AOPA Top 4 Turboprops/Light Jets

Top 4 Light Jet/Turbine Aircraft
1 TBM 850/ 930
2 Citation Mustang
3 Meridian
4 King Air

In Part 3 of our Top Aircraft of 2020, we’re looking at the most popular turboprops and light jets financed by AOPA members.

In many ways, the TBMs and Meridians are quite comparable, including a similar handsome ramp presence. They both have the reliability of the PT-6 engine. The Meridian distinguishes itself with a Garmin avionics suite, which earlier TBM variants like the 700 series and the 850s don’t possess. There is broad consensus that the Garmin package makes the Meridian easier to operate single-pilot. However, the TBMs have greater range and speed. So, the trade-off is more one of preference--single-pilot convenience vs. aircraft range and speed. In that regard, the need for (marginal) speed may come with a hefty price tag.

The Mustang is popular both with pilots stepping up from a turboprop and those leaping up from a piston. Why? I

t’s a manageable single-pilot aircraft. It’s not too large—it’s an airplane that carries two or three passengers comfortably around 600 nm. The speed is good, above 350 knots, while still possessing decent slow-speed handling characteristics. 

Because the Mustang is in the Cessna Citation family, there are plenty of parts available. The challenge with the Mustang relative to the TBM or the Meridian is that unless you’re going longer distances, the Mustang is not much faster than a turboprop in terms of actual point A to point B. The twin engine Mustang is also significantly more expensive to operate compared to a single engine turboprop, from fuel consumption to maintenance of its exotic turbofan blades. 

King Airs are very popular, almost in a class of their own. A lot of that stems from the fact that there are just a lot of them out there. Beechcraft/Textron has delivered over 3,100 iterations of the King Air so far. The major difference between a King Air and the other aircraft on this list is that they are typically flown by corporate pilots. Generally speaking, the other aircraft listed are owner-flown, single-pilot. 

Residual and resale values on all the airplanes on this list are strong, as is the ability to get them serviced regularly by, high quality maintenance personnel throughout the country. There are loads of parts available in this segment. And the valuations in them remain incredibly strong.

Lenders are typically willing to go out longer on the TBM and the Meridian than they are on the Mustang or the King Air, largely because there’s one engine eventually in need of overhaul compared to two. If both the Mustang’s turbofans need to be overhauled, the bill can be quite healthy. Lenders will want a little extra cushion on the residual values of the Mustangs and will ask for a little more money down or a shorter amortization.

Many of the King Airs are older and have more time on the airframe and the engines. Lenders will want more money down and shorter amortizations.

Recent financing examples for these aircraft include a 2008 Citation Mustang for $1.16 million at 3.50% amortized for 15 years, a 2008 TBM 850 for $1.2 million 3-year interest only with a floating rate of 3%, and a 2013 TBM 850 for $2 million at 3.60% amortized for 15 years.

We hope you enjoyed our recap of transactions managed by AOPA Finance over this past year. As part of the largest GA organization in the world, we help our members find financing for all types of ages and models of aircraft. If you are looking to upgrade to a turboprop or light jet and would like to work with experts who can guide you through the purchasing and financing process, please give us a call. Our regional account executives are ready to help match you to one of our aircraft lenders.

Great advice. Great rates. Helpful and responsive reps you can trust. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying or refinancing an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (800.627.5263), or click here to request a quote.

By: Adam Meredith

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