Rank #1: 024 - The Cessna 210, ATC Privatization, Prebuy Test Flights + More!
This week, we’re back to single-engine aircraft with the Cessna 210, including some inside details from a recent prebuy. Then we talk about how you can help say NO to ATC privatization. Plus, lots of aircraft ownership news, the tip of the week about prebuy test flights, and your feedback.
More About the Cessna 210
The Cessna 210 has been out of production for more than three decades yet is still considered by many to be one of the best high-performance single-engine airplanes ever built. There were more than 9000 aircraft produced, many still flying today, with about 100 aircraft on the market today according to Controller, Trade-A-Plane and other listing sites. The Cessna 210 is a true high-performance 6-place retractable with pressurized, unpressurized, normally aspirated, and turbocharged options built between 1957 thru 1986.
There are more than 20 versions of the aircraft with a myriad of upgrades and improvements through the years. So if you’re thinking about getting a 210, it’s important to do your homework because each 210 model has different features, from number of seats to engines, gross weights, wings, and even fuselages. There are also a number of notable modifications available for the aircraft from O&N, RAM, Vitatoe, Crown Air, and more – from engines to avionics, even a turboprop conversion is available.
Until the Cessna 177 Cardinal RG was introduced in 1971, the 210 was Cessna’s only retractable-gear single-engine airplane. The first generation 210s were equipped with IO-470 260hp engines. They incorporated a fuselage from the 182 then added the beefier engines, new wings, retractable gear and a swept tail. Next, the 210 received another makeover, this time with a new fuselage, redesigned flaps and ailerons, a third cabin window, and a rear window, making the 210B model. Cessna also produced a fixed-gear version of this aircraft which eventually spawned the Cessna 206 and 207 family of aircraft.
Some minor changes were made to the 210C, but the 210D received a noticeable improvement in 1964—a Continental IO-520-A, 285 hp engine. More power means greater useful load and an increase in gross weight to 3,100 pounds. It’s also the first model with a total of 6 seats—two in the front, two in the back, and two child seats in the rear, and as far as I know, the first 210 model officially named the Centurion.
1966 brought another huge improvement to the airplane – turbocharging. The T210 was born featuring a TSIO-520-C engine giving 285 horsepower, making it a true competitor for cross-country IFR flying. 1967 brought yet another welcomed change, strutless wings found on the 210G and all subsequent models. Thus, the earlier 210s are easily distinguished from later models thanks to the big wing struts, similar to what we see on the Cessna 206. The 210G also featured another increase in gross weight, this time to 3,400 pounds. In 1968, the 210H was introduced, featuring an all new cockpit design and a new flap setup with a decrease in maximum flap range from 40 degrees, down to 30. Fuel capacity was also increased from 65 gallons to 95.
In 1969, more changes, this time found on the 210J models with a new nose cowling, reduced wing dihedral, and an IO-520-J engine, capable of 300 horsepower. In 1971, another noticeable change – a new landing gear and the first true six-seat airplane. The 210J featured a redesigned gear, taking away the complex gear doors and leaf-spring strut system and replacing it with a tubular system where the wheels tuck right into the belly—which gave room for the extra seats. The airplane was also taller and had a larger cabin with a single rear window and the improved IO-520-L engine, allowing for five continuous minutes of 300 horsepower, and other gross weight increase to 3,800 pounds.
Also, you should note that the turbocharged version 210s were produced in together with normally aspirated, so a T210J has the same features as the 210J, minus turbocharging.
From 1972-1976, the 210L was made. This model is distinguished from earlier models thanks to its front cowl landing light as well as three-bladed prop. It also had a beefier 24-volt electric system and engine-driven hydraulic pump replacing the old electric pump. There were also some minor aerodynamic improvements that gave the plane an extra 5-10 knots of airspeed. Through the late 70s into the 80s, the Cessna 210M was built featuring a 310 horsepower TSIO-520-R engine. Then came the 210N which got rid of the landing gears that covered the mains tucked away in the belly. But many earlier model 210s had the gear doors removed anyways due to maintenance problems... More on that later.
The last of the unpressurized 210s came in the form of the 210R, the rarest of the line with limited quantities produced between 1985 and 1986, which featured a wider-span horizontal stabilizer and increased fuel capacity to 120 gallons. Earlier models can be fitted with auxiliary tanks for increased fuel capacity.
From 1978-1983, things got interesting with the pressurized version of the 210. The P210N is essentially a T210N with four small windows on each side and two-piece windscreen making it easily distinguishable. It also had a TSIO-520-F 310-horsepower engine. It is also the model selected by Riley and O&N Aircraft for conversions to turbine engines. We’ve put a video on the turbine version in the show notes, but they’ve got a 450 horsepower Rolls Royce turboprop engine, with other performance mods, it could be up to 550 horse power, very cool stuff.
Going back to pistons, let’s talk performance... a T210 will cruise at about 195 knots, at more modest cruise power settings, you can travel about 900 nautical miles. Normally aspirated aircraft will burn between 14 and 16 gallons per hour at 75 percent power. The later 210s also have a useful load of about 1,675 pounds.
What about mods? I already mention the turboprop mods, but there are dozens of less-obvious mods available for the 210 including intercoolers, wing mirrors, fuel caps, landing gear doors, air vents, and engine upgrades.
