Corporate jets with 24/7 service spice up Gladstone travel
WHEN I was told I would be heading up above the clouds in a "luxurious and fast" corporate jet, I wasn't sure what I was in for.
I'm not the prime minister, and I certainly am not the target market for this new service on offer in Gladstone, but the ride made me question who would take advantage of such a venture.
To bypass the annoying process of baggage check and x-ray security, not have to sit in a waiting lounge full of screaming children and businessmen on mobiles and wait through delays to eventually be shepherded onto a flight along with the rest of town - it sounds like heaven.
Instead, I was welcomed by the pilot, given a quick safety briefing and settled into my snacks and magazines for the short flight.
For someone who doesn't know planes, the Pilatus PC12 was right away familiar to me, but it wasn't until I was reading up on its history that I discovered why.
The Swiss-made plane was first brought into service in 1994 with launch client the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which now has more than 30 of the planes on its books.
This model is the only one of its type on offer for executive charter flights in the Central Queensland region, and I feel completely safe as I sit back and strap into one of the nine seats covered with snugly sheepskin.
If I wanted to, I could have fallen asleep then and there.
But the fact that I was cruising above the weather at about 460km/h was too much excitement, and the views from the window of Blackwater's mines and Gladstone's harbour were clear as day.
Unlike other "small" planes I've been in, mostly with the aim of jumping out of them to sky-dive, my companions and I could easily chat, and the cabin was pressurised and climate controlled.
I didn't feel cramped or claustrophobic, and we could even move around the cabin if we wanted to.
The Pilatus PC12s have only recently been cleared in Australia to be used for regional passenger transport and the single turbine engine makes it a versatile and fast aircraft.
We were flying from Emerald to Gladstone, with a flight time of 30 minutes - half the time it took us to get to Emerald in a twin engine Navajo.
Weighing up the time and fatigue considerations of driving across the country, and the difference compared to commercial scheduled flight services, the business alliance offering the new service says it's economical in comparison at $2200 an hour.
The clincher is the 24/7 service.
You need to fly to Sydney at 11pm or leave at 3am for a breakfast meeting in Cairns? Done.
Within a matter of hours the pilots will be waiting with the PC12 ready to go.
If you need it for less people moving and more cargo moving, the aircraft also provides for bulky loads - as well as landing on short, unsealed airstrips.
If I was one of those in middle to upper management, working on the mines or travelling to remote areas, an executive charter service is something I'd want to know more about.
THE pilots running the business alliance, Vance Krahenbring of Air Charter CQ and Michael O'Brien of Critical Logistics, say the new venture is a trial to discover whether a market exists in the Central Queensland region for an executive aircraft charter service.
Although there are a number of charter services throughout the region, Mr Krahenbring said the difference was the comfortable flight on offer at incredible speeds - at a cost of $2200 an hour.
"It's an executive aircraft that's never been offered in Gladstone or central Queensland before, and this is really a market trial to see if there is any interest," he said.
They believe it's economical in comparison to a King Air, which is about $3000 an hour to charter - this new service is $2200 an hour.
- Capacity: nine passengers
- Cruise speed: 270knts (500km/h)
- Climb: 512 m/min
- Max altitude: 30,000ft
- Crew: one or two pilots
- Wingspan: 16.23m
- Loaded weight: 4,700kg
- Rate of climb: 512m/min
- The Pilatus PC12 turbine prop jet has operated in the region for several years, supporting the mining areas of the Bowen Basin.
- It can be ready to go in a matter of hours at any time of the day or night, to almost any destination around Australia.
- Find out more or book an air charter on 4972 1940