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The longest-running line of production business turboprops for sale entered its fifth decade last year- a testament to the continuing strength of these prop-driven turbine aircraft as an economical solution for businesses around the world. Reflecting that position is a growing number of models available for a wide range of operations- with single engine airplanes for sale models holding sway over their multi-engine counterparts.

Why is this though? That’s a common question in an environment where the age of the Very Light Jet looms just over the horizon. Sure- these new private aircraft sales – among them the class-defining Eclipse 500 and Cessna Citation Mustang- both now in flight tests – offer speed- range and economy beyond most propjet designs. In reality- though- the reasons turboprops remain attractive vary – from mission specifics- to utility- to operational demands - and the availability of pre-owned models at good prices.

Most of all- the fact that propjets are here and now – while VLJs remain a year and more away – and they come in a variety of configurations that allow operators to pick wings that exactly match their needs. Even when VLJs reach maturity- the very size that defines them means there’s no way they can fulfill many of the missions that both single and twin engine turboprops for sale handle daily with aplomb.

Evidence of the continuing popularity of the venerable turboprop is as close as this year’s first-quarter delivery reports from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). According to GAMA- first-quarter deliveries of new turboprop aircraft grew 23 units over the same period last year to a healthy 57 units – a gain of 67.6 percent year-over-year. That was a larger gain in both units and percentage than business jets for sale experienced. Indeed- last year manufacturers delivered a total 194 turboprop aircraft- up 30 from 2003 and the best in three years. This resurgence in propjet popularity has been coming.

Last year in an article on the same topic- we observed that the list of turboprop models had grown – and warned that a similar story this year would likely be even longer because of additional players. Sure enough- the list is longer this year; with interest in propjets growing- some resurrected models and one new airplane add to the list. So let’s get going.

CESSNA business turboprops for sale

Caravan & Grand Caravan

Sometimes a design just hits right – its popularity ensured by its combination of price within the aviation aircraft sales used cessna airplane for sale for performance and utility – but that wasn’t the situation facing Cessna’s new Grand Caravan single engine airplane for sale back in the early 1980s. The market was off- production was declining with demand- and the time hardly seemed worse for introducing a new model – particularly a single-engine machine that lacked pressurization or speeds much above a typical high-performance piston-single.

But Federal Express executives recognized the value of the big- boxy Caravan for its potential as a package-express steed- moving mostly envelopes between distribution points and small communities. That recognition assured the Caravan’s success and today- more than 2-500 Caravans later- the '172 on steroids' remains a stalwart in Cessna’s product line.

The Caravan’s longevity stems from its flexibility and durability – as well as its ability to operate in practically any place- in a variety of roles: Urban express courier; jungle warrior; arctic explorer; or waterway workhorse. The sturdy un-pressurized airframe is designed to take its passengers practically anywhere.

Today’s standard Caravan 675 and stretched Grand Caravan benefit from an engine upgrade to Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A-114A. Flat rated to 675shp (continuous)- the –114A engine increased performance across the spectrum: payload- climb rate and- equally helpful- in cruise speed. The Caravan 675 now cruises above 185 knots.

With a still-air range beyond 610nm carrying an executive payload- the Caravans provide plenty of reach for passenger carriage; throw in maximum fuel and the Caravan 675 can carry upwards of 1-000 lbs in the cabin- while the Grand Caravan can carry more than 1-300 lbs. Meantime- range grows beyond 860 nautical miles.

Both models can be fitted with a luxurious- leather-appointed executive interior – replete with options like in-flight entertainment equipment – or as utility airplanes equipped to balance the space equally among people and gear.

The Caravan 675 offers a four-place club seating arrangement that leaves plenty of room for luggage in the aft cabin; the Grand Caravan offers two additional seats for six total – plus the flight-deck seats- of course. Dual doors to the flight deck make crew access easy- while a wide cargo/passenger door aft in the cabin provides access for passengers and cargo.

Fitted with a panel that includes some of the best of both Garmin and Honeywell equipment- the Caravans can both be equipped with weather radar- as well as weather and traffic datalink gear to compliment its all-weather capabilities.

Most importantly- however- the Caravans offer friendly flying manners that minimize pilot workload in even inclement conditions. In fact- practically any pilot competent with the Cessna 172 Skyhawk single piston engine airplane for sale or Cessna 182 Skylane single engine airplane for sale can pick up on the Caravan with little worry.

Starting around $1.65 million- both Caravans deliver plenty for today’s business- whether the demand requires a high-capacity- short-haul ship or something for moving inventory between remote locales. Learn more about the Caravans at www.cessna.com.

