Buying A Piper Seneca II

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by TheHulk, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    Long time since I've posted, wanted to get some input on my next airplane. I've done research on the Piper Seneca's and it just so happens a good friend of mine is selling his, gonna get a great deal on it as well. Haven't flown since March 2015.

    I'm a low time pilot (135hrs) all in a PA-28 235, so while I have the HP endorsement I'm gonna need to get the complex as well as the Multi Add On. Not a huge deal, all in due time. I am in no hurry to fly the twin solo. My best estimate for safety and insurance would be something like 25hrs dual instruction but I am just guessing at this point. I solo'd at 10.5 hours but wouldn't feel comfortable with any less then 25 in type. Also, going to be training for my IFR in type. Thoughts?

    Also, my mission is different then before. Whereas I flew the 235 about 2hrs from North Texas to South Texas, my mission now is a bit longer. Flying full fuel, baggage and myself. Doubt I'll ever hit gross under these circumstances.

    T67 < KDIK (867NM)

    Roughly a 5.5hr flight in the Seneca II averaging 165Knots. The great thing about my job now is, its 3 weeks on 2 weeks off and I pick when I get to leave. So that means I can wait it out a day or two if the weather isn't ideal. My concern is that this distance will have me crossing paths with weather fronts. Does the plane fit the mission? Obviously I wont fly in the flight levels unless I am IFR rated, so I'll stick to around 8500-11,500ft.


    Cant wait to actually fly again.
     
  2. Old97

    Old97 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have about the same hours as you. I would think a complex single would be more economical and easier transition than the seneca. And it could be fasster possibly. I seem to remember you saying you are a big guy. Would a bonanza be a fit?

    Not knocking the seneca for the mission though.
     
  3. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Sounds like you’re going to gave fun!
     
  4. Grum.Man

    Grum.Man En-Route

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    While the Seneca might be overkill for your mission there is no doubting the value if you can afford the fuel and maintenance. You should be fine, I don't think hours or years do anything towards helping you be proficient in a twin. It's all stick and rudder skills and knowing the procedures.
     
  5. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    I don't want a single unless it's a cirrus & those are out of my price range atm. Yes I am a big guy. 6'3 285

    It's got cr props so that's a huge plus and an autopilot, never had one of those before.
     
  6. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Seneca is a good all-around airplane. It's not "outstanding" in any category, but it's "good" in most of them. Roomy, decent useful load (usually), decent speeds, decent range, but handles like a moving truck.

    If you're interested in a twin, my only suggestion is to look around before you buy the one sitting in front of you. Look at Barons; look at Twinkies; look at 310s. Your money will go a long way (acquisition cost wise) in the twin market, make sure you spend it wisely.
     
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  7. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    For that mission, in addition to gaining your Multi Engine rating, I would highly encourage obtaining your IFR rating.
     
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  8. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Oh, I missed the part about no IFR rating. That's likely to make insurance on a twin harder to obtain (though not impossible), which means more expensive. As a general rule, insurers expect pilots of higher performance airplanes to have an IFR rating. If you don't, you get dinged on premiums.
     
  9. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    I mentioned that I was going to continue my IFR training in the first post but also its very important to again mention that my mission isn't a "get there itis" type mission. I can pick and choose the date in which I leave based on weather. I wont be flying in anything other then VFR, and even when I get my IFR I will opt for better weather every time. I see the value and want my IFR ticket for the added safety.
     
  10. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    In that case, my recommendation as a CFII/MEI, etc.: knock out your IFR in your 235. As you likely know, the instrument rating is hard. All things considered, it's probably the hardest rating (one could debate about that vs. the CFI). IMHO, it's best to get over the initial IFR hump in a simpler airplane. Get the fundamentals down, THEN add in the complexity of two engines. The skills you develop in getting your IFR will serve you well in the twin (and beyond).
     
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  11. simtech

    simtech En-Route

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    He sold his 235 about 3 years ago if I recall.

    Welcome back!
     
  12. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    Yea 58W is gone to Houston
     
  13. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Welcome back!

    Calling @bbchien...

    Bruce has had a Seneca II for a long time and knows them very well. I would suggest that you contact him and see if your expectations regarding operating costs and ability of a low-time pilot to successfully operate one are in line with what he sees in reality. In addition, he may be able to offer you some dual, he's a CFII-MEI as well as an AME.

