From our beginnings to when we moved into our facility at Pease International Airport in Portsmouth, NH, these stories1 about the PlaneSense® program say it best. In January 2012, the name of the program's management company was changed from Alpha Flying, Inc. to PlaneSense, Inc.
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Source: Business Jet Traveler, November 2012
By Jeff Burger
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Source: Seacoastonline.com, September 2012
Porsche allows local 'VIPs' to feel some
real horsepower before start of Jumper Classic
Source: Portsmouth Herald, September 17, 2011
By Charles McMahon
Portsmouth – Instructors from the Porsche Sport Driving School took a select few Seacoast residents on the ride of their lives Friday as part of an exclusive driving event on the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease runway.
The event featured nearly 160 guests getting a chance to get behind the wheel of five Porsche models and race them around a track at the hangar of PlaneSense Fractional Aircraft Program. It was held to promote the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic an equestrian event this weekend in Hampton Falls, according to Joyce Jordan, area marketing manager for Porsche Cars North America.
As the presenting sponsor for the Jumper Classic, Jordan said Porsche brought representatives from eight dealerships from throughout the Greater Boston area to the event.
"This year, the Jumper Classic decided to do a VIP party for our many sponsors," Jordan said. "This is the first time we've ever done an event like this."
Featured vehicles were the Boxter S, Cayman, Cayman R, 911 Carrera Black Edition and 911 Carrera GTS. The cars ranged in value from $52,000 to $110,000. Engines ranged from 265 to 405 horsepower.
Nick Fanelli, an instructor with the Porsche Sport Driving School, was one of five professional drivers on hand. Fanelli said drivers spend 130 days at the driving school headquarters in Birmingham, Ala., throughout the year, testing the latest Porsche models.
"Their stomachs are well trained to hold their lunches down," he said.
Fanelli said driving at an airport was a unique experience for the instructors.
"These are the on-the-road jets," Fanelli said of the fleet of Porsches. "There's not a boring one out here."
Each of the vehicles included the latest transmission technology called PDK transmission, which Fanelli said uses a double clutch system with a seven-speed gearbox.
"This transmission can shift in 1/100th of a second," he said.
Dave Yarrington, director of brewing at Smuttynose, got a chance to drive. He first took out the Porsche Cayman and then went for a hot lap in the Boxter around the auto cross track with an instructor.
Yarrington and fellow employee Robby Brondolo were all smiles after finishing.
"It was like high school," Yarrington joked. "That's what we would try to do with our piece-of-crap Toyotas."
Sponsors of the Jumper Classic drive high-end Porsche cars on a closed race course at the PlaneSense hangar on the Pease International Tradeport on Friday afternoon. Pictured are a 911 Carrera GTS, top, and a Cayman R.
Source: AOPA, January, 2011
By George A. Antoniadis, President and CEO, Alpha Flying, Inc.
The fractional (frax) aircraft ownership industry at large has been a strong catalyst for improvements in aircraft, service, and support systems that benefit both the business and general aviation communities. Large standardized fleets with high annual aircraft utilization and strong demands for reliability create an operational environment that fosters accelerated learning and continuous improvement for fractional service providers and the vendors that support them. The frax industry has spearheaded numerous improvement campaigns, creating growth opportunities for OEMs, maintenance, and other supporting industries.
These improvements invariably make their way into the greater aviation community. Two aircraft that come immediately to mind as having been essentially designed to succeed in the frax marketplace are the Bombardier Challenger 300 and the Cessna Citation Sovereign. These are tough, highly reliable, and easily maintainable aircraft that thrive in high-utilization environments.
Alpha Flying Inc. launched the PlaneSense aircraft fractional ownership program in 1996 with two Pilatus PC-12s. Today, with 32 aircraft, we fly the largest PC-12 fleet in the world. We safely complete more than 20,000 flights annually on behalf of our fractional owners, who enjoy the combination of superior service and excellent dispatch reliability - along with turboprop economy and the wide operational flexibility that the PlaneSense program provides. Beyond our commitment to our fractional program participants, it is part of our culture to share with the broader general aviation community what we have learned through our extensive operational experience and from our knowledge of other fractional programs.
Given our high utilization of the largest fleet of PC-12s for many years, we probably have more operational experience with the PC-12 than any other aircraft manager or operator. Over the years we have worked closely with Pilatus, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Honeywell in resolving operational and supply chain issues that have ultimately benefited a wider audience.
For instance, the introduction of recognition lights and rotating beacons; widespread use of the double battery option now standard in the PC-12NG; and the change from carbon brakes to steel were gestated in the operations of the PlaneSense program. The master minimum equipment list (MMEL) for the earlier PC-12s and the PC-12NG is also a product of our input. Issues in the earlier builds of Honeywell's Apex avionics system were identified and troubleshot based on PlaneSense program experience. The same can be said of improvements to the powerplant system. Through collaboration, much has been accomplished.
We have also had an impact on crew training. Our team devised a customized, highly detailed in-house training syllabus, which has been reviewed and sanctioned by the FAA for use in our program, as well as by the insurance industry. True to our commitment to the PC-12 community, this wealth of knowledge and training is available to all PC-12 users through familiarization and recurrent training, presentations, and webinars at our newly built facility at Portsmouth International Airport, New Hampshire, and via remote access.
As a final point, through the PlaneSense program we have validated the excellent safety and operational capabilities of the PC-12 to the aviation insurance underwriters. The data we have provided over the past 14 years has certainly bolstered comfort and improved the risk profile of the PC-12, which I'm sure has benefitted insurance rates for the PC-12 community at large.
The lesson here is not only to manage and operate aircraft in a manner that improves safety, service and value, but to share how those goals are accomplished in order to help improve all sectors of aviation. I am proud that we're able to do that.
George A. Antoniadis is founder, president, and CEO of Alpha Flying Inc., manager of the PlaneSense program. He holds a master of science degree from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, and a master's in business administration from Harvard Business School. He is a commercial instrument-rated pilot.
Top to bottom as they appear in article
George A. Antoniadis founded Alpha Flying In 1992.
The Pilatus PC-12 has been the foundation aircraft of the PlaneSense fractional aircraft program since the program began in 1996.
Source: Aviation International News, December 2010
By Matt Thurber
Fractional-share provider PlaneSense has weathered the economic downturn in excellent shape, according to president and CEO George Antoniadis. The Portsmouth, N.H.-based company "is seeing significant upticks on all of our metrics" compared with last year, he said. The second half of this year has been strong in terms of flight activity, with July the company's busiest month ever and activity in August, September and October reaching record numbers. PlaneSense flies just one aircraft type, the single-turboprop Pilatus PC-12.
"It’s not just a matter of the existing customers flying more," he said. "We have expanded our fleet and brought in new shares. And we're forecasting more such activity for 2011. I believe we have been a successful survivor of the 2008, 2009 experience. Now we’re propelling forward."
