Exploring the purchase of a share of an aircraft is rarely an easy thing to do. The list of questions and considerations you have is likely long. But, it’s important to do the homework so the decision you make is the right one for you. Our hope is to simplify the process. Aside from the expected standards of flying private which the PlaneSense® program offers, here are some high-level topics you’ll likely be thinking about in the early stages of looking into fractional ownership of aircraft and its benefits as well as important, more in-depth topics that we have learned are addressed best in context of a conversation about your specific needs.
- Company Stability
- Ownership Share Options
- Ownership Cost
- Operating Areas/Scheduling Notice
- Aircraft Amenities
- Airport Access
- Aircraft Maintenance
- Fuel Pricing
- Multiple Use
The PlaneSense fractional program is supported by an experienced team and sophisticated operation, and has operated well over 50 Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12s for its fractional share owners since 1996. The program today flies over 20,000 hours per year, and is managed by PlaneSense, Inc., a privately held company led by President and CEO George A. Antoniadis. In January of 2012 the company changed its name from Alphaf Flying, Inc. to PlaneSense, Inc.
Ownership Share Options
Similar to most programs that offer fractional ownership of aircraft, a fractional share in the PlaneSense program is available in 1/16th share increments. Unlike other programs, however, we will help you choose the right share size AND the best usage option so you can achieve the most cost-effective solution based on your flying needs.
Whether explicitly broken out or not, aircraft acquisition cost, management fee, occupied hourly fee, fuel surcharges and various pass-throughs are expenses associated with fractional ownership of aircraft in any program. Together they make up the “all-in” cost of owning a fractional share. Our sales team can review these costs for the PlaneSense® program with you in more detail specific to your situation and flying needs, and so that you can compare the value proposition of owning a fraction of a Pilatus PC-12 in the PlaneSense program to other options you may be considering. Also worth keeping in mind are the tangible and intangible cost savings associated with more efficiently flying, on your schedule, to a much wider selection of airports, which is a significant differentiator for PC-12s in the PlaneSense program fleet.
The fractional industry has been built around stringent safety standards to properly support and operate large aircraft fleets characterized by high aircraft utilization. To arrive at the economies of scale that make fractional ownership attractive, an aircraft in a fractional program, by definition, will fly with great frequency to support the needs of its various share owners. Our specific approach to ensuring the highest level of safety is rooted in aircraft build, aircraft maintenance, pilot training and dedicated flight operations. Interestingly, the PlaneSense program, because of its superior track record and the size of its fleet, has helped validate the Pilatus PC-12’s safety record as a leading turboprop aircraft in the world.
Categorically, the fractional industry has earned a strong safety record, as reported in the December 2010 issue of Aviation International News. Per AIN, “the total number of accidents among fractional operators since 1986 is 20, according to accident researcher Robert Breiling of Boca Raton, Fla.-based Robert E. Breiling Associates, with NetJets having logged 12, Flexjet three, Flight Options four and Avantair one. Through June of 2010, the accident rate for fractionals was 0.269 per 100,000 flight hours, which is almost the same as scheduled airlines at 0.22 and much better than charter operations at 2.48. Only professionally flown corporate aircraft have a better accident rate at 0.126.”
Operating Areas/SCheduling Notice
You can fly within and outside of our Primary Operating Area (POA), including the continental U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Islands of the Caribbean. Within that geography we can fly you into and out of many more airports than similarly sized jets because of the PC-12s short runway capability.
You can fly any time, with as little as 8 hours notice (12 hours for 1/16th shares) within our POA and 48 hours for flights departing and/or arriving outside the POA. We also require 48 hours notice as well as departure time flexibility for peak period travel and for international travel so we can accommodate all flight requests by our share owners even on the busiest travel days of the year, which historically have been around the major holidays.
To make it easy for our share owners traveling to popular destinations in Canada and The Bahamas, we require 24 hours notice for flights arriving in or departing from that portion of the Primary Operating Area that lies within Canada and from Bahamian Airports designated as inside the Primary Operating Area because of their proximity to the mainland and ability to process customs. Bahamian airports that are not in the POA require 48 hours notice like all other international travel.
The PC-12 NG is powered by a 1,200 SHP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67P engine and offers a maximum cruise speed of 322 mph and altitude of 30,000 feet. The engine featured in the predecessors to the PC-12 NG, the PC-12/45 and the PC-12/47 -- the 1,200 SHP Pratt & Whitney PT6-67B engine, has similar performance specs. The range of PC-12s in the PlaneSense fleet is 1,100+ nautical miles with three adults, two crew, maximum baggage and NBAA IFR fuel reserve. Factors that most impact range include payload, wind speed as well as direction, altitude, and air traffic.
