turbine (prop/fan) questions...

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I am a low time (350hours) IFR rated pilot. I have a family of 2 kids. I travel up and down
the west coast mostly.

I am interested in something like a pc-12, cj2, mustang, king b200, etc. Clearly a
difference of range and capital costs. For at least the first several years I would want a
professional pilot (and for the jets would continue to want that).

Which of these planes would a) have the lowest cockpit workload and could be safely flown
by a 100 hour/year pilot who is committed to the appropriate yearly sim programs; b)
would be the best tradeoff of range/speed/cost - including capital costs; c) could reliably
be flow single pilot by a non-pro and d) which are the quietest.

Is the Mustang just a toy given its range? Is it that much faster to be considered a good
value? Is the pc-12 just too expensive for its performance? A used King b200 might be
an interesting thought.

And safety? Also, I realize the cj2 is in a different league too... but maybe a C-V isn't?

-- david p, May 28, 2007


I guess you've discovered the horrifying escalation in costs and workload once you get beyond the single-engine piston.

I still like the Piper Malibu/Mirage. It is pretty simple to operate and does most of what the turbine aircraft will do. It is much quieter and more comfortable than a non-pressurized piston airplane.

If you are intent on stepping up to turbine power, the PC-12 is a great value ($/payload) and is easy/safe to fly for a novice. It is slightly quieter than the Malibu.

If you are willing to wait and don't need to carry the kitchen sink, the Diamond D-Jet is probably the best turbojet for someone who is only going to fly 100 hours/year.

The "real jets" that you list (and the King Air B200) are, I think, too fast for the non-professional pilot. My friend who researched this carefully ended up ordering the Embraer Phenom 100, which probably isn't all that different in airspeeds and workload from the Mustang.

-- Philip Greenspun, May 30, 2007

I should add that my friend who ordered the Phenom 100 has 6000+ hours of total time, including a lot of Twin Commander time (multi-turbine) and many trips to Europe and back. He is not a professional pilot, but has been flying several times per week for many years.

-- Philip Greenspun, May 30, 2007

Regarding the question below, "older King Air versus older PC-12"... the retired airline pilot will greatly prefer the King Air. I think the average GA pilot will greatly prefer the PC-12, which flies and approaches slower and is much cheaper to operate. To land a King Air B200 on a 3000' runway would require actual skill. To do it in a PC-12 would be about the same as landing a Cirrus or Bonanza.

On the interior noise issue, it seems to be almost impossible to get dBA numbers as one can get trivially for cars. It is weird that you can get these data before investing $20,000 on a car, but not before investing $5 million on a plane. The Avanti Piaggio is supposedly very quiet and they quote 68 dB of "conversation interference" sound (maybe not a pure dBA?).

-- Philip Greenspun, June 1, 2007

Hello, i studie this matter since many months and i'm convinsed that the eclipse is in my opinion the best what you can get for your bucks, i sat in the eclipse for the first time in Friedrichshafen a few months ago and I WANT ONE!!

The mustang is almost twice the price for a little bit more space.. but that's it..the pc12 is good but no twin and only good if you need to carry alot of passengers, the maintenance cost of the pc12 is HUGE, the king air is way to expensive in maintenance and fuel cost, the workload of the king air is way to high for single piloting...

-- yves soete, May 29, 2007

Yes, at any turbine level I would have a pro pilot for two years, and the jets (maybe not the mustang) I would always have one.

The Cj2 just seems so much better all around than the pc12 in the absence of moving big boxes around. I wonder what the interior noise differential is like?

but older king air vs older pc-12???

-- david p, June 1, 2007

As a pilot and not an owner I can't weigh in on the acquisition and operational costs much. I do think that you seem to be very timid of the turbojets and I don't know why. In many cases they are much easier to operate than a turboprop. The only factor that may make them more difficult is that they cover ground faster and are more difficult to slow down. Consequently, you need to be thinking farther ahead of the airplane and at a faster pace. Turboprop engine management can be much more work.

-- Bradrick Pretzer, June 8, 2007

I do not see Piper Meridian mentioned here. Is there a reason other than it's smaller? Less expensive than pc-12, (also smaller), as fast or faster than pre-GTi king 90. If one does not need the space of the A/Cs mentioned in this discussion, would anyone of you recommend the Meridian for a pilot with David P's qualifications and interests?

-- G Eichler, July 8, 2007

I just noticed you have a separate conversation regarding the Meridian in which you note it's particularly low full fuel useful load. The specs at Piper show 1000 nm with 3 people, down to some 700 nm with 6 people. Are their specs really so much off or is there something new since 2001?

-- G Eichler, July 8, 2007

I recently purchased a used 2006 Meridain & based on what is actually available to fly now, it is clearly the winner. 270+ knots 40 gallons of fuel an hr and a full fuel payload of 525lbs and a range of 750 NM with a ton of reserve. I owned a Cirrus, which is the best bang for the buck unpressurized, & flew coast to coast many times. But once you go pressurizeed, u can never go back. Phil is right about the ease of flying pressurized, see his article on the Mirage, but based on price, especially if u want a glass cockpit & turbine speed & safety, go for a used 2006 Meridian. Eclispe will ne great "IF" it is ever completely certified. But if u want to fly now go Meridian. The TBM 850 is faster but cost a million more. The Pilatus can hold a bunch but is 2 mil more. Buy a Meridian & the 2 times a year u want to haul a bunch of people, charter a Challenger & really impress your friends & u r still 2 mil ahead.

-- Julian Rubinstein, July 10, 2007

Thanks Julian. I have similar desires as David P, but have even lower hours than David P and ready to get IFR rating, therefore I am looking for something smaller than PC12, but something faster and safer than single pistons, able to use shorter (and at times rougher)runways. Not ready to go faster, and while twins may be safer I will most likely not fly enough to fly them safely. I thought the price of Meridians was quite high relative to the various VLJs and even EPIC Dynasty, but then these things are not out yet and certainly not sufficiently tested. Hence - your opinion helped.

-- G Eichler, July 10, 2007

For the last responder, a Caravan would be a great plane. Slower, but not pressurized, non retract, wonderful interior, great visibility front and back, capable of the roughest fields, and half the price of a pc12

-- david p, July 10, 2007

Our corporate flight department operates a PC-12/45 as a support aircraft. 250-255KTS is the typical speed. It is simply an SUV of an aircraft. It has excellent range, fantastic payload (up to 3300 pounds), a nice cabin size and reasonable interior noise.

It will complete cross country trips such as San Jose CA to Miami, FL in a day with one fuel stop.

But the real bonus is how easy it is to fly. Anyone with a private pilot ticket can do it. The pilot workload could not be lower. Gear up, flaps up, autopilot on, feet up. We can do all this in 4 seconds! No kidding! Oh, you might have to pull the power lever back a bit after a few minutes.

Be careful about choosing ultimate speed over everything else. In many cases eliminating a fuel stop saves much more time than additional speed. And on shorter trips, that speed won't matter.

-- Franklin E. Fraitus, August 7, 2007