Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX

In this month’s aircraft comparison, Mike Chase provides information on a popular twin-engine and single-engine turboprop model to compare their performance and cost. How will the Beechcraft King Air 360 square up against the Pilatus PC-12 NGX?

Mike Chase  |  01st June 2024
    Back to Articles
    Mike Chase
    Mike Chase

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

    Beechcraft King Air 360


    Reviewing payload, range, cabin volume, operating costs, market information, and more, how does the single-engine Pilatus PC-12 NGX compare with the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprop?

    Are two engines better than one? Where is the cross-over point between single and twin-engine performance, and what extra cost does a second powerplant incur? It’s hoped that the following turboprop comparison will answer some of these questions...

    Beechcraft King Air 360

    The legendary Beechcraft King Air family has been in continuous production since 1964 – the longest of any civilian turboprop aircraft in its class – with the 300 series first entering the market in 1984. As Beechcraft enhanced the model, the King Air 350 was developed with various upgrades brought in over the years before Beechcraft introduced the King Air 360 in 2020, with new features and structural changes.

    The King Air 360 features an avionics upgrade, digital pressurization and an autothrottle. Its modernized cabin includes a 10% lower altitude pressure, and the model can incorporate a ‘FlexCabin’ configuration that can be swapped easily for a variety of missions such as accommodating passengers, cargo, air ambulance or other special missions.

    The total number of King Air 360s in operation at the time of writing was 84, with 83 being wholly-owned and one in shared ownership. North America accounted for the largest fleet percentage (65%), followed by Asia (16%).

    Pilatus PC-12 NGX

    Pilatus has been building single-engine aircraft in Stans, Switzerland for over 70 years. The Pilatus PC-12 is a high-powered single-engine turboprop with a four- blade propeller, and the original PC-12/45 began delivering in 1995.

    Today’s Pilatus PC-12 NGX was introduced in 2019 and incorporates a new engine – the PT6E-67XP (part of P&WC’s newest PW6 E-series) – and features an Electronic Propeller and Engine Control System with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).

    It also offers enhanced avionics via the Advanced Cockpit Environment System by Honeywell, and a completely redesigned cabin with enlarged windows.

    The total number of in-operation PC-12 NGX aircraft at the time of writing was 332, with 286 being wholly owned, 19 in shared ownership arrangements, and 27 in fractional ownership programs. North America had the largest fleet percentage (57%), followed by Europe (29%).



    Payload Comparison

    Potential operators should focus on payload capability as a key factor. As depicted by Table A, the Beechcraft King Air 360’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’, at 1,534lbs, is greater than that of the Pilatus PC-12 NGX (988lbs).

    Table A - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Payload Comparison

    Cabin Cross-Section Comparison

    Chart A offers a cabin cross-section comparison with the Beechcraft King Air 360 offering less width (4.5ft) than the Pilatus PC-12 NGX (5ft). The two models both offer a height of 4.8 ft.

    Not depicted in the cross-section is the fact that the King Air 360 has a longer cabin, at 19.5ft, compared to the PC-12 NGX (16.9ft), and this gives it an overall 4.4% cabin volume advantage over the Pilatus PC-12 NGX (344cu.ft vs 330cu.ft).

    Chart A - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Cabin Comparison

    In terms of luggage capacity, Beechcraft lists a luggage capacity of 71.3cu.ft. for the King Air 360, while Pilatus highlights a 40cu.ft baggage compartment.

    Range Comparison

    As depicted by Chart B using Wichita, Kansas as the origin point, the PC-12 NGX (1,538nm) shows a nominal edge over the King Air 360 (1,533nm) when carrying four passengers with available fuel.

    For this comparison, these can be considered the same, offering owners non-stop coverage of the US (except Alaska and Hawaii), Mexico, and a large portion of Canada from this origin point.

    Chart B - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Range Comparison

    Note: For turboprops, ‘four passengers with available fuel’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at Long-Range Cruise with four passenger seats occupied. NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation for a 100nm alternate is assumed. The lines depicted do not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.

    Powerplant Details

    The Beechcraft King Air 360 utilizes a pair of P&WC PT6A-60A engines rated at 1,050shp with an hourly fuel burn of 91 gallons/hr, while the Pilatus PC-12 NGX aircraft has a single Pratt & Whitney PT6E-67XP offering 1,200shp with an hourly fuel burn of 62 gallons/hr.

    Cost per Mile Comparison

    Chart C details the ‘Cost per Mile’ for each model, factoring direct costs and with both turboprops flying a 1,000nm mission with an 800lbs (four passengers) payload. As shown, the Beechcraft King Air 360 ($4.41/nm) has the higher cost per mile compared to the Pilatus PC-12 NGX ($3.45/nm) – a difference of 21.8% cost per mile in favor of the PC-12 NGX.

    Chart C - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Cost Per Mile Comparison

    Total Variable Cost Comparison

    The ‘Total Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D is sourced from JETNET, and is defined as the Cost of Fuel Expense, Maintenance Labor Expense, Scheduled Parts Expense and Miscellaneous Trip Expense. 

    The Total Variable Cost for the twin-engine King Air 360 is $1,028 per hour, which is 24% more expensive than the single-engine PC-12 NGX ($779 per hour).

    Chart D - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Variable Cost Comparison

    Market Comparison

    Table B contains the 2023 prices for each aircraft, per Aircraft Bluebook (Spring 2024 data). The average speeds and ranges are from BC&A, while the number of aircraft in-operation, percentage ‘For Sale’, and average sold are as reported by JETNET.