While performance, useful load, and accommodations are important, the prudent 210 buyer will also think about maintenance, ADs and upkeep. The 210 is a big airplane, and complex, especially earlier models with the extremely cumbersome and often troublesome landing gear systems. In fact, according to AvWeb, 210s make up nearly 20 percent of all gear up landings, most of them mechanical failure. The gear doors on earlier 210s are known to be problematic, coupled with electrical and hydraulic components that make working on the gear challenging. Also, large engines such as the TCM 520 will likely need top-end overhauls before TBO. Also, earlier models produced 1982 are subject fuel vapor lock.
What about the wings? Well the fully cantilever wings have been subject to some issues, including an AD to inspect and if necessary replace wing spar caps, wing spar, and even the wing as they may be susceptible to cracking. Again, a thorough prebuy inspection will help you save a lot of money in the long run by finding these issues before you buy the airplane.
Jul 10 2017
Rank #2: 006 - Cessna 182, Cirrus SR22 + More!
Welcome to The Airplane Intel Podcast, the weekly General Aviation podcast for aircraft owners, operators, pilots and mechanics. We deliver practical advice, tips and strategies to make aircraft ownership simple, safe and cost effective.
This week Don and I are discussing the Cessna 182 and Cirrus SR22. I share insights about aircraft airworthiness and Don reveals the Tip of the Week. Plus general aviation news, fuel prices and your questions.
Feb 19 2017
Rank #3: 025 - The Piper Twin Comanche vs. Piper Seneca + More!
This week, we’re comparing the Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche to the Piper PA-34 Seneca thanks to a listener request. Then we talk about an update to mandatory service bulletin 05-8B and where to find the latest ADS-B out map from the FAA. Plus, aircraft ownership news, the tip of the week and a ton of your feedback about experimental aircraft.
Weighing Your Options: Piper Twin Comanche vs. Piper Seneca
If you’re looking for a reliable piston twin that is suitable for both business and personal travel, Piper has you covered with its line of light twins. Today’ we’re focusing on the PA-30 Twin Comanche and PA-34 Seneca. Now these two airplanes aren’t typically compared side-by-side... About the only things they have in common are two engines. However, some of you out there wanted to learn more about the both of these airplanes – and rightfully so because each has distinct pros and cons. And it’s not uncommon for someone in the light twin market to consider both aircraft at some point through their process of researching prospective aircraft.
Let’s start with the Twin Comanche, a 4-6 place light twin designed to replace the Piper Apache line. The Twin Comanche first flew in 1963 with about 2,200 produced until production stopped in 1972. As you might’ve guessed, the Twin Comanche is a twin-engine version of the Piper’s popular single-engine aircraft the PA-24 Comanche, which we covered in episode 20 with Dean Showalter. The Twin Comanche was first designated the PA-30 with several variants that eventually led to the PA-39 Twin Comanche C/R. The C/R stands for counter-rotating, which means the props spin in opposite directions. More on that later.
The Twin Comanche really isn’t a direct competitor with the Seneca. It’s more in line with the Beech Travel Air and Grumman GA-7 Cougar. Later models competed more with earlier Cessna 310s and Barons.
The original PA-30 Twin Comanche was equipped with two fuel injected IO-320-B1A engine producing about 160 horsepower per side with a 2000 hour TBO. These are four cylinder, horizontally opposed, direct drive engines. As most of you know, the 320 series engines are known for their reliability and relatively low operating costs – but surprisingly, these fuel-injected versions bring a lot of performance with them - somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 knots burning about 17 gallons per hour. The original aircraft is also a four-place airplane and can be easily distinguished from later models thanks to its 2 side windows. Believe it or not, the earlier models produced from 1963-1965 were available as bare-bone VFR day-only aircraft with a single vacuum pump. Better avionics and equipment were made available as an option, and can be IFR approved if equipped to Part 91 standards.
In 1965, the PA-30B was introduced. This airframe featured room for 6 and a third side window was added. The option list was greatly expanded to include wing tip tanks, which gave an extra 30 gallons fuel for a total about 120 gallons. STCs are available through Brittain Industries to equip earlier models with tip tanks as well.
But remember, these are early-to-mid 1960s airplanes; while many of the remaining airplanes have been modified, there are some aircraft with original panels still flying. According to AOPA, some of the issues to be mindful of with original panels are most of the toggle switches are identical and can be easily misidentified. Moreover, many of those panels have a shotgun instrument layout – the altimeter is in the bottom left corner and the DG is up where the attitude indicator normally lies.
Fortunately, many of the earlier model’s shortcomings were addressed in 1968 with the introduction of the PA-30C. With it came a new panel with a basic T instrument layout, new switches, added side panel for engine and magneto controls, and repositioned circuit breaker panel from inside the throttle quadrant to the right panel. Thanks to some engine adjustments such as the addition of beefier valves and valve guides, and better lubrication, the aircraft saw a few extra knots of cruise speed. Turbo normalized engines were also an option. There’s also an aftermarket option for a 200 horse power Lycoming.
