I’m busy doing my private pilot’s license (here), so the subject of aircraft is top of the agenda. After much research I must say that one particular aircraft has caught my eye in a BIG way.
The TBM 900 can reach 31,000 feet in 18 minutes and can take you 3,200 km in about 5 hours. But wait until you see inside this thing and see how much it costs to fly.
We’ll chat about the $3.7 million price tag issue a little later. But for now, let’s talk about how affordable this plane is. At it’s most economical, the TBM 900 burns 37 US gallons an hour, which is about 140 litres. At today’s Avgas fuel price, that’s about R2,023 an hour. Now remember that it’s a 6 seater – so you’re talking R337 per person, per hour! And yes, of course there are extra costs (big costs) regarding maintenance and hanger-rental etc, but we’re focusing on fuel here..
While she can happily cruise faster than 600km/h (faster than a lot of light jets), her best range cruise speed is 252 knots (466 km/h) and she’s take you 3,203km in 6.8 hours.
We’ve just got back from the French Riviera, so let’s use that as an example. Say you wanted to get to St. Tropez. You would fly from Cape Town to Nice – that’s 8,799km.
So you would take a leisurely cruise, spending 18.8 hours in the air (at, say, 28,000 feet). You’d stop twice for fuel twice, using a total of 140l x 18.8 hours = 2,632l of fuel. At today’s price of R14.45 ex VAT (we’ll claim back, surely) that is R38,164. With 6 people on board, you’re looking at R6,360 per person.
Not the end of the world
Now I know what you’re going to say – even though the price works out roughly the same as a commercial economy class ticket, you don’t FEEL like stopping to refuel – especially not twice.
That’s where you’ve made a mistake – for two reasons.
Here’s a little map to show you what I’m talking about. It shows your maximum range from Nice airport. The black line is flying fast (1 tank of fuel) and the red line is flying economically (also one tank of fuel).
I think you’re starting to appreciate what I’m talking about – especially when you spend 3-6 months a year in Europe – having your own plane is a game changer. I could get from our place in Provence (nearest airport Avignon) to London in an hour and a half – for just over R3,000.
Ibiza is an hour away.
Cape Town to Johannesburg is 2 hours.
And Cape Town to Plett? Try 45 minutes.
Did I mention the iPad app that let’s you configure the interior? Well you need to check it out HERE.
Read more about the TBM 900 in the Robb Report HERE.
Now back to the silly issue of the R37 million price tag. Ja, look, no major stress. Just another reason why we’re playing the MegaMillions lottery today. It’s got a $100 million jackpot and you can buy tickets from anywhere in the world HERE.
That’s why we play every week. Because, hey – life’s too short, right?
Check out TBM’s main website here.
Wanna get your Private Pilot’s License? Check out the Cape Town Flight Training Centre here.
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