- 29 Apr 2021
- Aviation Podcasts
What do you need to know about buying and operating a Light Jet? Check out this latest Airplane Intel podcast featuring Mark Hangen, founder of Easy Ice, who knows ice almost as much as he knows airplanes...Back to Articles
This podcast covers how to buy a light jet, including mission and market considerations, how to train and build time in a light jet to combat today’s tight insurance climate, the pros and cons of dry-leasing a jet rather than owning one outright, as well as managing and maintaining your new jet in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
We’ll also be comparing the features, performance, and mission profiles of the most popular light jets on the market – the Citation Mustang, 550, 560, and 525 Citation Jet series and why they remain competitive and desirable among owners and pilots despite increased competition from the Embraer Phenom, HondaJet, and Pilatus PC-24.
Mark Hangen is the founder of an innovative commercial ice machine company based in Michigan called Easy Ice. Mark knows ice almost as much as he knows airplanes.
Mark has flown and owned a wide variety of aircraft throughout his career, including piston singles, light twins, and large turboprops like the Turbine Commander. Mark’s not only the CEO of Easy Ice, but also its Chief Pilot. Today, Easy Ice operates multiple light jets including the Citation 500-series, Citation Mustang, and the Citation CJ2.
Adam: Airplane Intel Podcast, Episode 85. This week we interview the owner of several popular light jets to learn about the pros and cons of jet ownership. Our guest will share a ton of advice and compare features and benefits of some of today's most popular private jets, plus a lot more. If you're thinking about flying or buying a jet, you won't want to miss this.
[Airplane Intel theme]
Presenter: Are you an aircraft owner, pilot, or a mechanic? Do you want to learn how to increase safety, reduce risk and save money with your airplane? Then, you are in the right place. This is the Airplane Intel Podcast. The only show that tells you how to make aircraft ownership simple, safe, and cost effective. Featuring the Prebuy Guys and brought to you by coflyt.com. We bring over 100 years combined experience flying, maintaining, and managing all types of aircraft. If you're ready to make smarter decisions and get more out of your airplane, stay tuned.
Adam: Hello, and welcome to another installment of the Airplane Intel Podcast. We’re an aviation podcast about the ins and outs of aircraft ownership. I'm Adam, I'm a CFI, A&P/IA, Marine Corp veteran and the cofounder of Airplane Intel. It's our goal to help you make safer and smarter decisions when it comes to buying, maintaining, and selling your personal or business aircraft. If you're a longtime listener, hey, welcome back, it's great to have you along. And if you're new to the show, welcome aboard.
On the podcast, we compare airplanes, interview airplane owners and industry experts, and of course, share our real-world experience working in the field helping folks just like you buy, maintain, and manage their aircraft. Make sure to hit the Subscribe button, so you won't miss an episode and please consider leaving us a rating/review on whatever app you're listening from. I would greatly appreciate it. Now to join the conversation, ask your questions and share your stories, be sure to shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out our episode archives, links, articles, videos and other free resources on our show notes page at airplaneintelpodcast.com. Now, I'm very excited for today's guest, Mark Hangen.
Mark is an extremely interesting guy, and an experienced jet pilot and owner. Now, I think you'll really enjoy our interview as well, because we cover a lot of common questions and topics from folks looking to step up into their first jet. We will cover a lot of ground during our interview, such as how to buy a light jet, including mission and market considerations, how to train and build time in a light jet to combat today's tight insurance climate, the pros and cons of dry leasing and jet rather than owning it outright, as well as managing and maintaining your new jet in the most cost effective and efficient manner. We'll also be comparing the features, performance, and mission profiles of the most popular light jets on the market, the Citation Mustang 550, 560 and 525 Citation jet series aircraft and why they remain competitive and desirable among owners and pilots despite increased competition from Embraer Phenom, Hondajet and the Pilatus PC-24.
Now before we dive in, I like to welcome our latest Patreon supporter, Dane Ward. Dane joined us on Patreon back in early April at the associate producer level donating $1 per month. So, thank you, Dane, for your support and for all of you that helps sponsor our show on Patreon. Our Patreon supporters get more from the show with bonus content, early access to episodes, uncut interviews, free coaching calls and much more. You can get started by donating as little as $1 per month. Learn more about supporting us on Patreon by heading over to patreon.com/prebuyguys. That's P-A-T-R-E-O-N dotcom slash prebuyguys, one word.
Now, it's already been about six weeks since our last podcast episode, and time really does fly when you're having fun. April was extremely busy for us. We had multiple aircraft in the hangar for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including a King Air, Citation jet, Beech Bonanza, and a Mooney M20. We also helped almost a dozen folks buy an airplane through our Buyer Assistance Program and Aircraft Prebuy services on a wide variety of aircraft, including a Cirrus SR22, several Cessna 182s, F33A Bonanza, A36 Bonanza, Socata TB200, Socata TB20, a Piper Archer, King Air 90 and the list goes on and on. You can learn more about all the ways we can help you with your aircraft ownership journey by heading over to airplaneintel.com.
Now that said, I hope to get caught up on podcasts and YouTube videos in May, because delivering content to you guys is a huge priority for me here. Speaking of being here, if you ever find yourself in Central Florida, please stop by and say hello. We're located at the Ocala International Airport, that's Kilo Oscar Charlie Foxtrot, just north of Orlando and south of Gainesville. Now, I'd love the opportunity to meet you in person. In working on all these airplanes, we have the opportunity to travel the country and meet exciting airplane buyers, owners, pilots, mechanics, and other aviation professionals. Now, the airplanes are certainly exciting, but it's meeting all of you guys out there, that is the most fun. If you’re ever near Central Florida, come by and say, hello. Now without further ado, let's get into today's interview about owning a light jet with Mark Hangen.
