In the following turboprops comparison, Mike Chase provides information on the Daher TBM 930 single engine turboprop, comparing it to the twin-engine Beech King Air C90GTx. What are the advantages for each aircraft?
Following, we’ll consider several key productivity parameters (including payload, range, speed and cabin size) and assess the current market for the Daher TBM 930 and Beechcraft King Air C90GTx.
By doing so, it is hoped that prospective buyers will form a clearer picture of which is the better option for their specific mission needs. Will a single-engine turboprop suffice, or is a twin-engine aircraft better? Learn more here…
About the Competitors
The Daher TBM 930 entered service in 2016, not to replace the TBM 900 but to provide another option for buyers. With the TBM 930, Daher added Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics. Daher also highlights the ‘e-copilot’ feature now available on the TBM 930 that provides aural alerts to the pilot in place of sound tones.
As of this writing, there were 114 Daher TBM 930 turboprops in operation around the world, of which 110 are wholly-owned. North America accounted for the largest Daher TBM 930 fleet percentage (86%), followed by Europe (11%).
Meanwhile, the Beechcraft King Air C90GTx entered service in 2010, doubling payload capability and allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel under all loading scenarios and to fly further. Extended range and improved efficiency of the King Air C90GTx are essentially down to its innovative composite winglets, which reduce drag and allow faster climb and lower fuel burn.
In March 2019, there were 168 King Air C90GTx turboprops in operation, 165 of which were wholly-owned. North America was home to the largest King Air C90GTx fleet percentage (42%), followed by South America (32%), then Europe and Asia (10% each) — accounting for a combined 94% of the fleet.
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 that the Daher TBM 930 ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’, at 584lbs, is less than the 707lbs offered by the King Air C90GTx.
TABLE A: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Payload Comparison
Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Chart A shows the cabin cross-section comparison for the Daher TBM 930 and Beechcraft King Air C90GTx, as provided by Upcast Jetbook. As represented, the King Air C90GTx has more cabin height and width compared to the Daher TBM 930.
CHART A: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Not depicted in the graphic, the King Air C90GTx also has a longer cabin length (12.4ft vs 10.0ft). The overall cabin measurements are 218cu.ft in favor of the King Air C90GTx, versus 143cu.ft for the TBM 930. (Note in Chart A that the TBM930 offers a flat floor cabin.)
In terms of baggage space, the King Air C90GTx offers more internal luggage space (48cu.ft) than the TBM 930 (30cu.ft), which offers almost 6ft additional external luggage room.
As depicted in Chart B using Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport, France as the origin point the TBM 930 (1,474nm) shows more range coverage than the King Air C90GTx (1,152nm) when carrying four passengers.
For business turboprops, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long-range cruise with NBAA IFR fuel reserves (calculation assumes a 100nm alternate). This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
CHART B: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Range Comparison
The Daher TBM 930 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66D engine delivering 850shp. Meanwhile, the Beechcraft King Air C90GTx is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-135A engines offering 750shp each.
Cost Per Mile Comparison
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’ for our comparative turboprops (per JETNET data), and factors direct costs (no depreciation) and with each aircraft flying a 600nm mission with a payload of 800lbs (four passengers). The average US Jet-A fuel cost used for April 2019 was $4.89 per gallon.
The single-engine Daher TBM 930 shows a lower $3.24 cost per nautical mile compared to $5.38 for the twin-engine King Air C90GTx. That’s a difference of $2.14 (40%) less in favor of the TBM 930.
CHART C: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Cost Per Mile Comparison
Total Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Total Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D (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 Daher TBM 930 computes at $871/hour compared to the King Air C90GTx at $1,261/hour, showing the single-engine Daher TBM 930 as the least expensive per hour.
CHART D: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Variable Cost Comparison
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table B contains the new 2019 prices (per Vref) for the TBM 930 and King Air C90GTx, while the long-range cruise speed, cabin volumes and ranges are from Conklin & De Decker, and the number of aircraft in operation, percentage ‘For Sale’ and average number sold are as reported by JETNET.
TABLE B: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Comparison Table
The TBM 930 fleet had 3.5% of its fleet for sale at the end of March 2019, while the King Air C90GTx had 4.8% for sale. The average number of new and used transactions (sold) per month was four for the TBM 930 and two for the King Air C90GTx over the past 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: MACRS Depreciation Schedule
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 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 percent 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 jets until December 31, 2026.
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model new Daher TBM 930 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Daher TBM 930 Sample MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Meanwhile, Table E shows an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model new King Air C90GTx in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE E: Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Sample MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
The current used market for the Daher TBM 930 shows a total of three aircraft for sale. Two have asking prices of $3.6m and $3.725m, while for the third a price is not specified. For the King Air C90GTx, a total of seven aircraft are listed for sale, three displaying asking prices, which are between $1.9m and $2.39m.
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 E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the Vref Pricing Guide. 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:
- Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel;
- The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
- The gross cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin size.
CHART E: Daher TBM 930 vs Beechcraft King Air C90GTx Productivity Comparison
The Daher TBM 930 demonstrates a higher level of productivity than the Beechcraft King Air C90GTx, but at a higher purchase price. While the King Air C90GTx edged out the TBM 930 in terms of cabin volume and available payload with maximum fuel, the TBM 930 offers greater range and a much lower cost per mile and variable hourly costs.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business turboprop operators value. There are other qualities such as runway performance, terminal area performance and time to climb that might factor in a buying decision, however.
Operators should weigh-up their mission requirements precisely when picking which aircraft is the better buy for them.
The turboprops within our study are fairly well matched, but the TBM 930 owes its lower operating cost to its single powerplant. Ultimately, the choice of aircraft is likely to depend on budget constraints along with operational mission needs.