The Beech Model 90 King Air was the first model in the largest and most successful family of corporate turboprop twins yet built.
The King Air began life as a turboprop development of the Queen Air designed to meet a US Army requirement for a staff/utility transport. A prototype PT6 powered Queen Air Model 65-80 (later 65-90T) began test flying in 1963 and the type was subsequently ordered by the US Army in unpressurised form as the U-21A.
The civil equivalent, the Model 90 King Air, introduced pressurisation and first flew on January 20 1964. Deliveries of production civil aircraft began in late 1964.
Development resulted in several civil variants, including the A90 and B90 with PT6A-20 engines; the C90 with PT6A-21s; the E90 with more powerful PT6A-34Bs; and the F90 which introduced the T-tail of the 200 (described separately), four blade props and other mods. The less expensive C90SE Special Edition was released during 1994, but is no longer offered. The current C90B has been in production since 1991.
The latest variant is the C90B Jaguar Special Edition. Announced in January 1998 it features the Jaguar car company's green and gold colours including the famous leaping cat on the tail and a Connolly leather interior with walnut and boxwood cabinets.
In February 1981, Beech became a subsidiary company of Raytheon. In September 1994, Raytheon merged Beech and Corporate Jets (builders of the Hawker 800/1000) into Raytheon Aircraft.
The King Air 100 series was announced in May 1969. Compared with the 90 series it was 1.27m (4ft 2in) longer, allowing greater seating capacity, and featured a reduced wing span and larger rudder. The A100 is a military version, while the B100 is powered by 535kW (715shp) Garrett TFE331s. Production of the 100 ceased in 1984.