EADS/SOCATA

TBM 700C2

The Socata TBM 700C airplanes for sale- introduced earlier this decade- grew directly out of EADS Socata’s belief in continued product improvements that enhance customer use. That’s why the TBM 700C received reinforcements to the central spar and wing attachments to handle a growth in its useful load.

Socata now offers the TBM 700 in two versions: the C1 for the market in Europe sports a 6-613lbs maximum ramp weight; the sturdier C2 boasts a 7-428lbs maximum ramp weight- and has won regulatory approval in Australia- Canada and the United States.

With the upgrade to the C2 version- Socata was among the earliest to offer a Mode S transponder as standard. The Mode S made the TBM 700C compliant with the March 31- 2005- deadline for Eurocontrol regulations requiring Mode S in order for aircraft capable of cruising faster than 250 knots to fly in European airspace.

At the same time- Socata Aircraft Incorporated also met regulations governing Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) flights above FL290. RVSM compliance assures operators access to the full range of operating altitudes available when your bird enjoys a service ceiling of 31-000 msl.

Otherwise- the C2 simply improved on the already strong capabilities that have generated more than 300 TBM 700 sales. Check out the TBM 700 at www.eads.socata.net.

EXTRA AIRCRAFT

EA-500

Distinct in construction- size- power and price- Extra Aircraft LLC’s EA-500 turboprop is both singular in the field but typical of creator Walter Extra’s unique solutions to specific needs.

The EA-500 is the smallest among today’s propjet singles. Designed to seat six – including a pilot – the EA-500 aims directly at the owner-flown market. The Extra-500 aircraft for sale is also the lightest- weighing a svelte 4-696 lbs at MTOW; that’s about 400 lbs lighter than its closest competitor. Credit for that light weight belongs to the sleek composite fuselage. Made predominantly of molded carbon fiber- the EA-500 airframe sports a high wing and a fluid- teardrop-shaped fuselage with minimal resistance to the airflow.

The EA-500 also stands alone in the pack for its powerplant: the compact Rolls-Royce/Allison 250 rated for 450 shp. Long popular among helicopter makers- Rolls- Royce 250s number in the thousands- and boast millions of operating hours and widespread support.

Extra Aircraft chose the powerplant as much for its form factor and weight as for its reliability and popularity. At about 200 pounds and only about 45 inches long and 19 inches across- the 250 worked almost perfectly into the sleek airframe. Working together with an MT Propeller five-blade unit- the EA-500 delivers very respectable performance with high fuel efficiency.

For example- at about 16-000 feet – much lower than efficient for most PT6A-powered airframes – the EA-500 can make about 220 knots true on about 30 gallons an hour of fuel. Take the EA-500 up to its maximum ceiling at FL250- though- and you lose only about 10 knots or so- but you gain about 10 gallons an hour in fuel efficiency as consumption drops to just over 20 gph.

There are a couple of single engine airplane for sale that can operate above 20-000 feet and make 210 knots or more – but at fuel-consumption rates of 18 to 22 gph- their costs per mile is higher due to the higher cost of aviation gasoline.

Credit is shared for this combination of speed and fuel efficiency by the airframe as much as the engine – with particular credit due to the natural laminar-flow wing and the ‘water-droplet’ lines of the fuselage.

The EA-500 also does well at small airports- needing but 1-400 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle- ranking its airport performance among some of the best available from high-performance piston singles. No doubt- the EA-500 offers the greatest runway flexibility of any business-turbine airplane flying.

The weakest link in the EA-500’s numbers is its payload limitations with full fuel – 176 gallons of Jet A. That fuel capacity gives the EA-500 a range nearing 1-600 nautical – plenty for two and gear with the nearly 500 pounds of available payload. Trade off of fuel for payload- however- works well in this aircraft. Fill only the standard 123-gallon main tank – and leave empty the 56-gallon long-range tank – and the EA-500 can carry an additional 375 pounds; that's another two people and their gear.

Even at the lighter fuel load- the EA-500 still offers a non-stop leg of nearly 1-100 nautical miles. Or fuel for a 700-mile trip and you can pretty much fill all six seats and the luggage space. And you can make the trip with one of aviation’s newest panels- the Honeywell Apex integrated system.

The price of an EA-500 weighs in at about $1.3 million.

IBIS AEROSPACE Ltd.

Ae270 Spirit

A year ago- Ibis Aerospace expected its Ae270 to have its flying papers by about this time. Although it’s not yet won approval from U.S. and European regulators- this single-engine propjet could be a commercial operator in time for this month’s Paris Salon.