    The Beechcraft King Air 360 fleet had 3.6% of its fleet available for sale as of March 2024, compared to the Pilatus PC-12 NGX, which had 3.4% ‘For Sale’. These fleet percentages for sale highlight the popularity of these aircraft on the pre-owned market, and may also reflect OEM backlogs, meaning more buyers are seeking nearly-new units while they await delivery of new models from the manufacturer.

    The average number of transactions (sold) per month revealed the King Air 360 had sold at a rate of 2.3 aircraft monthly, compared to the PC-12 NGX at 10.9 aircraft sold per month.

    Table B - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Market Comparison

    Asking Prices & Quantity

    The pre-owned market for the Beechcraft King Air 360 at the time of writing showed four aircraft available ‘For Sale’. Three displayed asking prices ranging from $7.25m to $8.5m. The other invited would-be buyers to make an inquiry.

    Meanwhile, there were 12 Pilatus PC-12 NGX units for sale on the pre-owned market, but only two showed asking prices of $6.4m and $6.8m (higher than Aircraft Bluebook prices a brand new 2023 model). A further unit invited offers while another eight requested enquiries.

    While each serial number is unique, the total time on the airframe/ engines and age and condition of an airplane will cause great variations in price. Of course, the final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.

    Depreciation Schedule

    Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers are allowed to accelerate the depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.

    In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS) where depreciation is based on a straight-line method, meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.

    There are a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated, and if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.

    Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a six- year recovery period.

    There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in a given year.

    The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers could deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023.

    This 100% expensing provision was a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022 the Act decreased the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026. In 2024, the percentage available has been reduced to 60%.

    Tables C and D depict an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2023-model Beechcraft King Air 360 and Pilatus PC-12 NGX, respectively, in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods, assuming a 2023 list price for a new King Air 360 of $9.1m and $6.7m for a Pilatus PC-12 NGX, per Aircraft Bluebook (Spring 2024 data).

    Tables C and D - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Sample MACRS Tax Schedules

    Productivity Comparison

    The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published by Aircraft Bluebook (Spring 2024). 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. Four passenger range (nm) with available fuel;
    2. The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
    3. The gross cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.

    Chart E - Beechcraft King Air 360 vs Pilatus PC-12 NGX Productivity Comparison

    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 Beechcraft King Air 360 and Pilatus PC-12 NGX display high levels of productivity, emphasizing their market popularity.

    Our productivity chart shows the Beechcraft King Air 360 with slightly greater productivity than the Pilatus PC-12 NGX, but with a $2.4m higher purchase price (2023 model).

    For that money, the twin-engine King Air 360 provides operators 4.4% more cabin volume, slightly more speed (235kts vs 225kts) and greater Available Payload with Full Fuel. The pair are very well matched for range when carrying four passengers and available fuel.

    Unsurprisingly, the Pilatus PC-12 NGX operating costs (per mile and hourly variable) are much lower – the benefit of having a single engine.

    So, is it better to have one engine or two? This is a question that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis! Given the rugged, utility nature of turboprops, the mission needs of operators could vary widely with the decision to buy one aircraft over the other resting on fine margins.

    Operators need to weigh up their mission requirements precisely when picking the option that’s best for them. And though this comparison has touched upon several of the attributes that business aircraft operators value there are many other qualities that will factor, including airport performance, terminal area performance, time to climb, upgrade options, and more that might factor in a buyer’s decision.

    The King Air 360 and PC-12 NGX continue to be popular today, and it’s easy to see why. Our expectations are that these aircraft will continue to do well in the new and pre-owned markets for a while to come.

    Related Articles

    Mike Chase

    Mike Chase

    Editor, Aircraft Comparisons

    Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product and market research in the Commercial & Business Aviation sectors.

    With over five decades of extensive experience, Michael has worked as a director of special projects for JETNET, LLC; served as Senior Management Consultant for Sabre Holding; and was Director of Market & Sales Research for Gulfstream Aerospace, leading sales and product research, including feasibility and viability studies.


    SHARE THIS ARTICLE

    Print

    Other Articles

    Beechcraft King Air 360
    Please call
    United States - FL
    Beechcraft King Air B200
    Please call
    Germany
    Beechcraft King Air B200
    Make offer
    United States - FL
    Beechcraft King Air C90GTi
    Please call
    Brazil
    Beechcraft King Air C90SE
    Price: USD $2,100,000
    Colombia
    Beechcraft A36 Bonanza TP
    Price: USD $839,000
    United States - IL
    Beechcraft King Air 300-LW
    Deal pending
    India
    Pilatus PC-12 NG
    Price: USD $3,995,000 Excl. VAT
    Monaco
    Beechcraft King Air B200
    Price: USD $2,095,000
    United States - KY
    Pilatus PC-12 NG
    Please call
    South Africa
    Beechcraft King Air 350i
    Price: USD $3,500,000 Price Reduced
    United Kingdom - England
    Pilatus PC-12 NGX
    Please email
    South Africa
    Beechcraft King Air 300
    Make offer
    United States - FL
    Pilatus PC-12/45
    Make offer
    United States - UT
    Pilatus PC-12 NG
    Price: USD $5,100,000 Price Reduced
    Kazakhstan
    Beechcraft 1900D
    Price: USD $2,895,000
    South Africa
    Pilatus PC-12 NG
    Make offer
    Luxembourg
    Beechcraft King Air B200
    Please email
    South Africa
    Beechcraft King Air B200
    Please call
    South Africa
    Pilatus PC-12 NG
    Price: USD $4,200,000 Excl. VAT, Price Reduced
    United Kingdom - England
    loder image