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In this month’s aircraft comparison, Mike Chase provides information on a pair of established business turboprops. How does the single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan EX compare against Quest’s Kodiak 100? What are the pros and cons of each? Find out here…
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters (including payload, range, speed and cabin size) and the current market for the Grand Caravan EX and Kodiak 100. As popular single-engine utility turboprops, which is the better option for a buyer needing to transport passengers, cargo, or a combination of both?
About the Competitors
Three models of the Caravan have been produced since 1985. These include the original 208-model (482 in operation); the 208B-model (1,572 in operation, production ended in 2013); and the 208B Grand Caravan EX (484 in operation as of this writing).
Our focus aircraft, the Grand Caravan EX, introduced in 2012, remains in production today. Engineered for challenging, rugged missions with high payloads and short, rough runways, the Grand Caravan EX has the agility of a much smaller aircraft. It can take off with less than 1,399 feet of runway length and climb at 1,275fpm, reaching a cruise speed of 156kts.
The Grand Caravan EX can travel distances up to 807nm and boasts an uncluttered cockpit panel that includes two primary flight displays (PFDs) along with a center multi-function display (MFD) unit offering real-time, flight-critical data aggregated on three configurable, large-format high resolution screens.
Of the 484 Grand Caravan EX business turboprops in operation at the time of writing, 482 are wholly owned and two are in shared ownership.
In October 2019, North America had the largest Grand Caravan EX fleet percentage (39%), followed by Asia (23%) and Africa (22%). Together, they account for a combined 84% of the total fleet.
The Quest Kodiak 100 is also designed to operate out of short fields and in rugged conditions. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 turbine engine, it can take off in less than 700ft at a full gross take-off weight of 6,750lbs and climb at over 1,500 feet per minute.
A Garmin G1000 integrated avionics suite with three 10-inch displays is standard, and Quest also offers Synthetic Vision Technology as an option. Quest recently unveiled the Series II offering various improvements (not least a newer Garmin G1000 NXi cockpit panel).
At the time of writing, there were 238 Kodiak 100 business turboprops in operation, and 236 were wholly owned, while two were in shared ownership. As with the Grand Caravan EX, North America washome to the largest Kodiak 100 fleet percentage (57%), followed by Asia (28%) for a combined 85% of the total fleet.
Note: The Daher Group (manufacturer of the TBM single engine turboprop series) acquired Quest Aircraft Company in June 2019, and the deal was expected to close at the end of 2019.
Payload & Range Comparison
As we have established previously, a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor in selecting the right aircraft for their need. Table A shows the Grand Caravan EX’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ is 1,086lbs, which is greater than the 744lbs offered by the Kodiak 100.
TABLE A: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Payload & Range Comparison
Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Chart A shows the UPCAST JETBOOK cabin cross-section comparison of the Grand Caravan EX and the Kodiak 100. As shown, the Grand Caravan EX has more cabin width compared to the Kodiak 100 but the same height.
CHART A: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
The Grand Caravan EX also has a longer cabin length (16.75ft) compared to the Kodiak 100 (15.5ft), which results in more cabin volume (352cu.ft) compared to the Kodiak (248cu.ft), according to Conklin & de Decker. Also depicted in Chart A, both turboprops offer a flat cabin floor.
The Grand Caravan EX has a smaller internal baggage storage volume of 32cu.ft compared to the Kodiak 100 (38cu.ft), and neither the Grand Caravan EX nor the Kodiak 100 offer external baggage storage capacity.
As depicted by Chart B (which uses Wichita, Kansas as the origin point), the Grand Caravan EX (807nm) offers less range coverage than the Kodiak 100 (1,005nm) with full fuel and available payload.
For business turboprops, full fuel and available payload represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 100nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
CHART B: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Range Comparison
The Grand Caravan EX is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 engine offering 867shp. By comparison, the Kodiak 100 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engine with 750shp.
Total Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Total Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart C (sourced from JETNET), is defined as the cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew and catering).
The Total Variable Cost for the Grand Caravan EX computes at $727/hr. compared to the Kodiak 100 at $601/hr. That’s a difference of 21%.
CHART C: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Variable Operating Cost Comparison
Aircraft Market Comparison Table
Table B contains the equipped prices (per B&CA) for a new (2019 model) Grand Caravan EX and Kodiak 100. The long-range cruise speed, range, and cabin volume are as represented by Conklin & De Decker. Meanwhile, the number of aircraft inoperation, percentage for sale, and average sold are as reported by JETNET.
TABLE B: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Market Comparison
The Grand Caravan EX had 5% of its fleet for sale at the end of October 2019, while the Kodiak 100 had 7.1% for sale. The average number of new and used transactions (sold) per month was eight for the Grand Caravan EX and four for the Kodiak 100 over the preceding 12 months.
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 (see Table C).
TABLE C: Part 91 and Part 135 MACRS Schedule
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favourable 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 anaircraft 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 any given year. The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the new 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 turboprops until December 31, 2026.
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model Grand Caravan EX in private (Part 91) and in charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Cessna Grand Caravan EX Sample MACRS Schedule
Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model Kodiak 100 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and sevenyear periods.
TABLE E: Quest Kodiak 100 Sample MACRS Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
The market for used Grand Caravan EX aircraft in October 2019 showed 24 aircraft available for sale, with 16 showing asking prices that ranged from $1.75m to $2.65m. By comparison, 17 Kodiak 100s were listed for sale, 13 of which displayed asking prices ranging between $1.375m and $2.6m.
While each serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition 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.
The points in Chart D are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in B&CA. 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:
Full Fuel Range (nm) with available payload;
The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
The cabin volume available for passengers and cargo.
Others may choose different parameters,but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin volume.
CHART D: Cessna Grand Caravan EX vs Quest Kodiak 100 Productivity Comparison
The Grand Caravan EX demonstrates a slightly higher level of productivity, for a higher price. The Grand Caravan EX edged out the Kodiak 100 in terms of cabin volume, while its ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ is greater. However, the Kodiak 100 has a lower variable cost per hour and offers more range than the Grand Caravan EX.
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.
Operators should weigh up their mission requirements precisely when picking which option is the best for them. Ultimately, the aircraft in our study are well matched. Budget constraints and operational mission needs will ultimately determine the better choice for an individual buyer.