    Getting the complex endorsement isn't that big a deal. In fact, even the multi rating isn't that big of a deal to get - It can be done in 7-10 hours and you'll have the complex inside of that time frame as well.

    The real trick is going to be finding insurance. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you're north of $5,000 for the first year, since your total time is low, you don't have the instrument, and it sounds like you have zero complex, zero multi, and zero time in type. I would also expect at least 25 hours of dual to be required in addition to the rating and complex endorsement.

    The good news is, you're going to need lots of dual anyway. Get the endorsement and get the rating, and then start working on the Instrument and all of the time you're working on the Instrument you can be logging PIC multi/complex time.

    When shopping for insurance, you may even want to propose that you'll get signed off for the IR checkride prior to going solo. If you have trouble getting insurance or the premiums are ridiculous, guaranteeing that you'll be getting lots of dual and the instrument rating prior to going off on your own will only help your case. I say checkride signoff instead of rating because you're the PIC for the checkride.

    The plane definitely meets the mission, but you'll want that instrument rating sooner rather than later. The Seneca II, being a turbocharged bird, will do better up high than down low. Your best TAS is going to be way up high. At 65% and sea level, book says 145 KTAS. At 65% and 10,000, 166 KTAS. 65% and 20,000, 179 KTAS. You won't gain much more than that by going higher, but on such a long trip it'll save you at least some time to go high.

    Also, if you're going to try to make that non-stop, you'll have to get down to 55% at 12,500 feet or higher, and that's with no wind in a bird with the 123-gallon tanks. If it has the 93-gallon tanks, you're making a fuel stop.

    AaaaAAAaaAAAaargh.

    The Bonanza is not a "big guy" airplane unless you're short of total stature or short of torso. I'm 6'4" and I bump my head a lot in Bos. :(

    The reason this misconception aggravates me is that I fly a Mooney, which everyone says are tiny, but in reality are the most roomy 4-seater I've ever flown. (I'm 6'4" 300#.) Al Mooney was 6'5".

    Why no singles besides Cirrus? There are a lot more choices, and you've had one before... You'll also be able to get to your destination both faster and far cheaper with some of those singles than you will with the Seneca.

    Autopilot is a must on long trips like you'll be taking. It really cuts down on fatigue.

    This is good advice. I would also look at other Seneca IIs, just to make sure that deal you're getting is really that good. FWIW, the Twin Comanche is probably the only one of that bunch that will burn less fuel than the Seneca II.
     
  14. old cfi

    old cfi Pre-takeoff checklist Gone West

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    I have about 3,000 hrs in a Seneca both as an instructor and flying the owner and folks around. It's definitely not the fastest twin around but maintenance is about as cheap as you can get with two turning. Lots of parts available, too. Being an entry-level twin will help with insurance over others but they will definitely require a certain amount of dual. If financially feasible I would suggest getting familiar with the plane which will give you your complex time and then doing your IFR in THAT plane while meeting all the insurance minimums. The more hours you get, the more comfortable it will feel. And the more hours of dual you have acquired with this route, the happier the insurance guy will be.
     
  15. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As already pointed out, the biggest challenge you’ll find is going to be the insurance. Not impossible, but it will be expensive initially and you really need a good broker to work with you to come up with a plan (ie ID an MEI to fly with you for xx hours). If you just go straight to an place like Avemco or AOPA, they’ll pretty much flat up tell you ‘no way’.

    Your time isn’t a big deal for learning to be safe in the Twin. I got my ME around 100 hrs TT. I think your estimate of 25 hours to get comfortable is reasonable. You can get your complex while training in the twin, so after maybe a couple hours in a fixed gear single to shake the rust off, I’d go straight to training in the twin.

    Also, if you do your IR checkride in the twin, it covers both twin and single. No need to do a second checkride in a single, so you have that benefit. It’s one of the advantages to doing your Instrument ride in a twin.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  16. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @TheHulk --- if you want the recommendation for an instructor on the west side of DFW that can do your ME, IFR, and others.... Go talk to Tamara Griffith of Fox Aviation at Propwash near Justin. She will be a very good choice for you. Lots and lots of real world experience, and an extremely thorough instructor for all things from PPL on up. Rates are very reasonable and the quality of instruction very good.
     
