For pilots able to climb that ownership ladder—often men and women who plan to use that larger airplane for business—these dreams used to mean stepping up to a light, unpressurized piston twin such as a Cessna 310 or a Beechcraft Baron. But the days of piston-powered twins have come and gone.
Now, a move-up airplane translates into at least a high-performance pressurized single such as the Piper M600, the TBM 900 series or a Pilatus PC-12, offering better weather and cruise speed options. These aircraft operate with just a single powerplant—like the other big player in the move-up market, the Cirrus Vision SF50 jet.
Turbine powerplants seem to be a significant factor in these decisions, with Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6 being a popular option. And what’s not to like? Starting a turboprop these days is pretty simple thanks to the full-authority digital engine control system installed on most. Often, it takes no more than the time needed to taxi from the ramp to the hold-short line for a turboprop to be ready to go. PT6s also don’t mind pilots yanking the throttle to idle or slamming it forward in the rarified air of positive-control airspace (now known as Class A). Turbine powerplants do come with one limitation: spool-up time. Shove the throttle forward on a pure jet engine with no propeller connection, and the response is not immediate, as it will be with a piston engine.