Adam: Today, we're speaking with Mark Hangen, the founder of innovative commercial ice machine company based in Michigan called Easy Ice. Mark knows ice almost as much as he knows airplanes. Mark has flown and owned a wide variety of aircraft throughout his career, including piston singles, light twins, and large turboprops, like, the Turbine Commander. Mark’s not only the CEO of Easy Ice, but also its chief pilot. Today, Easy Ice operates in multiple light jets including the Citation 500 series, Mustang, and CJ2. Mark, welcome to the podcast. First, tell us a little bit more about yourself, your aviation career, and how Easy Ice as business aviation in its day-to-day operations.
Mark: I'm Mark, CEO of a company called Easy Ice. We are the largest provider of commercial ice machines as a service in the country, if not the world. We've got 25,000 ice machines in customers in 47 states, and we provide much like say a parts an engine program and a labor program on a jet for a fixed monthly fee, we're providing everything required to have an ice machine in your business, including the ice machine, the backup ice, the cleaning, the filter changes, any parts labor, etc. In our business, the elevator pitches, when you own your own ice machine, the only way anybody in your supply chain makes money is if you have a problem. With us, the only way we make money is if you don't have a problem. So, we think our priorities align with yours, and that makes for a better outcome for both of us.
We utilize jets in our business and aircraft in general. We have a Cessna 310, and we own a Mustang 510. Over the last four or five years, we've leased both CJ’s. CJ2 in particular, and then Citation 550s and 560s on an hourly basis. Not on an exclusive lease, it's as they're available, we make use of them. So, I'm typed in the 500 series, typed in the 525 series, the CJ series and I'm typed in the 510, and we do now own our own 510 Mustang.
Adam: Hm, very interesting. That's a pretty wide range of airplanes. Can you give us an idea of what missions and activities those different airplanes are doing for your business?
Mark: Yeah, it's basically all the same mission, it's flying for our business. We have offices around the country. I'm talking to you from our Scottsdale office. Our corporate headquarters are in Marquette, Michigan, that's 1200 to1300 nautical mile trip. And then, we have customers and offices in Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, San Antonio, Miami, Orlando, etc. Then, suppliers around the country too, down in Georgia, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, over in Chicago. We're utilizing the jet to do a couple of things, to transport employees between locations, between customer sites to suppliers, and then we also utilize the jet-- we are an acquisitive company. We do make acquisitions. Since our headquarters are in Marquette, the location that's hard-to-get reliable airline service, we utilize the jet to bring potential acquisition candidates to Marquette to see our facilities, to meet our team, and to have discussions.
So, a wide variety of purposes, and it's 99%-- I think of that the 440 hours we flew last year, it was like 8 of them are-- maybe it was 8 of them more personal, it's primarily in business trips. We back that up with the 310. A trip from Marquette to Chicago, to Minneapolis, to Detroit, to Toronto was served well in [unintelligible [00:08:32].
Adam: That’s very interesting, because I think a lot of operators are going to be using their airplanes for a variety of purposes, and it sounds like that's a pretty common thing for people to be doing with their airplanes. Now, can you back up a little bit? How did your company end up purchasing an airplane or identifying the need for an airplane that is, and then going about purchasing the airplane and going through the process of choosing the right airplane for that mission and so on? Because there's a lot of options out there.
Mark: Yeah, there are. It starts with the CEO, myself, who founded the company who had been flying. I got my license in 86, I believe it was. So, I owned a Cherokee Six and Piper Seneca and a Cessna 310 and Cessna 340, and then a couple of Turbine Commanders before I started the business. When you start a business, you usually don't have the money to go out and acquire an airplane but we managed to reacquire the 310 and utilize that because we were remotely located up on the shoreline of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Just getting reliable service to the key areas, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, like I said, was very, very difficult. There was a need and we could get into the 310 for comparatively small amount of money.
Then for a while, we leased and we used leasing extensively in our business, we leased a Turbine Commander of which I had owned too, and we utilized that for longer trips, and of course with the Commander, it's a [unintelligible [00:10:03] airplane, it’s a 300-knot airplane that you can get to 280 and get up above a lot of the weather than with the 310 would offer.
Then, we opened up our facility in Scottsdale, and while we could do it in the Commander, I don't know, I'm a boy that likes jets. At the end of the day, we worked jets into our repertoire, which was interesting, because we really couldn't afford a jet at that time. What we did is I got a type rating, and one thing’s different between, say any of the other airplanes we fly in the jet is you have to have a type rating. So significant commitment, a type rating is a $20,000 to $30,000 expense, a college education, if you will at least for a year. You're going to go for 18 days, and you're going to be exposed to a bunch of stuff that you're not typically used to.
When I came out, I had a type rating, and then it's a networking process. I knew some guys who knew some guys, and next thing you know, I was signing contract for more well-known touring rock stars in today's world. He's an 80s band guy, who's done quite well, and I started flying contract for him with the idea that I needed to build time in a jet. Because to be insured in a jet, what they wanted was at least 25 hours with someone before I was PIC. Although I had a lot of experience, I needed that 25 hours, and I think first year I flew for him, I think we flew 250 hours, and mostly on weekends.
It's about OPM, baby, it's other people's money. So, I flew on his dime. I got my commercial, I got my [unintelligible [00:11:30]. So, I was getting paid to fly jets, as well as building experience. We're doing a lot of night flying, we're doing a lot of bad weather flying, we're flying to Puerto Rico, we're flying to Cancun, we're flying to Canada, and we're flying all over the United States. You build a lot of experience, real world experience in that kind of environment. Mostly, I was PIC, but I was flying with guys in the right seat who were very experienced airline pilots, etc. It just got me up to speed such that we could utilize jets in our own business. Then, what I did is I worked to deal with that guy who happened to be leasing his jet, and I leased it as well. So, when he wasn't using it, I would use it.