  17. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

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    Not knocking the Seneca or this particular plane... (heck I own a single engine Seneca), but be careful about the above factors. I think the entire light twin market is really really down and has been for a while. Acquisition costs are rock bottom for a lot of them. The reason is the cost to operate and the fact that so many of these planes are really tired inside. Maybe that's not the case for this particular plane but just know the acquisition cost is often a very small percentage of the overall cost to own a plane, especially a piston twin!

    Be objective about this purchase. Does the Seneca truly fit your mission best? You get to decide but honestly with your mission I'd be looking at a fast well equipped Mooney, and heck I don't even really like Mooneys.

    How much are you really going to fly? One reason I am not considering moving from my Saratoga to a light twin (aside from cost) is I don't feel I'd fly enough to stay proficient to handle the potential emergencies. Honestly I'd rather just baby my one engine and try to eliminate stupid pilot tricks... and feel my chances are pretty good.
     
  18. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    Wow tons of great advice here. Thanks for the warm welcome back.

    I am waiting to hear back from a few underwriters on insurance.
     
  19. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm green with envy. I like twins.
     
  20. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    T67? That's a dangerous airport. It's uncontrolled. And that pasta guy keeps his dangerous EXPERIMENTAL airplane there!

    Be careful.
     
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  21. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I enjoyed my twin,insurance can be high,untill you get time in type. The insurance companies like you to have an instrument rating. They could require 25 hrs. Solo. The Seneca is a good entry twin.
     
  22. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    He’s typing about airplanes eman.
     
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  23. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Seneca II as a solo commuter airplane? Way overkill and way high opex and mx cost on those turbo contis for the amount of payload you'll be hauling. Being given a seneca II for a song is not in any way indicative of the legacy mx costs you're about to inherit. You complain about not being able to afford a Cirrus, but in the case of a twin turbo, you're looking at a $250-275/hr all-in airplane here; I dare say the engines alone make it more expensive to maintain than even a NA C-310, and those ain't cheap to mx on an ongoing basis either, but at least you'd have better fuel mileage. The financing of a used early SR22 probably comes about the same all in than a Seneca, and resale is better on the former.

    If you insist on the twin for a solo commuter thing, look at twin comanches. Performance and fuel economy of a single with the powerplant effectively split. You get your 160KTAS on 18GPH instead of 24. Maintenance on a pair of IO-320s is nada compared to Conti turbo'd 360s.

    Welcome back to the game. Please don't take this the wrong way, but if you want to make this tenure longer than the last one (judging by your last posts on the topic of your sale), I seriously encourage you to rethink this "cheap twin" business. Good luck and again welcome back.
     
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  24. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    image.jpeg
     
  25. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The main problem with the Seneca for your mission is that it's fairly slow. That 5.5 hours non-stop is going to be pushing it fuel wise, and so reality is you'll probably find yourself needing a stop in a lot of cases. A 310Q or 310R (with 163 gallon fuel or greater) could make that trip non-stop without a headwind fairly reliably, and also do it at a significantly faster true airspeed.

    Flying up high without pressurization sucks. Literally - because you're sucking O2. But it's just not fun, and in my opinion there are some safety concerns with flying a non-pressurized bird in the high teens or low flight levels. Have I done it? Sure, but the further I get away from that the less inclined I am to do it again.

    Time wise you've got a learning curve. Nothing insurmountable, but it will take work and your dispatchability won't be great until you build experience. I'd figure more than 25 hours of dual personally. Insurance might require that, but 50 will get you more quality time. Since you'll need to do your IR, you could just go through until you have enough hours to pass your multi-instrument rating all at once.

    Personally I'm not a big fan of the Seneca and I think a 310 would be a better fit. Or for that matter an Aerostar 600A (although that's not the best first twin in my opinion). The TSIO-360s are not my favorite engines and they seem to have more issues. That said, if it's a friend's plane that you know the maintenance on and he's willing to sell it for a "friend price" then it could be worth doing. That was more or less how I ended up with the Aztec. I was more interested in a 310 or Baron, but the Aztec was a local plane with a good background and a great price. Never regretted that decision, it was a great one.

    Oh, but counter-rotating props? Not a big deal. It's just done to help OEI certification aspects. Note that there are no commercial turboprops out there with counter-rotating props. It's mostly done on lower performance trainers or planes where the OEI performance was marginal, such as the Seneca, Cessna 303, or Navajo C/R and Chieftain. One exception to this was the Cheyenne 400LS, which has phenomenal performance but the engines made a ton of power, and I suspect the counter-rotating props had to do with keeping the plane controllable OEI. Reality is you can barely tell the difference between the critical engine and not on most twins.
     
