Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Piper M600 and Daher TBM 910 (including payload, range, speed and cabin size), to establish which provides the better value in the single-engine turboprop market.
Receiving FAA certification on June 18, 2016, the M600 forms part of Piper’s new M-class series of airplanes (incorporating the M350, M500 and M600). These are all based on the original PA-46 Malibu.
While using the same fuselage as the other PA-46 models, the M600 incorporates an all-new wing design that allows for carriage of an additional 90 gallons of fuel. Powered by a single turboprop engine, the M600 has capacity for one pilot and up to five passengers.
The M600 offers a pressurized cabin to a maximum altitude of 30,000ft, and is equipped with the Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics suite. Beginning in 2020, Piper will offer a Garmin emergency autoland system.
Daher TBM 910
The TBM 910 very fast single-engine turboprop began operation in 2017 and provides the range, performance and technical features that contributed to the success of the TBM 900. It features a Garmin G1000 NXi avionics system with a physical keypad.
Offering the capacity for one pilot and up to six passengers, the cabin is pressurized to a maximum certified altitude of 31,000ft. As an added feature, the TBM 910 can accommodate the ‘Elite Privacy’ compartment which is a quick-change option that integrates a lavatory area in the aircraft’s aft fuselage.
Piper M600 and Daher TBM 910 Fleet Data
According to JETNET, as of January 2020, there were 106 Piper M600 business turboprops in operation. Almost all (100) were wholly owned, with six being in shared ownership. North America was home to the largest fleet percentage (88%), followed by Europe (11%). Together, they accounted for 99% of the total fleet in operation.
By comparison, there were 44 Daher TBM 910 business turboprops in operation, of which 42 were wholly owned and two in shared ownership. In January 2020, North America accounted for 71% of the TBM 910 fleet, followed by Europe (29%). Together, they accounted for the entire fleet of TBM 910s, according to JETNET data.
Payload & Range Comparison
As we have established in previous articles, a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor in selecting the right aircraft for their need.
Table A shows the Piper M600’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ is 458lbs., which is less than the 584lbs. offered by TBM 910.
TABLE A: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Payload Comparison
Chart A shows the UPCAST JETBOOK cabin cross-section comparison for the Piper M600 and the Daher TBM 910. The M600 offers slightly more cabin width but less cabin height when compared to the Daher TBM 910.
CHART A: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Cabin Comparison
Note: Both aircraft offer a flat cabin floor. Not depicted in the chart, the M600 has more cabin length (12.33ft vs 10ft) compared to the TBM 910, and provides more overall cabin volume (165cu.ft versus 143cu.ft).
The Piper M600 doesn’t offer any external baggage capacity but does provide 20cu.ft. internal space. By comparison, the Daher TBM 910 offers 30cu.ft internally, and 5.9cu.ft. externally.
As depicted in Chart B using Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport, France as the origin point, the Daher TBM 910 (1,514nm) shows more range coverage than the Piper M600 (1,406nm) when fully fueled and carrying available payload.
CHART B: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Range Comparison
For business turboprops, ‘Full Fuel with Available Payload Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise with NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 100nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
The Piper M600 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A engine with 600shp. By comparison, the Daher TBM 910 utilizes an 850shp PT6A-66D engine.
Total Variable Cost Comparison
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 (hangar, crew and catering).
CHART C: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Variable Cost Comparison
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 vary from one flight department to another. The Total Variable Cost for the TBM 910 computes at $949/hour compared to the Piper M600 at $746/hour.
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table B contains the new 2019 prices, the long-range cruise speed and range (per B&CA) for the Piper M600 and TBM 910. Cabin volumes, the number of aircraft in-operation, the fleet percentage for sale, and the monthly average sold are as reported by JETNET.
TABLE B: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Market Comparison
The TBM 910 fleet had 4.6% of its fleet for sale as of the end of January 2020, while the Piper M600 had 16% for sale. The average number of new and used transactions (sold) per month was less than one for the TBM 910 and four for the Piper M600 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: MACRS Schedule for Part 91 and Part 135 Operations
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favourable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method that means 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 Piper M600 both in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Piper M600 Sample MACRS Schedule
Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model Daher TBM 910 both in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE E: Daher TBM 910 Sample MACRS Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
At the time of writing, the used market for the Piper M600 aircraft showed a total 17 aircraft were for sale. Nine had asking prices ranging between $2.045m to $2.499m. Two Daher TBM 910s were also on the market, but neither listed an asking price.
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 of an aircraft sale must be decided between the seller and buyer.
The points in Chart D center 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:
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin volume.
CHART D: Piper M600 vs Daher TBM 910 Productivity Comparison
A new Piper M600 comes at a lower cost than the TBM 910 and has a lower hourly variable operating cost. It also provides a larger cabin volume. However, the Daher TBM 910 demonstrates a greater level of productivity here, boasting more range, almost 70kts greater long-range cruise speed and a higher ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’.
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, establishing which elements of an aircraft’s performance matter most to them, before picking which option is the best for them.
Note: The Daher TBM 910 is part of a larger family of aircraft, including the TBM 900, 930 and 940. For the purpose of this comparison, the TBM 910 was both in-production, and a closer price match for the Piper M600.