PlaneSense has avoided two features of most fractional operations–buyback guarantees and jet cards. When shareowners need to sell a share, PlaneSense helps remarket the share, Antoniadis said. Before the economic downturn, he added, "remarketing of shares in PlaneSense was extremely rare. In 2009 and 2010, they still represented only single-digit percentage numbers of the fleet size." The PlaneSense fleet currently stands at 33 PC-12s. "In every case of a remarket," he added, "we have accomplished it on behalf of the owners and populated the share with new owners. This was not a buyback or guarantee; it's more helping clients out. What we want to have is clients who want to be in our program."
PlaneSense's primary operating area encompasses the eastern half of the continental U.S., including most of the Bahamas and eastern Canada. Many shareowners fly beyond the area, but extra fees are charged. "We do have significant numbers of operations outside the [area]," Antoniadis said. "And as the fleet size increases, we are constantly looking at expanding outside the primary operating area."
PlaneSense also looks at other aircraft types and at one point had placed an order for 25 Grob SPn jets, before Grob's bankruptcy and the halting of the SPn program. "The reason we wanted the Grob has not gone away," Antoniadis said. "Realities have changed between 2007 and 2010, but we’re seriously evaluating and considering other aircraft types."
New PlaneSense customers often are former shareowners in other fractional programs, according to Antoniadis. He agrees that some potential buyers don't want to invest in a hard asset by buying a share, but then they end up paying a much higher cost per hour for charter or jet cards. "There's no question that people have been trained by the industry, [to buy] all these new products from jet cards to block charter of any kind. People seem to be prepared to pay much higher prices per hour for not investing in an asset. If you can provide a high value in the program that you’re offering," he said, "and this value transcends just economics, then people participate."
PlaneSense is an attractive alternative, he said, because of the high level of service it provides on top of the PC-12's efficiency and low cost of operation and the way the company is able to optimize the use of its fleet. "We believe value-driven programs like PlaneSense have a future and have growth opportunities."
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Source: Robb Report, July 2010
Customers purchase shares of PC-12s
Source: Portsmouth Herald, March 1, 2010
By Adam Leech
PORTSMOUTH-Nestled between the runway and the few leftover military dormitories at Pease International Airport that have yet to meet a wrecking ball, Alpha Flying, Inc. has settled comfortably into its 84,000-square-foot home of three years, as well as the fractional airplane ownership niche.
Since the last regular passenger flight left Pease International Airport in April 2008, the runway has been fraught with inactivity with the exception of the occasional military aircraft. The demise of Skybus proved to be a sign of hard times to come as the economic downturn hit the aviation industry particularly hard later that year.
Boasting the largest fleet of Pilatus PC-12's in the world, Alpha Flying has grown from two planes to 31 since the company was founded in 1996. Today the PlaneSense program has between 200 and 300 clients, who purchase one-eighth shares of the aircraft that provides them with 90 hours of flight – whether that be to New York for an hourlong business meeting or to the Caribbean Islands for a weekend getaway. The model is ideal for businesses that don't want to invest the capital to purchase and maintain their own aircraft, but require the service to remain competitive.
The facility includes a 40,000-square-foot hangar with pilings inserted in the ground next door in preparation for a second equally-sized hangar. A second
See PLANES, Page B5
PLANES: Alpha Flying's fleet has grown at a steady pace
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10,000-square-foot building nearby houses the flight operation center – where the company scheduling, crew services and owner services team can have a plane ready for a client within eight hours of notice.
Pease is also home to Alpha Flying's maintenance division Atlas Aircraft Center, which services outside aircraft as well.
Although the aviation industry was one of the industries hit hardest by the recession, business and corporate aviation remains a necessity for business to be competitive in the global marketplace, according to President and Chief Executive Officer George Antoniadis. Their unique positioning in the market has allowed Alpha Flying to weather the storm better than most, he said, experiencing less than half of the 20 percent program exits other fractional ownership programs have suffered.
"We also experienced a number of participants who came to us and said business changed and they wanted to exit the program. That number is a single-digit percentage. All of those shares were successfully remarketed to new entrants... and we sold additional shares in 2009 and 2010," said Antoniadis. "So we didn't experience a reduction in client base. In fact, we increased."
The company originated in Nashua, where it quickly outgrew its facilities and moved to Manchester in 2000. By 2006, the company was once again bursting at the seams and was considering building its own facility when Portsmouth was presented as an alternative. A good runway and available space, as well as options to expand, made it appealing and the Pease Development Authority have been extremely cooperative and customer friendly, Antoniadis said.
"We're very happy to be in Portsmouth," he said. "We are also an enthusiastic employer in New Hampshire, and our facility proves we care very deeply about the community. We also have a product that contributes to the local airport and the community."
In 2009, Alpha booked approximately 9,400 hotel rooms and spent about $1 million in the process. About 1,200 of these rooms were within 50 miles of Pease Airport at a cost to Alpha of about $120,000 according to company records.
The rate of growth is slower than in 2007 and 2008, Antoniadis said, but the fact that there is growth – they purchased their 31st plane late last year – is something the company is very proud of. Additionally, the company finished the year with 18,000 hours of flight and October 2009 was the busiest October to date.
That said, Antoniadis said they reduced the number of employees in 2009 almost entirely through attrition. The company currently employs 220 people.
The success of the program is credited largely with the chosen aircraft. Unlike the typical jet or twin-engine turboprop, the PC-12 costs significantly less to own and can land at over 9,000 U.S. airports – as opposed to 5,500 for the average jet and 500 for a commercial airline. The six to eight seats PC-12 can even land on remote unpaved airstrips when called upon. The aircraft can travel with three passengers 1,800 miles – roughly halfway across the country – without refueling at speeds of up to 310 mph.
The company primarily operates east of the Mississippi River with Northeast to Southeast service dominating the number of flights. Because all clients have access to the entire fleet, scheduling conflicts are never a problem for the clientele, who are often from banks and large corporations.
"You show up 20 minutes before the flight, get on, go to where you want to go and usually there's a smaller airport closer to where you want to go so you can avoid traffic," said Amber Goodspeed, facilities manager. "Then you get off and get back from the flight an hour later and get back on the plane and go home."
Alpha is in the process of securing its 135 Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will allow the company to operate aircraft on a charter basis. Antoniadis said it has been a shifting direction in the industry because it presents a far lower cost entry point. While the company remains committed to the fractional ownership program, he said they are constantly assessing the competitive environment to provide the best product possible.
The company has also explored the possibility of adding a second type of aircraft, even planning to expand with a German jet company that ultimately fell victim to the recession. Adding a faster and larger jet service may be part of the company's future.
"All in all, we're conservatively optimistic. There's reason to be proud with what we accomplished. We believe we have the most responsible program because of the cost positioning and these times of cost (control) we will be the program of choice," said Antoniadis. "We've been very careful as we’ve optimized operations not to reduce the level of service."
