You’ve spent years flying your turboprop and as sophisticated as it is, you still can’t get above weather. You also need to quickly get to more distant places, so extra speed is an important factor. It may be time for a light jet.
This is the final installment of a four-part series on moving up through the ranks of aircraft from trainer to jet for the owner-flown pilot.
You find that a lot of your missions take too long due to the need to fly around weather or are cancelled outright by weather. You can’t get above it. Or, you need that additional speed because you are making longer cross-country flights of 1,500 nautical miles or more. Going from Florida to New England, or from the Midwest to the West Coast at turboprop speeds can be incentives to go jet shopping.
If you have a track record of owning pressurized aircraft with turbine engines, you’re ahead of the game. To begin, you might want to start out with a used jet, now you may have turbofan engines instead of turboprop engines. Eventually you may want a newer jet with better system integration and lower maintenance costs, or at a minimum an avionics upgrade to your used jet to ease the pilot workload.
As for financing, if you have a demonstrated successful history of owning aircraft, it helps lenders get comfortable making a lending decision by knowing you understand how to own and maintain sophisticated equipment. Most people with prior ownership understand what they can and can’t manage. While there are transactional costs associated with moving up, most AOPA members make the move every three to four years if they are getting utility out of the aircraft and not just the joy of flying.
What poses the greatest challenge in moving up is if you want to ‘skip a step’ in piloting skills. For example, going from a Cessna 172 directly to a turboprop is a big jump and you’re ‘skipping a step.’ The more capable aircraft have many systems you may never have managed before, such as complex avionics, retractable gear, pressurization, two engines, and much greater speed. This type of transition is not only challenging from a piloting standpoint, but also from the cost perspective.
The one exception to this is Cirrus where owners can safely transition directly from a piston-engine SR22 to the single-turbine-engine Vision Jet. Cirrus has gone above-and-beyond in recognizing that this challenge is significant and has therefore invested many resources to training.
Just keeping up with scheduled maintenance can be confusing. If you plan to make a huge jump in aircraft models and have limited ownership experience, you may want your jet professionally managed. Otherwise management may be too overwhelming for you. Generally aircraft brokers do a really good job of coaching folks into an intermediate step, if they were trying to skip one.
We’ll also help you figure out if a jet is in your future.
Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit the website (www.aopafinance.com) or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).