- 01 Apr 2021
- Mike Chase
- Turboprop Comparisons
How do the Epic E1000, Piper M600 SLS, and Daher TBM 910/940 compare in the single-engine turboprop market? What are the advantages offered by each model, and to whom would they appeal? Mike Chase explores…Back to Articles
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider some of the key productivity parameters for the Epic E1000, Piper M600 SLS, Daher TBM 910 and Daher TBM 940 (including payload, range, speed, and cabin size) to establish which aircraft provides the better value in the single-engine turboprop market, and to whom.
For example, how might the desire for higher speed, longer range, or lower operating costs influence a buying decision? It’s hoped that the following turboprop comparison will help clarify.
The Epic E1000 is a single-engine, six-seat turboprop manufactured by Epic Aircraft. A development of the kit-built Epic LT, the E1000 features a cantilever low-wing, a 6.6 psi pressurized cabin with an airstair door just ahead of the rear seats, retractable tricycle landing gear, and a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-67A turboprop engine, de-rated to 1,200hp in tractor configuration.
The aircraft is predominantly made of carbon fiber, and the certification application process for the E1000 began in 2015 with final FAA Type Certification being granted in November 2019. The aircraft’s certified flight ceiling is 34,000 feet.
Of the nine Epic E1000 turboprops in-operation at the time of writing, all were wholly owned and operated in the US, according to JETNET. Thirteen more units were at the OEM; therefore, a total 22 aircraft had been built.
Piper M600 SLS
The M600 single-engine turboprop is the flagship model in Piper’s product range, and its roots go back to the PA-46 Malibu. While using the same fuselage as the other PA-46 models, the M600 incorporates an all-new wing that allows for additional fuel and range.
The latest version is the M600 SLS (standing for Safety, Luxury, Support (aka Safe Landing System)). This has been in production since 2020 and incorporates Garmin’s Autoland system, branded by Piper as HALO. HALO enables the airplane to safely, automatically land at the touch of a button in the event of an emergency. The M600 was first produced in 2016.
Seventy-nine percent of the M600 SLS fleet are operated in the US and, at the time of writing, there was a total of 72 M600 SLS in operation worldwide with 71 wholly owned, and one in shared ownership, according to JETNET. An additional 16 aircraft were at the OEM, giving a total of 88 aircraft built.
Daher TBM 910/940
The TBM 910 benefitted from the same range, performance and technical features that had contributed to the TBM 900’s success. A six-passenger pressurized single-engine turboprop, the TBM 910 version climbs to its certified flight ceiling of 31,000ft in as little as 18 minutes.
The latest aircraft in the series, the TBM 940, was announced on March 8, 2019 and features an autothrottle and the Garmin G3000 avionics suite. The autothrottle reduces pilot workload and protects the engine. Meanwhile, since 2020 new production TBM 940s incorporate Garmin’s Emergency Autoland system – essentially the same as the M600’s HALO, but branded as HomeSafe for Daher models.
At the time of writing, there were 69 TBM 910s in operation worldwide, with 65 wholly-owned and four in shared ownership, according to JETNET data. With one more aircraft at the OEM, a total of 70 aircraft have been built since 2017.
Meanwhile, 92 TBM 940s are in operation worldwide with 91 wholly owned and one in shared ownership, per JETNET. With 21 TBM 940s currently at the OEM, one more in production, and one retired, a total 115 air¬craft have been built since 2019. Almost 90% of the TBM 940 fleet are based in the US.
Payload & Range Comparison
When comparing business turboprops, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the Epic E1000 has an ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ of 1,114lbs, which is significantly more than the 458lbs offered by the Piper M600 SLS (458lbs) and the Daher TBM 910/940 (584lbs).
TABLE A: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Payload Comparison
Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Chart A shows the cabin width and height of the Epic E1000 is 4.5ft., which is more than the Piper M600 SLS and the Daher TBM 910/940. However, the Daher TBM 910/940 offers more cabin length (15ft, vs 13.9ft (Epic E1000) and 12.3ft (Piper M600 SLS)).
CHART A: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Cabin Comparison
One of the main selling points of the Epic E1000 is the cabin volume, and in this comparison the 184cu.ft offered by the Epic E1000 is slightly more than the 178cu.ft. provided by the Piper M600 SLS, and 123cu.ft. for the Daher TBM 910/940.
In terms of luggage space, the Daher TBM 910/940 provides more internal volume (30cu.ft.) and an additional 5.9cu.ft. externally. By comparison, the Piper M600 SLS offers 20cu.ft. internal volume, and the Epic E1000 offers no internal luggage space.