The general inconvenience of airline travel, the reduced schedule, smaller commuter airlines, the hassle at larger airports and the fact that security measures continue to be more intrusive, bodes well for Alpha as the economy improves.
"Right now our entire model is you buy a share or whole airplane or you own a plane and we manage it," said Michael Baur, director of business development and strategy. "There's a tremendous amount of iterations of our model that we can put our planes to use to really grow the base and I think we can do it very successfully."
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Mike Baur, director of business development and strategy, sits in the cabin of a spacious Pilatus PC-12, an aircraft that fits six comfortably at Alpha Flying Inc., at the Pease Airport.
PHOTO BY BILL GALLERY.COM
George A. Antoniadis, President and CEO of Alpha Flying Inc., at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth.
Amber Goodspeed explains the capabilities of the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft fleet inside of the Alpha Flying Inc. hangar at Pease Tradeport
The high-tech instrument panel of the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft at Alpha Flying.
'Fractional' aircraft ownership offered
Source: Portsmouth Herald, June 2, 2008
By Shir Haberman
PORTSMOUTH – On Thursday, Alpha Flying Inc. and Atlas Aircraft Center, Inc. will hold a grand opening celebration of their new state-of-the-art aviation facility at Pease International Tradeport. Gov. John Lynch has been invited to join the officials from the city of Portsmouth, Pease Development Authority, the FAA, the National Air Transportation Association, and leaders from the business aviation industry and the local community in celebrating the opening of this major addition to the air side of the Pease International Tradeport. The newly built facility at 115 Flightline Road will house the main offices and maintenance facilities of the two companies. With 40,000 square feet of hangar and 44,000 square feet of office and support space, the facility boasts the latest design to create an energy efficient and inviting work environment.
Founded in 1992, AFI is an aircraft management company. In addition to its traditional aircraft management, consulting and crewing functions, it is the program manager of PlaneSense, one of the six largest aircraft fractional ownership programs in North America and the largest regional fractional program in the world.
The participants in the PlaneSense fractional ownership program own shares of aircraft in the PlaneSense fleet. Through an exchange of these shares, each participant in the program is entitled to access the entire fleet.
PlaneSense participants can enjoy the benefits of sole aircraft ownership by purchasing as little or as much of an airplane as they need at a fraction of the cost of buying an entire plane. Alpha Flying arranges for scheduling, maintenance, crewing and other administrative services that support the PlaneSense program.
AAC, an affiliated company, is the exclusive regional factory authorized maintenance service for the Pilatus PC-12, the best selling turbine aircraft in the world. Launched in 1995, PlaneSense flies 34 PC-12s, the largest fleet in the world, and has ordered an additional 19 planes through 2010.
The rapid growth of fractional ownership and PlaneSense’s expanding fleet, in conjunction with the excellent performance of AAC, prompted both companies to move from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport to the larger facility at Pease. New Hampshire-based Pro Con Inc., designed and built the Pease facility.
New Hampshire's Republican U.S. Sen. John Sununu toured Alpha’s Pease facility in November 2007. The maintenance hangar, corporate offices and control center opened a few weeks ago.
"The tradeport is a great place to do business," George Antoniadis of Alpha Flying Inc. said. "Manchester was a good place, too, but the ability to expand brought us here."
The Pease Development Authority gave Alpha an option to build another 40,000-square-foot maintenance hangar on a lot adjacent to its current location, and Antoniadis said the company could expand to another adjacent lot if more space was needed.
Most of the company's clients are located east of the Mississippi River and fractional ownership appeals not only to smaller businesses, but large corporations as well, Antoniadis said.
Alpha employs approximately 200 people – 50 at Pease, 50 at the company's Londonderry facility and 100 pilots. Sununu said he decided to visit the fractional aircraft ownership company because he was interested in what the investment at Pease would do.
Part of Alpha Flying Inc.’s fleet of planes sit in the new hangar space the company now occupies on Flightline Road at Pease. An open house at the 84,000-square-foot space will be held on Thursday.
Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, 2008
By Dave Turbide, Special to the Union Leader
PORTSMOUTH-One of Pease Tradeport’s newest buildings is already filled to overflowing.
Alpha Flying and sister company Atlas Aviation open their new 84,000-square-foot building this week on Flightline Road, consolidating operations from their former locations at Manchester airport and in Londonderry.
"We ran out of space in Manchester," said company CEO George Antoniadis.
At the same time, Alpha is moving its flight operations center and some administrative offices into 15,000 square feet of leased office space just down the road. And they are negotiating with state and tradeport officials to double the size of the new building.
"We have an option to expand here at the Tradeport," Antoniadis said. "We'd like to more than double the space we have now." He is looking for some concessions from the tradeport and from the state to help get the project off the ground.
"We have already brought a lot of good to the Portsmouth area in the few months since we began our move to Pease. We are the kind of company that really boosts the local economy."
In the first 4 months of this year, Alpha's operations have accounted for more than 300 hotel nights, plus restaurant meals, car rentals, dry cleaning, store purchases, and more, he said. Alpha employs 270 employees.
Alpha runs the nation’s largest regional fractional ownership aircraft program, with 34 six-passenger PC-12 turboprop planes operating throughout the eastern half of the country.
The PlaneSense program works something like timeshare condominiums. Alpha provides the planes, the pilots, and all maintenance and support. A monthly management fee pays for insurance, maintenance and administrative costs, and owners pay an hourly rate for flights.
"It's actual ownership," Antoniadis explains, "but you buy only as much as you need." In 2007, PlaneSense owners accounted for more than 20,000 flights to and from hundreds of airports from Florida to Canada and west to the Mississippi river.
Atlas Aviation is the largest regional authorized service center for PC-12 aircraft and regularly services 50 privately owned PC-12s in addition to Alpha's 34 planes.
"Owners bring their planes here for service from great distances," said Antoniadis.
The Pease facility features 44,000 square feet of hangar space along with the offices for maintenance, inspection, and quality control.
"The hangar has a very high ceiling and door opening," Antoniadis explains, "to accommodate all kinds of aircraft."
The expansion plans include a doubling of the hangar space and construction of a state-of-the-art training facility, complete with a flight simulator.
The company is also expecting delivery of the first of 25 new Grob Spn jet aircraft early next year.
"We are the launch customer for the new Grob jet, and Grob's biggest customer in North America" said Antoniadis.
The new planes will provide a choice for faster travel than the PC-12s for member of PlaneSense.
Alpha Flying's new corporate headquarters and maintenance hangar at Pease Tradeport.
"We have an option to expand. ... We'd like to more than double the space we have now."
