Abu Dhabi charter operator GI Aviation has taken delivery of its second Pilatus PC-12NG single-engined turboprop, and is planning to launch an aircraft management programme to broaden its fleet and service offering.
GI launched services in January, becoming the first commercial operator of the PC-12 in the Middle East. Patrick Gordon, general manager of the Al Bateen-based company, says the response to the Swiss-built aircraft has been mixed. "We still have some educating to do," he says, pointing to a stigma surrounding single-engined aircraft in the region.
Small propeller-driven aircraft are scarce in the Middle East's business aircraft community, which is renowned for its appetite for twin- and tri-engined, large-cabin business jets and VIP airliners. Flight Fleets Analyzer records a regional fleet of only three PC-12s, including GI's pair (A6-GIA/-GIB).
Single-engined turboprops are a harder sell, Gordon admits, "but once people realise how safe the PC-12 is to fly, and how much more affordable and versatile it is compared with larger jets, they soon forget these misgivings”, he adds.
GI is targeting senior company executives “whose time is invaluable both personally and professionally”, says Gordon.
The PC-12NG has a range of 650nm (1,200km), which will connect Abu Dhabi to many key destinations in the Gulf such as Bahrain, Kuwait or Riyadh. The aircraft is also finding favour among the region's leisure travellers, says Gordon, with Sir Bani Yas island, southwest of Abu Dhabi, an increasingly popular stop.
The company is now seeking to expand its portfolio through the introduction of an aircraft management service covering business jets and PC-12s. Gordon says as the Swiss-built aircraft gains acceptance in the region, more people are looking to acquire their own example. "We are perfectly positioned to manage it for them," he says.