March 3, 2020

Rob Lauer Political Reporter

The Nevada Department of Transportaiton (NDOT) just spent $14 million to purchase 2 new private jets for the State of Nevada. NDOT current operates a U.S. built Cessna Citation II and a turbo prop Aero Commander.

The new aircraft, a Pilatus PC-24, is built in Switzerland is raising eyebrows. NDOT is also purchasing a King Air 350. NDOT claims they are saving around $2 million in maintenance on the new planes. Only government spends $14 million to save $2 million.

The purchases were approved in the State Legislature without any opposition. But the issue of competitive bidding and purchasing a foreign built aircraft when there are comparable aircraft built in the U.S. has raised the attention of many lawmakers.

360 did some research and found that the PC-24 fuels costs, on average, are the same and the hourly costs were about the same as the U.S Built Citation CJ4. Both the PC-24 and the U.S. built Citation CJ4 use the same engine, the Williams International FJ44-4A. Its the Williams engines that deliver the bulk of the savings in terms of fuel and overhaul costs. BTW Williams has a program to refit NDOT’s current Citation II with new Williams engines for around $2 million.




Not to take anything away from the PC-24. Its 100 knots faster than NDOT’s current Citation jet, can land on dirt runways, can carry more baggage and fuel. But when NDOT’s typical mission is 500 mile flights, flying at 400 miles per hour vs. 500 miles per hour, the time savings is only 15 minutes.

Citation CJ4 costs about the same as the PC-24, but the Citation is faster, carries more baggage, has a longer range and is a proven U.S. built aircraft. The question is, should governments like the State of Nevada, buy American built products when possible, after all it’s your tax money?

BTW the brand new King Air the State purchased is built by the same company that sells the Citation CJ4. So it seems the State could have gotten a better deal buying two new aircraft from Textron Aviation rather than one.

Nevada is a huge sprawling state consisting or over 110,000 square miles. And the government needs a plane or two in order to get into towns with no airline services. They fly the NDOT plane all year caring not only the Governor but State of Nevada government employees across the state. But purchasing a foreign built $10 million “NEW” plane when there are U.S. manufactures with equivalent planes is just wrong. It’s wrong to use tax payer dollars and not support U.S. tax payers’ jobs. Frankly, the state shouldn’t be spending $14 million on new jets when our schools are falling apart and are dead last again for the 20th straight year.




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