Off as niche market buys in
The fractional operation in which nothing is typical builds on success
Source: Aviation International News, March 2005
By Kirby J. Harrison
In a business world where a niche market may be the key to success, PlaneSense has apparently found both niche and success, operating a fractional ownership fleet composed solely of PC-12 turboprop singles and serving the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
The Manchester, N.H.-based company was launched by George Antoniadis, its president and CEO, in 1996. To Antoniadis it was a natural evolution in the expansion of Alpha Flying, the company he has started four years earlier to provide a variety of aviation services, including sales and service of the big Swiss turboprop.
The idea of PlaneSense, explained Antoniadis, was to "address a need that wasn't being served by the existing fractional industry at that time, with an airplane ideally suited to that purpose."
The need, as he perceived it, was for a highly efficient form of business aviation travel for individuals and small- to medium- size businesses in the Northeast where the flight time between cities was rarely more than two hours.
And he wanted an airplane that would fit that mission profile, something fast, economical to operate and easy to maintatin, and offering good short-field performance and a spacious cabin. The PC-12, with which Alpha Flying was familiar, seemed a logical choice.
The cabin, finished by Pilatus at its Stans facility, easily accommodates six passengers in an executive configuration that includes an enclosed lavatory and refreshment center for drinks and light meals. A 53-inch by 52-inch cargo door aft of the wing is a bonus. Share-owners have found it particularly useful for transporting large items, including, on one occasion, an upright piano.
The cabin is relatively spacious- 16 feet, 11 inches long from the cockpit/cabin bulkhead to the aft pressure bulkhead, and five feet wide, with 4 feet 9 inches of headroom. It is 2 feet 5 inches longer and seven inches wider than the (similarly defined) cabin of Cessna's CJ2+ and has the same amount of headroom.
"It has a bigger cabin than most small business jets, carries more and costs less to operate," says Antoniadis. "And it will get you in and out of 2,500-foot runways at max wieght." In fact, he added, "The PC-12 owner has access to about 9,000 airports nationwide, compared with about 5,500 airports that are available to jet owners.
"It's a rugged, durable airplane with an executive interior, and we regularly fly in and out of clients' private grass strips," he noted.
The airplane has a max range of slightly more than 2,200 nm and the pressurized cabin allows a certified ceiling of 30,000 feet.
The PC-12's Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67B turboprop, producing 1,200 shp for takeoff, gives the airplane a max cruise speed of 270 knots. It isn't going to knock your socks off on a high-speed run from New York to Miami, but it will get you there in a little more than four hours, and at about half the cost of making the trip in a light business jet. The PC-12 is only about 20 knots slower than the twin-turbine King Air 200. More to the point, said Antoniadis, the direct operating cost of a PC-12 is about half that of a King Air 200.
According to Alpha Flying v-p Pat Reed, fuel efficiency will make the PC-12 a more popular choice as fuel prices continue to rise. As an example, Reed said, the King Air B200 uses 42 gallons more fuel per hour than the PC-12, and based on a national average fuel price early last month of $2.89 a gallon, the annual savings at 90 flight hours would be nearly $11,000.
For PlaneSense Mission, PC-12 a Versatile Performer
Antoniadis recalled that when he launched the company, he expected to develop a "typical" customer profile and a "typical" mission profile, but since then, "We found out there was no 'typical' in this operation."
The PC-12 has turned out to be a versatile performer, and as a result, flights may be as short as 20 minutes or as long as six hours. "On one flight, we did Taos, New Mexico, to Boston in about four hours and twenty minutes with a slight tailwind," said Antoniadis. "I was on that flight."
Nor is there any "typical" PC-12 fractional owner. PlaneSense share-owners include small corporations for whom the PC-12 share is its sole investment in business aviation travel, large corporations augemnting their jet fleet, investment firms and individuals for whom the airplane is primarily a convenience. "We did discover what [PlaneSense share-owners] are not, and they are not buying PC-12 share because they can't afford a Gulfstream.
"The only thing they all seem to have in common is that they're cost-responsible."
PlaneSense reported that about 60 percent of the missions are dedicated business flights and the remainder are for leisure or a business/leisure mix. At the summer peak, PlaneSense share-owners are racking up about 1,300 flights a month, and sometimes as many 60 flights a day. The PlaneSense fleet is averaging about 800 hours per aircraft annually.
Reed said, "Flying in the Northeast, the time advantage of a jet tends to disappear because of IFR routing, whereas the PC-12 can go IFR or VFR at varying altutudes to find the most favorable winds."
The most popular fraction at PlaneSense is the minimum one-eighth share, entitling the buyer to 90 occupied flight hours annually, for a buy-in price of $452,000. The monthly management fee for a one-eighth share is about $6,284 and the hourly occupied cost is $626. IF 90 hours per year are not enough, share-owners can move up in segments of one-sixteenth shares.
PlaneSense share-owners who occasionally find themselves in need of something faster and/or bigger can take advantage of the new JetLift by PlaneSense program, operated by FSG PrivatAir. "We've built the PlaneSense cost structure around 75 percent of our customer needs," said Antoniadis. "We address the other 25 percent of those needs with JetLift."
The PlaneSense fleet now totals 15 PC-12s, and more are on order. Though Antoniadis declines to discuss actual order numbers, he did note that the company received a PC-12 last month.
The number of shareholders is "approaching 100," but he cautions that the ratio of shares sold to shares in service-the number of shares divided by the total shares available-is a better indication of how much of a fleet is actually sold. It is generally accepted as an industry standard that a sold-to-in-service number above 80 percent suggests that the operator does not have enough aircraft to serve its custormers. Most fractional providers attempt to maintain a number in the 70-percent range. The PlaneSense sold-to-in-service ratio was 83 percent in November, suggesting that the demand is outstripping aircraft deliveries.
A source at PlaneSense said "strong demand" since last summer is responsible for such a high number. But he added that PlaneSense has a source of lease-back aircraft available to address this demand as well as peak travel periods. He also noted that it is better to be profitable and stressed by a high ratio than to have a low number and be unprofitable, which creates its own, and less desirable, form of stress.
The fractional-ownership industry places much emphasis on "churn ratio" numbers, the number of people who left the program expressed in shares, divided by the number of shares that came into the program. A number of .55 means the program is losing 55 shares for every 100 shares that are purchased. "Our ratio number is a little under .07," said Antoniadis. "In other works, for every 100 shares that come in, we're losing only seven shares."
As for the aircraft, Antoniadis said the average age is about 2.7 years. Just as important, he added, PlaneSense moves airplanes out of the fleet after five years and has created a share buy-back program "that puts every owner in a new airplane every five years." And he pointed out that PlaneSense has had no trouble selling the used PC-12s.
The PlaneSense fleet is not available for charter. "The utilization rate is so high that it wouldn't make sense even if we wanted to charter the airplanes. And [non-availability] would only frustrate potential custormers who might buy shares from us," said Antoniadis.
