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SET Commercial ops

I suppose I am one of the few who actually did fly SET for a living in Europe, for a while anyway. As with any operation, pay is a question of how much revenue one can generate with the aircraft.

A single engine turbine aircraft is no less capable than a twin, on the contrary, in fact. The Cessna Caravan is a good example where you would struggle to find a twin with the same load carrying capability and operating costs. I know because I tried! So, from a revenue perspective one should expect to earn more on the single, and then oddly enough should be able to pay the pilots more...

What seems to be the issue for some pilots at least is the fact that there is just one engine, and I can accept their concerns, however based on my own experience it really isn't a huge factor. Comparing a Piston Twin to a Single Engine Turbine is not really relevant because the turbine is a magnitude more reliable than any piston will ever be.

Then there is the question of the public. Will they accept a single propeller on the nose? Some seem to have great concerns when forced to board "small" aircraft like the Dash8, ATR and SAAB 2000...

Personally I think the allowing of SET for IFR is a good thing, from a business perspective. As a pilot I don't really mind, I think the risk is manageable.

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

Then there is the question of the public. Will they accept a single propeller on the nose?

Will they accept propellers at all? I have had passengers (not many, but three or four over 10 years) who refused to get on board a Cessna 421 and 404 "because it has propellers".

Comparing a Piston Twin to a Single Engine Turbine is not really relevant because the turbine is a magnitude more reliable than any piston will ever be.

That might be true, but I see it differently. I have had (I think I repeat myself here...) three engine failures in piston twins. Two of them in instrument weather. For me that second engine was a real blessing in these cases. I really don't mind flying single engine IFR. Part of my income comes from instructing IFR. But I have set my own rules over the years (basically doubling the margins of the flying shool). Among them: I want 1000ft of clear air between the lowest clouds and the highest ground. Otherwise I cancel the flight. No exception ever. I had no problem with that so far, the student either came back the next day or continued with a less cowardly instructor, what do I care? But that is something a commercial operator can not tolerate. If the flight can legally be conducted - and there is no legal requirement for cloudbase enroute - that it will be conducted. If I refuse to fly, then another pilot who needs the money more desperately will, and I will be back on the job market. I will not let myself be pushed into that corner therefore I will not fly single engine commercial. Ever (well, I have only 15 years left to retirement, so "ever" is not such a long period of time).

A colleague of mine once luckily survived the crash of his Caravan into a forest on a meatbombing mission. Also turbine powerplants do fail, in his case it was a fault in the fuel supply. And flying VFR didn't help either.

EDDS - Stuttgart

Wouldn't a SET single pilot have a more demanding job with more responsibility than one in a crew of two? Given that only one pilot has to be paid, wouldn't this allow for a higher pay? And as said, open a lot of new business opportunities, thus enlarge the market? Given that the most successful SETs happen to be from Europe, I am really puzzled why we're so far behind the US in allowing this type of operation.

If safety records do not show an unacceptable risk for commercial SET, then I see no problem with this. You might remember that the unions in the UK in the 70s insisted on having heaters on electrical trains... Safety aside, let's just have the market decide what is best.

Wouldn't a SET single pilot have a more demanding job with more responsibility than one in a crew of two?

Sure, single pilot operation is usually paid better than multicrew, as the money does not have to be split (but I have never seen that anybody ever got a double income from flying single pilot). With piston twins and (to a lesser degree) twin turboprops single pilot operation has been quite common.

There are two problems however: Passenger acceptance (they already don't like to fly behind propellers and even less so with only one pilot) and, more importantly: Duty and rest time limitations. They are very restrictive for single pilot operation, making the most common business flight ("Tagesrandflug", whatever they call these in English) impossible: Flying from A to B (early) in the morning and returning in the (late) evening. It's difficult enough to stay within 13 hours two-crew flying a jet, so a single pilot flying a slower aircraft will simply not be able to make it within his 10 hour limit. These 10 hours get further reduced after the third landings and for night operations, so the most common usage of SETs in America - mail and night freight - really requires a second pilot! (Or "flight time extender" as we call these otherwise useless crewmembes, because many single-pilot aircraft have no instumentation on the right side anyway).

