World Airnews editor Heidi Gibson got a chance to interview ExecuJet vice president Gavin Kiggen about these reliable, rugged but amazing aircraft workhorses and a little bit more. Here are his answers.
Question: In your opinion today which model and type of single-engine turboprop do you prefer and why? Taking into account all the different factors: performance: speed: payload: range? Please give your top three and reasons.
Answer: Although single-engine turbo-props have some limitations, the two most popular aircraft that jump to mind are the Pilatus PC-12 and the Textron Cessna Caravan that has been around 10 years longer. Applications for the two aircraft types are somewhat different with the PC-12 being much faster and pressurized, with an impressive range, but it still offers the same short-field performance as a Caravan, if not better. The comfort of the PC-12’s interior offers executives and travellers a spacious, comfortable flight. The aircraft also boasts a huge aft cargo door with ample space for luggage and equipment as well as a forward lavatory. These two aircraft have proven themselves time and time again in the African environment as being dependable, rugged, and cost-effective and always in popular demand. Some other contenders of this market share would definitely include the Kodiak Quest and Daher TBM to a smaller extent.
Question: World Airnews is the longest serving – 47 years – across Africa. Which turbo prop is best suited to our climate and across the continent?
Answer: Since the 1970s and 1980s, the then Beechcraft King Air 200 and 300 series has definitely proven to be extremely popular, come rain or shine, day or night with the additional reassurance of the second engine. Adding the Beech 1900 series since the mid-90’s there are still around 350 of these aircraft operating in Africa which speaks for itself.
Question: Currently in this COVID -19 climate – I do believe recently there has been a lifting by the CAA for maintenance flights. What would be your advice to owners on how to maintain their aircraft now and going forward?
Answer: Unlike piston-engine aeroplanes, turbo-props present far less effort in maintaining and storing them with clearly defined procedures published by the various OEMs. Mainly keeping the batteries charged, running the engines periodically and rotating the tyres would probably be the bare minimum required in our dry highveld climate.
Question: Do you know of any new models that are? /were to be launched this year or indeed early next year?
Answer: Textron unveiled their plans in November 2017 for the Cessna 408 Sky Courier to be launched mid-2020 with their launch customer FedEx Express. This twin turboprop’s characteristics would include 19 passengers or 6000lbs payload powered by two PT6A-65SC turbo-prop engines.
Question: When purchasing a second-hand aircraft in this category – what is the one point that owners should look out for?
Answer: Besides the normal pre-purchase inspection items, I would suggest making sure that life-limited parts or major periodical inspections due, are considered in the negotiations. Secondly, making sure one is buying the right type of turboprop aircraft to suit your operations the best, with proper maintenance support and crew training at hand, with a professional, caring organisation managing and utilizing this asset to its best potential like ExecuJet Africa.