2006 "Cessna" 400


Filing Flight Plan
Feb 26, 2021
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all, im in the process of purchasing a 400 but i do have concerns about the useful load and how the landing weight is 170lbs less than the max gross wt.
i would love input from 350/400/ttx owners current or previous on how you handle the useful load on this airplane that has 102 gal of fuel on board.
I tended to make it a habit to start with full fuel in previous aircraft i have owned but i had not owned one with this much available fuel in the tanks.
appreciate input.
Not a 400 owner, but a 182Q owner with MGTOW 150 lbs higher than max landing weight (75 gal useable, which is 5.5-6 hours of flight time in a long-range cruise). If you need to take off at max weight, just know you'll need to fly for a couple hours to get below max landing weight. Depending on how you're flying the 400, you'll need to fly for about an hour and half to burn 170 lbs of fuel. If you have to land overweight, the is likely some nominal inspection that needs to be done. In a 182, you'd have to land pretty hard to do damage 150 lbs overweight. I don't know how robust the 400's landing gear is, but I imagine if you have good soft-field technique, damage is unlikely.

Neat thing about little airplanes is most a throttle and mixture control. If you need to go farther on less fuel, you can fly slower. The 400 gives you a wide choice in fuel burn/speed to suit your mission for the day.
appreciate the feedback. So do you typically not fill your tanks completely?
170 pounds is 28 gallons of fuel or less than 2 hours of flight. Ttx/400 is a traveling machine and hopefully your mission takes advantage of that.

Like you I don't like playing the fuel for payload game. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do to keep the plane happy.
It is very hard to get both tanks completely full on my 400. If you don't shake the wing and go back to the first wing after filling up the second, you will only get 45 per side. At least in mine

I operate out of a 3500 ft strip. I very rarely fill it to the brim unless I'm getting cheap fuel or going for a really long trip
I also have a C182 with big tanks (78 gal total) and landing weight that is 150 lbs below gross. I have only filled them up a couple of times in 3.5 years. I normally have between 30-50 gals in the tanks for most normal flying, then if I need more, I fill however much I need right before the trip. The most important thing is to have a fuel totalizer, so you trust how much fuel you have at any time. Just buy the plane (I think it's awesome) and you'll figure out how to manage the fuel and useful load.
For many light sport aircraft, and for most commercial aircraft, how much fuel to carry is a decision you make before each flight. In between these two, and with most trainers, taking off with full tanks is common.

I make the decision about how much fuel to carry before each flight because it seriously affects the performance of my light aircraft.

102 gallons is a massive amount of weight. From my small perspective, it would seem a little crazy to carry that much extra weight when the performance improvements would be significant without it.

Of course, if you have any concerns about range or your on a long cross country and want to minimize stops, fill the tanks. I just can't think of any reason beyond and irrational fear of running out of fuel to unnecessarily carry hundreds of pounds of extra fuel.

I understand the mindset that "that's the way I've always done it" because at one time I did too. With flying, that is generally a good perspective. However, with certain aircraft, you need to challenge previous held perceptions.
As you get into higher performance aircraft, the "fill it full" often goes out the window. Because of exactly what you're seeing - 100 gallons of fuel is a lot of weight! And it's not necessary for most of your flights.

I often fly a Piper Malibu. 120 gallon tanks. 6 seats, but if you fill the tanks it's about a 3 person aircraft. So we fill the plane before flight with whatever fuel we need or can handle for that flight. We do not fuel it after landing.

I used to fly a Cessna 421. I forget exactly, but something like 200 gallons of fuel. But the same story. Fueled it immediately BEFORE the flight, when the passenger load was known.

I currently fly a King Air 300. With our 3-person crew and hundreds of pounds of equipment, we could only fill the tanks if we had a very light combination of crew members. Instead, we do the math and calculate how much fuel we can carry each trip to be at max gross. Admittedly, it's easy to partially fuel this plane - it has auxiliary tanks that are used up first, so we always land with empty auxes. So our fuel order will be to top off the mains, then whatever we determine per side on the auxes (40-70 gal a side is normal). Makes it easy.

So no, don't feel that taking off with a partial fuel load is somehow bad. Rather, it's perfectly normal once you get past the usual training and rental fleet. Think of it in reverse - they could have made the fuel tanks smaller so that you could fill them up, but who wants smaller fuel tanks?
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appreciate the feedback. So do you typically not fill your tanks completely?

I'm in a co-ownership with 2 other guys. We do often leave it filled up, but not always. We have an account with the local FBO that allows us to charge fuel to another partner when we fill up, if needed, so we just write down how much we burned (fuel totalizer) if we leave it less than full. If one of us thinks we're going to need to go with less than full fuel, we'll let the other partners know in advance not to top it off.
The PC-12 holds 400 gallons (2700 lbs) of fuel. Fuel in the tanks doesn't produce revenue. People and freight in the cabin does. Model 47s also have a max landing weight 450 lbs less than MTOW. So that can take some planning and/or some very soft touchdowns.

When I flew Caravans, I'd sometimes have to go get 3000 lbs of boxed up fish and bring it back to Juneau. 15 minute flight each way. Round trip used less than 300 lbs of fuel so I'd leave with about 450 lbs (2240 lb capacity). in the tanks.

Fuel for the flight plus adequate reserve.
Get in the habit of fueling up before starting a trip, not after finishing a trip. Between dip sticks and a fuel totalizer, you’ll know with pretty good precision how much fuel is in the tank. Add as necessary. I’ve never had to defuel and would avoid that as a strategy.