In the early 1970s, The PA-30 became the PA-39 and featured counter-rotating propellers. This gives you the advantage of not having a critical engine, and reducing the yaw moment in the event of an engine-out situation, which for many light twins, losing the critical engine – the left engine – is a recipe for disaster. The PA-39 is available with both normally aspirated and turbocharged engines. The turbonormalized engines are the IO-320-C1A’s with Rayjay turbochargers. The turbo versions can be distinguished from normally aspirated engines in part to the vents on the sides of the engine nacelles. The Twin Comanche is equipped with a dual 12-volt DV electrical system with 50 amp generator. Main tanks can hold 30 gallons per side, with aux tanks in the outboard wings at 15 gallons per side. As I mentioned, the tip tanks add an additional 30 gallons. All in all, at a modest cruise setting, this is about a 5-hour airplane without tip tanks.
All variants have 160 horsepower, fuel injected engines mated to constant-speed props. Normally aspirated models have a gross weight of 3,600 pounds and the turbo version’s gross weight is 3,725 pounds. Useful load ranges from 1,300-1,393 pounds. Baggage capacity is about 250 pounds. Service ceiling ranges from 18,600 feet to FL250 on the turbo versions. Where the Twin Comanche falls short is in cabin comfort. Inside, cabin width is just 44 inches, and height is about 46 inches. Ingress and egress are also difficult with its single cabin door. It’s also a bit of a challenge to handle and it lands a bit flat and hard if speed and glide aren’t right.
On the other hand, the Piper Seneca has been in production since 1971. It has withstood the test of time as one of the last-remaining piston-powered twins still in production. And it has seen a lot of changes and improvements over the years. It’s a 6-place, light piston twin, and basically the multi-engine version of the Cherokee-Six. In fact, during initial testing, Piper placed two wing-mounted engines on a Cherokee-Six, testing the prototype with a total of three engines! But the first prototype Seneca’s weren’t Seneca’s at all – they were known as the Twin Six, with dual O-360 180 horsepower engines later designated the PA-34-180.
But the Seneca we all know today was first certified in 1971 and came standard with two 200 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-C1E6 engines. Actually, the right engine is the LIO-360 indicating a left-hand turning crankshaft, giving the airplane counter rotating props. It’s designated the Seneca I or more formally, the PA-34-200. It has a gross weight of 4,000 pounds with later models having a gross weight of 4,200 pounds.
The Seneca I had some handling issues. Piper fought back by introducing the new and improved Seneca II in 1975. The new airplane was equipped with turbocharged engines, namely the TSIO-360E engines, producing 200 horsepower a side. Turbocharging gave the airplane better performance for takeoff and climb as well as high-altitude cruising. It also allowed for another gross weight increase to 4,570 pounds. To tackle the handling complaints, Piper installed balanced ailerons, a stabiliator bob weight, and an anti-servo tab to the rudder. The Seneca II also featured some improvements to the cabin – namely the option for club seating.
In 1981, another version of the Seneca was introduced; you guessed it, the Seneca III. This time, engines were upgraded to 220 horsepower TCM TSIO-360-KB engines, which limited maximum horsepower output to five minutes. The Seneca III is easily distinguished from earlier models thanks to its one-piece windscreen. Moreover, the instrument panel was also updated and some later models featured a 28-volt electrical system and electric flaps. The increase in horsepower also brought another increase in gross weight, this time to 4,750 pounds.
In 1994, minor improvements were made to the Seneca, giving birth to the Seneca IV. Most notable, improved cabin and cockpit layout and streamlined engine cowlings for better performance.
Finally, the Seneca V came to be in 1996 and is still in production today. The aircraft has an all new cockpit design, including a number of switches relocated to an overhead panel. The engines were replaced with TSIO-360-RB engines which feature an intercooler. Gross weight remains at 4,750 pounds, but thanks to added equipment, the aircraft’s useful load is several hundred pounds less. The Seneca V also has options for de-ice equipment and air conditioning as well as flight instruments for the right seat. Depending on the year, you’ll find Seneca V’s with standard steam gauges, an Avidyne Entegra package, or Garmin G1000.
Some of the other nice features of the Piper Seneca is its wide cabin entrance door and of course roomy cabin. The cabin is about 49 inches wide, 42 inches high, and just over 8 feet long. Later models have a service ceiling of 25,000 feet, burning about 23-24 gallons per hour at 75% power. They’ll climb about 1,400 feet per minute and cruise in the neighborhood of the high 180s depending on power. With 128 gallons of fuel on later models, this gives you about 5 hours of endurance, or 800 miles with reserves.
Who is in the market for a light piston twin? Better yet, who is best suited for a light twin? Well, if you have been flying complex singles for some time and you’re ready to step up, a piston twin might be for you. You might even step up from a less complex airplane and go straight into a twin to build multi-engine time. Additionally, if you take your family or business associates on frequent short to medium range trips, you and your passengers will appreciate the added safety that two engines provide. Corporate operators and charter companies around the world have also found a lot of use for the Seneca. Either way, the light twin market is narrow – which is good for you because that means there’s a disproportionate relationship between supply and demand – bringing prices down making for good buys on both aircraft.
So, between the Twin Comanche and the Seneca, which is a better buy? That answer really lies in what your mission is and what your overall objectives are... With anything in life, there are tradeoffs. When compared side-by-side, the Twin Comanche is quieter and more efficient than its Seneca counterpart. But the Seneca is roomier, more modern, and parts are fairly easy to come by for all variants. Seneca’s also provide greater load carrying capability and performance compared to the relatively under-powered Twin Comanche. Moreover, Twin Comanche’s are aging, and there are limited numbers for sale. It probably goes without saying that a quality prebuy is a must on either airplane – especially when it comes to engine and airframe corrosion and AD compliance. You don’t want any surprises during your first annual, which with a twin, could cost you. Also, both aircraft types are commonly used in flight schools. So you’ll want to make sure the aircraft didn’t get too beat up.
