June 2008 Issue
Turboprop Singles: No One-Size Solution
You can have speed, or brawn or both, and often for greater economy than those little jets.
EADS-Socata, Piper, Pilatus and Cessna have been building single-engine turboprops for several years now, and their assembly lines appear at or near capacity as there are healthy waiting lists for new airplanes. Pilatus and Cessna originally built their airplanes for cargo, bush and military operators but found, to their delight, that owner-pilots got in line to buy. On the surface, these four airplanes are quite different. Despite all being powered by a version of the PT6, cruise speeds and cabin sizes differ noticeably, as does the ability to carry a load. Yet the series seems to attract a certain kind of buyer: one who wants the reliability of a turbine, doesn’t want the hassle and expense of a type rating and more than one engine; who desires an airplane that can go in any weather the pilot is personally capable of handling, and will either go fast or carry a big load. (We recognize that there are a few other single-engine turboprops, such as the new Quest Kodiak and the PC-6 Turbo Porter, but we are limiting our comparison to airplanes currently built in bulk for the owner-flown market.)
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