Then, here's what I'll say, leasing is a great financing alternative. I didn't do an exclusive lease, I did it by the hour. The challenge there is who on your field has jets available for that kind of program. Insurance has cracked down a little bit on that, but the reason I have three different type ratings is because-- let's put it this way, there weren't enough 500 series to cover my needs. At one point, we leased seven jets around the country, and some of them were 510s, some of them were 560s, some were 550s and some were CJs, and it required that I went out and got type ratings and all three of those aircraft. I will say it's self-serving because it served the business, but it was cool to have the experience of being type rating three different jets. It opened up the world to us in terms of maximizing what was available. Then most recently, the realization of being current three different types, is a non-trivial task. It takes a year for each. It takes probably $8000 or $10,000 per year for each.
The most important thing is you're changing between technology. That 550, for example, compared to the Mustang is completely different. The avionics are different. So, I would be flying steam gauges with an FMS, a 550, transitioning to Pro Line 21 system in a CJ2, and then maybe flying a 550, a panel had been retrofitted with Garmin technology, and then the G1000 in the Mustang. In the end, I looked at
them all, and what I decided was, well, this CJ2 family was at two million plus CapEx. The Mustang was a million and a half CapEx, and you could get a 550 for $600,000. Well, the 550 also burns twice the gas as the Mustang. It's legacy equipment. Unless you want to spend a lot of money to upgrade that legacy equipment, it just seemed to me that the Mustang was an aircraft that met our travel means, it was an airplane I could fly into my 70s. It's a big boy jet. It's got VNAV, it’s got synthetic vision, it's got FADEC. It was simpler to fly than the others and only burn 90 block fuels, nine gallons an hour versus what is 180 gallons for the same speed in the larger 550. So, in a nutshell, that's how I evolved into what I do today and how we utilize jets today.
Adam: That's very interesting. Now for those of our viewers that may not be familiar with the process of leasing a jet, can you give us an idea of how that works, and who are they leasing the jet from? Are there other businesses or 135 operators, etc.?
Mark: Yeah, not 135 operators. 135 guys aren't going to allow mixed use, 91,135 with their machines. It would put their tickets in jeopardy. What you have to do is you have to have a-- for any aircraft that's over 12,000, or I guess it's over 10,000 pounds, any turbine-powered aircraft over 10,000 pounds, you have to file a lease with the FAA, both with your local FSDO, and with Oklahoma City. You can go to the NBAA, and join, that's probably a good investment if you're going to be flying jets, and you can get all the paperwork there and get a good understanding of what's in the process. You can lease your 182 to your buddy, you can rent it to him. You can't do that to the jet. You have to have a formal lease that's approved by the FAA, and it's got to be sent in a certain period of time, within 48 hours of signing the lease. It's got to go to your local FSDO, and you'll typically get a call from your FSDO, and then it's got to go to Oklahoma City.
For a long time, it didn't do you all that much good, because one of the advantages of a jet is flying at high altitude, and you had to go and you had to file for your own POA as it relates to RVSM and MMELs. Now with ADS-B, some of those rules have changed, and you don't have to make that, but that was a six-month process. So, you'd be flying a jet at or below 20,000 feet, where you're not clearing the weather necessarily, one of the big advantages, you're not getting optimum winds, and you're burning 50% more fuel at those lower altitudes. So, it took some planning. With the advent of ADS-B now, the process is less complex, but you still have to sign these leases.
Then, you have to have an insurance program. This is very important because people think, well, I got to go out and get an insurance program, no. What happens is the owner of the jet, you become a lessee or a utilizer of his insurance policy. Then, what you're going to find is there's a lot of jet guys out there who decide they want to offset some of their costs, and they think leasing it on hourly basis seems to make sense, but they don't have a lot of experience doing it and then they get unrealistic expectations, for example, diminution of value. So, you’ve got to CJ2, a $2.5 million airplane, and one of my first contracts or negotiations was the guy that owned it wanted me to be responsible for diminution of value to the extent that there was damage to the airplane. If the FBO was tugging the airplane and hit a wing chip, got some hanger rash, not only did he want the compensation to repair the airplane, but now the airplane had a damage history, so he wanted compensation for the damage history. Well, that's pretty unheard of, but there was a series of people who were thinking, “Hey, maybe we can get away with this.” Bad news, you're flying along, you hit a bird, it puts a dent in the wing, you fix the wing. Now, there's a diminution of value, and that could be, I don't know, 20% on a $2.5 million airplane. That's a half a million bucks, and no insurance company will insure that. So, that's coming out of your own pocket. You’ve got to slap those guys around and say, “That's not realistic.” But then again, if it's the only jet available, you’ve got to figure out how you can work a solution. What we agreed to was, if it was gross negligence on my part-- so hitting the bird would not be considered gross negligence. But if I'm taking the guy’s CJ2 and I'm doing touch and go’s off airport in the desert, and I heard something, well, yeah, that's gross negligence and I'd be responsible for that.
The key is you got to network in your community, at your airport, and figure out what jet’s available, who's got the appetite to do a program like this, and then will their insurance company support it? Lot of insurance companies are saying now that they want to limit the number of dry leases, it's called dry lease. They want to limit the number of dry leases to maybe one or two. So, it's really finding those guys and building trust and intimacy and getting a deal done that you can both live with.
Adam: Hmm, very interesting. That's another option for owners of these airplanes to partake in, is to lease their airplane and vice versa for an operator is to lease an airplane. A lot of people don't think about that as an option, as much as they might think about putting their airplane on a 135 ticket or something like that.
Mark: That 135 ticket is a really hard way to do it. I think the notion of dry leasing, I think you're going to make more money in that scenario. Having said that, what I will tell you is, for a lot of people when they buy a jet, sometimes that jet has the same status as their wife, or their husband depending, it covers a wide gamut. A lot of guys don't like other guys messing with their wife, or messing with their husbands. So, they think, “Great. I'm going to get money for this,” but then they get in the airplane, and if there's one thing out of place, then it bothers them. I've had guys, friends of mine that I leased airplanes with, who have actually stalked me through FlightAware. I have one guy said, “Well, you went over the Gulf,” between, say, Texas in Florida. You're more than 90 miles within gliding distance. You got to have a life raft and life vests.” Well, the airplane has life vests, and I bought a life raft. “Oh.”
