Biggest Bang for the Buck?

RyanB

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EXP or Certified.

I’m pretty well sold on the Mooney line. ~150kt cruise on ~9gal of go-go juice an hour. The downside is a tighter cabin compared to other makes and models.

Without having a specific mission in mind, what airplane offers the biggest bang for the buck?
 
I’d say that if you have to ask, Certified.

Experimentals require more of the owner at purchase and for maintenance.

If your head is screwed on right, you can find, buy and maintain, say a Mooney, without knowing more than any good pilot needs to know. What you need is a good shop or mechanic to team up with.

For something like an RV10, you can get a bit more plane for the $$$ (remember, no mission specified) but you need to know more, be confident of what you know and don’t know, and you need a good mechanic to fill in the gaps.

This from someone who has both owned a certified plane and built an experimental, but never owned an experimental built by another amateur. (I have owned a couple of factory built experimentals).




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As an A&P/IA, I would favor certified as I can do all of the work and inspections myself. If I wasn't a mechanic, I'd likely favor experimental.
 
I only have been inside a Mooney a couple of times, but I remember finding the view outside to be somewhat restricted. If your mission is to strictly have a fast and efficient means of 300+ nautical miles cross country transportation with less emphasis on sightseeing, then why not?
 
As an A&P/IA, I would favor certified as I can do all of the work and inspections myself. If I wasn't a mechanic, I'd likely favor experimental.

I’m in the same position so a certified airplane would be no big deal for me either. Plus, I could give flight instruction in the plane and use it for hire.

But even as a mechanic I find myself leading toward experimentals. Want to put on a set of unapproved floats, skis, or whatever? No big deal on an experimental but it might be a royal pain on a certified. I’m going through this now trying to track down the STC holder for an ancient STC so we can finalize the import on a plane a friend bought.
 
Really depends on how many people and how much load. For big loads in a single, a Cherokee Six. For blistering fast, a turbine Lancair.
 
There are lots of different ways to define biggest bang for the buck. And the answer depends entirely on how you define the question. So without knowing anything about how you define the question I can tell you this. The Mooney is the fastest certified airplane out there for a given fuel burn. The only way to go faster than a Mooney on the same or similar fuel burn is in an experimental.

The Mooney airframe is built pretty tough. They utilize wet wing fuel tanks that tend to need to be resealed at some point in its life cycle so not a bad idea to pay attention to when it was last done and who did it if you're looking at buying one. People that own them tend to love them and that says a lot so if you're liking the plane, you probably won't regret buying one.

That being said, and again lacking any other definition of best bang for the buck, I think experimental wins hands down almost every time. Want to upgrade to a glass panel? These days there are paths available for both certified and experimental alike. But there are far more options on the experimental side. Want to upgrade the seats or interior? Same deal. More options on the experimental side. Also more options for maintaining the plane in general. But as with all things, with great power comes great responsibility. Just because you do anything you want with an experimental doesn't mean you should.
 
I’m pretty well sold on the Mooney line. ~150kt cruise on ~9gal of go-go juice an hour. The downside is a tighter cabin compared to other makes and models.

Do you plan on hauling around friends/family? If so, the Mooney starts to lose a bit of its bang.
 
EXP or Certified.

I’m pretty well sold on the Mooney line. ~150kt cruise on ~9gal of go-go juice an hour. The downside is a tighter cabin compared to other makes and models.

Without having a specific mission in mind, what airplane offers the biggest bang for the buck?

For you, Cessna 150. Now quit dreaming about Mooney’s.
 
With no mission in mind, renting is the best bang for the buck by a very, very wide margin.

For two adults and maybe the occasional third or a kid or two traveling in a certified plane in benign weather, a Mooney is a good bet.
 
For me, C310 is the biggest bang for my buck.

Care to elaborate on why the 310? That airplane has been sold to me as a more expensive airframe to mx than a 55 Baron, otherwise identical engines (470 powered) and thus very similar performance and fuel costs. I did have the opportunity to sit on a sad abandoned sample on the ramp a few months ago, and I fell in love with the cabin. That thing is a cave. Almost Aztec sized, with a lot more speed for the same gas. Barons trail significantly behind on that one metric imo.
 
