The private jet charter market in Europe has, over recent months, been anticipating the approval of Single Engine Turbine – Instrument Meteorological Conditions (SET-IMC) charter operations by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Broadly speaking, and translated into English, this means that single engine aircraft will be able to make themselves available for commercial charter for the first time in Europe. The implications for the charter market are significant.
Although single engine turbine aircraft are not as fast as their jet powered relatives, and are (in our view unjustly!) not perceived as being as glamourous, they certainly have their place. Within the areas in which we expect to see SET aircraft operate, such as domestic charter or flights of up to 2-3 hours duration, their relative lack of speed is more than compensated for by the tangible comparative advantage that these aircraft have in terms of operating costs, whilst providing levels of comfort that in many cases surpasses that found in light jets. Another consideration of note is the ability of these aircraft to access a much wider network of small airfields, giving the consumer far greater flexibility and convenience.
In any case, for the short sector charters that one expects to form the core business of single engine turbine aircraft, the difference in speed is not hugely pronounced – for example, a Pilatus PC-12 will fly from London to Paris in roughly just over an hour, for example, as compared to just over 50 minutes in a Citation Mustang. And whilst both aircraft have a similar average operating cost at roughly £1250/ hour, with the Pilatus’ capacity of 6-9 passengers as opposed to 4-5 in a Mustang, the average cost per passenger is much lower. In effect then, the introduction of SET-IMC operations will serve to make private charter far more affordable and thus accessible to a much wider market.
Other aircraft within this category that we think will benefit from this legislation include the Cessna 208 Caravan and the Socata TBM.