PC-12 Articles


Navigating the Pilatus Transition

If you’re like myself and most pilots out there, we all long to go higher, faster, and fly a larger airplane. Remember that first time you got to swing the gear in an airplane that you were flying…ah yes, “check this out, I move this little lever and my landing gear goes up! Sweet.” Here’s the good news; the Pilatus seems to satisfy this urge time and time again. Well those memories only get added to and not forgotten throughout a pilot’s career. Ironically, many of the former Pilatus pilots who have moved on to fly bigger faster aircraft will all tell you “I loved flying the Pilatus, I’d go back to flying it in a heartbeat.” However, moving up the ‘food chain’ for many pilots can be determined by where skill and timing meet luck and opportunity. Have you heard this before? Let JetSwiss Aviation help while navigating the Pilatus transition.

As an example, would you be surprised to know that the Cirrus SR-22 is one of the most popular owner/pilot groups that transition into a Pilatus PC-12? Survey says: TRUE. Most folks in aviation cannot believe this! Included in this disbelief are many of the actual owners and pilots themselves. At JetSwiss we’ve accompanied several Cirrus pilots and owners over the years, each with their own unique scenario. In our experience there are several common components that helped navigate the course. By focusing on these common components initially, rather than trying to force a particular aircraft (acquisition or sale), our process and customers have greatly benefited. Keep in mind, this is not some magical recipe for aviation…

Simply put, T.O. L.I.F.T. is the common background theme for any would-be aircraft owner or pilot:

T – Training

Where do I go? What do insurance companies want? What’s the best scenario for our situation? Is there dual instruction time needed?

O – Operations

Where should I base the aircraft? How does a specific airport affect operations? Are there precision approaches at an airport? Deicing equipment? Should we build a hangar? If so, what should the hanger have?

L – Legal

Caution, we are not attorneys at JetSwiss. However, we do assist with procuring and suggesting the proper resources to structure ownership and to consider all legal aspects of owning an aircraft. Topics such as dry lease agreement, charter/leaseback agreements, renting the aircraft, management agreements, etc., and more can be in play with owning an aircraft. Obviously, there are risks, advantages, and disadvantages to every scenario, but often times it’s money well spent to have an aviation attorney in your corner.

I – Insurance

How much experience do I need, and can I get insured to fly the Pilatus? YES! We see folks with as little as 250 hours of total time get insured to fly the PC-12. Liability amounts can range from $1.0m to $5.0m in the first year, depending on experience levels. What about mentor flying? We see mentor flying ranging from 10 hours to upwards of 75-100 hours, again depending on experience levels. The key thing to remember is that flying the PC-12 is well within reasonable reach and it’s not one size fits all.

F – Finance

Typical loan terms in today’s market place are: 20% down, 15yr amortization, and 3-10 year loan term. Of course many variables and offshoots exist on the finance package, with the most flexibility being driven by excellent credit and low risk. Want less down payment? No personal guarantee? How about step down payments, or seasonal payments? All of these topics can easily be looked into with the proper professional involved. We suggest addressing this topic in the very beginning, as you’ll want to check this box for the utmost clarity.

T – Taxes

Oh yes, and don’t think taxes does not play a significant role in moving up the food chain of aircraft. When acquisition levels go north of six figures, the tax benefit of depreciating an aircraft becomes a large driving factor. Combined with legal structure, this topic definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. How can I depreciate the aircraft? What depreciation schedule will I be on? What if I use the aircraft personally? How about setting up a leasing company? Sales tax? We have the aviation tax experts that can address this very important topic.

I hope that we have helped shed light on the components that we see make a difference for navigating the Pilatus transition. So often we see several owners and pilots who forge ahead with the wrong team and the wrong playbook, only to be left standing around asking “How do I? Where is the? Can we do X? I thought we could do Y?…” Again, the T.O. L.I.F.T. topics are not ‘rocket science’ in any way. The key is to get your homework done, engage credible resources, and ‘check off the boxes’ before formulating too large of an opinion or taking hard action. Certainly transitioning into the Pilatus can be well within your reach if done properly. The good news is that it’s what we love to do at JetSwiss!

Fly safe and fly Swiss,

       ~Don


About JetSwiss

Founded in 2014, JetSwiss Aviation is a boutique aviation group specializing in operation, acquisition, management and sales of pre-owned Swiss-made business aircraft. The company sees more pre-owned Pilatus projects than anyone else in the world. Visit jetswiss.com to view current pre-owned Pilatus inventory or for more resources on Pilatus ownership.

PC12 on world-wide ferry flights

By: Guido Warnecke

I stopped ferrying single engine piston aircraft many years ago, so when it’s a single, then it had to be a turbine powered one.  I did many ferry flights with the Cessna Caravan and the Piper Meridian lately and last year I came across the PC12 for the first time. On my South African ATPL you need to get a type rating for the aircraft, so I had the chance to study the aircraft and its systems thoroughly. 

My first impression: “WOW” – a well-designed, modern aircraft. Simple and reliable systems. One can clearly see that the PC12 is a modern aircraft. Maiden flight in 1991 and not in the 1960’s and 70’s as many competitor aircraft.  The cockpit is well designed, however you to get used to overhead panel switches. 

Two weeks ago, I could try the PC12 on the first ferry flight from South Africa to the USA.  50 hours of Swiss clockwork like flying. Full tanks (2,704lb) give you almost 8 (!) hours to flame out at long range cruise. You can plan safely on 6+30 flight time, that is in excess of 1,500NM still air range. We flew at FL280 as the aircraft was not RVSM, otherwise you can fly up to FL300.  That makes ferry flying with sparse airports in Africa very comfortable. A downside is that Prist has to be added to the fuel, pre-mix is not available in most of the countries outside USA and Canada. Make sure to carry enough cans. The fuel systems is as simple as it can get, 2 tanks with automatic switching to keep the imbalance minimal. 