EDDS - Stuttgart

As long as there are people to do this kind of 'pay for a seat upfront' thingy, they are to blame for the low pay. If no one would do, all of these low cost operators would have no crews. In US a (regional) pilot is on a lower social level than an illegal Mexican cleaning woman, but that is US for you. It is all a game of supply and demand. There is plenty of supply and despite some forecast 'pilot shortage' there will still less demand as new pilots available.

I recon this pilots shortage from airlines and plane manufacturers is just a way to keep the supply up. Pilot is a job in transport business, compare it to a lorry or bus driver. Forget the salaries from the past. If you want to make money in transport business apply as a London Tube driver.

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

... but that is US for you.

Maybe not for long, if the standards are lowered one step by allowing single engine turboprop all weather commercial ... (am I repeating myslelf again?)

If you want to make money in transport business apply as a London Tube driver.

Or work as a charter/freight broker. With minimal investment - you can do that from an iPad in your bathroom if necessary - you always have your margin from every flight. Whether the operator makes money or not is your least concern!

But nonsense apart: Where I really see potential for commercially operated SETs in my part of the world are those corporate aircraft, that presently are operated privately. All they have to do is place them under some (already existing, otherwise it will make no sense) AOC. The management and crew training fees can be recovered by saving on fuel taxes and the occasional flying hour they can sell on the market will pay for some of their fixed costs. But a dedicated single-engine operation? No way.

EDDS - Stuttgart

three engine failures in piston twins.

Yes, Pistons... We're talking turbines here, different story, but you're certainly entitled to your choice. There will be another pilot(s) around the corner for sure. Could be me! ;-)

The company I used to work for had 3 Caravans during its heydays, and have been in operation since 1998. Not one single engine problem. This is an all year all weather operation, in the north of Europe so frequently in bad weather and all that. Turbines fail too, in fact one could lose all flight controls in a DC10, or one could catch fire with 4 engines on board etc etc. There are no guarantees about anything, still I wouldn't mind operating a TBM or PC12 as an air taxi.

Wouldn't a SET single pilot have a more demanding job with more responsibility than one in a crew of two?

Responsibility is the same if we're talking about the PIC. SET doesn't automatically mean SP. Our operation was flown two crew, it's a safety aspect just like an extra engine might be, but when it comes to operations at night, with pax, in IFR etc, being two up front is very helpful, and I wouldn't be surprised if the CAA would require it, in Europe. After all, the turbines may have proven their worth, but pilots keep on failing.

ESSB, Stockholm Bromma

Just read AOPA GA mag and it says that there approval is limited to operations within France only.

Can't see how that works as we are now all europe and come under the same regs.

But I suppose its a start

A fuel problem, as described for theCaravan crash can also happen to any twin.

EASA is set on getting Single Engine commercial ops in imc/night into the next ops rules which should be there in 2015-2017 timeframe. It will be dual pilots for sure.

€ 1.200 for a jet? Never seen it. Did look into chartering once or twice .. But the bill never started below € 8.000,- meaning €2.500-€ 3.000 per hr.

Our airlines network is simply so good that most of it does not make any sense. But if you want to go to a remote place in scandinavia or croatia or more east It definitely can make a whole lot of sense. Personally I would love to see serious airtaxi become a hit.

Most operators are. Abandoning the Mustangs and the likes, simply because they are relatively to expensive and to slow and cannot carry enough pax. A king air will cost the same. A pc12 .. Should be an ideal aircraft .. Being able to carry plenty people to make the cost per pax more acceptable and bring you to much smaller airfields including Courchevel!

I do not know what the Aoc looks like that was given to the French operator but .. Normally it should be valid for all EASA territory except for those countries that explicitly state that they will not except se comops in their aip (gen1.7) (for example uk).

This is how the Finnish pc12 operator set it up with the finnish CAA.

This just popped up in my inbox:

Helpfully, there is no URL but hard core Cologne “residents” will know where to find it, and maybe somebody can post an executive summary

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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