Using Wichita, Kansas as the start point, Chart B compares the ranges of our comparative field. The Epic E1000 (1,232nm) offers less range than the Piper M600 SLS (1,406nm) and Daher TBM 910/940 (1,514nm), with each aircraft carrying full fuel with available payload.
CHART B: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Range Comparison
Note: ‘Full fuel with available payload range’ represents the maximum IFR ranges of the aircraft at Long Range Cruise with NBAA IFR alternate fuel reserve calculation for a 100nm alternate. This does not include winds aloft, or any other weather-related obstacles.
All aircraft in this field of comparison have single-engine Pratt & Whitney Canada powerplants.
Thus, the Piper M600 SLS has lowest hourly consumption of fuel within this field of study.
Cost per Mile Comparison
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’, comparing all three models, and factors direct costs with each aircraft flying a 600nm mission with available payload. The Piper M600 SLS has a marginally higher cost per nautical mile (at $2.25), compared with the Epic E1000 at $2.23 and $2.13 for the Daher TBM 910/940.
CHART C: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Cost Per Mile Comparison
Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D is defined as the estimated cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew, and catering).
These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences, since these may vary from one flight department to another.
The Daher TBM 910/940 ($518) shows the higher variable cost per hour compared to the Epic E1000 ($483) and the Piper M600 SLS ($433).
CHART D: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Variable Cost Comparison
Table B contains the 2021-model prices for our comparative aircraft, per B&CA. At $3.35m, the Piper M600 SLS costs less than the Epic E1000 ($3.85m). The Daher TBM 910 costs $4.230m, and the TBM 940 costs $4.580.
The long-range cruise speed and range numbers listed are also from B&CA, while the number of aircraft in-operation, the fleet percentage for sale, and average sold per month are from JETNET.
TABLE B: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Market Comparison
At the time of writing, only the Piper M600/SLS had 1.4% (one aircraft) of its fleet ‘for sale’ on the pre-owned aircraft market. None of the Epic E1000, TBM 910 or TBM 940 had any pre-owned aircraft ‘for sale’.
The average number of new and used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months was less than one for the Epic E1000, five per month for the Piper M600 SLS, four for the TBM 910, and one for the TBM 940.
Representative MACRS Depreciation Schedules
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 can use accelerated 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), 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 is 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 (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 seven-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 any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers may be able to 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 is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022, the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business aircraft until December 31, 2026.
Table C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021-model Epic E1000 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June 2021 B&CA Magazine.
TABLE C: Sample Epic E1000 MACRS Tax Depreciation Schedule
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021-edition Piper M600 SLS in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June 2021 B&CA Magazine.
TABLE D: Sample Piper M600 SLS MACRS Tax Depreciation Schedule
Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021-model Daher TBM 910 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June 2021 B&CA Magazine.
TABLE E: Sample Daher TBM 910 MACRS Tax Depreciation Schedule
Table F depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2021-edition Daher TBM 940 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published in the June 2021 B&CA Magazine.
TABLE F: Sample Daher TBM 940 MACRS Tax Depreciation Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
At the time of writing, one Piper M600 was available on the used aircraft market for sale that displayed an asking price of $2.8m. There were no Epic E1000 or Daher TBM 910/940 pre-owned aircraft for sale.
While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture.
The final negotiated price must ultimately be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in the June 2021 B&CA magazine. 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 multi¬ple of three factors:
1. Full Fuel with available payload Range (nm).
2. The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range.
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usu¬ally impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.
CHART E: Epic E1000 vs Piper M600 SLS vs Daher TBM 910/940 Productivity Comparison
The Epic E1000 offers greater cabin volume than its competitors, but less range. Moreover, the Epic E1000 has significantly more ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’.
Meanwhile, the Daher TBM 910/940 offers more range and greater speed, but comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, the Piper M600 SLS is competitive throughout, and offers the lowest variable operating cost than the rest of the field. Though its cabin volume is slightly less than the Epic E1000, it does offer internal luggage space whereas the E1000 model doesn’t.
Among the important questions is which combination individual operators require of speed, range, payload capability, or cabin volume. Thought should also be given to the technology installed, with Daher and Piper both promoting the benefits, and peace of mind the Autoland system from Garmin offers.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business turboprop operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance, and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision, however.
Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them. These turboprops offer great value in the single-engine turboprop market today, serving their respective markets well.