Going From a Turboprop to a Single Pilot Light Jet

The Differences You Should Know

By Jim Mitchell – Executive Sales Director for Elliott Jets

Owning a jet has its advantages over owning a turboprop. You have a significant improvement in altitude to get you on top of most weather, your pressurization is improved for a more comfortable cabin, you have a quieter flight with a smoother ride, and you are going a lot faster over the ground. However, when going from a turboprop to a light jet you might not understand some of the differences. With the latest technology in newer single pilot jets, such as the Citation CJ series, it is important to know what to expect when considering moving into one.

Before we get into the differences, let’s look at a couple of similarities. The newer CJ series will cost about the same per mile to operate as a comparable King Air model. This may seem hard to believe, but as an example, a CJ2 has a nearly identical cost per mile as compared to a King Air B200. Also, you will have to do initial and then recurrent training at an insurance-approved provider such as Flight Safety or Simcom. With a light jet, your training will be a little more demanding and you will end up with a type rating for your aircraft. Once you receive your type rating, you will need another 10-20 hours additional training with a mentor pilot.

There are other differences between your twin-engine turboprop and a newer light jet. Many of the later model light jets have engines that are controlled by a FADEC control system. On take off, you move your power levers to the take-off detent. At 2,000 feet AGL, you move the power levers to the climb detent. At cruise, you move the power levers to the cruise detent. FADEC engine controls are very simple and efficient. Another difference is that the newer jets do not have thrust reversers to help with stopping on a contaminated runway. Instead, they rely on big flaps, big brakes and drag inducing spoilers to slow you down. What this means for you is that in some instances, with a runway that has rain or snow on the surface, you are going to need additional distance to land and stop over normal operations. Finally, the newer technology light jet engines such as the Williams FJ44 almost always are on an engine support program such as TAP Blue. This program will cover scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on your engines and in the case of TAP Blue, the program will even address corrosion issues. The majority of twin turboprop engines do not have an engine program due to the high costs from the providers.

Moving from a King Air, your standard phase inspection 24 month cycle and the required landing gear and prop overhauls go away. Your major maintenance cycles are longer and maintenance tracking is far more important with a light jet. You will, however, see more small inspections occurring.

Going from a turboprop to a single pilot light jet does not have to be difficult and has many advantages to you and your company. Just make sure you fully understand each difference and have a partner to help guide you through the transition.

Jim Mitchell joined Elliott Aviation in 2010. He has been in the aviation business for over 30 years, holds a Bachelors Degree in Business, and has over 2,500 hours of flight time with Commercial, Instrument, and CFI ratings. Jim first started selling used piston aircraft while also managing a full service FBO business. In those years Jim saw first hand all facets of the aviation business including maintenance, charter, aircraft management, fuel sales, and hangar storage. Prior to joining Elliott Aviation Jim worked for Cessna Aircraft selling new and used Citations. He can be reached at 952.944.1200 or by email at jmitchell@elliottjets.com.