Nothing, it seems, can ground private aviation. Despite the high costs for planes and fuel, the waiting lists for recent and yet-to-be-released planes are growing, and nearly every major general aviation company has put a new model on the market in the past year or so, or plans to. "Thirty years ago, there were more people getting into flying for the pleasure side of things," says Scott Fank, VP of sales at Illinois-based JA Air Center, which sells private aircraft, as well as providing training and maintenance. "Nowadays, we're seeing more people fed up with airlines and fed up with security. So they're looking to private aviation."
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Buying a plane is, in effect, buying a time machine that enables you to accelerate domestic or international travel by hours, or turn a four-hour stop-and-go drive into a 20-minute hop. That's why, even as companies like NetJets and Wheels Up try to convince fliers to buy fractional shares of planes, the wholly owned private aircraft remains a viable product. Here are the most exciting, appealing, or flat-out audacious models – available now or soon enough to place a preorder.
Pilatus PC-12 NG
Price: $3.3 million
Available: Since 2007
Range: 1,560 nautical miles
There are cheaper turboprops, for sure, such as straightforward cargo haulers like Cessna's Caravan series. But the Pilatus PC-12 NG is a jack-of-all-trades, with a pressurized cabin, versatile interior layouts that can include seating for up to nine, and a single turbine that can hit 280 knots (compared, for example, to the Caravan's 186 knots). It's also renowned for its reliability and durability, one of the reasons the PC-12 is flown by everyone from commercial airlines to special operations commandos in the U.S. Air Force. Again, car comparisons can be misleading, but this is the fastest, toughest, meanest minivan you'll ever fly. [pilatus-aircraft.com]
Credit: Pilatus Aircraft Ltd