Mark: -okay. Yeah, but I'm sorry, the notion that you're stalking me tells me that this isn't a game for you. So, if you're one of those guys who don't like other guys messing with your girl, or messing with your guy, hmm, probably not a great way to go, just from my experience.
Mark: Just a little bit of an unusual way to put it. But, no, it isn't.
Adam: Yeah, and I think it's a really good way to put it because it's very relatable, for sure. Now, you're obviously the CEO of a pretty large business, type rated on three airplanes. I assume you have a flight department as part of your business, and if that's the case, can you explain a little bit more about the flight departments, operations, and do you have other pilots on staff, and do you have maintenance on staff and things like that?
Mark: Yeah, so if you look at my LinkedIn profile, even though I'm the CEO, it's actually says, “Chief Pilot.”
Mark: Which is kind of a play on words. My hangar’s right in my office building, and you can see there's a 185 in there, and then there's the Mustang. I have a contractor who comes to my office and does the hangar at my office. He's a certified Citation, Mustang guy. They do all my maintenance there. So, I don't utilize the service center, although the engines are on the Provantage Plus program, and I'm on parts program. I manage my labor cost. In terms of other pilots, well, I'm one of those guys who doesn't like other guys messing with my wife, so only I fly.
Mark: It's a joke, mom, it's a joke.
Mark: It's an analogy. I mostly do my flying myself, especially when it comes to turbines, but we do have a handful of contractors. We contract the 310 flying, although I will fly it. I spent a lot of time during the winter in our Scottsdale headquarters, that's shocking, versus the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right now, like five degrees and blowing snow. Yeah, we use contract pilots on occasion, because just that's what it requires. But for the most part, I try to do most of the flying, which brings up a really interesting issue.
When I have members of my staff on the airplane, I have customers on the airplane, I have suppliers on the airplane, and I'm flying single pilot, well, what happens? I'll give you one of my favorite stories. I was flying this particular rocker and his tour bus had broken down, needed me to rescue. I said, “Well, I'm single pilot today,” and he's a two-pilot guy. “Oh, it's no problem.” He was desperate enough that he wanted to -- He was willing to forego the second pilot. So, I arrived in Sisseton, South Dakota. Pick the guy up, bumping knuckles, he's kind of a friend of mine. You get that way after you fly with these guys for a while. He says, “Hey, do you want me to sit up front?” I said, “Well, you can always sit up front, but tell me why first?” Knowing full well, he goes, “Well, remember, during Celebrity Apprentice, I was that guy that had a brain aneurysm and just about died. You know, it happens, and so something would happen to you, maybe I could like save us.”
Mark: I said, “Let me be clear. Okay, if I die, you die.” He said, “Okay, I'll sit in the back.”
Adam: Okay. [chuckles]
Mark: All right, so much for the friendship. It is a real issue. Single pilot in a business environment and what kind of exposure you're providing to people. In those scenarios, there are lot of other people on board, I tend to hire a contractor to fly with me. The other alternative, I'm looking at this Garmin Autoland that's recently come out. It would be great when the Mustang or maybe the M2 series came out with that capability, and then I think that transforms that. What I will tell you is having a second pilot is never a bad idea from a practical perspective.
On the other side, finding that guy in a very labor-short market, and having them sit around-- if I go to Michigan to stay there for a week, I’ve got to either airline him back, which is a couple of grand, or I’ve got to pay for him, and I'm paying him 800 bucks a day, and it gets expensive, and then you're dealing with human beings. Their priorities might be different than my priorities. I will say that I'd much rather be single pilot, so I can't wait to Garmin Autoland comes out on the Mustang series and the M2 series.
Adam: Not probably far away on the-- Definitely I'm sure the M2 and the CJ3+ with the G5000 and what not.
Adam: That's a whole separate topic, obviously, but that's an interesting perspective for sure. Now, do you see-- obviously, now you're paying insurance and operational costs for these airplanes, etc. Do you find that there is a higher premium for insurance when you're flying these airplanes single-- especially the 550, which originally was intention to be a two-pilot airplane, do you see any difference in the insurance there?
Mark: Yeah, so I am single pilot in the 500 series. This is an important point, I have never owned a 550 or a 560. Flown them, probably got 500 hours between them maybe 600 hours between them. What is the result? I'm using the owner’s insurance. So, the owner often doesn't share with me what that insurance is. I typically pay the owner $1,000 because it was $1,000 per dry lease contract, and then the first thing we saw was the dry lease contracts were being limited. Rather than having five, you could have three, and maybe now it's down to two. Now, I just bought my first Mustang, and my insurance for a year was 15 grand. All right, that's for $5 million smooth limits.
I've been close to the insurance markets through buddies-- the price of poker is going up, guys we're seeing 30%, 40% increases in insurance. The nice thing about the Mustang from an insurability perspective is its whole value of less than $2 million. The insurance companies seem to have a lot more flexibility and tolerance of below $2 million whole value than they do north of $2 million whole value. I've got some wealthy friends who are like, “Hmm, I’ll get a PC-24.” We got the PC-12, they want the PC-24. They got no multi-turbine time. You might be a wealthy guy, you ain't wealthy enough to pay the insurance premium that they're going to charge you on that PC-24.
Mark: A single pilot? No, you should probably get a second pilot full time. All right, just because of the cost of that insurance. Some of the newer airplanes high whole value CJ4, CJ3+s, man, that's going to be a tough single pilot insurance bill. I guess if you got enough money to buy one of those, you can probably afford the insurance, but it's going to be-- I've heard $100,000 a year insurance premiums for aircraft like that.
