Monday, December 12, 2016

PlaneSense: Portsmouth company's new jets will allow fliers to travel faster

George Antoniadis sits on a mock-up of the new Pilatus PC-24 jet at PlaneSense in Portsmouth on Thursday evening. 

PlaneSense VIP customers check out the mock-up of the new Pilatus PC-24 jet that will be made available to shared owners next year.

PORTSMOUTH — PlaneSense Inc. in Portsmouth plans to obtain six new jets that will allow business and leisure fliers to travel faster and land on shorter and unimproved runways, saving them time in reaching their destination.

On Thursday evening, a VIP reception was held at the fractional aircraft ownership company on Flightline Road. Customers got a peek inside a mock-up for the Pilatus PC-24 Jet, which will be available next year.

PlaneSense founder George Antoniadis says the PC-24 jet brings new innovations to the reliable Pilatus Aircraft line. When Antoniadis started the shared ownership company in 1996, the company developed a relationship with the manufacturer in Switzerland, and both sides have benefitted from the partnership. For years the company has run a fleet of PC-12 aircraft, he said.

Antoniadis said the new $10 million jets will allow groups traveling to and from New Hampshire to take off and land in Laconia and Concord. With enough room for sporting equipment, leisure travelers have room for skis, bicycles, fishing poles and hunting gear. Business travelers can carry presentation materials, and everyone will still have plenty of space to stretch out because there is 50 percent more cabin space.

Ray Torres, who serves as the vice president of flight operations, said the PC-24 technology is so advanced, passengers will be able to stream a movie from 40,000 feet in the air. Torres is excited about what the addition of the jets will mean for the Portsmouth-based company.

“They’re building our plane right now,” Torres said.

In addition to the extra comforts, Torres said there are a number of advanced safety features planned for the PC-24. Aircraft can transmit and receive signals to see where others are, and the new jet gives pilots a warning if they are within 500 feet of another plane. Pilots are directed which way to go as the entire jet lights up to avoid a collision.

There are 150 pilots in the company, with 17 bases east of the continental divide. Those who participate in shared ownership have the advantage of having a trained pilot, as well as storage and maintenance of the aircraft. Additionally, Antoniadis said, participants only need to give as little as eight hours notice before they can fly, depending on how many shares they own.

In addition to 30 Pilatus PC-12s, PlaneSense has two Nextant 400 XTi twin-engine jet aircraft, with more on order. The most popular destinations for customers flying from New Hampshire are Florida, and at this time of year, Colorado for skiing. Last year, the company provided 15,000 flights, Torres said.

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