TPs versus light jets—choice comes down to travel legs and airport use

New turboprops have high performance. But there's a magic factor with a jet that claims the future and charms the buyer.

Piaggio P180 Avanti II shows its distinctive and efficient planform as it flies overhead.

The Avanti even creates the visual impression of a jet by getting the engines out of the line of sight of the pilot.

There is also less of a distinction for the passengers. Noise levels, speed and over-the-weather comfort can be similar. So any purchase evaluation can include both turboprops and jets on an equal basis.

For many customers, it goes beyond the pure numbers. Emotion enters the equation and, whether the customer wants a bigger aircraft for prestige or ramp presence, they end up acquiring a different aircraft from the one that results from their analysis.

Embraer Phenom 100. The Phenom 300's stablemate is slightly smaller than the other light jets examined but still very capable.

It's not that they buy the "wrong" aircraft, but they buy one to cover 100% of their possible missions rather than the majority of their missions, and charter—or even travel commercial (shudder)—for the few trips a year for which their aircraft is not suitable.

The average leg duration of a lot of ultralong-range jet fleets is about 2.5 hrs—a mere fraction of their potential of 10.0–12.0 hrs. Perhaps the downsizing that many operators have endured in the past 3 years would have been less gut-wrenching had they bought a "95%" aircraft.

Any aircraft design is a compromise between performance objectives—and, given the many different models available, there will always be an aircraft that is a good fit with the very individual requirements of each operator.

Mike Venables is an aviation consultant and freelance writer. The principal at TriLink Technologies Group, Venables has been involved in the aerospace industry for more than 40 years, including aero engine, airframe, avionics and simulator manufacturers.


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