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View Full Version : Looking at buying a light twin


AbortAbortAbort
03-29-2011, 07:02 PM
My wife and I have been somewhat looking at aircraft ownership again. We had a Cherokee we sold off this past September...fun aircraft for us to go fly around aimlessly and her to learn in, but not a lot of practical application.

I'm interested in a twin this time around. We'll both be flying it, so it's gotta be comfortable for people up front from 5'5" to 6'0". I'm more interested in a six seater with a back door just for the additional space and that we could take four real people.

Almost all of our flying would be less than 300 nm one way, and it'd be flown probably two to three times a week (personal and some flying for her company). Not looking to spend more than $150K after purchase and avionics overhaul, absolutely $200K max all in.

Some of the planes we've looked into so far:
Baron: seems to burn way too much gas for the size
Duchess: quite a bit of time in one, not too impressed with it, but never flown one that wasn't a trainer.
310: flown them, they drink the fuel.
Cabin class Cessnas: I love the looks and have enjoyed what time I've had in them in the past, even with the high fuel flow. I think they could be a good plane for her business clients, but seems awfully big for personal usage.
Navajos: again, like the looks, but have no time in them, no experience with them, and I think any of them under 200K, while available, might be lacking.
Senecas: Good friend of mine owns a Saratoga, so a Seneca would be somewhat familiar in that aspect. Don't know how the fuel burn is on them, but they look like pretty solid planes (at least the ones that weren't trainers).
Twin Comanches: Seem pretty cheap and fuel burn on them seems excellent. More curious about the performance and maintenance since again I have no experience with that type.


Thank you guys for any help you can provide.


PW305
03-29-2011, 07:13 PM
I remember getting a Seneca II down to 16 gph total with GAMIjectors... but we weren't going very fast! If I remember correctly plan on low 20's for total fuel burn.

What about a good P210 if you're concerned about fuel costs and still wanna go somewhere?

AbortAbortAbort
03-29-2011, 07:30 PM
Thanks PW305. 20s isn't bad. I've heard that the Barons can push high 30s total though, which seems fairly ridiculous when a cabin class doesn't run too much more than that.

I wouldn't mind a single, but I definitely want something fairly large. If you've got any time in a short body Cherokee you know how miserable they can be. Not to mention hot in the Texas summers.


e5casey
03-29-2011, 07:32 PM
Flew a Seneca II around on a pretty good amount of x/c flights in the range your talking about. Burned way too much fuel for the speed we saw. Had numerous AD's as well.

featheredprop
03-29-2011, 07:49 PM
I have an IO 360 ( same as Seneca ) in my plane and the cam sits above the oil sump Engine is suceptable to spalling if left unused . Also make sure that you get oil temp up to at least 180 degrees in winter . I am able to get 8 GPH out of my IO360 as the stock fuel injectors are well tuned at Lycoming when the engine is made EGT and CHT temps shoud be monitored but I get 8 gph running 25 degrees Lean of peak and as such CHT and EGT are lower than when run at peak or richer than peak . I like the seneca personally and as you state it will get plenty of flight time so spalling should not be an issue ( GET A BORO SCOPE INSPECTION OF CAM LOBES AT THE PRE BUY TO CONFIRM THE CAM IS HEALTHY !!) The systems on the seneca make it a safe plane to fly with the emergency gear extension procedure,dual gens , aux fuel pumps and dual vacuum pumps.. It also can move !

TonyWilliams
03-30-2011, 10:25 AM
Disclaimer: I've operated/owned two different Beech Barons.

1. Baron: seems to burn way too much gas for the size.

You can operate those engines from about 10gph to 15gph. Actually, I think I've gone up to 19gph, and about 207kts.

15gph - 190kts
12.5gph - 175kts
10gph - 150kts

You have a wide range of speeds and fuel burns. I'm 6'2", and that is about the max height I would recommend. Most of the short body Barons are cheaper to buy, faster, and have a large rear baggage door, plus 300 pound storage in the nose. The Baron is still in production, good fuel efficiency for its class, has lots of aftermarket parts available, built strong, looks great.

My 520 powered short body Baron had a 10,000ft single engine ceiling. Lots of Barons for under $200k. Stretch body Barons have really big double doors for cargo / people in the back, and would probably be better for clients.

