FLIGHT DEPT OF THE YEAR
Sales continue to outpace those of jets, based on strong economics, large cabins and flexible mission profiles.
Pilatus PC12 NG
Pilatus has delivered more than 1100 PC12s since the type's introduction in 2004.
During the recession of 2007–09 Pilatus enjoyed its best years, delivering an average 96 aircraft per year, while other aircraft manufacturers suffered steep declines.
Credit belongs to a sound design that is both flexible and very economical.
According to Pilatus Business Aircraft VP Marketing Tom Aniello, the PC12's versatility lends itself to a number of primary markets, including ownerflown, corporate transport, government multimission and air ambulance.
Other strengths include a 330 cu ft cabin, great runway performance (including unprepared strips), high speed and low fuel burn.
Powered by a single PT6A-67B (1200 shp), the PC12 NG is certified to FL300 and has a max cruising speed of 280 kts.
In addition, Pilatus customer service is second to none.
Pilatus recently announced the availability of Honeywell SmartView SVS to PC12 NG operators.
SmartView is incorporated into the Honeywell Apex avionics suite, providing the same benefit typically found only in much larger business jets.
TBM850 is the world's fastest single-engine turboprop, with a max speed of 320 kts at FL260. In Dec 2005 the 850 was announced as the successor to the TBM700C2—the avionics were upgraded to current Garmin G1000 standard in 2007.
Powered by a PT6A-66D (850 shp), the TBM850 can carry a full fuel payload of 850 lbs over 1100 nm.
In Mar 2012, during Sun 'n' Fun, Daher-Socata launched the TBM850 Elite. One unique feature is a flexible cabin that can be reconfigured from 6 passengers to 4 in less than 30 min, allowing a little more legroom and twice the baggage capacity. The 600th TBM-series aircraft was delivered in Jan 2012.
The 500-shp PT6A-42A-powered Piper PA46-500T Meridian entered service 12 years ago. Since then, more than 500 examples have been delivered.
The closest competitor to the Meridian is the TBM850.
Piper believes that Meridian represents great value, burning 30% less fuel than the TBM850.
Meridian is the most fuel-efficient 6-place single-engine turboprop, burning only 37 gph in cruise. According to Piper, the Meridian is growing in popularity and is replacing less economical turboprops and jets.
In addition to fuel efficiency, the Meridian is equipped with an integrated Garmin G1000/GFC700 avionics/autopilot suite. Dual 10-in PFDs display synthetic vision, WAAS-certified GPS plus optional traffic and terrain. The 15-in MFDs display engine and system info, Sirius XM Weather and weather radar information.
Cessna Caravan 675/208B/208EX
In Jul 2012, Cessna announced its latest addition to the Caravan product line—the Grand Caravan EX. The EX offers a 25% boost in power that improves runway performance under hot-and-high conditions and increases climb performance and speed.
Cessna expects takeoff distance to decrease by 10%, climb performance to improve by 32% and cruise speed to improve by 7%. With the new PT6A-140, available power increases from 675 to 867 shp. According to Cessna Caravan Business Leader Lannie O'Bannion, "the main point of the EX is that this is a major upgrade with a minimal cost to the customer."
The EX adds only $150,000 to the base price of the standard Grand Caravan. O'Bannion expects 5 EX aircraft to be delivered to customers by the end of 2012. In other news, Wipaire plans to certify the Grand Caravan on Wipline 8750 floats.
Cessna plans on continuing to offer the PT6A-114 (675 shp) powered Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Caravan Amphibian and Caravan 675. The Caravan 675 is a shortened version of the Grand Caravan—the difference in length is approximately 4 ft.
For corporate operators, the Grand Caravan EX/B and 675 can be outfitted with the luxury Oasis interior. Wichita KS-based Yingling Aviation continues to install all executive Caravan interiors.
The Cessna 208 Caravan's product life now spans over 27 years. According to Cessna, the Caravan continues to find work with small revenue-making operators around the world. More than 2100 Caravans have been delivered worldwide, making it the world's most popular single-engine turboprop. In May 2012, Cessna announced that an additional Caravan production line would be opened in China to serve that market.
FedEx Express operates more than 250 Caravan Super Cargomasters delivering express packages throughout the US night after night. The Caravan fleet has an overall dispatch reliability rate of 99.8%.