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Turboprops Cannibalize the Piston-Twin MarketTurboprops cannibalize the piston-twin market

Change occurred over the past 30 years

Buying a multi-engine airplane has become less appealing.

Thirty years ago there weren’t many single-engine turboprop aircraft on the market. Many pilots made the decision to buy an aircraft with two engines to keep the family safer—especially when making long flights above water—and to go a little faster than their former piston single-engine aircraft. Today the story is much different. 

Today there is cannibalization of the piston multi-engine market by single-engine turboprops. The aircraft responsible for this include the Piper Meridian, now known as the Piper M500 and M600, the Daher TBM, and the Pilatus PC-12 NG.  

More availability. Today there are not only an ever-growing choice of single-engine turboprop aircraft to choose from, but they are priced close to the cost of a multi-engine aircraft yet have similar capabilities. 

The reliability of a turboprop is far better than the risk of an engine failure on a multi-engine aircraft. People have voted with their feet, moving towards dealers of turboprop single-engine aircraft, even though those aircraft cost a little more and have a higher operating cost. 

Easier to manage. Today’s aircraft buyers feel one engine is easier to manage and the aircraft systems are less complex. 

The piston-engine twin market is much more thinly traded than that of the single-engine turboprop, and is an aging fleet. That means a piston multi-engine aircraft is more difficult to sell. That said, the smallest of the multi-engine aircraft, such as the Piper Seminole, have been gobbled up by flight schools and are hard to find. Flight schools, not businesses, are the primary market now for light piston twins.

Beechcraft Baron owners still love their aircraft, and the Piper Seneca is still in production, but single-engine turboprops are produced in much larger numbers.

Less money down. All of this boils down to your needing a larger down payment for a piston-engine twin than in the past—like 30 percent down. You’ll have an aircraft that is far more complex than the single piston-engine aircraft you previously owned, and has far greater operating costs especially at engine overhaul time.

More finance options. In addition to a smaller down payment, turboprop loans offer longer terms, better rates, and a larger number of lenders willing to make you a loan. The primary reason is that most of the piston-twin fleet is quite a bit older than the turboprop fleet, and thus values are stronger on turboprops. When you have to replace two engines as they approach time between overhaul, it’s frequently more expensive then the value of the plane itself, while most single-engine turboprop values will rarely dip below $600,000 to $700,000.

Those are the reasons why some pilots who once considered a piston multi-engine aircraft are taking a long look at the single-engine turboprop market. 

Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit the web (www.aopafinance.com) or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).

Adam Meredith

Adam Meredith

President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company
Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, is an aircraft finance professional with more than 15 years lending, small business management and customer service experience. Adam is a commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings.

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