MARKET TRENDS

Turboprops—workhorses of business aviation

Advantages include fuel savings, short fields, reduced DOCs, efficient low-FL capability, good icy runway characteristics.




Pilatus PC12

Pilatus PC12 can haul more payload than most aircraft in its class.

Pilatus's PC12 has received rave reviews from many pilots for its large profile of usability and broad spectrum of capabilities.

David Grant, chief pilot of a private flight operation based in central Florida, explains that the PC12 was the best compromise for his aircraft's owner when it came to mission requirements as a flight department. Grant explains that, in addition to being an ideal performer for both remote locations and busy terminal areas, the PC12 is a great platform to train the entry-level turbine pilot given its well balanced flight characteristics.

Crossing over from entry level to advanced flight ops is a relatively easy process too, with the Honeywell Primus Avionics stack that comes standard up front. Pilot comfort is addressed by a new cockpit environment designed by BMW Group DesignWorksUSA.

When it comes to the 330 cu ft interior, Pilatus kept versatility in mind with its flat floor (opposed to some turbines that have a dropped center aisle) to accommodate cargo, medical equipment and passengers along with baggage. A fully enclosed lavatory is also featured in the PC12NG for use when the customer wants to get full potential out of the 1309-nm range (with NBAA IFR reserve) with the seats fully loaded.

Piper Meridian

Piper Meridian is targeted at regional executive transport and entry-level turbine pilots.

Roughly half the price and half the size of the PC12, the Piper Meridian is a viable option for the executive looking to deliver goods and services efficiently while having the ability to transport clients or partners in comfort.

While not a heavy hauler compared with other aircraft in its class, the Meridian fits into a unique market that caters to both entry-level pilots and seasoned individuals or small businesses looking to upgrade from their current piston aircraft.
Outfitted with a 120 cu ft cabin and 489 nm range with full seats, the Meridian is an ideal regional solution for many different callings.

The updated Garmin G1000 (previously equipped with the Avidyne Entegra stack) avionics displayed on a 3-screen layout affirm that this aircraft is a technologically advanced, single-pilot friendly aircraft in all environments.

Quest Kodiak

Multimission Quest Kodiak's discontinuous wing leading edge has a significant effect on its STOL capability.

When an owner needs a utilitarian aircraft with multiple configurations and multimission capability, the Quest Kodiak fits the role quite nicely.

Sporting a discontinuous leading edge that dramatically improves low-speed lift as well as the burly 750-shp PT6A-3A, the Kodiak is ready, willing and able to pull its 1220 lb (with full fuel) payload out of tough locations. In addition to its ruggedness, the Kodiak touts the ease of being able to change configuration with little hassle.

Pilot Clint White of Jet Right Aviation explains that when his principal has a need to haul cargo or people, the Kodiak is always up to the challenge. He also explains that the track-mounted seats inside the 248 cu ft cabin are incredibly easy to move or remove if extra space is needed for bulky items.

The tail stand that comes with the aircraft is also a key item while on the ground arranging cargo so that it meets weight and balance numbers within specification. With 9 seats available in the aircraft, White adds that the optional cargo pod is a key item that will come in quite handy to owners looking to get full hauling potential out of the aircraft.

Quest did not skimp on the avionics available for this aircraft. Coming with a standard Garmin G1000 loadout as well as options such as Garmin SVS and soon-to-arrive weather radar, this is a capable aircraft with a wide range of configurations available.

Viking Twin Otter

Using new materials and technology, the revamped Twin Otter will serve for years to come.

With over 40 years of faithful service, the de Havilland Canada Twin Otter established itself as a tough, reliable platform capable of flying in all climates and weather.

In 2006, Viking Air obtained the OEM certificate and established itself as the current manufacturer of an all-new line of DHC "legacy" aircraft including the Twin Otter 400 series.

Famous for its payload hauling ability and STOL characteristics, the twin-turboprop is outfitted with more powerful PT6A-34s, with an option for PT6A-35s. Adding to its ability to carry heavy loads out of short fields, Viking added composites to some areas of the airframe that do not bear any load in flight or on the ground (such as doors), thus allowing for a few more productive pounds of payload to be added before flight.

Inside, the Twin Otter is capable of being outfitted with a 19-seat 384 cu ft cabin layout, making it ideal for passenger transport operations on land or in water. However, with a full load the max range is 108 nm, which will require a short-hop itinerary when being used for heavy payload missions.

Viking Twin Otter still sports the classic lines and features that de Havilland Canada designed years ago (including the ability to be configured for ice, snow, water or land). The addition of features such as the Honeywell Primus Apex avionics suite, changes to its electrical system and modernized materials is likely to push this aircraft into the years ahead as a solid performer with genetics to back it up.

Conclusion

Today's turboprops offer more versatility and performance than ever. Unlike jets, they meet certain mission and reliability criteria that place them into a class of their own.
The future will see many more developments and innovative technologies that will make smaller, more remote destinations more accessible to a larger clientele base. Whether you're delivering medical equipment into the Alaskan bush or transporting executives to their next business deal, there is a turboprop out there that will meet or exceed customer expectations.

Ken Baylor is lead dispatcher at The Flight Department USA, specializing in fractional ownership and charter aircraft consultation/operations. He has been working in corporate aviation for 10 years.



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