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Old 02-26-2017, 07:51 AM   #1
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Default Looking for my first twin engine

Hello everyone. I'm new to GA and by "new" I mean that I've never owned a private airplane before....I'm a military pilot with 2500+ hrs and am looking for a twin engine private plane to chauffeur the family around on for family vacations. We're currently on the east coast and would be looking to take trips primary <700 miles. Our longest trip at this point might tickle the 1000nm mark, but not likely at this point.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what we should be looking at??I've done some internet research and believe that I've narrowed some choices down to a (1) Piper Seneca ii/iii, (2) Piper Twin Commanche, (3) Piper Twin turbo Seminole, or a (4) twin Bonanza.

The majority of our trips would be to east coast snow ski destinations and the occasional trip to Florida so if anyone could offer some pros and cons it would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for any recommendations or comments that you have.
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:08 AM   #2
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Hello everyone. I'm new to GA and by "new" I mean that I've never owned a private airplane before....I'm a military pilot with 2500+ hrs and am looking for a twin engine private plane to chauffeur the family around on for family vacations. We're currently on the east coast and would be looking to take trips primary <700 miles. Our longest trip at this point might tickle the 1000nm mark, but not likely at this point.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what we should be looking at??I've done some internet research and believe that I've narrowed some choices down to a (1) Piper Seneca ii/iii, (2) Piper Twin Commanche, (3) Piper Twin turbo Seminole, or a (4) twin Bonanza.

The majority of our trips would be to east coast snow ski destinations and the occasional trip to Florida so if anyone could offer some pros and cons it would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for any recommendations or comments that you have.
Take a look at overhaul costs, insurance and annual expenses for a twin verses a single. There is a reason twins are selling so cheap. Make sure you have a prebuy done by a qualified mechanic who is not the guy who did the last annual. An aircraft that flies routinely is better then a hangar queen with lower hours. If the aircraft has been sitting spend the money to pull a cylinder and look inside the motors for corrosion.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:09 AM   #3
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I would pick the one with the tallest landing gear. That way you will have someplace for your family to live after you spend yourself out of house and home. You left the Cessna 310 off the list, good airplane, tall gear.

-Unless you're out in the sticks, hangar for a twin is about $480-500/month, so 6k per year.
-You'll need to change the oil at least twice a year, if you can get Phillips 20-50 cheap, it's still $67/case, you'll need 2 cases per oil change (about 10 quarts capacity for a 6-cyl continental and some consumption). Oh and filters, tools, and labor if you don't do it yourself.
-Annual inspection? Got a mechanic you trust and who has worked on that type before? Unless you do an owner-assisted, the piper/beech/Cessna service center can charge you whatever they want and that's 2-3k before they have to fix anything. If you do it yourself, you need the right tools, jacks or a cradle and a cheap set of jacks is $900.
-You can run an engine past TBO if you're not flying it commercially, but you may not want to do the same with your props as seals get tired and corrosion hides in strange places and you just don't want your prop coming off.
-Transponder, pitot-static checks (not too much, about 1-2 hours of labor every 2 years if everything works) and ADS-B compliance (5-12k) will be bills you'll have to face unless you're going to fly VFR only below 10k MSL. Then toss in database updates (400-500/year) for whatever GPS navigator you have.
-Turbosuperchargers? Yet another maintenance piece, somewhat trouble free when they're dialed in, rarely are they dialed in and trouble free on these engines.
-Insurance? That will be based on hull value (which you'll set) but based on your hours expect to pay about $1000/year for a 30,000 hull value. Pretty linear above and below that.
-If your family travel footprint is small (2-3 people) you can cut some of those costs almost in half with a single engine. Lots of NAvions, Bonanzas, and Mooneys out there. Not too strangely, purchase price for a decent one with a mid-time engine is about the same as a twin.

Grandpa told me as a young man that if it flies, floats, or does something else that starts with an f, it's better to rent it. Now, I've owned 2 planes, my dad had 2, and Grandpa had a beautiful old ChrisCraft and we were all married at least once, so we don't listen to our own advice. Based on some of your earlier posts, you may want to wait until pay and schedule settle before you sling a twin-engine anchor around your neck. That is, unless you are a lottery winner and married to an A&P/IA.

Last edited by lava; 02-27-2017 at 06:11 AM. Reason: spelling of "advice"
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:24 AM   #4
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I looked into the same type of purchase a year and half ago... after doing research the cost of ownership would be too much IMO. I'd recommend buying a SE that can hold 4 pax easily (not just kids) or just rent a twin... unless you are loaded.
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:43 PM   #5
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All excellent advice everyone. Thank you much for the breakout Lava!! I've had 4 boats myself and am very familiar with the Bring On Another Thousand (BOAT) toys we spend our money on :) I feel your pain.

I intentionally left the Cessna 310 off of the list based on what I was researching.....I was finding the fuel burn runs between 25-29 gph, compared to 17-24 gph on the others, but maybe I need to revisit it as an option based on everyone's suggestions.

I've got a Fixed & Variable Cost budget sheet that I was working on as well, but it looks like I might need to update some numbers. I was finding annuals between $500-1000, but like you mentioned that might have been owner assisted pricing.....