Final certification is still the main goal of Ibis Aerospace- a partnership of the Czech Republic’s Aero Vodochody and AIDC of Taiwan operating from the Czech Republic. The five-passenger/two-crew Spirit- the corporate variant of the basic 10-seat Ae270- stands as a strong contender in the business turboprop aircraft for sale market and a true international product.

AIDC handles much of the precision-parts production on the Asian island; airframe construction and final assembly occurs in the European nation; the engines are Canadian- most of the Avionics American – as is the bulk of the international market.

What makes the Ae270 Spirit a serious contender in the single-turboprop airplanes for sale market are its numbers: nearly 280 knots cruise- a service ceiling of 30-000 msl- an IFR range exceeding 1-300 nautical miles- and the ability to operate from runways as short as 1-800 feet.

With a price under $2.5 million- the Spirit is well positioned between the smaller- less-expensive New Piper Meridian airplanes for sale and the larger- costlier Pilatus PC-12. With certification expected soon- deliveries are slated to begin immediately after first approval. The program already holds nearly 100 firm orders. Look for sales to grow once deliveries begin. Learn more at www.Ae270.com

NATIONAL AEROSPACE LABORATORIES OF INDIA

Saras

Almost exactly a year ago India- the world’s largest democracy- pushed the envelope in civil aviation by flying an all-new propjet aimed at the business aviation operator. They call the airplane the 'Saras' after a graceful and unique- native crane.

That works- since the Saras stands alone among today’s business turboprops for sale: A twin-engine airplane with its engines mounted backward on the aft fuselage. That configuration matches the vast majority of twin-turbofan business jets for sale – and no other propjet. Like most of its class- the Saras is also pressurized.

The first new private aircraft sales to enter the propjet market in more than a decade- the Saras is also distinct from the prior two new designs – both of those coincidentally also pushers: The Beech Starship 1 and Piaggio P.180 Avanti business turboprop aircraft for sale. The Saras differs from both the now-extinct Starship and today’s Italian Avanti in airframe configuration. This new plane from India conforms to the business jet layout in wing and tail- as well as powerplant mounting- and lacks a forward wing like both the other pusher designs.

India’s National Aerospace Laboratories started development of the Saras nearly 15 years ago. While initial design and construction progressed smoothly from 1991- a 1998 U.S. technology ban nearly ended progress. The technology ban arose after India’s first live test of a nuclear bomb that year. But progress has obviously resumed last year with the first flight in late May 2004.

The Saras approaches the passenger capacity of Cessna’s Grand Caravan with seating for up to 14- so this is a sizeable aircraft. Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66 pusher engines drive five-blade composite props for a powerplant package designed to deliver cruise speeds approaching 300 knots at altitudes up to FL250.

The ability to operate from runways of only 2-000 feet gives the Saras the airport flexibility needed to succeed as either a high-density shuttle- or short-haul cargo mount; a regional airliner or a business tool. The Saras with a corporate configured cabin could seat six to eight.

As long as national will remains steadfast behind the program- the Saras’ prospects seem strong – particularly in its home market. Now- with the program running around three years behind schedule- there is no firm timetable for producing a corporate variant.

NEW PIPER

Piper Meridian business turboprop airplanes for sale

They’ve improved it again. Recently New Piper announced enhancements to the Meridian – as well as its piston kin- the Malibu Mirage – that continue the company’s habit of ever improving its flagship model. Since first approval in 2000- New Piper has improved the Meridian’s fuel system- upgraded the autopilot and battery systems - even increased its gross weight.

In this latest advance- the company upgraded the panel with Avidyne’s highly capable FlightMax Entegra electronic flight deck. Since- in the end- it is the Meridian’s capabilities as a flying machine that has made it popular- any upgrade that makes the flying easier and safer only enhances those operating abilities. The three-screen Entegra package builds on the glass approach New Piper started by originally equipping the Meridian with Meggitt’s MAGIC electronic flight displays.

Briefly- the Entegra package now standard includes three 10.4-inch (diagonal) displays mounted portrait style. The pilot and co-pilot screens are EXP5000 Primary Flight Displays with all the flight instruments depicted cleanly across the wide displays. Each PFD runs off its own integral ADAHRS solid-state sensors; but both screens can share an ADAHRS should one fail. The center display- an EX5000 MFD- serves multiple roles- among them: moving map; weather display; and engine-status monitor – with all these data sets tracked accurately even when not displayed on-screen.

But it’s the Meridian’s flight abilities that have helped New Piper deliver more than 200 since production started.