Adam: Wow. That’s a lot of amount.
Mark: What they do is because a lot of guy, “Oh, I got $50 million on my $75 million, a liability on my PC-12.” Yeah, well, you're not going to get that on your PC-24. It's going to be $10 million. Then they're going to charge you 100 grand for that. So, I mean, that's the thing you got to watch out for.
Adam: Yeah, that's a good point for sure. Insurance is a topic we'll be covering in more detail in a later interview in some other content. But that's definitely an important aspect that people from what I found, they don't really do their due diligence on right away. Sometimes, they're surprised with the quotes they get, and the demands that the insurance companies want from them to insure them.
Mark: I think the problem is guys now-- like me, I came up through the Twin Commander. So, I had 2000 hours of turbine time, multi-turbine time, before I got in the jet business. I got in the jet business, I don't know, five years ago, and the insurance companies were pretty reasonable back then. With the spat of accidents that we've had, the CJ4 that went down in Lake Erie, 550 that went down in Atlanta, there's been a number of accidents. Every one of those has just freaked the insurance companies out and that's three things, higher premiums, lower limits, and you can be in a situation where you can't get to where you want to be from where you are. So, if you're the kind of guy that grew up flying Bonanzas, maybe a Cirrus and now you're thinking, “I want to move to a Meridian or a TBM Turboprops.” And then you're saying, “My turn for a jet,” and insurance companies going to look at you and say, “Hmm. Yeah, I don't like the odds of that.”
The reality of it is, jets are different. Especially single pilot and a 550, yeah, you can buy one for 550 grand, but it is a part 25 complex jet that's faster than what you're used to. It's slippery that you're used to. Look, on a turboprop, the speeds up coming into land, man, you got that beta pitch and you'll get it stopped, that's not going to necessarily be the case, and reverse thrusters aren't quite beta pitch, especially on a contaminated runway. We'd land this Turbine Commander on glare ice at the New Century in Kansas City. I taxi off and the ground controller would say, “Set braking net conditions,” and I say, “I don't know. I haven't used them.” You can't do that on a jet. Jets are so speed sensitive, and they'll glide right off the end of the runway, because you flew in too fast, and you don't have the ability to compensate for it.
There's a lot of things where the insurance companies are looking at that now and say, “Yeah, I don't like that idea.” It's hard for guys. I’ve got a buddy who's crewing an Ultra, and it used to be you could get any multi-engine guy, give him three takeoffs and landings and a half a day ground school, and he could be an insurable SIC. No more. They want the SIC, second command, to have a type rating to fly. I got 17 of my buddies, SIC time in jets, many of them now are flying jets, but none of them had jet time to begin with, can't do that now because the insurance companies aren't going to allow that. The price of poker has gone way up in that regard.
Adam: Definitely has, and you bring up a lot of interesting points there, specifically, with having that time. It's not just from an insurance standpoint, it's also from a safety standpoint as well and also protecting your investment really. Especially, like you said, when you have clients on board or staff members on board, the experience that you can't just substitute any other way. So, that’s interesting.
Mark: Yeah, you got to ask yourself, a young mother, a young father gets in your airplane-- Here's what I'll tell you. What I'm shocked is, how many people don't say, “Well, what happens if you expire?” They just get on, maybe ignorance is bliss. They just get on, “I'm on a private jet, isn't this cool?”
Mark: Yeah, well, what happens if I expire? You're going to expire too.
Adam: You’re right.
Mark: What I've been doing recently is, I've been taking my executives who fly with me, and I've been putting them through the SIMCom here in Scottsdale through their Pinch Hitter Program. I let him fly up front with me, I work with them, I talk with them, I let them fly the airplane a little bit, such that if something were to happen to me, they got a half a chance to get it on the ground. So, I feel somewhat responsible for that. I'm working hard to try to get some people a little bit more experience. But I'm just not to the point where I'm going to say, “Yeah, we're always going to use two pilots.” If I do use two pilots, I'm going to go hire a guy, and or a gal, and that's going to be $150,000, and that's an expensive hire.
Adam: Hmm, yes. Now, again, some of our listeners may not be familiar with some of these things. You mentioned you have three type ratings, but you've mentioned a lot of different airplanes. Obviously, some of the type ratings apply to multiple models of Citation. Can you just give us an idea? So, you have a 500 type rating, a 510, and a 525. What airplanes does that allow you to fly legally from FAA perspective, and also within that insurance realm as well?
Mark: Yeah, so any 500 series, and the 500 includes the actual 500, the 500 single pilot, the 550, 551, which is a single-pilot version. In other words, you don't need an exemption. In the 500 series, there are 501s and 551s, which were designed to be allowed to fly single pilot, and you don't need a waiver or waiver single-pilot exemption. Those waivers exemptions are weeklong classes that you have to do every year, and you're taking a full non-progressive check ride. It's good practice, but it's a lot of work. To have that, you have to have 500 hours of turbine time before they'll even grant you that, and then they want you to have a commercial license, and so on and so forth.
I can fly the 500, I can fly the 501, 501 single pilot, the 550, the 551. What they do on the 501 and 551 is, they limit the gross weight to 12,500 pounds, as opposed to normally what would be like 13,500, and then you can get a gross weight enhancement get up to 14,700. All right, well, believe me, the difference between 12,500 and 14,700 is 2,200 pounds. That makes a big difference in terms. So, you buy a 550, it's limited because it's a single-pilot airplane to 12,500 pounds, the last four seats in the airplane you can't use right. It seems to be self-defeating. I would personally not buy a 551 or a 501 - maybe a 501, but a 551, because it just seems having those extra seats can't use doesn't make any sense to me.
