Aircraft Comparative Analysis - Pilatus PC-12 NG

In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a selection of New and Pre- Owned business turboprops in the $2.14-4.47m range for the purpose of valuing the New and Pre-owned Pilatus PC- 12. With nearly 1-200 units in operation today- how does the PC-12 measure with its competition?

Mike Chase  |  01st November 2013
Back to Articles
Mike Chase
Mike Chase

Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product...

Aircraft Comparative Analysis – Pilatus PC-12 NG

In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a selection of New and Pre- Owned business turboprops in the $2.14-4.47m range for the purpose of valuing the New and Pre-owned Pilatus PC-12. With nearly 1-200 units in operation today- how does the PC-12 measure with its competition?

Across the following paragraphs- we’ll consider the productivity parameters - payload/ range- speed and cabin size - and consider current and future market values. The field in this study includes the Daher-Socata TBM 850 and the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.

Brief History
Pilatus has been building single-engine aircraft in Stans- Switzerland for nearly 70 years. The Pilatus PC-12 is a high-powered single-engine turboprop with a four-blade prop. The first flight of the first of two prototypes took place on May 31- 1991. Certification of the type was originally planned for mid-1991 but a redesign of the wings (leading to an increase in wing span) and the addition of winglets to ensure performance guarantees were met delayed the schedule. Swiss certification finally took place on March 30- 1994- and FAA approval followed on July 15- 1994.

The PC-12/45 was manufactured from 1995 to 2008; the PC-12/47 was manufactured between 2006 and 2008; and the PC-12 NG (Next Generation) is the updated version of the PC-12 starting at serial number 1-001- and still in production today. The cockpit is equipped with Honeywell’s Apex avionics suite. There are over 1-150 PC-12 aircraft in operation today- as outlined in Table A.


The PC-12 is equipped with both a passenger door and a cargo door and is available in several configurations- including six-passenger executive; nine-passenger standard; commuter; cargo; and combi. Rigi- Inc.- a New Hampshire-based fractional ownership company- is the largest fractional operator of PC-12s in the world- operating a total of 29 with two PC-12/45s; 15 PC-12/47s; and 12 PC-12 NGs in the fleet.

Payload and Range
The data contained in Table B is published by Conklin & de Decker and also in B&CA- May 2013 edition. As mentioned in past articles- a potential operator should focus on payload capability. The PC12’s “Available Payload with Maximum Fuel” at 1-009 pounds is greater than the TBM 850 but less than the Grand Caravan.


Cabin Volume
According to Conklin & de Decker- the cabin volume of the Pilatus PC-12 NG- at 330 cubic feet- is equivalent to the size of the Grand Caravan (340 cu ft) but considerably larger compared with the TBM 850 aircraft (120 cu ft)- see Chart A.


Powerplant Details
The Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft has a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67P engine offering 1-200 shs. By comparison- the competitors in this field also operate a single Pratt & Whitney Canada engine - each offering less output at 850 shs for the TBM 850 aircraft- and 675 shs for the 208B Grand Caravan aircraft.

Table C is sourced from the Aircraft Cost Calculator (ACC) and shows the fuel usage by each aircraft model in this field of study. The Pilatus PC-12 NG (63 gallons per hour (GPH)) uses 13 gallons per hour (26%) more fuel than the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (50 GPH)- but less gallons per hour than the TBM 850 (72 GPH).


Using data published in the May 2013 B&CA Planning and Purchasing Handbook and the August 2013 B&CA Operations Planning Guide we will compare our aircraft. Jet A fuel cost in our source publications was $6.08 per gallon at press time for the August 2013 edition- so for the sake of comparison we’ll chart the numbers as published.

Note: The fuel price used from this source does not represent an average fuel price for the year.

Cost Per Mile Comparisons
Chart B details “Cost per Mile” comparing the Pilatus to its competition factoring direct costs and with all aircraft flying a 600nm mission with an 800 pound (four passengers) payload. The Pilatus PC-12 NG at $2.29 cost per mile is less than the 208B Grand Caravan ($2.95) but greater than the TBM 850 aircraft ($1.96).


Total Variable Cost Comparisons
The “Total Variable Cost”- illustrated in Chart C- is defined as the cost of Fuel Expense- Maintenance Labor Expense- Scheduled Parts Expense- and Miscellaneous trip expense. The total variable cost for the Pilatus PC-12 NG at $621 is more expensive compared to the rest of the field.


Productivity Comparisons
The points in Chart D center on the same group of aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in Vref. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary.

Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:

1. Range with full payload and available fuel;
2. The long range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.


The result is a very large number so for the purpose of charting- each result is divided by one billion. The examples plotted are confined to the aircraft in this study. A computed curve fit on this plot would not be very tight- but when all turboprops are considered the “r” squared factor would equal a number above 0.9. Others may choose different parameters- but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size.

After consideration of the Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size- we can conclude that the Pilatus PC-12 NG as shown in the productivity index Chart D is highly productive compared to the other aircraft shown. In a direct comparison with the Socata TBM 850 model the Pilatus PC-12 NG has nearly three times the cabin volume and more range- while costing about 16.8% more to operate per mile (and 2.1% more in variable cost)- and offering less speed (209kts vs. 255kts). It is also purchased at a much higher price.

In a direct comparison to the 208B Grand Caravan- the Pilatus PC-12 NG is roughly equivalent in cabin volume- costs about 22.4% less to operate per mile- but 18.1% more in variable cost- offers higher speed (209 kts vs. 156 kts)- and considerably more range (1-402nm vs. 599nm). Again- respective to the Vref values- this all comes at a much higher purchase price.

Table D contains the relative retail prices from Vref for each aircraft. The number of aircraft in-operation- percentage “For Sale”- and the number “Sold” over the past 12 months are from JETNET. As shown- the PC-12 NG averages seven aircraft sold per month in the past 12 months. Likewise- an average seven TBM 850s have been sold monthly over the past year- but an average 15 Grand Caravans have been sold monthly.


Location by Continent
The information in Table E is compiled by JETNET in its STAR reporting system. The major based-at locations for the Pilatus PC-12 NG are in Europe and United States where a combined 82% of the fleet resides. There are more than 30 PC-12 NG aircraft in both shared and fractional ownership operations.


Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the main attributes that business aircraft operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance- terminal area performance- and time-to-climb performance that might factor in a buying decision- too- however. The Pilatus PC-12 NG turboprop aircraft fares well against its competition- so those operators in the market should find the preceding comparison of value.

Our expectations are that the Pilatus PC-12 NG will continue to do very well in the pre-owned market.

Read More About: Jet Comparisons


loder image