You can add electric powered air conditioning to the Baron for about $30,000. Maybe cheaper, in this market. Or buy one with it.

Duchess: quite a bit of time in one, not too impressed with it, but never flown one that wasn't a trainer.

These are toys or trainers, and not serious traveling machines. Kind of like buying a scooter for cross country travel. Most seem thrashed, too. Out of production. Built cheaply. Grossly underpowered. Single engine in terrain.... well, good luck. Also, slow. I can go that slow in a Baron, at a similar fuel burn.

310: flown them, they drink the fuel.

Well, a turbocharged plane, as many 310's are, is a whole 'nother class. Your costs on this plane per hour will more than a Baron. No piston twins are in production at Cessna, nor have they been for decades. It does have a bigger cabin that a Baron.

Navajos: again, like the looks, but have no time in them, no experience with them, and I think any of them under 200K, while available, might be lacking.

I think these planes are fine. Just slower / less efficient than a Baron. And look like a potato with wings. But, lots of guys like them. Not in production.


Senecas: Good friend of mine owns a Saratoga, so a Seneca would be somewhat familiar in that aspect. Don't know how the fuel burn is on them, but they look like pretty solid planes (at least the ones that weren't trainers).


I like the big access doors on the Seneca. Great for clients, and similar in concept to the stretch body Baron. But with teeny, tiny engine. 360 cubic inches, versus 470 to 550 cubic inches on a Baron. Wonder what the single engine ceiling is on them?

Plus, that engine is a bit of an odd ball. A small bore 6 cylinder. That's not good or bad, just an observation.

Twin Comanches: Seem pretty cheap and fuel burn on them seems excellent. More curious about the performance and maintenance since again I have no experience with that type.

I got my multi in this plane 20 years ago. Very efficient, like the Baron, just at slower speeds. Hard to get into (but so is a Baron in the Front seats), teeny, tiny cabin.

Uses more conventional 4 cylinder Lycoming 320 engine, with FUEL INJECTION. Some of these other antique airplanes might be with carbs.

I would vote this WORST for clients. Crappy single engine, like the Dutchess.

ToiletDuck
03-30-2011, 03:02 PM
My wife and I have been somewhat looking at aircraft ownership again. We had a Cherokee we sold off this past September...fun aircraft for us to go fly around aimlessly and her to learn in, but not a lot of practical application.

I'm interested in a twin this time around. We'll both be flying it, so it's gotta be comfortable for people up front from 5'5" to 6'0". I'm more interested in a six seater with a back door just for the additional space and that we could take four real people.

Almost all of our flying would be less than 300 nm one way, and it'd be flown probably two to three times a week (personal and some flying for her company). Not looking to spend more than $150K after purchase and avionics overhaul, absolutely $200K max all in.

Some of the planes we've looked into so far:
Baron: seems to burn way too much gas for the size
Duchess: quite a bit of time in one, not too impressed with it, but never flown one that wasn't a trainer.
310: flown them, they drink the fuel.
Cabin class Cessnas: I love the looks and have enjoyed what time I've had in them in the past, even with the high fuel flow. I think they could be a good plane for her business clients, but seems awfully big for personal usage.
Navajos: again, like the looks, but have no time in them, no experience with them, and I think any of them under 200K, while available, might be lacking.
Senecas: Good friend of mine owns a Saratoga, so a Seneca would be somewhat familiar in that aspect. Don't know how the fuel burn is on them, but they look like pretty solid planes (at least the ones that weren't trainers).
Twin Comanches: Seem pretty cheap and fuel burn on them seems excellent. More curious about the performance and maintenance since again I have no experience with that type.


Thank you guys for any help you can provide.

Cessna 414. Lighter on MX without the geared engines, plenty of room for pax and comfortable. You can find them in great condition for your price range so long as they don't have the latest and greatest avionics. I recently appraised one that was in incredible condition, use to be owned by an AA pilot, and it came in right at $200k and that was with the RAM modified engines.

TonyWilliams
03-30-2011, 03:22 PM
Yes, 414 is great for all the reason you quote. Just VERY expensive to operate, compared to a Baron. But also more capable in many areas. Big cabin is wonderful, but of course, you pay for that in cruise speed / fuel burn.