I could fly the 500, the 501, the 550, the 551, and then there's the 560, and there are three members of the 560s, there's the Straight Five, there is the Ultra, and then there's the Encore and the Encore+, which is an avionics change. I've got experience in all of them except for the Encore. The Five, the Ultra, and the Encore are 420, 439 airplanes. The 550 is a 350 to 369 airplane, and then the 500 series, 501s, 500, 501s, that's a 335, 349 series airplanes. In a jet, I like to do at least 350 knots, and I like to be able to carry some things. So, that's what the 500 series is about. And other than the 501, 551, you have to have a single-pilot exemption.
In the Mustang, it’s just one model, it’s the 510. Now, they do have a High Sierra version, but that's mostly a cosmetic thing. Again, that's a 345- to 355-knot airplane depending on, I say, what altitude you fly it out, but it burns half the fuel that the 500 series does, and so that's pretty significant. Then, the 525 which are also owner flown-- and by the way that the 500 series are certified under Part 25, the 510 and the 525s are under Part 23. There's some fairly significant differences about how you fly those airplanes and the data that you have available to them to be able to fly them. The 525 includes just the straight 525 which is the CJ, the original CJ. Then, they went CJ1, CJ1+ which was FADEC and different avionics. Then, they went CJ2, CJ2+ which was FADEC whgile CJ2 is not. Then, they went CJ3, CJ3+, and then CJ4. When you get a 525 rating, you can fly all of those airplanes with differences training. That's the difference with say, a straight CJ flying between 50 knots and a CJ4, where you're flying 430 knots. That's a pretty big range.
Mark: It's hard right now to get insurance to single pilot and CJ4, because it is such a big boy airplane in that regard, and expensive. They're $9 million, you can get them used for 6, but they're $9 million airplanes. What's interesting, though, is that 510, and that 525 are designed for single pilot. If the pilot in command is in fact type rated as single pilot in that airplane, then whoever flies in the right seat as second command can't actually log that time as second command and count it toward building turbine time. Now, in a part 525 airplane, like the 500 series, the 550, the 560, which was designed for two pilots, even though the guy in the left seat is maybe single pilot exempt, the guy in the right seat, because it was designed for two pilots can log that SIC time. So, you want to go build turbine time and you go, “Hey, I’ve got a buddy that got a CJ or I’ve got a buddy that’s got a Mustang. I go fly right seat and log that time.”
Adam: [chuckles] Think again.
Mark: That’s not legal. So, you’ve got to watch what you're doing there.
Adam: Hmm, good point for sure. It's one of the more confusing aspects of aviation, I guess, is that what you can log and what you can't log and why and so on, especially with airplanes, like, the Mustang, which seemed like an airplane that they're probably more accessible than, say, CJ4 for instance, because there's more of them out there. But you can't just go sit in that right seat and log that time, and that won't count for your insurance, either, if you're trying to train a pilot up or something for your business, they can't log that time as well, and that's a consideration.
Mark: Remember, you want to go get a type rating in a Mustang, because that's the price of admission. Depending where you go, you drop 30 grand to do that. This can be a breathtaking experience in that regard.
Adam: [giggles] Yes, definitely. Now, I'd like to just circle back for just a minute. Some of the amenities on these airplanes that-- some of them are from the 70s, and some of them now we're talking that are just recently ended production, say, the Mustang production couple years ago. Obviously, there's a lot of variation in some of the cosmetic things, paint interior that sort of thing, but also in terms of amenities and capabilities. Some of those airplanes are going to fit various missions better than others. Can you give us an idea of some of the pros and cons and features and benefits of the various airplanes that you have experienced within your business with the Citation?
Mark: Yeah, [unintelligible [00:37:37] airplane’s an airplane.
Mark: You can go in and redo the interior, and you can make it customize and smell like that new airplane, even though it's a 30-year-old airplane. They all have bathrooms. The 500 series, the bathroom is in the back, you can have a closed-door, curtain back there. In the Mustang, it's in the door, basically, there's an unbuilt potty seat there, and there's curtains you put across, I tell you what, I got 1500 hours in Citations, and maybe three times people use the “potty.” Ideally, what you'd want is all the parties except the CJ4, you pick up the bowl when you carry it through the aisles to clean it versus externally serviced.
Mark: That's one sort of alternative. They all have cabinetry. All right, to put your favorite beverages, your favorite food in there. You can get some pretty cool cabinetry on it. I think the amenities that most people are interested in is, “Do I have a USB port? Do I have an AC port?” Any airplane could have that. More and more people are saying, “Do I have internet?” I got a quote for our machine on internet, because we use it for business, and we might be in the air three, four hours, and it would be nice to have the full-blown internet. The install cost was $118,000. Then it was $90 an hour to use the internet. Unlimited, but within 90 bucks an hour. God, I just have a hard time paying $118,000 for internet. So, what we do is we utilize Iridium GO, so we have an external satellite antenna, and we can text and make phone calls from the Iridium GO. The downside to that is everybody uses the same text. So, everybody in the airplane, if they have the app on their phone can send text messages, but everybody can read each other's text messages. I say this tongue in cheek, but if you have a girlfriend, that you're texting and your wife's on board, yeah, that's not a great idea on board.
Adam: [laughs] Right.
Mark: I'm just trying to make the point that the privacy isn't there. So, just be aware of that, but that's a poor man's version of access to communicate with their team and customers and whatnot. But to me, that's what the amenities are about right now. Otherwise, it's a nice, comfortable ride. sit in the back, play on your iPad, go to sleep. You can listen to Sirius XM, get your headphones on, listen to Sirius XM, you'll be fine.
Adam: Do you find that the older airplanes like the 550s are louder in the cabin than say the CJ or the Mustang?
Mark: They can be. Don’t have people complain about motors in the S2, fan motors in the back that run loud and whatnot. But look, everything in life is relative.
