A Greener Way To Fly (Private)
Can private aviation and environmental accountability co-exist?
One California company says yes.
For years, the only green associated with Hollywood was the money accumulated in box office grosses and actors salaries. But many of today’s celebrities, as well as politicians and corporate CEOs, have also taken a strong public stand in support of the other green lifestyle – responsible environmental policy and practices. But as soon as one of these celebrities or VIPs boards a private jet, they are hammered by naysayers as being hypocritical and elitist. For all the positive and practical attributes of chartered air travel – convenience, efficiency, comfort, and safety – the industry has not garnered a reputation as being environmentally responsible.
One company, Integrated Aircraft Services (IAS), hopes to change that perception. Based in Costa Mesa and Van Nuys, California, IAS flies the Pilatus PC-12, a turbo-prop aircraft that burns 40% less fuel per hour than comparable aircraft, without sacrificing cabin size, flight time, or all the little luxuries that clients expect from private aviation. The company was founded in 2003 by entrepreneur Arnold Leto, an experienced pilot and flight instructor. Currently, IAS is the only Pilatus PC-12 operator in Southern California. “The environmental concept was definitely a decision factor in choosing the Pilatus,” Leto said. “However, it’s an outstanding plane, even apart from any green considerations.”
Pilatus has been building single-engine aircraft in Stans, Switzerland for nearly 70 years. In both the civilian and military markets, the company enjoys a reputation for utilizing the most modern design techniques, precision engineering and cutting-edge manufacturing processes to produce high-performance aircraft. The PC-12 is the latest and largest member of the Pilatus family. It integrates a single turboprop engine into an aerodynamically advanced airframe and was originally designed for the Swiss military to operate in and out of the Swiss Alps. “A single-engine craft, especially one as well-built as the Pilatus, offers several advantages in performance over multi-engine aircraft,” Leto explained. “This fleet is relatively new to the charter market, and has many of the efficiencies you would expect from a newer aircraft, not just in fuel burn but also maintenance and composite production.”
IAS was also impressed by the Pilatus commitment to sound environmental practices, which begins not with the performance of the aircraft, but at the manufacturing stage. “When you make a commitment to going green, as we’ve done, it’s important to consider every aspect of the business, to establish a consistency in the message,” Leto said. “People who care about environmental issues are asking more questions now, about the cars they drive, and the food they eat and the things they buy. If one of our clients wants to ask those questions about the planes we fly, with Pilatus I can be confident in the answers.” IAS Sales Manager Zach Rutledge continues the kudos, “Environmental protection has always been part of Pilatus’s philosophy. From the start of the design process, the objective is to reduce environmental impact, from the type of materials they use to manufacture the product to the energy-efficiency of their factory floor.”
The Pilatus burns 60 gallons of fuel an hour, where other charter aircraft can burn more than 100 gallons, and a typical private jet burns 600 gallons an hour. “And we’re not talking about burning 60 gallons an hour and taking twice as long to get there,” Rutledge clarifies. “There’s no need to trade comfort and convenience for going green.”
Despite its superior fuel efficiency, the PC-12 is actually bigger than a King Air B200 and nearly twice as large as a Citation Jet. “Compare the luxury of this airplane to a jet that Hollywood VIPs typically fly, and we have the same size cabin as well as all the amenities that private aviation users expect, and we can get our passengers to their destination in the same amount of time, while burning just 10% of the fuel that a jet would consume.” Leto said. There is no compromise in safety either. In more than four years IAS has achieved a perfect safety record, and the Pilatus PC-12 has an outstanding reliability record as well. Since the first date of manufacture, all Pilatus single engine turboprop aircraft combined have compiled more than 8 million flight hours without a single fatality
due to engine failure.
IAS is in the process of opening offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and New York. The company plans to have 30 Pilatus PC-12s located throughout the US in the next 18 months.
“For public figures, even those that have advocated lifestyle changes to protect the environment, private aviation is always going to be a necessity,” Leto believes. “Our goal is to give them a way to practice what they preach.”