Oh, what a difference a year makes. Our 2007 AOPA Pilot: Turbine Edition, released a year ago, treated very light jets and the subject of owner-flown turbine operations as a novelty. Today, Eclipse has delivered some 250 Eclipse 500 VLJs and Cessna has birthed more than 100 Mustangs. Cirrus and Piper both flew their single-engine jets this summer. Eclipse has made the decision to put its Eclipse 400 single-engine jet into production. The Diamond D-Jet single is getting a larger engine. Embraer is about to certify its Phenom 100; the Phenom 300 flew for the first time this spring.
This whirlwind of activity has not been confined to the jet set. Hawker Beechcraft is shipping the King Air C90GTi, a glass cockpit version of the venerable twin turboprop. Socata brought the Garmin G1000 cockpit to the popular TBM 850 and Pilatus improved the power and handling of its big PC-12 and fitted it with a new Honeywell Apex cockpit, making it the PC-12NG. With much fanfare this summer, Rolls-Royce unveiled its RR-500 small turboprop engine. Within days, Mooney signed a partnership with Rolls to investigate how the engine might find its way onto a Mooney airframe.
Although companies such as Adam Aircraft and Sino-Swearingen continue to struggle, it’s clear that the single-pilot turbine market is alive, well, and thriving. Sure, fuel prices are through the roof, but airline service is in the toilet and demands on people’s time are higher than ever. In uncertain economic times, productivity is more important than ever and what better way to improve productivity than to leverage a means of high-speed transportation that comes and goes when and where you want it to? Oh, yeah, it’s fun too. And challenging. And rewarding. High-performance people work hard—and they play hard, and general aviation plays a role there too. Could there be a better way to get to your favorite dream destination or weekend home than via your airplane? We think not!
Inside we profile a host of pilots who use their turbine airplanes to enhance their lives—business and pleasure. From actor Harrison Ford to inventor Dean Kamen, we explore how to get the most out of a turbine airplane. Think globetrotting in your turbine airplane is out of the question? Think again—as did a group of pilots who ventured around the world. More stories inside delve into training issues and uncover upgrade and avionics options. Use our online directory of single-pilot turbine airplanes to help you compare models.
Read fast, though. This market is waiting on no one.
Let us know what you think of this special edition. We look forward to hearing how turbine operations have changed the pace of your flying.