactured aircraft to date. Now it believes it can bring that business model to Beechcraft’s smallest King Air, the 90 series. And with good reason. This series continues to draw attention in the used market, with prices between $675,000 for a 1997 C90B and $2.3 million for a 2010 C90GTx. Ten- to 12-year-old GT and GTi models trade for between $1.3 million and $1.7 million. Nextant thinks a used but modernized C90 is an economically and mission-viable alternative for those who would otherwise gravitate toward single-engine turboprops or light jets, including buyers who are stepping up from piston-engine aircraft. 

It’s not hard to see why. Compared with a very light/entry-level jet like a Cessna Citation Mustang, Cirrus Vision, Eclipse 500, or Embraer Phenom 100, the King Air 90 series gives you a larger airplane with a cabin big enough for six to seven adults to sit in comfortable, generously sized seats and pressurized baggage space that can accommodate several full-size roll-ons, hat bags, and multiple sets of golf clubs. You get a twin that sits high off the ground on beefy landing gear, has a big main cabin door aft of the wing, and is built like an M-1 Abrams tank. King Air construction is about as bulletproof as an airplane gets. This is an airplane you can land on an insanely short and rough grass strip or a gravel bar without having to file an accident report afterward. While not really a long-hauler, a newer 90 can fly from Chicago to Teterboro, New Jersey in about two and a half hours. More than 1,500 C90s have been produced. 

Nextant takes a used one and outfits it with a pair of new GE Aviation H75-100 engines with single-lever power control, Garmin G1000 avionics, new seats, a new interior, a new digital pressurization system, and new air conditioning with twin evaporators that deliver 300 percent more cooling capacity. The flight deck of the G90XT is substantially different from a typical Garmin G1000 glass-panel retrofit in a King Air. The instrument panel is trimmed in carbon fiber. It offers a three-screen layout with a backup Mid-Continent Instruments Standby Attitude Module and a Luma Technologies LED glare shield warning panel. The new avionics also feature the Garmin GFC700 autopilot and synthetic vision; options include TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system).

Nextant G90XT cocpit
 

The single-lever GE/Unison power controller offers complete exceedance protection and radically simplified pilot workload—a helpful thing, as all King Airs can be flown single pilot. The system eliminates the propeller control levers and automatically manages engine rpms and propeller pitch during normal operations and has inflight torque- and temperature-limit protection, auto-start, and engine-trend monitoring capabilities. The fuel-system controls are now mounted above the power levers, replacing pressurization switches that are no longer needed because the pressurization system is digitally integrated into the G1000 system.

The new GE H75 engines provide 10 to 12 percent better specific fuel consumption than the standard Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6s they replace, offer better high and hot performance, and propel the G90XT to a top speed of 280 knots. Range with four passengers and IFR reserves is up to 1,240 nautical miles, and the aircraft can use runways shorter than 2,600 feet in most situations. Overhaul intervals for the H75 engines initially will be 4,000 hours. The H series also requires no pricey mid-life hot-section inspection, uses a fuel slinger instead of fuel nozzles, and employs an axial stage compressor instead of a reverse-flow design. An engine with an axial stage compressor is more efficient because it produces a continuous flow of compressed gases. Likewise, a fuel slinger is more efficient because it more evenly atomizes fuel prior to combustion and eliminates the need for fuel-injection nozzles. Because there are no fuel nozzles to get clogged, there are no hot spots in the combustion chamber, ensuring even thermal distribution and thereby eliminating the need for a hot-section inspection.

Several standard cabin configurations are available for the G90XT, including special mission/air ambulance, and executive three- to five-seat layouts that include an aft lav with a solid privacy door. A new cabin shell cuts interior noise levels by 9.5 dB, compared with a stock aircraft. Modern conveniences, such as Gogo Business’s air-to-ground telecom and Wi-Fi systems, are options. 

Nextant G90XT interior

While Nextant hasn’t formally announced a price, a G90XT (fully tricked out and with airframe included) is expected to cost less than $3 million—more than $500,000 less than a new aircraft from the factory that arguably offers inferior performance and higher operating costs. Customers can save even more by bringing their own aircraft to Nextant for conversion. 

The G90XT takes a good airplane and makes it much better.


2019 Nextant G90XT at a Glance

Engines (2):                            GE H75-100 

Avionics:                               Garmin G1000 

Crew:                                      1–2 

Passengers:                            8 (3–6 typical) 

Cabin: 

            Length:                        12 ft, 7 in 

            Height:                        4 ft, 10 in 

            Width:                         4 ft, 8 in 

Baggage capacity:                  48.3 cu ft 

Maximum takeoff weight:      10,500 lb

Top cruise speed:                    280 kt

Range*:                                  1,240 nm

*four passengers, IFR reserves

Source: Nextant

For additional information, visit the G90XT's page in our Aircraft Directory.

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