Caravan, pt. 135 vs. 91 questions, and the islands...


Well-Known Member
Hey everyone, I just got a potentially interesting job offer from an old friend. Well, it's not quite a job yet, but his boss (father-in-law's brother) owns a business that does construction in the Caribbean and they want to buy a Caravan to transport their employees and cargo from island to island. That's where I come in.

I'm trying to put together some information for him, but I figured I'd throw a few questions out to Caravan drivers and other FAR nuts. I could look everything up of course, but I'm lazy and I have my CFII checkride on Friday so I'm trying to stick to that.

1. If he owns the airplane and I work for him, that's not considered holding out on my part is it? (assuming that I don't perform a similar service for others)

2. If he is transporting his employees, can he do that Part 91, or would it have to be 135? I know squat about 135... Other than I don't meet the mins!

3. Does anybody know about the tax incentives that are out there for airplane ownership?

4. Does the Caravan require maintenance beyond the annual, 24 mo. pitot static, altimeter, transponder, 12 month ELT? Of course assuming pt. 91.

5. Anybody have a realistic $/hr. estimate?

6. Fuel burn/hr.?

7. Are they pressurized?

8. Is a ~300 hr. CFI-I fooling himself into thinking that he can do this or should he just shut up and be happy with the luck that he's received?

9. Assuming that if I didn't do this, I would be flying around in broken down 152s instructing and making in the neighborhood of $12K per year, what would be a good starting salary to ask for?

(future Caravan driver?)

P.S. I'm not talking about the Dodge Caravan

1. Part 91.

2. Provided they are not paying for the transportation (there are a few limited exceptions to this rule), that their transportation is in connection with their employment and that the transpoartation is only incidental to the business, then yes, it is Part 91.

3. Generally, any equipment that is used for business purposes (has to be used more than 50% for busines, and only the portion that is used for business qualifies) can be depreciated over a 5 year period, including aircraft. Of course, all operating expenses can be deducted as a normal business expense. On the other hand, watch out for state sales/use and property tax / registration fees.

4. Being a turbine-powered aircraft, I doubt that it has a regular annual inspection. Most turbine aircraft have progressive inspections in which the whole aircraft is inspected in phases every so often (200 hours or so) with the whole cycle needing to be completed within a certian period of time, say 24 months. I am not familiar with the exact Caravan requirements.

5. No, sorry.

6. I could look it up, but like you, I'm lazy.

7. They are not pressurized.

8. You should be happy with the luck you have received but be very nervous about what an insurance company is going to say about putting you on as pilot. Off the top of my head I would say it's going to be a hard sell to get you on the policy as an approved pilot, but it's always worth asking. Insurance companies are VERY unpredictable.

9. Well, the type of equipment that you're flying would tend to increase your salary, but your low experience is going to decrease it. Hard one to call since there probably aren't that many 300-hour pilots flying caravans around. I would say in the $20k range would be normal.

Good luck in your research.

I hope all goes well, but...

I would be very surprised if they can get you insured as the pilot. Not that a Caravan is a hard airplane to fly… its just pretty valuable and insurance companies tend to shy away from pilots with less than 1000hrs when flying this kind of stuff. You might have a better shot once you are over 500hrs (which seems to be the first hurdle for getting insured).
There are a bunch of new tax laws that will give the company some breaks with use of the plane.
The insurance part is always tricky but I would suggest that you see if they will provide you training at Flightsafety or Simcom. I know that they like for the pilot to have been through a formal groundschool and sim rides. Dont how much that will help you with the insurance but it should some. All you can do is call around and ask. AOPA website have a quick quote for insurance so you might can check there to get a ballpark figure.
Yeah, I would also say insurance would be your biggest problem. I recently was hired to fly a Bonanza, and had to have a minimum of 750TT and 150 or 200 complex (can't remember which) to qualify under the "open pilot" insurance requirements (meaning I didn't need 25 hrs in type and a bunch of other hoops to jump through to get insured).

But anyways, hope it works out for you, it would definitely be a sweet deal...and theres worse places to be stuck working than the Caribbean (ahem- Ohio)!
Is a ~300 hr. CFI-I fooling himself into thinking that he can do this or should he just shut up and be happy with the luck that he's received?

[/ QUOTE ]

I am going to give this to you, straight, right between the eyes...
You are fooling yourself. period.

Your friend may think its a good idea but the insurance company won't give it a second thought.

A. You are a low time inexperienced pilot. What is your total night experience, Actuall Instrument experience, Actuall PIC experience? You can probably answer your own question here.

B. You have no turbine experience.

C. You want to fly internationally.

D. By your own admission you are lazy, and this job is going to require alot of initialtive and countless hours doing other things besides flying a neat airplane. Like coordinating maintenance ( scheduled and non scheduled ), ordering pubs, cleaning the airplane, stocking snaks, scheduling flights, coordianting landing / customs permission, Understanding regulations and informing the Boss what you can and can't do. You get the idea.

E. You are a low time inexperienced pilot.

Crawl, Walk, Run.
Yeah, that's kind of what my gut tells me. Too bad this opportunity didn't come to me a couple years down the line. Maybe it still will, who knows.

About being lazy, that was just a joke. I just wanted to solicit opinions. I'm fully prepared to wash, wax, clean, load, schedule, pay off customs (another joke,
), and make sure that we're well stocked with beef jerky and beer. Luckily there's no honey pot, but I'm sure that I would have to remove a few barf bags here and there.

I've moved well beyond the initial pre-pilot notion of having a cool job where I layover for a week in Rome with hot flight attendants, but I'm ok with that.

Thanks for the opinions and insight, sounds like it would be a way huge long shot that could be easily stopped at step 1 by calling an insurance compnay.

And as it turns out, I think that they want somebody who basically runs the business and is the pilot as well, which is all well and good, but I do eventually want to fly airplanes with more than one engine, so I'm probably not their long-haul type candidate.