If you’re still unsure which aircraft is best for you, it’s a good idea to grab a copy the POH to see the performance numbers for the ways you intend to fly and operate the aircraft. You can get a lot of manuals for free on internet. It’s also a great idea to fly both aircraft to see which one you’re more comfortable with.
Welcome to The Airplane Intel Podcast, the weekly General Aviation podcast for aircraft owners, operators, pilots and mechanics. We deliver practical advice, tips and strategies to make aircraft ownership simple, safe and cost effective.
Jul 31 2017
Rank #4: 038 - How to Buy a Single-Engine Airplane + More!
This week, Don talks about how to buy a single-engine airplane and gives his opinions on several makes and models based on some of the airplane prebuys we’ve done this year including the Beechcraft A36 Bonanza. Plus, aircraft ownership news, our upcoming seminar, and Don’s tip of the week.
Jan 28 2018
Rank #5: 010 - Piper PA-32 Series - The Cherokee Six, Lance and Saratoga
This week, we’re discussing the Piper PA-32 series aircraft including the Cherokee Six, Lance and Saratoga. Then we discuss some ways to reduce the overall costs of aircraft ownership and Don reveals the tip of the week. Plus, general aviation news, fuel prices and your questions.
Welcome to The Airplane Intel Podcast, the weekly General Aviation podcast for aircraft owners, operators, pilots and mechanics. We deliver practical advice, tips and strategies to make aircraft ownership simple, safe and cost effective.
If you enjoyed the show, please consider leaving us a rating or review! We would really appreciate it and it will help other like-minded aviation enthusiasts find the show faster.
Mar 26 2017
Rank #6: Bonanza Owner Interview | Airplane Intel Podcast Episode 62 | Aviation Podcast
In just a moment, we’re going to meet our guest Guy Cappuccino, the owner of a Beech Bonanza. I really think you guys are going to like Guy, he’s a very knowledgeable guy and is definitely an experienced airplane owner. He’s going to give us his perspective on owning a Bonanza as well as some tips relevant to all current and prospective airplane owners.
Apr 30 2019
Rank #7: 046 - Cessna 172 vs. Piper Cherokee vs. Beech Musketeer | Aviation Podcasts
This week, we’re back to single-engine land airplanes to compare the Cessna 172 with the Piper PA-28 Cherokee and Beechcraft Musketeer. Plus aircraft ownership news, Alphabet Soup, and Don’s Tip of the Week.
Jun 01 2018
Rank #8: 030 - TBM-700 vs. Piper Meridian + More!
This week, we’re talking about single-engine turboprops with a side-by-side comparison on the Socata TBM-700 to the Piper PA-46T Meridian. Then we introduce a new segment called the Alphabet Soup. Also, there’s a new AD out there that might affect your ELT. Plus, aircraft ownership news, Don’s Tip of the week, your feedback, and an aftershow.
Closer Look: TBM700 vs. Piper Meridian
If you’re looking for an upgrade in speed, range, and comfort from your high-performance piston such as a 210, Bonanza, Cirrus, or Saratoga, both aircraft will fit the bill. The TBM and Meridian may appear on your list of candidate aircraft because, as you might expect, they have a lot of similarities. For example, both aircraft feature a pressurized cabin with room for six, a low-wing design and a single Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engine bolted to the front end. However, the similarities really stop there. As we’re about to find out, each aircraft fits a different mission and is really intended to fill the needs of two different markets.
Let’s start with a quick background on each aircraft.
First the TBM-700. The 700 was the first of a new generation of single-single turboprop aircraft from Socata. It first flew in 1988 and was introduced to general aviation in 1990. As of the beginning of this year, 822 aircraft have been produced and delivered. While this aircraft has evolved into more sophisticated, higher performance variants such as the TBM-850, 900, 910, and 930 respectively, the later generation aircraft are outside the scope of this discussion. Why? Primarily because of price. A new TBM930 is a $4 million airplane, whereas an early model TBM 700 can be acquired for under $1 million. Now before we dive deep into the performance specs of this airplane, let’s put things into perspective with a brief history lesson.
You might be surprised to learn that the TBM-700 is the direct descendent of the Mooney 301, a prototype aircraft built by Mooney in the early 1980s. The Mooney 301 was designed to be a six-seat pressurized single-engine piston-powered airplane capable of flying 260 knots at flight level 250. If you’ve never heard of a Mooney 301 or seen pictures, visit the show notes. You’ll see a lot of similarities in design features between the TBM and this Mooney 301.
Unfortunately, the 301 never saw production following financial troubles and Mooney’s eventual acquisition by French owners. The now French-owned Mooney launched a joint venture with French manufacturer Socata called TBM International. To this day, the “M” in TBM stands for Mooney. The team’s objective was to develop a larger turboprop version of the Mooney 301 to be called the TBM-700. Designers and engineers began working on the aircraft with several priorities in mind: speed, performance, and reliability. I would say they got it right—the “700” in TBM-700 stands for the 700 shaft horsepower PT-6 engine bolted to the front end. However, the partnership between Socata and Mooney did not last long. In May of 1991, Mooney withdrew from the program leaving Socata as the primary company involved in the project.
