Many pilots enjoy talking about fuel economy because it is among the factors in aviation over which we have some degree of control. Carefully adjusting power settings and other elements of our flight profiles can cut fuel expenses significantly.
It also pays to consider fuel consumption when buying an aircraft. Like cars, some airplanes seem to sip fuel while others guzzle. More so than with cars, though, finding an airplane with a minimal appetite for fuel often comes with compromises that affect your mission or even scuttle it altogether.
Using information from operating handbooks, manufacturers’ data, pilot reports and industry analysts, including Conklin & de Decker and others, we compiled the following list of piston singles that top their categories, and their fuel economy in nautical miles per gallon.
Daher TBM 900: 4.4 nmpg
The TBM burns about the same 70 gallons an hour as the Pilatus but scores better due to its higher cruise speed—just over 300 knots.
Pilatus PC-12 NG: 3.7 nmpg
Popular for charter service, business, and personal transport, the Pilatus posts attractive fuel economy figures, due mostly to its cruise speed of around 260 knots.
[Photo: Mark Wagner]
Quest Kodiak: 3.3 nmpg
Piston pilots have to brace themselves for a shock at the fuel pumps when transitioning to turbine power. Even a relatively economical utility model like the Kodiak burns 45 gallons per hour.