Mark: So, the notion that got them in a jet and it's loud, yeah, compared to that Bonanza you were flying, compared to that Baron you're flying that's Cessna 310, compared to that turboprop, man, it feels like you're in church.
Mark: Now, look, if you got a buddy that lets you fly in his BBJ? Yeah, okay, it might seem a little loud, but these are first world problems.
Adam: Yeah, that's a good point. Most of the noise you hear in those, especially the small cabin airplanes is like you said, the air conditioning running in the back and the tail. You have a lot of experiences as pilot on these airplanes. What are some things that you wish were maybe different or better on these airplanes, obviously, with the older airplanes speed is definitely probably the biggest complaint, they're slow, but are there any other operational things that buggy about these airplanes?
Mark: Yeah, look, once you've had FADEC, you ain’t never going back. FADEC is the ability to not have to worry about power settings. You got four positions on your power levers, you got takeoff, you got climb, you got cruise, and then you got your flight idle detent. Between cruise and flight idle, you got a range there, but not having to do the math to figure out what your temps are, and what not is a big deal. As an owner operator, pilot owner operator, what I would say is there's no such thing as too fast, and there's no such thing as too much fuel economy. So, those are the things you trade off. What you'll find is in some of the newer aircraft, you can climb unrestricted 450, like in a CJ2, it might take you an hour of climbing and burning fuel to be able to say did a 550 up to its certified ceiling of 43,000. And the reality is the performance is raggy up there, so you probably don't want to fly up there.
If you look at the legacy 500 series, there are a number of things in the cockpit that have been resolved, emergency battery disconnect. If you get a stuck starter, the process is while the engines are running, you get out of the airplane, you disconnect the battery. That's in a 500 series, 550s, etc. In the CJs and the Mustang, they actually put a battery disconnect switch in the cockpit, that it gives you the ability to not get out of cockpit and shut that thing down. That's a nice feature. In the Mustang and the CJ4, they’re glass windshields versus not glass, and they use electric heat as opposed to bleed air. A lot of guys would much rather have electric heat versus bleed air.
There are differences between the two of them, and what I will say is, the first time you fly a jet, it doesn't matter, baby, you're in a jet. You're burning jet fuel. I love that smell in the morning. You're going fast and you're going high, and all these little inconveniences, ain’t no thing. But then you get to go fly in a FADEC-based airplane, and you're like, “Oh, so there are differences.” Then, you get to be a little bit of a [unintelligible [00:42:58], again tongue in cheek and saying, “Yeah, if it doesn't have FADEC, I'm not comfortable, if it doesn't have synthetic vision.”
One of the airplanes I like is the 560, the straight five, because it's a 430-knot airplane to go to 450, but avionics weren't integrated like they were with the Ultra and the Encore. So, you can put in a TXi, you can put in a couple of dual 750s, and you can have a very modern auto pilot and panel. That's a really, really nice feature for a fast airplane. But it's still not FADEC. These are the tradeoffs. Like I said, it's a jet and beggars can't be choosers. But if you can be a chooser, you're going to look for more automation, more bells and whistles, because you spent a lot of time in it. Your life depends on it, and the more automation you have-- VNAV is a big thing. The Mustang has VNAV.
A CJ2 does not have VNAV. All right, the VNAV, you go flying the [unintelligible [00:43:48] in the LA or you go fly into one of the-- say DFW or Love on some of those [unintelligible [00:43:55] where you're hitting a bunch of different waypoints single pilot, altitudes and speeds, yeah, you want VNAV. All right, and when you're in it, with FADEC, it's like cheating. You just let the airplane do it, and you're monitoring, it's a wonderful thing. So, depends on where you fly. You fly a lot in those area, great. If you're flying into Marquette, Michigan, you're flying into Des Moines, Iowa, maybe not so much. But you're going into New York, you're going into LA, you're going to Chicago, Phoenix and whatnot, having a VNAV is like a great thing.
Adam: That's actually a great point, and going back to that mission and where are the airplanes is going to be going as part of that mission, and the deciding factor if you need to spend extra money on the higher end avionics systems, like the VNAV and FADECs and everything else. That's a good point.
Mark: I get a lot of people saying, “What should be my fuel reserve in a jet?” I go, “Okay, well, that's one of those questions that used to give you where the correct answer was not enough information.” I don't know, you're going to New York because if you are they're going to bring you down 300 miles out and guess what? What you burn at 450, what you burn it 12,000 feet is like 2x. So, your field reserve has to be different as a result. If you're flying into to Marquette, Michigan where our company’s based, the nearest airport to go to, if you miss is 60 miles away, and you're going to do that at low altitude, you're going to burn a lot of fuel. On the other hand, you go into Scottsdale. Well, there's a dozen airports and the weather is always good.
So, if there is a disabled aircraft on your one runway, like Scottsdale, to go into Deer Valley, go to Falcon Field, to go Sky Harbor, ain’t no thing. There's a lot of differences, and the one thing about jets is you have to think in those terms, and for the transitioning pilot, you have to think in terms of the speed. It's one thing to be 150 knot guy, 200-knot guy, “Ooh, you're 250 knots. Wow.” Now you're 400 knots. What does that tell you? Well, that means you're approaching that thunderstorm twice as fast.
Adam: [giggles] Right.
Mark: All right. What used to be, “Oh, we got 50 miles to go, we got plenty of time to get a vector and frequencies were busy, so we can wait.” Okay, well, when you're doing 400 knots, 50 miles goes like that.
Adam: Great point, for sure. I was going to ask you, do you find that with the various models, of course, so we can zero in on one if you'd like, but a lot of times with piston airplanes, you have to trade fuel for people to balance out that useful load. Do you find the same thing going on with the jet? Are you able to fill the seats up and take full fuel and whatnot? Or, there's some compromises there as well?