Upon entry into service in 1990, the TBM was the first production single-engine turboprop on the market, and still among the fastest turboprop airplanes in the sky. During the first few years of production, the TBM was a big hit among owner-pilots, corporate flight departments, and charter operators alike. However, the aircraft did not have good maintenance or parts support in the United States. Socata recognized their shortcomings and intervened. After listening to customers, Socata decided to invest in building company-owned maintenance support facilities and a network of parts distributors in the United States. As a result, TBM-700 sales increased dramatically.
While I’ve also mentioned the subsequent TBM models that followed the 700, there are actually a number of variants and configurations of the 700. The first model was the 700A, which had a gross weight of 6,579 lbs, seating for up to seven, range of about 1,300 nautical miles, and a cruise speed of 290 knots. The aircraft featured a Pratt and Whitney PT6-64 engine, capable of, you guessed it, 700 shaft horsepower.
Next came the 700B. The most obvious change to this aircraft was the large cabin entrance door that replaced the smaller entrance door found on many jets. The new entrance door is significantly larger – in fact, it resembles more of a cargo door than a passenger entrance door. Nevertheless, the new addition was a smart one – every subsequent TBM model now has this door. Other improvements made to the 700B include an increase in zero fuel weight and a nicer cabin.
Next came the 700C1, which featured minor improvements such as the addition of an unpressurized cargo compartment and new air conditioning system. Then came the 700C2 with an increase in maximum takeoff weight from 6,579 lbs to 7,394 lbs. Finally, the 700N was produced which later became known as the TBM-850 featuring a flat-rated 850 shaft horsepower PT6-66D engine.
As far as construction, the TBM is primarily a traditional metal airplane with tail surfaces constructed out of composite honeycomb. The flaps are another interesting talking point. They consume nearly 80% of the wing’s trailing edge. These wide-span fowler flaps help get the aircraft’s stall speed down to an impressive 65 knots. Roll control is still more than adequate despite their small span thanks to the implementation of roll spoilers on the upper surface of each wing.
As far as systems and avionics, the earlier TBM feature a Bendix EFIS system. Most aircraft have been upgraded to Garmin GPS navigators such as the 530 and 530 WAAS. The fuel, ice protection, and environmental systems were designed to be simple and mostly autonomous – even the fuel selector automatically switches tanks to keep you balanced.
While it’s possible to get into an early-model TMB-700 in the mid $700,000 range, but the average price for these aircraft is still in the $1.6 million range. What do you get for that sort of investment? Well, you get a full-seats range of about 975 nautical miles with useful fuel of about 274 gallons, average block speed of about 280 knots, and fuel consumption of about 50-55 gallons per hour. You can fly up to 31,000 feet with a full-fuel useful load of about 640 pounds. The cabin is ten feet long, four feet wide, and just over four feet tall giving about 143 cubic feet of room. You also have 35 cubic feet of internal baggage space and an additional five feet externally. Not to mention a gorgeous cabin fit for a King – or a queen. And the pressurization system on these aircraft is quite good, giving you a 2,500 foot cabin at 18,000 feet and an 8,000 foot cabin at FL300, with a max delta of 6.2 psi.
TBM owners can also join the TBM owner club TBMOPA for great support, documents, and training resources. And speaking of training, like any high-performance airplane, training is a must! In fact most insurance companies will deny coverage unless you’re instrument rated and attend initial and recurrent training on the aircraft from a reputable organization such as Simcom.
Obviously the TBM is a lot of airplane for the money. But what about ownership costs? Well 700 shaft horsepower provides a lot of speed, but for a price. I already mentioned fuel burn is around 55 gallon per hour for typical cruise altitudes in the mid-20s at maximum cruise power. Obviously this is an average figure that is subject to change based on outside temperatures and weight. At lower power settings, you can see about 46 gallons per hour. For long-range cruise, you can expect about 240 knots burning only 35 gallons per hour At $5 per gallon, fuel burn will run you between $175 and $275 per hour. Moreover, 700 horsepower doesn’t come cheap in terms of maintenance, either. Depending on inspection programs, the PT6-64 has a TBO of either 3,000 or 3,500 hours, and the cost for an overhaul is about $400,000 which comes out to about $115 per hour in engine reserves. On average you can expect to budget for about $40,000 per year in maintenance, with a total variable cost of about $234,000 per year. If you fly 300 hours a year you can expect to see about $700 per hour in variable costs. Additionally, new paint and interior can run about $50K.
Shifting gears to the Meridian, we already covered the Piper Meridian in episode 004, and it’s little brother the Malibu in episode 002. So if you’re interested in a more detailed look at the Meridian, have a listen. But here’s what you need to know: The Piper Meridian is a turboprop variant of Piper’s PA-46 Malibu. Introduced in 1997, the Meridian is a 6-place pressurized high-performance single-engine turboprop equipped with a Pratt PT6-42A engine producing 500 shaft horsepower. Officially designated the PA-46T-500, the aircraft can fly 260 knots for up to 1,000 nautical miles. Like the TBM, the Meridian has undergone a myriad of improvements over the years including subsequent models with upgraded avionics and increases in power.