Among those traits are a cruise speed of up to 260 knots- a service ceiling of FL300- a maximum range approaching 1-000 nautical miles and an executive payload range of about 700 nautical.

The 500-shp PT6A-42A powerplant benefits from a flat rating that demands just a fraction of its capabilities to improve reliability and economy.

But it is the Meridian’s single-pilot flying traits that bring home many a sale. Far more than a Mirage with a turboprop engine installed- New Piper airplanes for sale completely reworked the original airframe design to retain the balance and harmony that made the original Malibu a treat to fly. The effort paid off. Managing the Meridian throughout its flight envelope is as satisfying as any aircraft in its class – and easily as rewarding as many smaller- slower airplanes.

The Meridian led general aviation into the realm of solid-state EFIS panels with the inclusion of the Magic system as an available option – until- that is- the company yielded to demand and made the system standard.

Now New Piper is taking the Meridian to the next level with a system also so popular elsewhere that New Piper started it out as standard. With its $1.9 million tab even more competitive with the Entegra system standard- New Piper expects the Meridian to become an even stronger competitor. You can find more information at www.newpiper.com.

PIAGGIO AERO

P.180 Avanti

Four years after carmaker Ferrari revived the moribund P.180- Piaggio Aero’s Avanti remains a steady contender. That shows how important marketing- support and advances can be to an already blisteringly fast twin turboprop.

With upgrades in collision avoidance and other aircraft avionics- what remains the Avanti’s strongest suit is its ability to fly far- very fast. And with no other propjet in sight- the eight-seat P.180 remains the fastest in its field with a scorching 390-knot cruise speed that leaves even many entry-level-jets behind by more than 20 knots.

The tall 5.8 ft cabin belies the Avanti’s ability to cover 1-000 nautical miles in only three hours on a miserly 1-526 lbs of fuel. And today’s P.180 can still cover as much as 1-500 nautical at more than 300 knots – with four in the cabin. The Avanti also stands out as the only propjet capable of flying at FL410 - as above the weather as most jets get.

Just as its performance is top-of-the-stack- the P.180’s price is nearly comparable. At about $5.5 million- only the 10- to 15-seat Beechcraft Super King Air 350 is more costly to own.

But with the ability to use runways under 2-900 feet long- nothing with a prop should ever beat an Avanti to a meeting – price notwithstanding. Still no other propjet matches the Avanti’s combination of speed and operating economy. More details are available at www.piaggio.com.

PILATUS PC-12 business turboprops for sale

Describing this one-mill turboprop involves a couple of top-of-the pack references. The PC-12- for example- tops the propjet-single pack in size and weight. At a maximum take-off weight nearing 10-000 pouds- no other single comes close. While typically configured for fewer- the big Pilatus can seat as many as 10- with luggage space intact – another best in class.

The PC-12 also tops the stack in price- whether you look at the $2.7-million plus base price or the best-equipped tab that well exceeds $3 million. With that investment- however- comes a single-engine business turboprops airplane for sale ripe with capabilities that also make it a standout machine.

The PC-12 can- for example- depart at gross weight from a runway of only 2-300 feet; with full fuel the PC-12 can cover 2-200 nautical miles before touchdown – at 270 knots- carrying 1-000 lbs of whatever. The big P&WC PT-6A-67B powerplant ponies up 1-200shp- which gives the PC-12 its muscle and endurance. With power in reserve- the PC-12 can perform the same mission on high density-altitude days from airports as small as 4-000ft.

The airframe brings with it the engineering pedigree you’d expect coming out of Switzerland. Rugged yet sleek- the airframe fits with the engine and systems to deliver a pilot’s airplane with ideal single-pilot manners.

It’s how operators choose to use the PC-12 that dictates its mission and configuration. The PC-12 fills the role of an aerial truck for some who look to its ability to haul about a half ton on full-fuel flights. That same operator certainly appreciates the flexibility to swap payload for range. Fueled to fly 600 nautical at an economy power setting- the PC-12 offers the capacity to carry upwards of 2-700 pounds – and get to its destination with reserves.

With an interior available that’s easily reconfigured for a variety of people-and-payload combinations- business operators have a machine equally at home hauling boards and board members.

RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT

Beechcraft King Airs

Beech’s ubiquitous King Air line appears to be more than holding its own well into its fifth decade- proof positive of the timelessness of the original King Air 90 design. Today’s King Air line includes the original-size model as the King Air C90B airplanes for sale; the stretched B200; and the further stretched 350. They today remain as much the standard bearers as ever among multi-engine turboprops.

