August 2, 2017:
Private customer Neil Armstrong has taken delivery of a Pilatus PC-12 from Oriens Aviation, the aircraft's UK sales distributor.
The entrepreneur and owner of Armstrong Group Holdings acknowledges that he conducted a lot of due diligence on other aircraft types and took several demonstration flights before determining the PC-12 was best for his business and leisure needs. "It was the only one that ticked all the boxes," he says. "It is versatile, robust and can land on grass, gravel and even snow. It is impressively economical, with fuel costing less than $200 per hour, and has excellent avionics. The low depreciation rate was a major factor too."
The aircraft will be based at Leeds Bradford, near to the family's home in North Yorkshire. Armstrong anticipates that he will fly up to 200 hours a year for his business interests in housing, oil, gas and utilities, and for leisure. He has interests in Jersey, the west of Ireland and Mallorca, which all suit the PC-12's flying range.
"Time is of the essence in my business," he continues. "If you are marching, you're not fighting, so this great aircraft is going to be a productive tool for the business, and it will provide us with some great family occasions too."
Neil's two sons and his wife Brid, who helped influence the style of the white, grey and blue interior, were all at the delivery ceremony at the Goodwood Festival of Speed to enjoy the motor racing displays before flying the aircraft home.
As well as ratifying the sale on behalf of Pilatus, Oriens helped in the recruitment of pilots for the aircraft. Its sales and marketing director Craig Lammiman advised Armstrong in the purchasing process. "The key message passed on to Neil is that the PC-12 is a very misunderstood aircraft and in fact far more capable than most are aware," he tells EBAN. "While aviation people are aware of the PC-12 and its appearance, in reality they have unlikely flown on the aircraft, have no understanding of its true size and capability and certainly no information with regards to how cost effective it is to run. The PC-12 only depreciates on average 22 per cent over 10 years.
"The aircraft has never been widely available to charter in Europe until the recent law changes. All clients to date that have been on board the aircraft have been incredibly surprised at the space, the low noise levels and where the Pilatus PC-12 can fly you to."
Armstrong considered light jets including the Phenom 300 and some Citations, as well as the King Air, TBMs and the HondaJet. "The general conclusion was that you can't buy an aircraft of the same ability for the same money and the same benefits," Lammiman explains. "Every aircraft has its unique features, but there really is nothing that competes directly with the PC-12 because it offers a large cabin and large cargo door in a single-engine aircraft.
"To buy the equivalent size of jet, interior-wise, you would be looking at US$8-10 million. The operational cost of the PC-12 is typically a third cheaper in fuel economy and running costs than a comparative twin engine turboprop. The defining factor was that the PC-12 is able to access more places."