Mark: Yeah, look, you can certainly do that in an Encore and Ultra more easily than you can in a 550. I've had eight pretty big guys in a 550, where I had leave fuel, and we had to make a fuel stop. You still have those concerns. Jets, especially the part 25 jets, weight is important and numbers are important, and you're going to get certain levels of performance, and you have to do weight and balance. What I recommend is using something like APG, Aircraft Performance Group, or maybe Cessna that allow you to shift weights around see the impact.
Ironically, someone like APG will give you departures that aren't published, and those departures will allow you to take off with more weight, because you can get obstacle clearance, because they have specially designed departures. You say you're at Scottsdale on 115-degree day, watching people take off runway three in straight Citation 550s, and I'm telling you, a lot of those guys are illegal. All right, because they just don't have the performance numbers to be able to do that, unless, they're using APG and using one of these alternative departures that they design. There is always a tradeoff.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. You’re right. Again, going back, like you just said, learning the various tools that there are available to you, and that's one of them, of course. There's a lot of airplanes on the market today. We have more modern airplanes like the Phenom, we've got the Learjets, of course, and so on. Whether we're dealing with the legacy airplane, or some of the more recent Citation, why should a company still consider the Citation as opposed to say, that Phenom or that PC-24?
Mark: Well, what I would say is, the Phenom is a great airplane. There is that certain thing about every 10 years, you have to do $150,000 gear overhaul. So, you got to keep that in mind. But the Phenom is a perfectly serviceable airplane and looks good, has a big boy cabin door, compared to the Citations and a lot of people like the Phenom. It's a little bit faster. It's a 365-, 370-knot airplane. I know I had one depart after me and passed me the other day going from Albuquerque to Scottsdale. I noted that the Phenom 100 a little faster. I think it's just a matter of personal preference assessments. They got unparalleled support in this country. Anybody can work on a Cessna, anybody can work on a Pratt & Whitney. Phenoms are Williams engines. That's a little bit of a harder deal. But you can't go wrong with Cessna, and Phenom does a fine job, and I would not denigrate or look down at anybody became a
Phenom fan. I think they're great airplanes, but you're going to pay more for them, both in terms of maintenance, and in terms of the original cost, but the end of the day, it's a fine airplane.
Lears, there are no single-pilot Lears, first of all. So, it's completely different deal. I had a small ownership stake in a Lear 35, and I got in there because I wanted to get typed in it. I sat in the right seat, we went up and did some flying and it took me one flight to take, “Yeah, I'm not doing this.”
Mark: A man has got to know his limitations. Look, like anything else in the world, if you know what you're doing, it's not all that hard, but I just didn't have the energy to figure it out how to do it right.
Adam: Interesting points, and I agree with you. The big thing I think with the Cessna airplanes, at least currently, is that support that you get from Textron, and the parts availability and whatnot. I think maybe 20 years, Embraer will have a more competitive support network here in the US. But in the meantime, at least, Citation definitely hasn't beaten that department, and as well as a variety of airplane types to choose from for various missions that you have.
Speaking of, you mentioned some maintenance a second ago. Can you give me an idea? How often are you putting these airplanes down for maintenance? Obviously the 500 series has the phase five and you have dock[?] 11 on the Mustang and the dock 10s on the 525, etc. How often you put these airplanes down?
Mark: Every couple years, for sure. Three years, phase five, and then 1-4 on the Legacy Citations occur every year and a half, two years, something like that. Look, I've got a great maintenance guy who comes to my hangar. I'm on a parts program, I got engine program, I don't worry too much. Every 10 hours I fly the airplane, you'll come over and look the airplane over, see our tracks out there, now you can track what to do. You can easily get through a year with not having any big maintenance events. Look, the dispatcher liabilities on these airplanes is nearly 100%. So, it's not like your daddy's Twin Bonanza. This is an airplane that is extraordinarily reliable. In 1500 hours, I think I've had one flight that we had to cancel due to a maintenance issue.
Adam: That's significant.
Mark: Yeah. Oh, yes. The dispatcher liability is amazing.
Adam: My last couple questions is, what advice would you have for an operator or owner looking to buy one of these light, small cabin Citation airplanes?
Mark: The first thing I would say is go figure out what it's going to take to get typed and insured. That will give you a solution set for what you can choose from based on the limits that you want to have, and then I would work with an advisor and have them go and do market research and find you the right airplane and then get it inspected thoroughly, even though it's on programs before you negotiate.
Adam: Yeah, excellent. I totally agree. Having that support team is very important and doing the research ahead of time. I know you're busy, so I appreciate you spending some time with us. Tell us maybe how people can learn more about Easy Ice and your social media links and everything else you'd like to share with people to get a hold of you or learn more about you.
Mark: Our website is easyice.com. Social media, I'm on Twitter, is @flyingiceman and I'm on Facebook, is just myself. What I would say is I'm on Beech Talk under my name, Mark Hangen, and then I'm also on Citation Jet Pilots. Both Beech Talk and Citation Jet Pilots are wonderful sources to go to get information and ask questions of likeminded individuals.
Adam: Absolutely, and CJP is how I met with you as well. So, that's a great-- [crosstalk]
Mark: There you go. Just don't talk politics, you'll be fine.
Adam: [laughs] Yes. Great. Well, thank you, Mark, so much for your time. We appreciate it, and I'm sure we'll be in touch in the future as well.
Mark: Great. Hey, thank you. Talk to you later.
Adam: Thanks again to Mark, for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us today. I certainly learned a lot from him, and I hope you guys did too. Now, I've added a bunch of links to topics Mark mentioned into the show notes for today's episode number 85 at airplaneintelpodcast.com. And while you're there, you can check out all of our past episode archives, show notes and free resources. Well, that's going to wrap it up for us on today's episode. Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. I really enjoyed hanging out with you and I look forward to seeing you again on our next episode, where we'll interview a special guest about transitioning into Twins. So, until next time, stay safe and keep the dirty side down. We'll see you later.
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