With more than 6-000 delivered in 40 years- it seems obvious that the original marriage between Beech and P&WC remains as strong as ever- with all three King Air models sporting PT6 powerplants. The marriage works as much by the strength and harmony of the airframe as for the fit of the engines.

Flying qualities- in particular- remain hallmarks of the entire King Air business turboporps for sale line. But credit for the line’s success also belongs to the continuous improvements made to the King Air series over its 40-plus years in service. The most-recent upgrades made to the King Airs brought to their panels the latest in electronic flight instruments.

Today’s Beechcraft C90B employs Collins’ EFIS 84 solid-state flight-instrument system- an enhancement that improves on the reliability and safety of the mechanical gyros- dials and gauges it replaced. The Beechcraft B200 and King Air 350 aircraft for sale received higher upgrades to Collins’ advanced Pro Line 21 EFIS- a fully integrated three-screen panel that incorporates communications and navigation as well as flight and engine instrumentation.

The availability of a used King Air aircraft for sale in one of three sizes helps assure the line’s continued success since business operators enjoy the opportunity to pick a model to meet both budget and need.

Today’s six-place C90B still comes in at $2.7 million equipped; the eight- to-10 place King Air B200 aircraft for sale is still available for about $5 million- equipped; and the top-King Air 350 tops the pack at about $5.8 million – for up to 15 seats in high-density configuration. For more information- check out www.raytheonaircraft.com.

NEW ADDITIONS:

PZL M28 Skytruck

The latest propjet model certificated is the Polish-built PZL M28 Skytruck - at 16-584 pounds maximum take-off weight it’s the biggest of the turboprop pack. It’s not the svelte speedster most of its competition is – but it’s big enough to give a Caravan an inferiority complex. With the ability to carry 21 people or a massive amount of materials- a Skytruck offers utility commensurate with its size.

With a massive useful load approaching 6-900 lbs- the Skytruck provides as much volume as it does lifting capacity. Fueled full to the maximum 3-970 lbs- the Skytruck provides a payload approaching a whopping 3-000 lbs.

Credit for the Skytruck’s lifting ability goes in part to the large wing- which spans a considerable 72.3 feet. Credit for the propjet’s payload flexibility goes to a cabin that stretches more than 17 feet and measures 5.7-feet square inside.

The Skytruck flies on a pair of powerful P&WC PT6A-65B making a flat-rated 1-100shp for this application - power enough to lift whatever fits.

Range with full fuel tops 1-000 nautical miles- a leg that takes more than 6 hours to cover at the Skytruck’s 176-knot cruise speed. Unpressurized- the Skytruck is most at home cruising below 10-000 feet. But with runway minimums as low as 1-066 feet – and sturdy fixed gear at home on rough fields – the Skytruck offers access at locations unavailable to most propjets.

PZL prices the Skytruck at just under $4.6 million. For more information- check out the Skytruck Website at: www.pzlmielec.pl/ang/fly01.html

VULCANAIR SpA

SPA

As it nears the end of its first decade in business- Vulcanair SpA has a revived a number of programs and launched development of a new jet based on one of the airframes revived from the old Italian SIAI-Marchetti and Partenavia lines the company acquired since 1996. Here’s a quick glimpse of the current product line with business potential.

Mission VF-600w

Designed originally by Stelio Frati- the Vulcanair VF-600w single flies behind the Czech-built Walter 601F powerplant making 777shp. Seating up to 11 – exclusive of the crew seats – the Mission is designed to offer operational flexibility in a simple- unpressurized airframe suitable for a wide variety of missions.

According to the company’s preliminary data- the Mission will have a gross weight of 8-653 pounds with a payload of up to 3-530 pounds. Fuel capacity stands at 2-293 pounds- leaving more than 1-200 pounds for useful load.

The company is still tweaking the design it wants to certificate and has delayed pursuing regulatory approval of the VF-600w until finalizing the design of this $1.3 million utility bird.

Vulcanair is also working on a twin version of the Mission dubbed the Canguro that will employ two 450-horse versions of the Rolls Royce 250-B17. Price is expected to be about $1.5 million.

Finally- Vulcanair is resurrecting the Partenavia AP68TP Spartacus with a pair of 328-shp Rolls 250s for power.

This $1.3-million model – the lowest-priced twin propjet in the pack – resembles the familiar Partenavia Observer- with seating for up to eight- a maximum useful load of just over 2-500 pounds- and the ability to carry more than 1-000 pounds payload with a full 1-487 pounds of fuel. See the current information at www.vulcanair.com


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