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Care to elaborate on why the 310? That airplane has been sold to me as a more expensive airframe to mx than a 55 Baron, otherwise identical engines (470 powered) and thus very similar performance and fuel costs. I did have the opportunity to sit on a sad abandoned sample on the ramp a few months ago, and I fell in love with the cabin. That thing is a cave. Almost Aztec sized, with a lot more speed for the same gas. Barons trail significantly behind on that one metric imo.

I’m guessing purchase price.


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This. Lots of bang(s) for not many bucks (as anyone who has heard it on approach at OSH will verify). I'm pretty sure it's EXP. ;)

IMG_0414.JPG
 
How's about a tailwheel sport plane capable of +/-6g, 120-130mph cruise on 3.5GPH (mogas). And, its experimental, so a mechanic can be found for cheap. Total purchase price under $18,000. Bang!
 
If you need 4 seats and don't want to spend house money on an airplane you are almost limited to a certified plane. For me the best bang for the buck is an old Bonanza or a Bellanca Superviking. An older Bonanaza will keep pace with an early Mooney on 1-2 more gallons per hour but the purchase price will be lower and you will have a little more room and can run mogas. If all out speed per dollar is your desire it's hard to beat a SV.

If you only need 2 seats it's hard to beat an older RV-4.
 
gotcha...

I read this a while back. I hope it doesn't start a war, but wanted to ask if it's true.

"The accident rate for amateur-built aircraft is up to three times higher than for lightweight manufactured planes, said Loren Groff, safety analyst for the National Transportation Safety Board. The fatality rate is four times higher."
 
There are so many variables that can affect statistics like that. There is no reason an experimental that is past it's 40 hour phase 1 would be any more dangerous than a certified airplane.
 
Care to elaborate on why the 310? That airplane has been sold to me as a more expensive airframe to mx than a 55 Baron, otherwise identical engines (470 powered) and thus very similar performance and fuel costs. I did have the opportunity to sit on a sad abandoned sample on the ramp a few months ago, and I fell in love with the cabin. That thing is a cave. Almost Aztec sized, with a lot more speed for the same gas. Barons trail significantly behind on that one metric imo.

The depressed twin market does provide a greater value for the dollar today, but I believe if you're buying at a bottom rung price, you're getting a bottom rung airplane.

For the 310, the IO-520 was available from the factory towards the later of it's run. There's also an aftermarket 520/550 from Colemill; these aircraft won't be at bottom rung prices. While you don't get an hp increase, you get max-rated hp for longer. But, I digress.

For me, the value a C-310 brings is that it opens up a lot more territory I can fly to without having to purchase an airline ticket for personal travel. The next value the 310 brings is quality of hours. I'm not interested in airline flying, but corp flying isn't out of the realm for me. 1000 hours of FIKI twin is wholly different than 1000 hours of M20J, in my opinion.

If I had to guess (I don't know much about BE55 costs), the 310 and 55 are going to be pretty close to one another in mx costs for comparable airframes, but the Beech will have a higher purchase price.
 
There are so many variables that can affect statistics like that. There is no reason an experimental that is past it's 40 hour phase 1 would be any more dangerous than a certified airplane.

Agreed. But the stats are useful to the individual interested in identifying pitfalls and avoiding them.

I think you’d find it’s the owner operator more often the than the aircraft but whatever. There’s no reason your selection of aircraft should be effected by stats, only your maintenance and operational practices.


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If I had to guess (I don't know much about BE55 costs), the 310 and 55 are going to be pretty close to one another in mx costs for comparable airframes, but the Beech will have a higher purchase price.

Gotcha, yeah that's all I was interested in hearing about. Figures the airframe would be cheaper to acquire if the market considers it more expensive to maintain, which explains the wacked out pricing of six seater piston singles currently.

Fwiw, I consider -520 power a detraction in my personal ledger wrt to mx costs. I favor IO-470 power, especially if I'm gonna jump into paying for the mx of two engines, but that's neither here nor there.
 
Cirrus and SETP planes killed the used piston twin market. After the wedding is paid for, I may try to tell my bride that we can abandon the airlines altogether if we buy a FIKI-capable Baron :)
 
I’d say that if you have to ask, Certified.

Experimentals require more of the owner at purchase and for maintenance.

Not sure I concur. I own an experimental, purchased flying, and there's no real difference in my maintenance. The A&P comes over, I tell him what's happening, he addresses it, and I pay him.

Biggest differences? Parts don't cost as much and are much easier to procure.
 
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