Opinions on turboprops for winter mountain airport flights?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by alexcr, Mar 24, 2020.

  1. alexcr

    alexcr Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm curious what opinions folks have on using turboprops, e.g. a King Air, for flights into mountain airports, in particular with regards to (i) passenger comfort, including during active winter weather conditions and (ii) risk of having to cancel or reroute.

    How different is the experience and how significant are the tradeoffs versus using a similarly capacity jet such as a Citation or Learjet, especially when consider the typical cost savings of going turboprop?

    To provide some examples of the kinds of mountain airports I have in mind: Eagle Vail, Aspen-Pitkin, Telluride, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Yosemite, Truckee or Reno, Salt Lake City, etc.. (Origin airports would be the likes of LAX, SFO, and BFI.)

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!
     
  2. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Piaggio Avanti.
    Might as well do it in style.
     
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  3. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    The PC-12 rocks airports like Courcheval like it owns the b***

     
  4. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I mean.. even commercial jets take ice and winter weather seriously and have succumbed to ice
     
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  5. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    Interesting first post.
     
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  6. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Sounds like someone thinking of a specialized charter company. Boutique runs Pilatus pretty much everywhere in NM and CO.
     
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  7. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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  8. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Probably doesn’t matter what airplane you pick - it’s the approach minimums that matter. Check where you want to go, because most of the approach minimums don’t get you down that low so flying in during “active” winter weather, whatever airplane you’re in, is out.
     
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  9. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    That was a good trap. Looks like he caught the third arresting wire clean! :D
     
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  10. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    It’s hard to beat the PC12
     
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  11. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    The PC12 is just an incredible plane. It's only weakness is that it is just a touch slow compared to the competition.

    It's a pity the King Air was the one to survive compared to the Cheyenne IV and the C441, which were both faster and more efficient. Still, King Airs fly all over the place - though their deice systems aren't known to be the best (especially on windshields). Still, they can and do safely handle mountain flying in known ice.

    The Avanti is super fast and very efficient. The only real issue they have is the perception that they are loud. They actually are pretty quiet, but the noise they make is very odd and annoys people. Still, they have real cruise speeds that outdo some true jets.
     
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  12. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Cleared for Takeoff

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    LAX-ASE in a jet is an hour shorter than a LAX-ASE in a PC-12. That alone is a big comfort factor. Jets will also cruise 10000 to 15000 feet higher than a PC-12, which could be a factor in getting over turbulence on windy days.

    If you want to have reliability, stick with an airplane that is currently in production and is well supported.

    So, it what it really comes down to is budget.
     
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  13. RussR

    RussR Cleared for Takeoff

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    There is one that flies over my house a couple of times a week. It is easily the loudest airplane that does so.
     
  14. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-Flight

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    As mentioned, your question's premise doesn't really matter. More pertinent factors, budget, and average mission, etc. If you're going BFI-ASE every other week, then a jet would be ideal. If you go SFO-RNO every week, with a once-a-year ski trip to Vail, then maybe a turboprop is a better fit.
    Plenty of both jets and props operating throughout the mountain west year-round. I suppose, if many destinations are shorter-length fields, the landing numbers on a turboprop, PC12, King Air, TBM, might look better than some of the jets, especially with contaminated runway.
     
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  15. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Keep in mind, too, that takeoff performance can be as big an issue as anything else, especially for a jet that requires a certain level of engine-out performance. Most of the airports listed are going to be VMC departures unless you have a special engine-out procedure.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  16. Spring Ford

    Spring Ford Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Piper Malibou not so much;)
     
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  17. alexcr

    alexcr Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks everyone for their helpful feedback so far!

    Yeah, I think a lot of this will come down to pricing. We're primarily looking at charter options at this point, and the hope is to get one-way pricing for a typical trip - say, LAX to ASE - down to $1,000 per passenger, assuming we're at capacity.

    It seems like this would be significantly more achievable with turboprops than with jets, but I just want to make sure the turboprop passenger experience wouldn't be subpar, besides the obvious tradeoff of the flight being 45 minutes or so longer.
     
  18. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    PC12 would be my choice.. as long as the interior cabin product is nice most people won't care too much especially if they're spending less than $1,000

    objectively you have one well built and very well known engine to maintain and a solid and airframe from a reputable manufacturer
     
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  19. alexcr

    alexcr Filing Flight Plan

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    Makes sense. Roughly what's the maximum range of a PC12 when it's at capacity and flying into high altitude mountain airports? (The passengers would not have significant luggage.)

    Another option we're considering is small airliners, like a Dornier, but it's uncertain whether we'd consistently have the numbers to justify an aircraft of that size.
     