414 is pressurized and turbocharged. Not exactly cheap. There are non-pressurized cabin Cessna's, like the 335, although fairly rare.

340's have smaller cabin, but aren't necessarily cheaper, and certainly not any cheaper to operate than a 414 (still pressurized and turbo'd).

This guy wants to travel regularly. With $6-$8/gallon gas, I'm going to guess he'd like to do that as economically as can complete the mission. Cessna 414 will not have good fuel economy compared to Baron or Twin Commanche.

Grumble
03-30-2011, 03:41 PM
For the class you're looking for, trust me when I say that the meager performance increase does not justify the operating cost and upkeep. My old man and I looked at going in on a twin together. Everything from a T-bone to a Baron. When you really look at the numbers vs performance, especially at todays fuel prices... it's just not there. Which is why twin values have plumeted.

AbortAbortAbort
03-30-2011, 04:01 PM
The Baron looks like a solid plane from talking to you Tony, I appreciate all your input.

I think the cabin class twins (Cessna or Piper) tend to be somewhat of a pipe dream for us...could be cool to own, affordable to purchase, but probably bigger than what we really need and want the plane for. Considering that maybe half of our flying might involve passengers, and rarely more than two, and rarely clients who would actually care about the size, I just don't see a cost to benefit for it.

The 310 is somewhat of an oddball I think in that it's a bit bigger than some other planes (you can somewhat squeeze between the seats to move around), but the fact that you have to climb onto the wing, then in, then to the back if you're riding back there sort of turns me off. I did my multi and MEI training in a 310 and really enjoyed flying it but if the maintenance record of the one I did my training in was about average it's probably one I should avoid.

What about Twin Commanders? I would imagine slow, but I know zero about them.


Grumble, what did you guys settle on, if anything?

FlyFast310
03-30-2011, 05:18 PM
Why does it have to be a twin? It sounds like for your mission you need a Bonanza A36. It has the big barn doors in back, and won't cost as much as a baron to operate.

Grumble
03-30-2011, 05:25 PM
What about Twin Commanders? I would imagine slow, but I know zero about them.


Grumble, what did you guys settle on, if anything?

Twin commander is a great airplane, but a pig airspeed wise. Again fuel will ruin you.

We settled on going with two Van's RV's.

f16jetmech
03-30-2011, 06:00 PM
I have a friend with a b55 with the IO-470s. At econemy cruise at altitude an full gross: 162 TAS at 9.2 a side per hour. Not bad if you ask me. Bump it up to full power you're looking at 14 an hour or so at 185 TAS. Not worth the 10 gph if I'm paying.

GunnerV
03-31-2011, 07:33 AM
Why does it have to be a twin? It sounds like for your mission you need a Bonanza A36. It has the big barn doors in back, and won't cost as much as a baron to operate.

What he said.

rickair7777
03-31-2011, 07:45 AM
Yeah I'd go for the twin if you're doing over-water, or night/IMC in inhospitable terrain but otherwise you might consider a single.

Although with the price inversion right now the single is not going to be any cheaper to buy, you'll save on operations. How much you save save depends on how much you fly.

TonyWilliams
03-31-2011, 07:59 AM
The A36 Bonanza, or B36TC (which uses the Baron wing and a turbocharger) are both awesome planes, and nobody could argue that they won't do the mission as profiled. I'd probably pick the 36TC for west flying in the mountains, and the A36 for east of the Rocky Mountains.

They are virtually IDENTICAL to a Baron 58 series (except 58P), except without those redundancies that are so critical whilst overflying low visibility areas, mountains, at night, etc. Plus, clients will be more impressed (if that's important) with a Baron than a Bonanza.

If we're considering single engine planes, nobody said an SR-22. Whole airframe parachute, the same big Continental 550 engine that is available in the upgraded Bonanzas and Barons, the oldest one is only 10 years old, no corrosion / fatigue resisitent plastic airframe. It is only a 4 pax plane, and it won't have big barn doors in the rear for loading. Sexy swing up doors on both sides (unlike Baron/Bonanza and most GA planes, except Cessna light singles).