The company has been "very satisfied" with the PC-12, in terms of suitability and reliability, but it has not been without the occasional bumpy air. Early on, PlaneSense found its aircraft experiencing and unusually high number of electrical componenet failures. After much investigation, it was discovered that the culprit was the ground cart. A lot of them, said Antoniadis, were older and not too reliable. They were delivering electricity, but they were also delivering electrical spikes. The addition of a voltage regulator on PlaneSense aircraft solved the problem.
Atlas Pilatus Center, in Manchester, N.H., an Alpha Flying affiliate, provides maintenance for the fleet.
Since PlaneSense took delivery of its first PC-12 in 1996, the company has added TCAS and ground proximity warning systems to its aircraft, and is now modifying the fleet to meet RVSM requirements.
Honeywell (formerly Allied-Signal) provides virtually the entire avionics suite for PlaneSense PC-12s-RDR 2000 (vertical profile) weather radar, KX165 dual navcom, digital ADF and RMI, 2 EFIS 40, KMD850 Multi-Function Display (includes weather, Traffic Avoidance, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning), King KDR 510 FIS installation (weather uplink), RVSM and KFC325 autopilot. An engine instrumentation system includes its own digital display for such information as propeller rpm and fule flow.
PlaneSense recently received FAA approval to operate under the new FAA Part 91K rules, which, among other requirements, demands the presence of two pilots, even if the aircraft is certified for single-pilot operations. Although the PlaneSense PC-12 fleet is approved for single-pilot operation, company policy has always required two pilots, "which positioned us well in terms of complying with Part 91K." PlaneSense received approval for Part 91K operation on February 16, a day before the rule officialy became the standard for fractional-ownership providers.
Pilot training at PlaneSense is divided between in-house ground school and cockpit work, and through SimCom at its training facilities in Orlando, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz. Initial copilot hires go through a one-week in-house training program and initial operating experience training before they are integrated into the system. At that time, PlaneSense might offer the top performers a captain slot. The pilot pool totals about 60, and crew rotation is six days on and four off.
Antoniadis said 9/11 had an immediate negative effect on PlaneSense activity, just as it did on most of the business aviation industry. But he noted that the inconveniences of airline travel and subsequent schedule cutbacks and cancellation of routes by the airlines resulted in a boost to business aviation, and to PlaneSense. "In 2002 and 2003, we saw positive rates of growth and we're now the fifth largest factional ownership [in terms of numbers of airplanes] in the U.S."
Antoniadis said the company experienced a growth rate of 20 percent last year, and expects "more of the same this year- easily 20 percent."
PlaneSense Owners Speak Up
PlaneSense, the Manchester, N.H. fractional-ownership operator with nearly 100 share-owners in its fleet of 15 Pilatus PC-12s, claims it is losing only seven shares for every 100 purchased. According to founder president and CEO George Antoniadis, this level of owner retention is a clear indication of the company's success in a relatively small niche market.
Dave Guay is v-p of operational services with Iron Mountain, an information storage and management company based in Boston, with facilities across the eastern U.S. The company started with a one-eighth share in a PlaneSense PC-12, based on the experience of a board member who already had a PC-12 share. Iron Mountain has since moved to a three-sixteenths share, and according to Guay, will probably upgrade to a quarter share sometime in the next year, with good reason. "We ran out of time last year when we totaled 137 hours."
To say that Iron Mountain is busy might be a slight understatement. "There are times we'll have two aircraft in the air at the same time, and to do that sort of flying, we really need a quarter share," Guay explained. Before buying a share in a PC-12, the company had been doing the job with a Beechjet share through Flight Options, but discovered that there was "a huge number of airports we couldn't get into with the jet." Iron Mountain executives, said Guay, also appreciate the cabin, "which is much larger than the cabin in our Beechjet." Guay said the company will probably not renew its share with Flight Options, opting instead for on-demand charter when it needs something larger, faster and rangier than the PC-12.
Most flights originate from the company's headquarters in Boston and average about 90 minutes in duration. Longer flights range over much of the eastern U.S., as far south as Florida and into Canada as far St. John's, Newfoundland. Guay said airline travel to St. John's was an overnight trip. "With the PC-12, we have them out in the morning and home in the afternoon."
To make more efficient use of the PC-12, Guay said, company executives will sometimes use scheduled airline service or the Beechjet to fly to a major city, where the company's PC-12 will be waiting to take them out to cities not served by the airlines and to airports too small for the Beechjet to use.
Alex Seaver, director, cofounder and managing director of Stadium Capital, bought his three-eighths share in a PlaneSense PC-12 two years ago for personal use, to travel between the Boston-based company and his second home on Nantucket Island, trading a three- or four-hour drive for a 20-minute flight.
"I was so pleased with the program and with the airplane that we began using it for business and it turned out to be an extraordinarily efficient use of our time," said Seaver.
He did a lot of research before committing to fractional ownership and felt the company's business model made sense-"a fleet made up exclusively of same-type aircraft, flown by pilots who fly only one airplane type, and a parts and maintenance commonality. It was a lot like the Southwest Airlines model."
Seaver said he had some initial misgivings based on the fact that the PC-12 is a single-engine airplane. "But I'm in the research business, and I did a lot of research on this airplane-safety statistics, glide ratio and engine reliability-and I'm thrilled with this airplane. It's not only fast and comfortable, but I've never had a minute's delay."
Like Guay, Seaver often uses a scheduled carrier to a larger city where the PC-12 is waiting. Most recently, he used scheduled airline service to get to Atlanta, where he boarded the PC-12 for a 20-minute flight to Columbus, GA., saving himself about four hours driving time between the two cities.
At the New Boston Fund in Boston, Jim Rappaport personally owns a quarter share in a PC-12 but finds he uses it about 60 percent of the time for business and the remainder for personal trips.
He originally purchased the share in 1998 for personal use. However, Rappaport said, "When you start rolling up in your SUV and loading all your junk aboard, you realize how tremendously convenient it is, and then you begin to realize that it would be just as convenient for business."
Rappaport said he had used on-demand jet charter, and speculated that if the need for longer flights in support of the business continues to grow, a fractional share in a jet might also be in the future.
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The verstile Pilatus PC-12 turboprop is the backbone of the PlaneSense operation.
Lara Greenwood is a PC-12 Captain at Alpha Flying, of which PlaneSense is a service company.
Maintenance for the PlaneSense fleet is done at the Atlas Pilatus Center in Manchester, N.H.
PC-12 interiors are finished for PlaneSense at Pilatus' Stans facility in Switzerland. The Executive interior includes seating for six, an enclosed lavatory and a small galley for refreshments and light meals.
George Antoniadis, founder, president and CEO of PlaneSense
Program Marks Tenth Anniversary
Click Here to read the Article Online
Source:Fractional News, 2005
Source: Business NH, January 2004
While owning a company jet has its allure, many companies don't want the expense and hassle of maintaining one. Those are among the reasons why Alpha Flying, Inc. has seen its business consistently rise during the past few years.
