The busy school week was pleasantly interrupted when PlaneSense flew in their Pilatus PC-12 last Thursday to visit the WMU College of Aviation. I first heard about the upcoming event from an email by our school’s outreach department, and I made sure to add it to my calendar. I didn’t know anything about PlaneSense or their aircraft, so I did some research the night before to find out more about them.
It turns out that they are a fractional ownership company, offering cost-effective solutions for private air travel to a variety of individuals and businesses. They are able to provide luxurious service on a flexible schedule to customers, while still avoiding the costs and challenges that come with owning a large private jet. Currently, PlaneSense operates the world’s largest civilian fleet of PC-12’s. The Swiss-built aircraft’s unique flight characteristics provide flexibility in terms of route dynamics and scheduling, allowing customers to plan their trips based on where they want to go, not where the aircraft can get into.
A quick search for Pilatus PC-12 specifications on Globalair.com shows a relatively new plane sells for close to $4 million. The plane is comparable to many general aviation aircraft in terms of its robust handling. It can take off and land in 2,700ft and 2,160ft respectively, and at max takeoff weight it has a stall speed of just 67kts. In contrast to this, it can cruise at an astonishing 285kts at 30,000ft for more than 1,800nm. It’s the perfect cross-country plane that can still land at smaller fields, saving travel time from the airport. I became a huge fan of this plane after reading about it and talking to the pilots who fly it regularly.
When PlaneSense visited WMU, several of their chief pilots and directors talked about their company, and they did a great job of explaining how they operate. I also appreciated their view on the general state of the aviation industry development, and advice they had for younger pilots who are just starting their professional careers. They also offered on-sight interviews for College of Aviation flight instructors throughout the day, which I know several people did take advantage of.
Overall it was a fun afternoon learning about PlaneSense, and the presentation definitely changed my opinions about flying for a corporate aviation company. It is something that I am very interested in doing after I graduate.