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I just graduated with an Aeronautical Science degree and I am planning on starting a freight forwarding company. It would need to be high payload capable and relatively fuel efficient, the route that would be flown everyday is only 300 miles one way.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is the business to make profit, or is it a prestige project? $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Oct 27 '16 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ It is a business to make profit and expand upon. $\endgroup$ – William Stanhope Oct 27 '16 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ For that, I'd have to know where the route is, how big of a payload we are talking about, and the conditions of the airfields at either end of the route. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Oct 27 '16 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ The route being flow would be from Ft Lauderdale to Havana. Pay load would be around 4000 - 5000 pounds. Conditions of the destination airfield are good. $\endgroup$ – William Stanhope Oct 27 '16 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ Cigars on demand?... As Carlo mentions, the Caravan is a solid bet. They are flown all over the world, potentially easier to get parts for than some of their older counterparts and from my understanding, reliable. They also run Jet-A which is easy to get at most airports. 100LL is not always available outside the US (in large quantities if at all) so avoiding piston options is something to think about. $\endgroup$ – Dave Oct 27 '16 at 17:30
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You would have to provide more answers to the comment I made above.

But for a relatively small payload (<4000lbs), I'd say you can't go wrong with a Cessna C208 Caravan. You can buy a good used C208B Super CargoMaster for just shy of $1 million.

Another recommendation for that route would be the DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. Payload is increased by 1000 lbs or so over the Caravan and you have the additional safety of two engines for over water operations. The downside is that these aircraft are fairly prized and will set you back about $ 3-4 million.

Another heavy lifter with an excellent reputation behind it, even after 80 years of service, is the venerable Douglas DC-3/C-47. You call, we haul 6,000lbs to just about anywhere within fuel range.

All of these aircraft are extremely rugged and have a good reputation after decades of hard use in bush flying. They are capable of operating on short, rough airstrips - a good benefit in case you decide to expand to more remote destinations within Cuba and can carry tremendous loads. They're also turbine powered using PT6 engines (except for the DC-3) so fuel is readily available anywhere in the world as is maintenance and spare parts.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thats what I was thinking. Thanks for the response. $\endgroup$ – William Stanhope Oct 27 '16 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ The Beech 99 could also be a good choice, though it might be hard to find any available as I understand most are already in use by freight companies. Payload capacity is around 3500 lbs. $\endgroup$ – J Walters Oct 27 '16 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ The Cessna 208 was pretty much designed for FedEx and they use them extensively as feeder aircraft. That would indicate it is probably ideal for the role. Another possibility for a twin is the Fokker/Fairchild F-27 which FedEx used for a long time as feeders. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Oct 27 '16 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ There are turbine refits of DC-3s too. Didn't check price though. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Oct 27 '16 at 19:39
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Are you a pilot? Are you familiar with aircraft regulations and operations?

I would avoid radial engines. I would seriously consider planes powered by TPE-331over the PT-6.

The Metroliner will haul about 5000lbs over that distance. They're airliners and have maintenance bills to match.

The MU2 is also a popular freighter. Somewhat smaller than the Metroliner it is still an efficient plane. It requires special training.

The Beech 1900 is also a popular freighter but I would prefer a Metroliner due to the longer engine life and better fuel economy. Like the Metro, they're airliners and will require some good maintenance.

The Beech 99 is a popular freighter. I've never flown one but it has a reputation for reliability.

For piston aircraft, the Cessna 404 will lift about 2000lbs. I love the plane but the engines can give you trouble (@ $50,000 each) if flown by a low time or poorly trained pilot.

The Piper Navajo (350hp) is also a common freighter. It won't lift quite as much as a 404 but it's a solid machine.

The Cessna 401/402 line is also good. On par with the Navajo.

You'll also need an air carrier certificate. Have you started that process?

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  • $\begingroup$ I would NOT recommend an MU2 for a neophyte pilot. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Oct 27 '16 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ Agree, but with good training it's not bad. If you look at the accident rates before and after the SFAR you'll notice a huge improvement. Still, the Metro/Merlin and MU2s are "big boy" planes and must be taken seriously. You don't just hop in and go. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Oct 27 '16 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloFelicione what are the issues with the MU2? $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds May 21 '18 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ The aircraft has had an unusually large number of accidents in its service history with over 330 fatal crashes in its service life, most involving engine failures during takeoff and landing. This is a crying shame as the MU2 is a fine aircraft with good flight characteristics if handled properly. In 2005 the FAA did a safety evaluation of the MU2 and found the aircraft was safe, if handled properly but mandated type specific initial and recurrent training for MU2 operators (Mitsubishi even went so far as to recommend the creation of a type rating for the aircraft). $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione May 22 '18 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Mitsubishi that the MU2 should require a type rating but apparently the FAA is satisfied with the section 108 training. It demands a pilot who can fly it by the numbers and react quickly and correctly should an engine loss occur at low altitude because it can bite when cornered..... $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione May 22 '18 at 0:36

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