While the Pilatus PC-12 can be configured to seat 10 passengers, PC-12s in the PlaneSense program are uniformly configured in a comfortable executive configuration, with six large, full-function seats that track, swivel and recline; three tables for work or meals; club-chair arrangements for face-to-face dialogue. The cabin also offers a refreshment center including a selection of snacks and beverages; A/C outlets for laptops etc.; an Air Phone; a private, enclosed, flushing lavatory; and, direct access to the luggage area during flight.
Additionally, the PC-12’s massive (53” X 52”) cargo door can accommodate a variety of gear, including pet carriers, bicycles and skis. And, all of it can be accessed directly from inside the cabin.
We fly every mission for our owners with two pilots, a Pilot-in-command (PIC) and Second-in-command (SIC). The training program we provide for them on an on-going basis consists of a customized, highly-detailed in-house curriculum that has been reviewed and sanctioned by the FAA and the insurance industry for use with the PlaneSense program. We are also recognized by the greater PC-12 pilot community as a provider of a high quality PC-12 training program to help them familiarize themselves with the aircraft.
Since the PC-12 can land on runways as short as 2,500 feet, saving you precious time, money and effort, you can utilize up to four times as many airports compared to a similarly sized jet* when you’re a share owner in the PlaneSense® program. You can use any of these online resources to begin to explore the airports closest to your home and/or office as well as your destinations: www.airnav.com and www.acukwik.com. And, once you become a share owner, one of our PlaneSense Owner Services representatives will help you determine what airports will work best for your needs.
Atlas Aircraft Center, co-located with PlaneSense, Inc., in Portsmouth, NH, is capable of performing PC-12 inspections, modifications, upgrades and repairs and does the majority of this work for the PC-12s in our PlaneSense program fleet. Atlas Aircraft Center has been awarded the prestigious Pilatus Service Recognition Award and is a long-standing and repeat winner of the FAA Diamond Award for Excellence.
We actively seek competitive bids from FBOs for the combination of best fuel price and best service at those airports we visit frequently on behalf of our owners. We also utilize third-party aggregators to help us purchase fuel at a better price than our volume of visits would otherwise justify at less frequently visited airports. Perhaps most importantly, the PC-12 burns significantly less fuel than similarly sized jets.
Pets are welcomed on your aircraft when you’re a share owner in the PlaneSense® program. Our Owner Services team and crew will familiarize you with procedural requirements to help you ensure their safety and comfort during flight. They can also help you plan ahead for any special needs your pet might have and requirements for traveling to and from an international destination.
Multiple Aircraft Use
Owners with at least a 5/16th share of a PC-12 in the PlaneSense program (or 225 hours per year) may concurrently utilize two aircraft when they need to perform simultaneous trips.
More In-Depth Topics For Discussion Specific to Your Needs
Flying Needs: Some of our owners fly weekly to run their business. Some fly regularly over the course of the year, perhaps to and from vacation homes. Others fly when an opportunity or need arises. We have share owners who have very specific destinations and repeat the same route on a regular basis. Some fly to a variety of destinations, mostly from the airport closest to their office or home. If it’s difficult for you to define your exact flying needs, our experienced team is more than happy to help map out potential scenarios to find the best and most practical fit for your business and leisure plans.
Competitive Fractional Comparisons: “All-in” (e.g. including all costs to own and use the airplane) is typically the best way to assess the cost of owning a fractional share of an aircraft. Also worth keeping in mind are the tangible and intangible cost savings associated with more efficiently flying, on your schedule, to a much wider selection of airports, which is a significant differentiator for PC-12s in the PlaneSense program fleet.
Charter Comparisons: Owning a fractional share offers financial and non-financial benefits. For those who tend to fly same day round trips from major cities, charter can be more economically attractive. However, since charter operators do not offer guaranteed service like fractional providers, charter trip prices and aircraft availability can fluctuate significantly. For those whose travel patterns are less predictable, owning a fractional share is often more financially attractive. On top of this, owning a fractional share provides ease of mind with guaranteed service, known aircraft type(s), known pilot training and aircraft maintenance methods and predictable costs.
Contract Process: The steps in the process are almost always the same. The timetable usually varies and is driven by the urgency of a prospect’s private flying needs. Oftentimes prospects will engage consultants, accountants or personal advisors to ensure they understand the documentation and establish the most beneficial ownership structure. Our team will begin with understanding your situation and then will work diligently to be efficient, detail-oriented and flexible in addressing your needs. While we have completed purchase transactions in as little as two days, the typical cycles takes about three to four weeks. The goal of our contract process is to let you become familiar with high level information, followed by a more thorough review of the program documents as well as exact aircraft details in conjunction with deciding the proper ownership structure.
Contract Duration: As a result of input from share owners and our experience with the PC-12, you can now hold on to your share in the PlaneSense program for up to 10 years. In addition to that, new share owners as of July 16th, 2012, also benefit from the Residual Value Assurance (RVA), which provides predictable exit options at years 5, 7 and 10.