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  26. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Hey. Honest question there engine guy...

    Do the counter-rotating engines tend to cost a little more due to not being as many of them sold overall?

    Just curious. Never thought about it before.
     
  27. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Check the demonstrated cross wind component before you buy.
     
  28. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    It's the initial cost of a cirrus that's just a bit too high.

    I can afford MX and fuel on a twin rather reliable and figure about 25k a year a budget. +/- what's needed.

    It's not a cheap twin (I could get nice 310 for this price), I don't think I ever used that terminology at all. And I only referenced the acquisition price of cirrus as my hard limit. And my tenure last time was due to the worst depression in the oil industry since the 80's. Regardless of if I have the money or not. Another recession and I'll sell again.

    I trust my friend, I know him personally and he takes great care of his planes. He happens to be the gentleman who bought my 235 lol. And during that prebuy I explained the annual was around 3,300$ and told him I'd eat most of that off the price of the plane. He declined that and said it's his airplane now and if it needs a 3,300$ annual then he'll just pay for it. (Who does that? Lol) and he actually gave me a job for his company back in 2016. He's a really good guy.

    I expected it to take some time to get comfortable flying a twin. I'll probably start my ME training in May. There's no hurry on this deal. The plane isn't even listed.

    I am so pumped to be in this position again! Gonna get my skills nice and sharp. I like the idea of training for my IFR in type. That's what I'll do.

    Thanks for the input guys, I've got a lot of work to do.
     
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  29. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    I dont calculate my cost per hour like you guys do.

    My cost per house is fuel+oil=hourly cost.

    The mainence fund is and always has been for me a set price per month or per issue.

    So this seneca is gonna cost me 115$ an hour to fly. I'm sure I could factor in hanger, mx, monthly payment & insurance. But I dont view those as costing me during the flight. Maybe I'm all wrong, but its easier to show the wife "look, it burns 25 gallons per hour at 4.5$ a gallon" haha
     
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  30. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    @TheHulk for what it’s worth I would echo @Ted DuPuis comments about the total hours.

    You probably haven’t read my thread on my Commercial and CFI in the Seminole but doesn’t matter. Let’s just say a LOT of delays and re-starts happened, which made me do a lot more twin flying than I might have thought I was going to, going in.

    I would say I really felt like I was starting to be consciously competent in the airplane at somewhere around 25 hours, and I started to get that sense that I had more of a “feel” for the airplane (better landings, more accurate flying, knew where it was going to go and exactly what it was going to do) closer to 50 which is where Ted mentions is a sweet spot for both the pilot and insurance as well.

    I ended up with a total time of just under 50 and I wouldn’t be concerned about getting in it and flying it tomorrow with maybe a quick run to the practice area to make sure the engine out procedures were smooth. And that last part is because it’s been many months since I have flown it.

    Proficiency is a big deal. If you’re flying it as often as it sounds like you will be, as long as you don’t get complacent, the twin will serve you well.

    I’m staying out of the performance conversation. Ha. I can almost keep up with both the Seminole or the Seneca in my 182 and I’m sure a solid 210 will. Certainly on a long trip I won’t be too far behind in time that matters. (Tops in a typical day flying is in a couple of hours. Can make a difference in fatigue level at the end, though.). Small Piper twins are nothing if not slow. Ha.

    But if you have this good deal and can afford the maintenance and the fuel and you’re going to fly enough to stay proficient, back to my original thought... you’re going to have a whole lot of fun. :)

    Train well and it’ll pay off. And don’t forget to have the instructor shoot that famous photo of the first time you’re sitting there looking at an engine feathered on one side. Ha. The grin on people’s faces is always really big on that first one.

    Most twin instructors know to just tell the student to get out their camera or they’ll get out theirs. Haha. Everyone always wants a photo of that. :)
     
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  31. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When ya wanna know what it really takes to run a TSIO-360 make sure you talk to people that have done so rather listening to rumors on the internet.
     
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  32. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    Might you be someone who knows? I'm certainly listening.
     