In 1996, the company moved from Massachusetts to Harvey Road in Manchester and introduced a new service that has become the lion's share of its business - PlaneSense. Think of it as a time-share for the airways. Through the fractional ownership program, companies buy a share in one of Alpha's dozen PC-12s and then pay a monthly management fee and an hourly fee that's charged only when a client is actually using the plane. A one-eighth share in a plane costs $436,000, with a $5,100 monthly management fee, and a $588 hourly fee. So, what do you get for that money? A plane that, given eight hours notice, is at your beck and call, staffed with two pilots and amenities. "The advantage of fractional ownership is that you gain a double economy of scale effect," says president George A. Antoniadis. "You only buy a share of what you need but participate in a program that does a large volume." The company conducts 10,000 flights a year and recently surpassed its 25,000-flight milestone.
With fractional ownership, a flight is just a phone call away
Source: The Advocate, June 2002
By Jim Zebora, Business Editor
Some area frequent flyers are blissfully untroubled by flight delays, overbooked aircraft and lost luggage.
When they get the urge for goin', they travel in a guaranteed first class seat with no changing planes and their suitcases right where they can keep an eye on them.
This privileged elite operates in the rarefied air of fractional ownership - buying interest in an airplane that comes when called to whisk them away to work or play.
Similar in some ways to a timeshare vacation condo, fractional aircraft ownership is prized for its convenience and flexibility, though it's hardly an option for the common traveler - especially someone who might hunt for bargain plane tickets through Priceline.com.
"You can never justify the cost," said Karl M. von der Heyden, a Greenwich resident who retired last year as vice chairman of PepsiCo Inc. Accustomed to arriving at business and board meetings aboard the soft-drink company's fleet of corporate jets, von der Heyden decided to buy a share of a Pilatus PC12, a high-performance, single-engine prop-jet that can carry half a dozen passengers 1,750 miles without refueling.
Von der Heyden uses the Pilatus PC12, a Swiss aircraft offered under the PlaneSense fractional ownership program of New Hampshire-based Alpha Flying Inc., to attend board meetings at companies where he remains a director and his trustees meetings at Duke University in Durham, N.C., or to visit his second home in North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Why doesn't he fly United, Delta, AirTran or the other commercial carriers?
"It's the hassles involved," said von der Heyden, whose father was chief engineer at Germany's Lufthansa in the 1920s. "When we go down to the Outer Banks, if I flew commercial, I would have to fly to Norfolk (Va.), and still drive for two hours."
Hank Greer of Stamford, a retired investment company president, praises his fractional airplane ownership for "flexibility, ease of use and not having to get stymied in commercial flying. I've been knocked off flights. I've gone to airports for a 6:30 a.m. flight and found it's been canceled."
"We use it for both business and pleasure," Greer said. "It's a great thing to be able to see your kids and grandkids when you want to."
Greer and von der Heyden are just two of what the marketers and managers of fractional ownership programs say is a cluster of owners in this area. One recently launched fractional company, CitationShares, a partnership of Textron's Cessna Aircraft Co. and TAG Aviation services, even chose to locate its headquarters at the Greenwich American Centre in Greenwich.
The top market for Flexjet, a unit of Canada's Bombardier Aerospace that sells shares of its Learjets and Challenger business jets, is the New York area, followed by Texas, south Florida and California, according to spokesman Steve Phillips.
"Twenty-five percent of Flexjet owners live in the New York metro area, with a concentration in Greenwich," Phillips said last week.
That's not a surprise, given the demographics of fractional aircraft owners.
"They are for the most part entrepreneurs," Phillips said. "Sixty-five percent are the president or CEO of a company; another 20 percent are board members."
In cases where it's a company rather than an individual holding the fractional share, "Seventy percent of the business owners are privately held companies, 30 percent are public companies," Phillips said.
Some 23 percent of the corporate owners are financial services companies, 20 percent are in technology, 12 percent in manufacturing and 5 percent in real estate, with other business segments having smaller numbers, Phillips said. Also in the fractional ownership equation must be substantial means, whether for a business or individual.
The price tag on a quarter share of a Learjet 45, a twin jet with a range of 2,200 miles and seats for eight or nine passengers, runs $2.4 million, plus $19,460 per month for maintenance and management, and $1,590 for each hour you fly. The quarter share entitles you to 200 hours in the air annually.
Step up to a Boeing Business jet, a luxuriously fitted 737 that will carry the whole board and executive suite across the Atlantic, and the costs go stratospheric. NetJets, a sister company of Stamford-based General Cologne Re under Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. umbrella, will charge you $11.6 million for the quarter share, plus $82,960 per month for management and $4,360 per occupied hour.
A PlaneSense Pilatus PC12, slower and less class-conscious than the pure jets but with most of their amenities (such as a head and mini-galley) and the ability to land at much smaller airports, is what you might call a backcountry bargain - just $850,000 for the quarter share, $8,969 per month and $572 per hour.
A Piece of a Plane
Fractional ownership comes with a lot of guarantees, the most important of which is that when you call, you can expect an airplane to be at your local airport and ready for you to fly within four to eight hours, depending on your contract with the management company.
Such a guarantee would be impossible if fractional ownership were limited to a single aircraft and several owners wanted to use the same plane at once. Instead, a "master interchange agreement" means that while the share might legally be of a single aircraft, the owner's flying needs are fulfilled by a fleet, according to Warren Morningstar, director of media relations for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
"With fractional ownership, you're paying for the use of an aircraft for a specific amount of time," Morningstar said. "It's a piece of an aircraft, but not a specific aircraft. There is a network of aircraft around the world that you have access to."
That network is small but growing, according to Flexjet's Phillips.
"In 1995-96, there were 37 total aircraft in fractional ownership programs worldwide, with 114 businesses and individuals with ownership shares," Phillips said. "At the end of January 2001, there were 571 aircraft in the FO fleet, with 2,827 owners. That's a huge jump. The growth is in excess of 40 percent per year."
The National Business Aviation Association agrees with the 40 percent growth figure, but puts the raw numbers even higher. According to figures supplied by NBAA spokeswoman Cassandra Bosco, 3,694 companies and individuals owned fractions last year, up from 2,591 in 1999.
NetJets, with more than 300 planes under management, is the industry leader and was the first, in 1986, to offer fractional ownership programs, according to Kevin Russell, senior vice president of Executive jet Inc., which operates NetJets.
"Richard Santulli created the fractional concept in 1986. He was a college mathematics professor who had moved on to find his niche at Goldman, Sachs," Russell said. "He became one of the best financial lease experts in the world."
Santulli acquired Executive Jet, a management and charter company, upon leaving Goldman. It soon dawned on him, said Russell, that "I own an aviation company. I fly a lot. But I don't think I fly enough for me to own a plane."
