Continued economic improvement is tightening the supply of quality aircraft on the market. We have, on average, approximately 20 percent fewer Commander turboprop models offered for sale compared with a year ago. The 20 percent average is consistent –– there are 52 available aircraft today compared with 63 in early 2013, according to market information provider JETNET. Only 25 aircraft currently are represented in the most popular advertising media. Turboprops continue to be in fashion, with only 6.8 percent of the total fleet listed for sale compared to the Citation Mustang, for example, with 8.7 percent of that fleet available and nearly 14 percent of the total active jet fleet listed for sale.
Pricing, however, remains flat across most legacy turbine and piston aircraft markets according to the value guides, and my observation. A few models may have crept up slightly, though more jets appear declining in price than increasing.
Operators who demand economy, a wide flight envelope, and superior visibility in a turbine-powered aircraft continue to choose Commanders. They are at work in the forest service contracting business both in the U.S. and Canada, and as survey aircraft. Interestingly, there has been a change in demand for survey/camera-equipped aircraft with several good options available today with existing camera ports installed.
Total Commander turboprop sales in 2013 numbered 35 aircraft, which is about the same number of light jets (Phenom 100 and Cessna Mustang) produced in 2013. These Commanders found new homes worldwide over the past year, with steady sales from the entry-level Dash 5 models to JetProp 1000 Commanders.
Several Garmin G1000 panel makeovers are in process, even prior to FAA approval of the STC, which is expected in the spring of 2014. At least 10 percent of 2013 sales were export transactions, further growing the non-U.S. fleet to well over 400 of the approximately 700 active Commander turboprops.
It is rewarding to see former Commander owners move back into the seasoned aircraft. Both piston owners and jet owners have rediscovered the Commander, while former King Air and Cheyenne owners are finding that the Commander’s speed and fuel efficiency make sense.
The proven performance and economy of a turboprop Commander, especially when powered by the Honeywell Dash 10, make a good transportation value in any economy.
Bruce Byerly is vice president at Naples Jet Center and a long-time Twin Commander sales professional.