Now let’s compare these aircraft side-by-side to see which one meets your needs. When it comes to choosing an airplane – whether it’s a single-engine piston pusher or a jet, it all comes down to what you need the airplane to do and which airplane can do the job most effectively. For this comparison, we’ll look at an early-model TBM700B and a circa 2000 model Meridian. Both aircraft can be acquired for about $750,000, both aircraft have 6 seats, and both can fly at 30,000 feet for close to five hours.
The TBM has a cabin volume of 140 cubic feet where the Meridian comes in at 120. Pressurization in the TBM is also slightly better at 6.0 psi where the Meridian has a 5.5 psi system giving you a slight increase in cabin altitude in the Meridian. Speed clearly goes to the TBM with 200 extra ponies out front for a maximum cruise speed of 292 knots true compared to the Meridian’s 260. However, that speed really does come at a price. The TBO on the TBM’s -64 engine costs about $400K to overhaul, giving us an engine reserve of $115 per hour where the Meridian’s -42A is half that for a reserve rate of about $56 per hour.
The TBM has a gross weight of 6,500 pounds compared to the Meridian just shy of 5,000. The TBM wins again in the useful load category – 2,554 pounds with a full fuel payload of 699 pounds. On the other hand, the Meridian’s useful load is 1,490 pounds with a payload of 350 pounds. And speaking of fuel, the TBM has room for 280 gallons compared the Meridian at just 170. Fuel burn for the TBM is 50-55 gallons per hour on average, where the Meridian is right at about 42 gallons per hour. That means the Meridian is about 26% better on fuel for just a 12% loss in speed compared to the TBM. You can expect to spend about $0.97 per nautical mile on the TBM compared to about $0.83 per mile on the Meridian. In car speak, the TBM gets around 5.5 nautical miles per gallon (NMPG) compared to the Meridian at 6.5. However, if you need to get in and out of shorter strips, the TBM has the Meridian beat. According to the book, the TBM only needs 2,034 feet to clear a 50 foot obstacle in normal conditions. The Meridian would need 2,775 feet for the same runway. Landing distance is also marginally better on the TBM.
Finally, avionics are different for both aircraft. The current generation of both airplanes come standard with the Garmin G1000 package, but in the earlier-generation aircraft that we’re talking about aren’t as sophisticated. All TBM-700s come standard with a Bendix two-tube EFIS where the earlier Meridians had either a Meggitt EFIS system with Bendix radar, GNS530s and either an STEC 550 or Meggitt 1500 autopilot. Models between 2006 and 2010 were equipped with a fully glass Avidyne Entegra package. Both the TBM and the Meridian can be retrofitted with upgraded avionics such as Garmin’s G600 and GTN650/750s, which also reduces weight and improves useful load.
What about ADs? Well, like any production airplane, there are ADs. Both aircraft have a number of ADs that you’re going to want to watch out for including recurring ADs. And by the way, when calculating your annual ownership costs, be sure to include the cost of complying with recurring ADs and scheduled inspections. You can budget that in as part of your hourly costs or simply include it as a fixed expense. Most AD notes that come from the FAA include a ballpark figure for complying with the AD. While it’s not 100% accurate, it does help by giving you a starting point. Finally, remember that all aircraft are to be evaluated on condition – meaning that the overall condition, value, airworthiness, and inspection status of every aircraft is different. You can get a head start of what to watch out for by going to the FAA.gov website and searching for service difficulty reports and special airworthiness information bulletins. These items will give you some idea of what to look for when looking at an airplane. Of course, we can help you navigate through all that stuff as well.
So which aircraft should you choose? That really depends on what you need the airplane to do, your list of priorities (i.e. avionics set up, speed, costs, performance, range, and useful load), and the price you’re willing to pay. Yes, you’re going to go a bit faster in the TBM and cover more distance in slightly more comfort, but you can expect to pay up to twice as much for such conveniences. In this instance, each aircraft has its pros and cons. Bottom line is the Meridian is a more efficient and cost-effective airplane for most owner-flown mission profiles. In fact, the Meridian is the least expensive out of all the production single-engine turboprops on the market – and you can get one for less than many newer piston singles. That said, it is up to you to do your homework or enlist the expertise of someone to do it for you so you can be sure you get the airplane that best meets your needs and fits your budget.
Oct 09 2017
Rank #9: 032 - The Cessna Cardinal, 1090ES, Aircraft Polish + More | Airplane Intel Podcast
Nov 13 2017
Rank #10: Ep 016 - The Beechcraft Musketeer
Today, we discuss the Beechcraft Mustketeer, a great alternative to other four place aircraft such as the Cessna 172, 177 Cardinal, Cherokee, and Arrow with airline dispatcher, podcaster, and Musketeer owner Mike Karrels. We also touch on what its like to own a share of an airplane. Plus, general aviation news, the tip of the week, and your feedback.