From his business, Santulli knew that the average corporate jet flew 800 "occupied hours" a year, not including deadhead time for positioning the aircraft. He did the math, broke the 800 hours into 50-hour shares, and began selling fractions.
The industry moved slowly until the economic boom of the mid-1990s, when an increase in business and individual wealth, plus growing dissatisfaction with the commercial carriers, lured people away from crowded gates and cabins and into the world of private aircraft.
One local businessman, whose Darien-based investment companies have interests around the country and the world, saw fractional ownership as the best way to maintain a family life.
This businessman, who like many fractional owners prefers not to be identified, recently gathered a group of investors to check out a possible acquisition near Washington, D.C.
They took off from Westchester County Airport in New York about 7 a.m. for Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia, and returned the same day using his fractional PlaneSense Pilatus PC12 ownership, which these days he mostly employs for business. That wasn't always so.
"Initially, I was working in London and I'd commute back and forth each weekend," he said. "In the summer, my family would be living up at the Cape. About a year later, our firm got sold to a British bank and they asked me to come to London and run the debt portion of the business.
"On the weekends, I'd take the Concorde to Kennedy, which took three hours. You'd have eight hours if you were flying from London to Boston," he said.
The tricky part was finding a reliable way to get from JFK to Cape Cod, and a fractional ownership seemed just the ticket. On one of his commutes to Hyannis, "I saw this really neat-looking airplane," which led him to investigate and eventually buy a fraction of a Pilatus PC12.
He uses the aircraft for short to medium-range hauls, but says it's too small for coast-to-coast - not to mention that it can't make it past the Rockies without stopping for fuel.
"That's longer than you're willing to sit in the airplane," he said, adding that he finds the real benefit is landing near his ultimate destination. "I can get into a very, very small runway."
He's convinced, too, that fractional ownership, which offers tax benefits such as depreciation, can be a cost-effective way to do business. "If you fly with four people, it beats commercial hands down."
Greer said the money is just part of the equation. "PlaneSense cost a little bit more, but how much is your time worth?"
For von der Heyden, "It's a lifestyle issue. You have to be willing to pay for the convenience."
Safety and Security
The owners all agree that buying a fraction is a big commitment, and did their due diligence on the risks and rewards carefully before signing on the dotted line.
"It was a month looking at the aircraft and its safety record, talking to pilots, talking to people not associated with PlaneSense, talking to other owners," Greer said.
Von der Heyden spoke with his peers who were investigating fractional ownership, and looked very hard at his rights and responsibilities. "Obviously, I got my lawyer involved," he said.
Ranking high among owners' concerns is liability - who pays if a passenger is injured, or the airplane bumps into another on the tarmac? The monthly management fee in part pays the premium on a big insurance policy, typically $100 million or so, which is not out of line given the high cost of airplanes and the huge number of people who fly in them.
Safety is a concern not only to the fractional owners, but also, as the industry grows, to the Federal Aviation Administration. On the plus side, fractional ownership is so new that the fleets are as well. NetJets says the average age of its aircraft is 2.5 years, far younger than the average commercial airliner.
There is a brewing controversy about the rules under which fractionally owned aircraft should operate. Currently, that's under FAA regulations for general aviation aircraft, where the owner is often the pilot, or at least - in the case of a jet owned by a corporation, for example - takes on full responsibility for its repairs and maintenance.
But fractional owners tend to be passengers transplanted from business class on a commercial 757 or A320, and lean on the management company to change the oil, kick the tires and act on any FAA Airworthiness Directive that could in a dire instance spell the difference between life and death. Thus, the FAA wants to treat fractional ownership companies as passenger carriers, holding them to higher safety and service standards.
"We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking," said FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto. "They're closer to charters than they are to general aviation."
Any new regulations for fractional ownership flying are months if not years away, following comment periods, public hearings and, most likely, negotiations over what they should look like.
There are no current safety statistics available for fractionally owned aircraft or programs since such flying is considered part of general aviation. The companies, however, emphasize heavy investments in pilot training, maintenance and state-of-the-art equipment, and the owners say they are comfortable with what they see.
"I marvel at the way they do it," von der Heyden said. "They are very safety conscious. I have recommended it to a number of my friends."
Really, Really Big
Despite the softening economy, the fractional ownership industry is betting on growth, and the companies have a steady stream of new planes entering service.
NetJets, the biggest purchaser of business jets in the world, just bought its first Boeing Business jet. Flexjet, with dibs on Bombardier production, simply adds another airplane to the fleet whenever there's demand.
PlaneSense is growing its Pilatus PC12 inventory from seven to 10. CitationShares in Greenwich has seven Citation Bravos and six more on the way. These twin jets can carry six passengers more than 1,800 miles. The company also has one shorter-range CJ1 now flying and more 12 coming, and will soon take delivery on a Citation Excel, which has a wider cabin and can accommodate seven or eight passengers on an 1,800-mile plus flight.
The impact of fractional ownership is being noticed in the flying business, said Tim Bannon, general manager of Million Air, which operates Sikorsky Airport in Bridgeport.
"Almost every day of the week we see a fractional aircraft on the ramp. It's a growing part of our business," Bannon said.
"Executive Jet is our second biggest customer," he added. General Electric Co., which runs a virtual mini-airline with about a dozen aircraft, is the biggest. But GE also owns a couple of Flexjet fractions for the times when its own fleet just isn't big enough, Bannon said.
Owners have flocked to fractionals for a lot of reasons - time-savings, closer airports, privacy… and some of the simpler things.
"The seats are substantially more comfortable than in a commercial airliner," Greer said.
"We have taken tables on board, or five or six bicycles," von der Heyden said. "You can take your dogs and cats and let them run around the cabin."
Testimonials such as that keep people coming, say the management companies.
"This week we will sign our 100th owner," said Jennifer M. Whitlow, director of marketing and corporate communications for CitationShares, which launched operations only eight months ago. "We have a continuous growth opportunity."
For more information on the PlaneSense aircraft fractional ownership program, contact
Pat Reed, Vice President Sales
Alpha Flying Inc., One Garside Way,
PO Box 6300, Manchester, NH 03108
Call Toll-free: (866) 214-1212
Fax (603) 627-6596
or visit www.planesense.org
Note: Data and rates in effect
as of 06/01/02.
Top to bottom as they appear in article
PILATUS LANDING Hank Greer of Stamford carries his two cats off a PlaneSense Pilatus PC12 at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford after flying from Charleston, S.C. His wife, Laurel, trails behind him at right. The plane made the trip in 2 hours and 30 minutes and flew into Million Air in Stratford.
Interior of a Pilatus PC12, which is the choice of fractional aircraft owners in this area.
A PlaneSense Pilatus PC12 fractional aircraft makes a final approach. Owners say they like the ability of the plane to use smaller, less conjested airports.
