The mission: Business is booming. You started with one location nearly 10 years ago and today you’ve grown to have multiple regional offices. As the owner you need to be seen at these locations regularly to boost morale, provide guidance to local managers, and meet with customers. You’ve been a pilot for many years, but most of that time you’ve flown only recreationally. Now you’re ready to start using an airplane in the business. You are looking for a way to move quickly and efficiently between locations, which are each about 300 miles apart. Typically, it will only be you or you and a few managers on board, and there’s little to no luggage or equipment.
The budget: $2 million
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The turbine Piper M-Class airplanes that arose from the popular Malibu are tailor- made for a mission like this. Turbine reliability is a big bonus, and the speed deficit compared to other similar airplanes isn’t an issue with the shorter distances. The cabin is comfortable for a small number of passengers, and the long, straight wing is forgiving and easy to fly. Look for the Garmin G1000 panel for an easy transition, and if you act fast, you can still scoop up an M500 for this budget.
We normally think of turbines when we think of business airplanes, but there’s an argument to be made for starting in something like a Baron. You can get a G1000-equipped G58 for half this budget, which is a conservative way to decide whether you want to be the boss and corporate pilot or whether you only want better access to business aviation. The speed gap will result in longer trips compared to a turbine, but avgas is plentiful at smaller strips, it’s easier to insure, and the transition is easy. Find one with radar and air conditioning, and you have a fantastic regional business tool.
If you want to jump straight into the multiengine turbine world, the Conquest is an economical way to do it. It’s more airplane than you need for this mission, but it’s a good step up from piston twins. Just keep in mind that what you save in acquisition costs you’ll probably make up for in maintenance, insurance premiums, and fuel. That said, you’ll be flying a twin turboprop screaming along at nearly 300 knots, and doing it above most of the weather. Look for the best airframe you can find with relatively low-time engines, which should be easy with this budget.