The Beechcraft Musketeer, Model A23-19, 19A, and 24 is a family of four place single engine aircraft. These aircraft are a great alternative to your typical 4-place light singles such as the Cessna 172 and Cardinal as well as the Cherokee. Derived from its bigger brother the Bonanza, the Beechcraft Musketeer was meant to enter the market as a more affordable option to prospective aircraft owners. Production started in 1963 and ended in 1983. While there are fewer Musketeers in the market, many are more affordable than the much more available 172s and Cherokees. This may be due to the classic demand curve—demand is relatively low for the Musketeer than the Skyhawk which has driven the prices down. Generally speaking, the aircraft has an empty weight of 1375 pounds, gross weight of 2400, giving it a useful load of about 1,000 pounds. It’s a great airplane for short hops and has a range of about 600nm. The Beech Musketeer family of airplanes includes the Musketeer, Musketeer Sport, Super III, Sierra and higher-performance variant Sundowner. Earlier models are equipped with a 160 horse power Lycoming O-320-D2B engine while others are equipped with a Continental IO-346, an engine that has proven to be a bit of a pain and today support for these engines is hard to come by. To fix the problem, Beech equipped subsequent aircraft with the O-360 for 180hp. A total of 4,366 aircraft were produced over its 20 year production life with many still flying today.
May 14 2017
Rank #11: 042 - The Pros and Cons of Aircraft Ownership + More | Airplane Intel Podcast
We’re kicking off our new mini-series on how to buy an airplane. This week, the pros and cons of aircraft ownership and how to define your mission so you can get the right airplane for you. Plus, our Sun n Fun 2018 meet up and a new AD affecting some Cessna airplanes.
Apr 10 2018
Rank #12: 015 - Glass Cockpits + More with Max Trescott
Today, we’re talking with Max Trescott, famous flight instructor, glass cockpit and Cirrus expert, author, consultant, and podcaster about glass cockpits and the Cirrus. Plus, general aviation news, the tip of the week and your feedback.
Apr 30 2017
Rank #13: 058 - Aviation Tax Matters for Aircraft Owners
This week we speak with an aviation accountant to get inside information on tax-related matters for airplane owners, buyers, and sellers. We’ll cover both ends of the transaction, write offs, depreciation and much more. If you’re an aircraft owner, or thinking about buying or selling one, you won’t want to miss this!
Our Guest Sue Folkringa - CPA, MTax, ATP | Aviation “Taxologist”
Sue Folkringa is a Certified Public Accountant and has been Wolcott & Associates, P.A.’s resident “Aviation Taxologist” since 2008. She is a licensed pilot and proud owner-pilot of a Piper Comanche aircraft and flies gliders in her spare time. Sue completed her Masters of Taxation from Florida Atlantic University in 2015, and also holds a MBA - Accounting and Finance and a BBA - Accounting from Grand Valley State University.
Sue is a member of NBAA and serves on their Tax Committee. She also serves on Florida Aviation Business Associations (FABA) Board of Directors, and is a member of AOPA, EAA, AIPCA, FICPA, SFBAA and CalCPA.She is a frequent presenter at NBAA Tax Conferences, AOPA Summits and other industry events.No stranger to public speaking, Sue also co-presents the Wolcott & Associates aviation tax webinars which feature topics that address financial and tax issues relative to aircraft owners, operators, financial and legal professionals.
Nov 20 2018
Rank #14: 017 - The Beechcraft 58 Baron + More
Today we’re back to piston twins, and in this edition, we discuss the Beechcraft Baron with podcaster and Pressurized Baron owner David Fill. Plus, general aviation news, the tip of the week and your feedback.
Our Guest David Fill
David is the owner of a 1983 Beechcraft 58 P-Baron and the host of the Airplane Owners Podcast. David is also the owner of an aviation consulting firm and a corporate King Air B100 pilot. David is an active member of the AOPA, EAA, and NBAA. When he's not flying, you can find David spending time with his family or training for his next marathon.
Get in touch with David on Twitter @DavidFill
Listen to David's Podcast, the Airplane Owners Podcast on iTunes
The Beechcraft Baron
The Beechcraft Baron started life on February 29, 1960 with its maiden flight. The Baron is a derivative of the Travel Air, a twin variant of the original bonanza. Production started in 1961 and it is one of the last remaining twins still in production today. To date, there have been over 6,700 produced. The Baron was designed to compete with the already successful Cessna 310 and Piper Aztec as a true high-performance twin.
As Don alluded to, the Baron has a lot of history between 1960 to today. The first Baron was the model 55. It was equipped with two IO-470s, a 6 cylinder fuel injected engine producing 260 hp. Production started in 1961. The 55 had the swept stabilizer of the Debonair with the cabin of the Travel Air.
Now the Baron has two major variants – the 55 and the 58. The 55 has a shorter fuselage than the 58 and each model has a variety of sub models with refinements and improvements along the way. Beechcraft dubbed model enhancements with letters A-E preceding the model number for the 55. For example, the E (as in echo) 55 Baron, introduced in 1970 is the most refined of the 55 series. It had up to six seats, a new paint scheme, a more ergonomic cockpit, flush wing tip lights, and could hold up to 172 gallons of fuel.
Now there is actually a Baron model between the 55 and the 58 called the 56TC, a modified Baron 55 with 380hp Lycoming TIO-541 engines. Limited numbers of these aircraft were built, less than 100, as the airplane was really designed as a test platform for those beefy engines, later to be used on the Duke.
The 58 Baron was introduced in 1969 as a larger, more capable aircraft – a logical next step up for 55 owners. It had club seating, dual aft baggage doors and an increase in gross weight of up to 5,400 lbs. The plane had a pair of Continental IO-520 or 550 engines, capable of 300 hp and 200 kts @ 7,000 feet.