The route went via Eastern Africa, through Europe to Iceland and then the crossing over the North Atlantic to Canada and via Bangor into the US. At all fuel stops we landed with comfortable fuel reserves despite 75kts headwinds that are typical in this route when flying westbound. The reliable PT6 turbine gave us the feeling of safety over the Arctic and the cold waters of the North Atlantic.  

I did a lot of hand flying, also during low weather ILS approaches. The PC12 is a stable platform, easy to trim with the electrical trim switches for pitch, rudder and aileron. It handles strong crosswind very well (we had a lot in Iceland) and the trailing link gear with the big tires the landings are smooth as butter. Your passengers will like that! 

The cabin is very comfortable and spacious, the pilot seats could be a bit softer for an airplane with a 6:30h range.  What I liked is the speed range of the aircraft. You can sequence behind fast jets on an ILS at 200 knots but also do a short field approach at 75 knots on a farm strip. 


Back to Basics

By Earthquake

It was an unusual night. Single engine mountain flying on Christmas night. The passengers were unloaded and the only thing left was to decide on fuel to take home. The debate was between take enough to make it plus reserve and a few extra gallons on top or take as much as the PC12 could hold and still be in the envelope. This was typically never a debate due to the age old laws of flying: The runway behind you does no good. The altitude above you does you no good. Lastly, fuel left on the ground, does you no good. In this particular case though, fuel left on the ground made a big difference. It was decided, take enough to get home plus 90min reserve (double the requirement). It was so cold outside and the airplane was light. Two additional factors which would play a vital role in the safety of the crew.

Cockpit preparations were done, flight plan was loaded, RNav departure was briefed. It was time to leave Colorado. Upon reaching the hold short line, the NG was told to hold for release. The crew took this opportunity to brief the departure once more. The captain had the plate memorized, and to this day still does.

The release came and the turboprop crept onto the runway. “Lights, camera, action” could be heard as the pilot, still using the skills from PPL days, pushed the power to full. Just moments after lift off the beautiful red and white paint job disappeared into the dark clouds which had settled between the mountains. A few more seconds went by and the turn for the departure procedure began, in between the mountains which hid the runway.

As the aircraft began its turn, red Xs appeared over the three attitude indicators. They were also over all three heading indicators, airspeeds, altimeters, GPS position. Crew Alerting System Messages (CAS) began to ding over and over, also indicating failure of the Terrain Avoidance System, and Traffic Avoidance.

There was no time to be scared. The only options were (a) fly the airplane or (b) crash and probably not survive. Out of four Display Units, not one was working properly. Reversion mode is the only thing which came to mind. Yet, reversion of what? Nothing was working. Against all luck, the Pilot side reversion control got the co-pilot side to display altitude, heading, and airspeed. It didn’t make sense, those three were split between two different systems.

The controlling center couldn’t hear the transmissions asking for help. They ignored the 7700 which had been fumbled into the box. On the recording from that particular flight you could hear the pilot saying “altitude, heading, airspeed, altitude, heading, airspeed, etc.” out loud yet still just to oneself.

Denver Center finally responded to the pilots firm “emergency aircraft, give vectors for terrain avoidance immediately Nxxxxx” with “your altitude reporting transponder does not appear to be functioning, please reset”. The pilot hit the XPDR button and Denver came back with an “immediate right turn!”

As 16,000 finally rolled over the altitude tape and the center finally gave an additional, much more calm, right hand turn, certainly all of Colorado could hear the sigh of relief from the pilot.

Eventually, the center asked “is there a checklist you could run?”. Despite this being one of the most insulting things ever said to the pilot, a calm “we have run every checklist for every failure” came over the frequency for all to hear. It was followed by “do you want an approach?”. Which was met by “we have no way of shooting it”. By now, the center was stunned silent. A few moments go by before the  pilot of the emergency aircraft comes back on and says “it is VFR at our destination, perhaps a heading and altitude will work?”. The center complied. 

The remainder of the flight, not one single controller offered help but instead had questions which usually started off with “is it true?”. Indeed it was but there was no time in the cockpit that night for even the smallest distraction. Heading, altitude, airspeed, it was all they had.  The aircraft flew for nearly 90mins with just heading, altitude, airspeed. 

We have all heard the age old Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, but hopefully the above story helps to truly show it’s significance. Certainly the “heading, altitude, and airspeed” we all learn at the beginning of IFR training saved at least a few lives that particular night. Additionally, the pilot was able to ask for exactly what was needed and put the distractions aside. By communicating exactly what was needed when it was necessary, the pilot was kindly able to let the controllers know distractions could not be handled at the moment, but also was eventually able to get the help needed to have a safe remainder of the trip.

Additionally, the pilot had an ace up their sleeve with much experience practicing and teaching numerous Radar Instrument Approaches. A fundamental yet lost skill.  The basic fundamentals are learned first for a reason. They are hopefully never forgotten, and always used even beyond flight training. The importance of knowing how to safely operate your aircraft, along with emergency procedures and systems knowledge can not be stressed enough. Instructors teach partial panel and instrument scanning because they are required skills to operate in any conditions safely. 

While systems failures and aircraft incidents are not common, we all must know how to handle them; should we ever find ourselves in such a position. Most aircraft incidents and accidents would have been survivable without human error. The best we can do is make sure we show up to the airplane, a Cessna 150 or Boeing 747, 110% ready and focused on the task at hand; coming home safely and having fun!

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