Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dream Machines

A turbine-aircraft buyer’s guide

Cessna Caravan |
Whether you're just one lottery ticket away from your dream machine or you've got cash burning a hole in your pocket, turbine power is the ultimate way to go. Turbines aren't for the financially faint of heart, but the combination of smooth operation with gobs of power and nearly flawless reliability take performance to the next level. If you're ready to make the jump to turbine power, there are a lot of choices spanning a wide range of needs and mission requirements. Here's a quick look at the current crop of factory-built, turbine-powered aircraft well suited for single-pilot owner-operators.

Unpressurized, Fixed-Gear Load Haulers

Need to carry more, get into the backcountry, or operate on water? Fixed-gear, single-engine turboprops are ideal for anyone with a need to transport a load of people or cargo under a wide variety of conditions. Since they're unpressurized, these aircraft are ideal for operations mostly below 12,000 feet, and can get into short unimproved strips or convert to floats.

Cessna Caravan

With over 14 million flight hours under its belt, the Cessna Caravan is the granddaddy of the big, fixed-gear turboprop load haulers. Introduced in 1984, the total Caravan fleet is over 2,200 airplanes and today consists of two models: the 675 and the Grand Caravan. The 675 features a 675 hp PT6-114A engine that delivers a top speed of 186 ktas. Top the tanks with 332 gallons of Jet A, take up 1,071 pounds of payload and travel for 949 nm at 10,000 feet. Seating can be configured with eight to 14 places with capacity for 325 pounds of baggage in 32 cubic feet of dedicated space. Up front, a G1000 system makes the airplane single-pilot friendly. The Caravan needs 2,055 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle on takeoff, and is certified to 25,000 feet. Direct operating cost is estimated to be $412/hour ($2.40/nm). Base price is $1.89 million, with typically equipped prices around $2.11 million. The Grand Caravan is the most popular model with 1,800 aircraft in the fleet. It has a stretched fuselage, seating for up to 14 and a base price of $1.93 million. Amphibious and float options are available for both airplanes.

Quest Kodiak

Quest Kodiak |
First certified in July of 2007, the Kodiak looks like a small version of the Cessna Caravan. But, don't let looks fool you, the Kodiak is a completely new, clean-sheet design. Load it up with 320 gallons of Jet A, 1,391 pounds of people and cargo, and the 750 hp flat-rated PT6A-34 engine will launch the Kodiak in just over 1,000 feet of ground roll. Normal cruise is 172 knots with 5.7 hours of endurance and 979 nm of range. Slow to 134 knots and cruise for 8.1 hours while covering 1,113 nm. The unpressurized Kodiak is certified to a maximum altitude of FL250. The Kodiak can be fitted to carry up to 10 occupants, or configured for total luxury with six executive-style seats and a lot of room for baggage. A big 49.25x49.25-inch rear cargo door makes loading big items in the aft cabin easy. An optional TKS deicing system is available. Up front, a three-screen Garmin G1000 system graces the panel. If you want to get on the water, the Kodiak is certified for amphibious and pure floats. The base price is $1.67 million.

Single-Engine, Pressurized Turboprops

Tuck in the gear, add pressurization to get up into the flight levels, and you'll find that single-engine turboprops provide some of the most efficient and cost-effective travel available.


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