In 1976, turbocharging and pressurization became available on the Baron 58TC and 58P respectively. Equipped with the turbocharged version of the IO-520, each engine could produce between 310 and 325 hp. As a result, the aircraft saw a huge increase in gross weight, up to 6,200 lbs. The aircraft could fly up to 220 kts @ FL200 and could carry about 190 gallons on fuel. The 58 TC and 58P were discontinued in 1984 and 1985 respectively.
In 1984, huge changes were made to the Baron’s cockpit – gone are the days of the old throw over yoke and dual control arm as they were replaced with the standard yoke set up. This change also meant changing the position of the engine controls as well as gear and flap handles.
Today, the 58 Baron is still in production with normally aspirated engines and glass cockpit which was introduced in 2005 and dubbed the G58 Baron.
May 21 2017
Rank #15: 029 - The Cessna 310 w/ Owner/Pilot Art Billingsley, 3 Tips for More Speed + More!
This week, we interview Arthur Billingsley, the pilot and owner of a 1974 Cessna 310Q. Together, we’ll get the inside scoop on what it’s like to own, maintain, and manage a piston twin. Then I share some ideas for getting more performance from your airplane. Plus, aircraft ownership news, Don’s Tip of the week and your feedback.
Sep 19 2017
Rank #16: 055 - INTERVIEW: The most reasonable piston single? | Airplane Intel Podcast | Aviation Podcasts
Today we interview the owner of a popular single-engine Cessna. We’ll dive into a variety of topics including the purchase process, airplane ownership costs, maintenance and lessons learned.
Our Guest Mitch Schneringer:
Mitch lives out west near Omaha, NE. After many years away from flying, he began private pilot training in October 2017, and in December of that year, he purchased his 1971 Cessna 150L. He completed his private training earlier this year and has accumulated about 110 hours on his plane. He’s now in the early stages of his instrument training and hoping to get a tailwheel endorsement in the near future. Mitch is a very interesting guy; I think you’ll enjoy his stories, insights, and advice about aircraft ownership.
Oct 14 2018
Rank #17: 060 - How to Start a Flying Club + More | Airplane Intel Podcast | Aviation Podcasts
This week, thanks to several listener requests, we find out how to start and manage a flying club with an exclusive interview. We discuss it all – from start up, growth, day-to-day operations, aircraft maintenance, and how to use technology to streamline operations. Plus, the pros and cons of leasing your airplane to a flying club.
Our Guests Carson Lee & Matt Smith
Carson is the owner of Turbine Aircraft Logistics, an aircraft management company specializing in the Daher TBM line of turboprop aircraft. Carson also acts as the operations manager for the Orlando Aviators Flying Club, an Orlando Executive Airport based flying club with 130 members, and serves as the chairman of the board of advisors for the Orlando Executive Airport. Carson has been flying for over 16 years with 7500 hours of logged flight time, holds a degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, holds an airline transport pilot certificate, is a flight instructor, and also an airframe and powerplant mechanic with inspection authorization. Carson is also the creator and developer of FlyingClub.app, an innovative way to start and manage a flying club.
Matt Smith is a 53-year old professional pilot living near Sanford, FL with his wife and two kids. Originally from Ohio, Matt graduated from Miami University and began flying in 1988. He’s held a number of positions as an aviator including flight instructor, freight pilot, corporate pilot, and airline pilot. After retiring from American Airlines as a Captain, Matt began flying a Challenger 300 corporate jet. In 2008, he purchased the Orlando Aviation Flying Club in Orlando, Florida. To date, the club has over 130 members and five aircraft.
Jan 15 2019
Rank #18: 034 - The Beech Debonair and how to buy an airplane + more!
In this episode, Don is flying solo! He discusses the Beechcraft Bonanza and Debonair. Then, he talks about the process of buying an airplane and what to expect during the pre-purchase inspection. Plus, Don’s tip of the week about preparing your airplane for the winter months and your feedback.
Dec 16 2017
Rank #19: 045 - How To Select The Right Airplane + More
In this episode we continue our ongoing series about how to buy an airplane. This time we discuss how to research the market and select an airplane that meets your mission, budget, and other requirements. Plus aircraft ownership news and Don’s Tip of the Week.
May 15 2018
Rank #20: 052 - Owning an Experimental Airplane | Airplane Intel Podcast | Aviation Podcast
This week we interview the owner of an experimental Glasair II to find out what it’s like to own, fly, and maintain an experimental airplane. If you’re considering getting an experimental airplane, you’ll want to hear this one! And you won’t want to miss the unusual, yet awe-inspiring story of how he came to own this cross-country cruiser.
Our Guest Austin Bowman
Austin's passion for Aviation began during early childhood when his father built a homebuilt aircraft in his family's garage. Spending a majority of his childhood fully immersed in general aviation, he earned his pilots license during high school and has since flown 44 different models of airplanes and helicopters accruing 5,000 flying hours.
Today Austin is a flight instructor and test pilot in the US Army having flown several rotor and fixed wing aircraft with multiple oversees assignments and combat deployments. Austin continues to share his passion for General Aviation as a CFI, CFII, and MEI. In 2018 he purchased the Glasair II built by his father in their family home 30 years ago. He has a Bachelor's of Science in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and will be retiring from the military in 5 years to become an Aviation entrepreneur.
Aug 28 2018