  20. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach

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    Doesn’t it always?
     
  21. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Super Moderator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    In my opinion ASE is starting to get to a leg length where a jet might begin making sense. Not that it can't be done in a turboprop - a PC-12 or such will do that leg just fine, and it wouldn't be a subpar experience. It's just that while the direct operating costs of a jet will be significantly higher, running a 135 certificate will require a lot of overhead that'll be the same whether you're flying jets or turboprops. Combine that with the time savings over the leg length, and the cost per passenger might not be as big an increase as you may think. Another thing to remember is that while aviation enthusiasts and pilots see the PC-12 as a great aircraft - there's still a single prop hanging on the front. Never underestimate irrational assumptions made by the flying public - especially when you're dealing with luxury leisure travel! :)
     
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  22. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Though it has weight limitations for steep approaches.
     
  23. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    When it comes to single engine pressurized turboprops with that load capacity, there is exactly zero competition, and the new PC-12NGx cruises at 295 kts. If Textron doesn't dump the Denali project, it should just match the previous generation of PC-12.
    A King Air just looks like a fifty-year-old design; I guess that's because it is.
     
  24. KRyan

    KRyan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Funny you mentioned Dornier.
    The Do328 turboprop was regularly flown into several of the ski areas by an airline called Aspen Mountain Air. It is a 32 passenger turboprop, so it's probably much larger than what you'd be interested in. It also has an engine that is "unique" to the aircraft, and I'm also guessing that a decent aircraft would be hard to find on the open market any longer.
     
  25. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    This is pretty huge, actually...the nonflying public sees a propeller on anything, and it suddenly becomes a Piper Cub.
     
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  26. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I read somewhere, actually it was in that long T-Bone video I posted, that the King Air came to birth as a response of a military (army) request, and it owes it's success and status today thanks to military use. However, they have zero sex appeal, at least in my eyes they look like school buses with wings.

    What a cool plane.. however I'm not sure they have the right performance requirements, at least not compared to the PC-12 as far as their ability to fly in short field and challenging ops

    The newest ones are quite fast.. up near TBM range. Though the TBM is still the ultimate turboprop someone can privately own (although would make ZERO sense for OP's applicationb)

    I have no real world experience with that and PC-12.. so outside of Google we'll have to wait for someone to post who can give real world knowledge
     
  27. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Oh c'mon, the original 90/120 models weren't too bad and were pretty good looking compared to what was out at that time. They became a school bus with the 200/300 series, lol.
     
  28. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not sure where you are getting your info from. The King Air uses a heated windshield for anti ice/deice, which is what many larger aircraft use, and it works extremely well. Also the wing/tail boots deice boots and engine cowl anti ice, along with the particle separators also work well.
     
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  29. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Cleared for Takeoff

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    The engine isn't that unique, it is on lots of airplanes, but the rest of the airplane is. Parts support is tricky. The US Military is the largest operator of the type now.

    [​IMG]

    Kind of curious why the OP wants to start such a scheduled service. Not a lot of money to be made in that line of work, unless you're looking to start something with a big loss for tax purposes.
     
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  30. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    There was a recent thread I saw on just how poor the windshield deice can be in moderate rime
     
  31. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    Several hundred hours in several different models, I've never heard of that, nor have I witnessed it.
     
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  32. KRyan

    KRyan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It's a PW-119, which is a PWC 100 Series engine, but the PW-119 is unique to the Do328. To the best of my knowledge, no other aircraft uses the 119.
     
  33. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    PC24 would be my pick
     
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  34. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Mathematically it's double what the pc-12 is

    For some reason I assumed it was not in the OP budget
     
  35. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What exactly are you trying to do? Do you want to grab a bunch of your own buddies and charter something for a trip, or are you trying to start a company?

    Then it definitely matters what airplane you pick. Airplanes that can fly approaches slower (like turboprops) have lower minimums than jets and will thus be able to get in more often.

    Unless you're flying a TBM, in which case you'll handily beat it. ;)

    Unless you have more than 5 pax (or 4 with two pilots), in which case you'd need to be flying 2 TBMs...
     
  36. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I did some rather substantial weather flying in that plane, landed some pretty small airports, lots of snow, ice, etc, good ol PC12 never left me wanting more. Pilatus makes a VERY good airplane
     
  37. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No doubt. So is the TBM... But they're really for different missions. The TBM goes faster and is somewhat cheaper to operate, but the PC12 can haul a lot more stuff and passengers.

    If you look at a King Air 200 that has a more similar mission to the PC12, the PC12 is faster and is somewhat cheaper to operate (is there an echo in here?)... ;) Both great airplanes. I lust after the PC24 though...