Businesses soar with share of a plane
Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, Monday, January 1, 2001
By Denis Paiste, Union Leader Staff
A growing business of selling fractional shares in business airplanes is thriving at Manchester International Airport, officials of Alpha Flying Inc. said.
The PlaneSense program allows businesses to buy a share, such as an eighth or a quarter, of a Pilatus PC12 turbo propjet, which is operated, maintained and staffed by Alpha Flying Inc.
Founded in 1995 by George Antoniadis, PlaneSense moved earlier this year from Nashua to the Wiggins Airways building at Manchester International Airport.
Antoniadis, president and CEO of Alpha Flying Inc., said the company recently struck a deal with Epps Aviation in Atlanta to expand its coverage area. For now, PlaneSense flies mostly east of the Mississippi River.
PlaneSense works by spreading the cost of management over a fleet of identical planes, so buyers always get to use a plane that looks the same, though they may not always get to use the one in which they hold partial ownership.
Antoniadis, 39, a licensed pilot himself, is enamored of the Pilatus PC12. "The aircraft is optimized for regional use, but also covers distances all the way to Florida. This plane is well-suited in many occasions for 90 percent of people's use," he said. "Hence, the economics are very attractive in this aircraft."
A flight to Miami on a Pilatus PC12 takes 40 minutes longer than a jet but makes the trip at a fraction of the cost of a jet, he said.
Trained in electrical engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in Switzerland, Antoniadis also graduated with an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1989.
The single-engine Pilatus PC12 is designed with a long wingspan that gives it a glide ratio of two and a half miles forward for every 1,000 feet of altitude, said Patricia A. Reed, vice president of sales and herself a pilot.
"It can glide a radius of about 90 nautical miles," she said. The plane can approach runways at 80 knots, a relatively slow speed, giving the pilot and co-pilot extra time to take in the landing environment. The plane can land on a grass strip.
While commercial carriers serve about 500 U.S. airports, the Pilatus PC12 can land at approximately 9,000, Antoniadis said.
Alpha Flying moved to Manchester in late May after outgrowing its space in Nashua, Reed said.
At Wiggins, Alpha Flying has hangar space to store planes and to maintain them. Every 100 hours of flying brings a Pilatus PC12 in for routine inspection and maintenance. Todd Smith, director of maintenance oversees a staff of seven. Once in, a Pilatus PC12 can undergo from 50 to 200 hours of work, depending on the extent of upgrades added to basic maintenance.
Alpha Flying has a sister company, Atlas Pilatus Center Inc., that sells Pilatus PC12s as an authorized dealer for Pilatus Business Aircraft. A new plane costs approximately $3.2 million.
PlaneSense participants pay a fixed purchase price for a share of a plane. They also pay monthly management fees, which include hangar storage, insurance and flight crews. There is a separate hourly charge for occupied flight time. Inside, the PC12 seats up to six in roomy, leather swivel chairs, with four arranged to face each other for on-board meetings. The front two seats face backwards. Some or all of the seats can be removed for different flight configurations.
About half the business customers in the PlaneSense program are first-time buyers, Antoniadis said. But clients also include companies which have their own fleets, but want to fill in the gaps with a smaller plane.
For now, Antoniadis said, the company has no direct competition from New Hampshire or New England-based firms. "Although we are a regional player, we'd say we have a national reach," he said. Alpha Flying expects to complete over 3,300 flights this year.
A one-eighth fractional share of a Pilatus PC12 sells for $414,000. Owners can depreciate that interest over time.
In addition, one-eighth share owners pay a monthly management fee of $4,401 and an hourly fee of about $561 per hour of flight.
Owners are guaranteed use of a plane with eight hours notice, except on holiday weekends when 72 hours notice is required.
Additional fees for catering, landing and parking are added per flight.
The Swiss-made Pilatus PC12 travels at 310 mph and can climb to 30,000 feet. The PC12 can go from Manchester to Miami without stopping.
PlaneSense provides two professional pilots for every flight.
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GEORGE ANTONIADIS, 39, is the president and CEO of Alpha Flying Inc. One of the company's Pilatus PC12 planes is behind him undergoing maintenance in the hangar. Antoniadis, a licensed pilot, said the Pilatus PC12 is well-suited in many occasions for 90 percent of personal aircraft use.
A $3.2 MILLION Pilatus PC12 six-passenger turboprop plane sits on the tarmac at Manchester International Airport. It is one of the aircraft used in the PlaneSense program that spreads the cost of management over a fleet of identical planes.
WORKERS at Alpha Flying Inc. at Manchester International Airport overhaul and outfit two of the PlaneSense Pilatus PC12 planes. A one-eighth fractional share in a Pilatus PC12 sells for $414,000, with a monthly management fee of $4,401.
More executives buying into time-sharing of planes
Source: Boston Business Journal, November 12-18, 1999
By Allison Connolly, Journal Staff
NASHUA, N.H.-It sounds like quite a deal: A $3 million plane at your beck and call, but at a 75 percent discount.
The concept is called fractional ownership, and it is catching on fast among top executives looking to buy a share of the jetset crowd.
Nashua, N.H.-based PlaneSense is one of the fractional ownership providers that are reaping the benefits of this trend. PlaneSense founder George Antoniadis says he will likely double his fleet of six Pilatus PC-12s and his company's estimated $5 million revenue in one year.
"It is the most responsible way to go. That's why fractional ownership has grown rapidly over the last few years," said Antoniadis, president and chief executive officer of PlaneSense and its management company, Alpha Flying.
PlaneSense takes care of the maintenance, flight plans and crew. All the share-owner has to do is show up at the plane. Executives can buy at least a quarter share-or 175 hours per year-for $786,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of $5,928.
There is no cost to get a plane to the client, but there is an hourly occupation fee of $530.
The convenience and affordability of fractional ownership has turned heads.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett made industry headlines last year when he purchased Woodbridge, N.J.-based Executive Jet Inc., which manages NetJets, the leading fractional ownership provider. Buffett had been a share-owner of a plane in NetJet's fleet for three years before spending $725 million in cash and stock on the company.
While NetJets was the first to sell shares of jets in 1986, other top players to emerge since include Bombardier Aerospace's Flexjets and Raytheon Travel Air.
But Alpha Flying's PlaneSense is not far behind, according to Nigel Moll, executive editor of International Aviation News, a New Jersey-based trade publication.
"In the pecking order of fractional ownership, PlaneSense is in the second tier" of three tiers, said Moll.
While PlaneSense is considered a regional service compared with its national and international counterparts, its planes fly to almost any destination. Antoniadis limits his service to customers based in the Northeast region and as far south as Philadelphia so he can guarantee his clients will have use of a plane within eight hours notice.
But that range will likely expand if his predictions of doubling business are accurate. His short-term goal is to expand his service to customers based throughout the East Coast.