Here's a 2004 SR22 for just under $200k, with 17 for sale now on Trade a Plane:

http://www.trade-a-plane.com/detail/Single+Engine+Piston/2004/Cirrus/SR22-G2/988358.html

TonyWilliams
03-31-2011, 08:21 AM
Single vs Twin is a perennial debate. According to 100LL - Aviation Fuel Prices (http://www.100ll.com/), gas is about $5.50/gal now. Not that many years ago, it was under $2. I think we all know it won't get cheaper.

Any of the non-turbo big bore airplanes you're considering can operate at 12.5gph, so $68/hr. Double for a twin.

Insurance can be much more for a twin of comparable hull value (too many amateur pilots seem to have bad days in them).

Maintenance for a Baron vs Bonanza, comparable until engine overhaul time. Then, obviously, that's double. Ramps charge a small premium to park a twin.

If you're a pro-pilot, and really want to go when you want to go (day/night/wx/mountains), and the single biggest cost increase comparing the Bo/Baron is fuel is not a huge problem, I'd still go with a Baron.

You won't care how much money you saved when that single fan quits on you. (note: I've owned a few singles, and had great times in them)

ToiletDuck
03-31-2011, 08:33 AM
The Baron looks like a solid plane from talking to you Tony, I appreciate all your input.

I think the cabin class twins (Cessna or Piper) tend to be somewhat of a pipe dream for us...could be cool to own, affordable to purchase, but probably bigger than what we really need and want the plane for. Considering that maybe half of our flying might involve passengers, and rarely more than two, and rarely clients who would actually care about the size, I just don't see a cost to benefit for it.

The 310 is somewhat of an oddball I think in that it's a bit bigger than some other planes (you can somewhat squeeze between the seats to move around), but the fact that you have to climb onto the wing, then in, then to the back if you're riding back there sort of turns me off. I did my multi and MEI training in a 310 and really enjoyed flying it but if the maintenance record of the one I did my training in was about average it's probably one I should avoid.

What about Twin Commanders? I would imagine slow, but I know zero about them.


Grumble, what did you guys settle on, if anything?

Maybe you should just look at getting yourself a V tail Bonanza. Good performance, lower upkeep, lower operating cost, and still room for what you've mentioned.

Ottopilot
03-31-2011, 08:45 AM
A Cessna 303 might give you what you want within the price range.

Cubdriver
03-31-2011, 08:50 AM
VRef is the best source on used general aviation values, but here is something from Aircraft Blue Book. Boy is it a good time to buy a piston twin.

Used aircraft values (http://www.aircraftbluebookmarketline.com/aircraft-bluebook-marketline/tag/aircraft-on-registry)

chongololo
03-31-2011, 05:51 PM
I would narrow it down to 3:
Baron, Seneca and twin Comanche.
If you could make it work with a single then I second the A36 Bonanza idea.
Good luck and let us know which way you end up going.
We're all spending your money for you. :p

mswmsw
04-01-2011, 08:31 AM
Seneca II or later if you want a twin......... big cabin, door in back.

Saratoga if you are concerned with keeping the fuel costs down. Pretty much the same cabin as the Seneca, probably not too much slower either (for the retractable gear Saratoga's).

Left Handed
04-02-2011, 02:02 PM
I wonder why no one has recommended an Aztec? For that budget, you could get one of the newest, get it loaded including K-ice, and have good times on the engines.
It is one of the only airplanes that can carry its own weight (2600 empty-5200 gross). Very hard to overweight an Aztec, even with 188 gal tanks. I can't imagine it would be any more on maint. than a Beech, and the Beech is a 2-3 person airplane with full tanks. With an Aztec you can put 6 people in and go somewhere almost 1000 miles away.

Just an example, not affiliated with this.
http://www.trade-a-plane.com/detail/991076.html

tortue
04-02-2011, 02:49 PM
I'd say the Baron and Seneca.

The Twin Comanche is a fine trainer, but its cramped, slower and underpowered in my opinion if you're going to spend your hard earned money on a twin (and the gas).

I never liked the Cessna twins - they always seemed overpriced and a good chunk of that money was going into the fact that it said Cessna on it.



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