Hi all, what will be the best choice in your opinion: a new PC-12 or Turbo Commander with Dash 10 modification, wing spare inspection, excellent condition, etc. Flying with family so safety factor is first.
That really depends on your priorities and intent. The Grand or Renaissance Commander is going to be less expensive as an acquisition, but more expensive to operate. The PC12 will use less runway, but won't stay airborne after an engine failure. In fact, the PC12's claim is that one always has a runway in gliding distance because the airplane glides so well. that may be true in Europe or the Eastern United States, but it's certainly not true in most of the rest of the world.
The PC12 is a comfortable airplane; the Commander feels like a sports car. The PC12 feels more like a King Air inside; it's roomier. The Commander is narrower, especially in the cockpit.
The PC12 is much newer, more user friendly; the commander has some maintenance quirks and difficulties that can leave one tearing one's hair out (ask me how I know; I'm bald). Neither one would be a bad choice.
If I were to choose between the two, operating cost being no object, I'd get the Commander with some good avionics.
The Commander does have a reputation for losing it's tail in turbulence. In the early 1990's there were several airframe losses (nearly a dozen) and control losses during high speed descents in Commanders, due to aileron rigging and issues associated with the Frise ailerons. The United States National Transportation Safety Board noted that operationally, most users tend to do high speed descents in the airplane to get the most utility out of the aircraft. Personally, I didn't; nor did I push them to their limits in any other way.
The good: FUN to fly. Very sporty. Fast. Good short field action. Easy in/out with entry door low to ground. Rugged. Pax like the picture windows. Did I say fun?
The not-as-good: Avionics likely to find installed will be ancient. Loud prop noise inside and very loud engine noise outside on ramp. TPE-331 and NTS can be fussy and tricky to rig properly...you will need a good mechanic. Cabin space OK but PC-12 much better. If you pride yourself on smooth landings she will humble you.
Sort of like an old car? Take care of her and she will provide loads of fun.
Are you going to be the pilot. If you are and have a descent amount of single pilot experience in a fast twin in IFR then Commander is OK. If you have limited experience go for the PC12, it will be safer for you and your family and that's the main thing I expect.
Have about 2000hrs in the commander and about 1000 in a caravan (yeah not a PC12 but expect similar) If you are going to fly don't let your ego endanger you family if you are not going to stay current or have limited experience, the PC12 will probably be easier to fly than a 206 or 210, the commander can get you into trouble very fast.
zlakarma, I donīt understand why the comparison between a new PC12 and an very old design with comparatively little numbers built.
Why not look at a good KingAir B200? With Raisbeck mods, maybe a Blackhawk mod, Winglets and retrofitted avionics, preferably after S/N 1476 (the new cabin interior), you can get a very good example at a substancially lower price than a new PC 12 and enjoy twin engine safety. The PC 12 is surely a good aeroplane (haven't flown one), the B200 I know inside out and it is - IMHO - one of the best airplanes one can buy in its class. Sturdy, big, easy to fly, good reliability, good looks... Yes she sips a tad more fuel than a AC, but one can actually talk to each other when sitting inside. And only one thing is better than a PT 6 - two of em! P&W dependable power.
Do yourself a favour and buy an airplane where you can get simtraining. Even if you are not flying yourself, then have your pilots do it. THAT is the best investment on safety you can make.
PC12 hands down. Modern, spacious, straightforward maintenance, excellent fuel economy quiet. Only downsides are the price and a perception " It's only got one engine". (This will just force you to be more careful about maintenance and fuel cleanliness, not bad habits to have).
These are very different aircraft. I agree with SN3 both are good personal transport... but as you know there are significant differences you must consider:
A new PC12 will prob cost you $2 - 3m more than a late model dash 10 Commander with good avionics. However, you must accept that a complex 25+ year-old aircraft will cost more to maintain than a relatively simple new machine.
A Commander will do 300ts and if you have extra fuel option can have comfortable 1700nm range. I'm not familiar with PC12 performance but guess 240 kt ish cruise. Speed is everything to some people...
Commander has good short-field performance, but not as good ground clearance or rugged gear as PC12. I would not be comfortable operating a Commander regularly from Grass for example.
You can get sim training on the Commander but must travel to Flight Safety in Texas.
There are several Commanders operating in Europe and good engineering support is available. Air Plus in EDNY were recently appointed as a Commander Service centre; they are good.
PM me if you wd like to know more about operating a Commander in Europe.
I would second the suggestion to look into the king air option, new or pre owned. Best of both worlds I guess. New machine = less potential for nasty surprises. Plenty about, no shortage of pilots or technicians. An in depth look at the running costs and performance can be informative too. My understanding, and I'm prepared to be corrected, is that the PC-12 requires maintenance every 100 hours. Compared to 200 for the 200. So depending on your utilisation the running costs overall aren't necessarily cheaper. Contaminated runway perf on the PC-12 sees a degradation in it's short field by quite a considerable margin.
The point I'm making is that there are more factors to consider that require in depth investigation. And with your family and safety at the forefront of your considerations a twin really should top your list in my opinion.
Its a nice choice to have though so should be good fun searching!!
what is your annual utilization going to be, what are your leg distances, airfields, loads like.
an older B200 with 1/2 time engines runs around 500k, add 150k for garmin 600/1000 upgrade, new interior for 75k so lets figure 700k for a dolled up KA200. Yes the PC12 is cheaper to run but over say 10 yrs, is it worth the 2-2.5M difference?
Only downsides are the price and a perception "It's only got one engine".
That's not a perception. It is a REALITY.
Recently an operator conducted an informal survey of PT6 operators (King Airs) and the results of those who confirmed an engine failure was surprising at best. One operator confirmed 2 failures. The problem is that the FAA does not track failures, only fires and accidents. It is a statistical possibility that a PC-12 will suffer an engine failure: that makes it a certainty, with time. Minimizing this is a disservice to the OP.