Thanks again to everyone who has commented!!
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
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All excellent advice everyone. Thank you much for the breakout Lava!! I've had 4 boats myself and am very familiar with the Bring On Another Thousand (BOAT) toys we spend our money on :) I feel your pain.



I intentionally left the Cessna 310 off of the list based on what I was researching.....I was finding the fuel burn runs between 25-29 gph, compared to 17-24 gph on the others, but maybe I need to revisit it as an option based on everyone's suggestions.



I've got a Fixed & Variable Cost budget sheet that I was working on as well, but it looks like I might need to update some numbers. I was finding annuals between $500-1000, but like you mentioned that might have been owner assisted pricing.....



Thanks again to everyone who has commented!!


GAMI injectors and running LOP may help that, and after doing their online course, I'm convinced that's the way to run your engine, but it's still hard to justify one, much less two engines, imo


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Old 02-28-2017, 03:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by DoUEvenLoopBro View Post
All excellent advice everyone. Thank you much for the breakout Lava!! I've had 4 boats myself and am very familiar with the Bring On Another Thousand (BOAT) toys we spend our money on :) I feel your pain.

I intentionally left the Cessna 310 off of the list based on what I was researching.....I was finding the fuel burn runs between 25-29 gph, compared to 17-24 gph on the others, but maybe I need to revisit it as an option based on everyone's suggestions.

I've got a Fixed & Variable Cost budget sheet that I was working on as well, but it looks like I might need to update some numbers. I was finding annuals between $500-1000, but like you mentioned that might have been owner assisted pricing.....

Thanks again to everyone who has commented!!
Whatever cost you end up with - double it! I went with a 52yr old single for its speed and low operating costs. I've already put an additional 10k into tools, headsets, parts, supplies and repairs. I also discovered that the engine was run harder than previously thought so now having to think about 4K for top overhaul.

If you want a twin have at least 40K on hand at any moment to have an engine overhauled. If one engine goes bad and you can't overhaul it then the airplane sits and you need another overhaul. If you can't afford the first overhaul and need to sell airplane expect a Yuuuuuuge loss.

Lastly a high performance single does almost as well as a twin and statistically is no less safe.
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Old 02-28-2017, 04:11 AM   #8
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You didnt state how many are in the family; are you looking for a twin because of the people capacity, or because of safety?

Part 23 light twins are not required to climb on one engine, let alone maintain altitude. Some have higher service ceilings than others. I'd be a lot more concerned with performance than the difference in hourly fuel burn. Safety. It's your family, after all.

If you look at the mission cost for a dew annual trips set against the aggregate cost of ownership (maintenance, hangar, insurance, operation, training, etc), your hourly cost will be high; higher than renting, and more than likely much more than buying airline tickets. Especially after you factor in the acquisition costs.

Of the rwins you mentioned, the Seneca II/III has the better single engine service ceiling, but I'd look closely at 310's or a Barron. The 310 would be more economical, depending on model, and offer better overall and single engine performance.

Have a large cash reserve set aside for that first annual inspection; four or five times more than you think, no matter how good your pre-buy inspection. Be prepared to be surprised.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:49 PM   #9
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Performance and safety are definitely on the top of my list and am simply looking for something roomy enough to fit 4 people (2 adults/2 kids) + ski equipment + luggage. We would also be using it for $100 hamburgers and shorter trips (<700 miles) that don't necessarily fall during ski season.

Everyone commenting here seems to be in agreement that I might want to start looking at some single engines instead. I'm also going to expand my search to the 310 since it seems to be a consensus on something that should be considered.

You guys are giving me some great advice. Thanks again!!
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:12 PM   #10
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Performance and safety are definitely on the top of my list and am simply looking for something roomy enough to fit 4 people (2 adults/2 kids) + ski equipment + luggage. We would also be using it for $100 hamburgers and shorter trips (<700 miles) that don't necessarily fall during ski season.

Everyone commenting here seems to be in agreement that I might want to start looking at some single engines instead. I'm also going to expand my search to the 310 since it seems to be a consensus on something that should be considered.

You guys are giving me some great advice. Thanks again!!
You might want to consider shipping the ski gear. Step up to an airplane that will take passengers plus the luggage plus skis and you're moving to cabin class, and a big hike in cost and maintenance.

If you're going skiing, you'll also need to look at high altitudes for field performance, somewhere that no light twins excell (or are remotely satisfactory, in most cases). Particularly piston equipment. You may want to expand your search to the Cessna 340 or larger, but soon you'll reach a place where a King Air 90 starts to look promising.

For what you're describing, a Navajo would be an appropriate size for pistons, albeit expensive, or move to a turbine Cheyenne or Conquest.

You'll be needing a solid IFR platform with known ice capability, and none of the light twins do very well in ice. You might look at the Twin Commander, as well, or at going with a Turbo Commander 690. That would make a lot more sense. Of course, if a few gallons fuel burn is a consideration, then costs are really tight, and you probably wont be looking to turbine equipment or cabin class twins.
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