How do you make a great airplane truly extraordinary? Well, if you’re talking about Textron’s legendary King Air, that’s a tough question. Unless you are the folks at innovative Solutions & Support. Innovating and improving is what they do.
So, it wasn’t a stretch for them to take their game-changing ThurstSense autothrottle system for the Pilatus PC-12 and adapt it to the needs of the nearly 2,600 King Airs equipped with Pro Line 21 and Fusion flight decks.
Tom Grunbeck, Innovative Solutions & Support Director, explains this is the first certified autothrottle system for the King Air and provides smooth “full regime” control for takeoff through approaches and even go-arounds. The system is standard on the King Air production line and is also being delivered as a retrofit kit. “The automatic takeoff-to-approach power management provided by ThrustSense greatly reduces pilot workload,” Grunbeck says. “Now they don’t have to worry about engine over-temp, over-torque, and airplane over-speed. Just set the throttles, and the system manages the engines’ operations with Fadec-like precision complete flight envelope protection.”
LifeGuard is a lifesaver
Grunbeck says ThrustSense LifeGuard VMCA asymmetric thrust mitigation is an added safety feature that changes the upgrade from a nice-to-have feature to a must-have.
“In the event of an engine failure, the system limits the power to the remaining engine to increase directional control to avoid rollover situations,” Grunbeck says. “It’s one less thing for a pilot to think about during these high-stress operations.”
He also explains that the compact computer, actuators, and cables add only about five pounds to a King Air’s weight.
Even if it were considerably heavier, though, the IS&S ThrustSense autothrottle with LifeGuard protection would be worth its weight in gold, given all the benefits and safety it brings to every phase of every flight.