March 9, 2017:
Germany's Flugservice Bautzen is hoping to invest in a Cessna Grand Caravan in the future, having just taken delivery of a single piston GippsAero GA8 Airvan for parachuting missions. The company also has a Cessna 340 which is occasionally used for transportation flights. MD Steffen Roschek says that a Caravan would be capable of performing skydiving and transportation missions equally well.
"For now the GippsAero aircraft is a much cheaper alternative to something like the Cessna Caravan," he tells EBAN.
"We can carry up to eight people at a time plus the pilot. For most of the small parachuting clubs it is efficient to have a small aircraft because you are paying per lift. There are two main clubs in our area and we have a fixed contract with them for the next five years. We have a fixed base for our aircraft at the weekend for the use of both clubs, whereas Monday to Friday we are not so busy. Sometimes we pick up some safari flights with a small group of passengers but this is a minority activity.
"However, in my opinion the GA8 is only really good to use for the parachuting. It is too slow and inefficient for cargo and passenger flights from A to B. It has more or less the same speed as a Cessna 172 so for private use it is OK but not for commercial operations.
"The fuel consumption is 80 litres an hour which is not that great for a small aircraft."
Roschek says that the GA8 was an entry level purchase to check how the parachute business would play out. "In the next three years I would not be surprised if we went for a Grand Caravan. That would be a good investment because we would be able to use it for both parachuting and A to B transport flights," he says.
"It is very exciting that commercial single engine IFR flights are now permitted. As this situation develops, the potential Grand Caravan move will make a lot of sense. We could do the do the transportation flights Monday to Friday and the skydiving at the weekend. That would be a good small business model for us."