This will just force you to be more careful about maintenance and fuel cleanliness, not bad habits to have).
One could argue you can be as careful about maintenance and fuel as you like. But if an engineer doesn't correctly fasten an oil hose (seen it) or you take a bird (seen it) then you're gliding. And this rubbish about always being within gliding distance of a field? Well you may take that chance if you like, I'd rather not. I can think of several areas I'd rather not be trying to glide to a field. And you get one chance at it. That's it. So you better hope you're at the top of your game when the unfortunate event happens.
I don't want to sound anti the single. I love them, think they are fantastic machines, especially for the owner pilot. If I had the means and I flew myself places on business a TBM 850 would be hard to beat. But the OP specifies family and safety. It's a no brainer.
And to clarify, like above, I'm not anti-single either. It's just that it seems those who endorse this product tend to dismiss the risk as if it's inconsequential. It's not. You don't even need to have an engine failure to be a glider; a prop hub or governor failure, etc will result in the same. Having said that, I think it's a great product, but you wouldn't catch me flying it over mountains, especially at night like I see all the time in the western US.
Some good advice offered above. I've also accrued some time on Twin Commanders, mostly 690/690A/690B's.
zlakarma - you mentioned getting a TC with the -10 conversions and in excellent condition. Some others mentioned the Grand Renaissance but you did not specifically do so. If your intended aircraft has not been through that programme, make very sure that it is in as good a condition as it seems to be before you buy. In my experience, certain things tend to get quite tired if the aircraft has not received the same level of love throughout its life. For example, pressurisation can be a pain so check your aircraft makes max. diff. (or at least whatever diff you need for your intended profile). I've flown many Commanders that simply don't. Even when the owners of others have said that the pressurisation is top notch, the pilots have sometimes told a different story.
Also the environmental sytem/air conditioning (particularly on the earlier models) can be a bit hit and miss, the refrigeration unit in the back can be expensive to replace if required and occasionally owners simply choose not to get it done.
I'd also echo SNS3Guppy's advice about high-speed descents. The book calls for it and I know many that do it, but I don't. A 180kt/1500fpm descent works out pretty good too and 180kts also happens to be the moderate turbulence penetration speed, so less panic if you suddenly enter some on a night-time or IMC descent.
Finally a fair few of the 690's still in circulation have been modified for aerial survey use. You may find odd holes in bulkheads and other mods if it has. If this applies to your potential acquisition, check they're all documented, particularly if you will need an export CofA.
I don't have any experience of the PC-12 to compare against. I'm not averse to single-engine types, however I do like an easy life and if I have an engine failure then I'm quite happy for that to be the only part of the emergency. On an S/E type, and engine failure also means a pressurisation failure/loss of generator power/loss of primary hydraulic pressure and so on. Making a crisis out of a drama....
Both good aircraft, but I would not consider anything in the Rockwell line other than the 1000 commander, and find one with the EFIS mode. Great aircraft, fast, economical, cheaper than the price of a PC-12 I believe. 1700 mile range, FL350 service ceiling, it was 18 inches longer in the cabin than the 690's 980 and 840 I believe. The EFIS mode comes with its own auto pilot mode, so that it is more compatible.
The PC-12 has a far lower probability of failure than any single engine made. A low time pilot has a very high probability of killing himself (herself) despite a perfectly flyable aircraft after the fact due to inappropriate management of the situation. And engine failure in a twin is everybit the emergency in a single, you are landing...now.
A twin (fact) has 4 times the risk of engine failure than a single engine PC-12...
A Twin turbine has to use the smallest engine possible running at the highest power close to its maximum thermo dynamic rating in order to offset the inefficiency of having TWO engines.
Due to the lower power required of the motor it is highly likely that you will get 15,000 hours out of the engine without any significant replacement costs aside from your hot section inspection costs. Cruising at LRC up to LRC +15kt range will insure the lowest turbine creep unit rate and virtually eliminate machining of the turbine ring during hot sections. Fuel flow at this range is around 240-260lbs an hour fuel burn depending on temperature.
The PC-12 in contrast uses an engine rated at 1600hp, it is rated to run at 1200 hp for take-off and 1000hp at maximum continuous. However, if you operate a PC-12 taking into account fuel/time/cost etc you find that the actual power setting is around 800hp or 1/2 the engines power rating. This nets a TAS of around 240-250kts and double the range of any turbine twin.
The PC-12 to date has the lowest failure rate of any turbine built, when I last checked there have been 2 documented failures, both were low time aircraft.
The other issues revolving around the engine were not failures but failures to follow procedures to maintain power sufficient to continue flight.
With a PC-12 using "ETOPS" type flight planning insures that you are always within glide range of a suitable airport. With a 20:1 glide ratio a twin engine will be on the ground after an engine failure before a PC-12 lands with its one engine out. In other words, you will not be cruising in the mid teens, instead most flights east will be at FL280-300, westbound mid to low 20's depending on winds. It's a high altitude airplane unlike most twins that cruise in the mid teens to low 20's to get maximum IAS.
When you factor in range, cabin noise, comfort and utility the PC-12 is a tough airplane to beat with the lowest direct operating cost per hour, the savings alone depending on utilization will make the airframe payment vs an aircraft 1/3 its purchase price with two engines.
What you save on the upfront purchase price on a twin is lost in the costs with two engines, more than double the fuel consumption, reduced range, increased cycles, and higher avionics costs to maintain obsolete systems.
Flight plan a non-stop flight from Seattle to Miami in a PC-12 wtih FLL as the alternate. Then do the same in the Turbo-Commode...you can't.
Last edited by Deltabravowhiskey; 13th Mar 2011 at 12:20.