  33. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    I'm fine with that, just excited at the thought of having 50 hours in a twin. I'm gonna see if the insurance will cut me some slack if 2 seats can be taken out. I'll never load 6 people in short of an emergency situation.

    The plane is getting annual done next week. I'll have a better idea if it's as good as I believe it is.

    The auto pilot has me with a cheeky smile lol, such luxury.

    And to be honest. I'm scared "chipless" of twins. So I respect the heck out of them and people who can fly them. Which is why I'm taking this serious. 5-6 hrs across 6 states is serious business, at least to me and my family.
     
  34. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’ve got 700 hours behind one.
     
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  35. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Nah! Don’t be scared.

    Respect the engine out regime and train it properly but frankly, when they’re flying on two you just notice three things...

    - A nice push in the seat during takeoff. Performance is usually pretty nice in them. Even the light twins.

    - You’ll have to unlearn your right foot pushing on the rudder when you push the throttles forward. Hahahaha. No more, “right rudder, right rudder, right rudder” in your head. Now it’ll be “centerline and watch for loss of directional control... centerline and watch for loss of directional control...” heheheh.

    - You’ll have a bigger grin on your face. :)

    They fly like any other airplane when all is well with both engines. If anything they’re often a bit heavier in terms of wing loading and there’s a whole lot more weight/mass in the wings from the fuel tanks and tons of fuel on board, so they get you further up that chain of “heavier airplane” feel in bumps. Since they are. They just plow through turbulence for the most part. Some heavy singles do that too, but it feels more pronounced in the heavier twin.

    And of course the joke of all twin pilots during single engine training: Don’t skip leg day at the gym.

    A nice instructor will try to alternate legs so you aren’t walking in circles after landing. :) :) :)

    Also, the first time you can’t get a hot engine restarted in the air instead of fighting with it sitting comfortably on the ground, is one of those “Well now, that’s new and different... now what?” moments in a twin. :) :) :)

    I came within a few hundred feet of declaring the emergency and returning to the home airport on my Commercial ride. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Better to fly it to an airport on one mill, land, and mess with a balky engine on the ground than screw up diverting attention and crash somewhere after you’re out of altitude and options. (It’ll start instantly on the ground after you taxi off, of course.)

    Damn thing just didn’t want to start. Dived twice for airspeed to help the prop turn over the engine, fiddled with mixture and throttle, need two more hands than you have available to do that and hold the starter button in on the sidewall, and no hands left for the yoke... it started on the third attempt. It just didn’t like the fuel-air mixture up high. Lower it had more air and fired off just like we were sitting at the airport.

    Oh yeah, it’s minor, but you’ll also get a grin the first time you figure out how to twist your throttle hand just right to bring one engine up a little and the other down to make a tighter taxi turn and go easier on the nosewheel steering.

    Little stuff you don’t think about at all until you do it and then you grin and think, that’s cool! :)

    The first time you pull two throttles back during a landing while you’re still a few feet up, you’ll learn how much drag two props have when they go flat, too. It’ll be an arrival. Highly recommend you are ginger with closing the throttles smoothly until you know how hard you’re going to have to pull to arrest the sink rate you just asked for.

    You really can “plant” a twin on a spot landing but you have to be ready for the elevator pull needed if you chop the throttles. For a normal landing, just fly it down to the runway and ease the throttles off and it’s done flying for the most part.

    Ahhh you’re making me want to go fly the twin again. :) Loved it. Really did.
     
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  36. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    I've never priced overhauls on the L versions of any counter-rotating engines. The parts really aren't much different, so I wouldn't expect there to be too much of a price difference. Crankcase, crankshaft, cylinders, rods, pistons, etc. are all the same. Some accessories plus the oil pump are going to be different.

    The big issue is that you can't keep a single spare component that's good for both engines in a lot of cases. Starters are different, so if you want to keep a spare starter on hand (which, by the way, is a good idea) then you'll need two. etc. etc.

    What I find is most new twin pilots think that counter-rotating props are awesome and wonder why all twins aren't that way. And then after a while you find that it really doesn't matter much. On the Navajo C/R and Chieftain, the reason for the C/R props is because the things are so anemic on one engine that the C/R was the only way to make the thing climb on one at all. Part of this is the wing lockers, as those hurt lift production compared to the straight wing found on the earlier (310 HP) Navajos. And that was for cert testing where everything is ideal, new airplane, test pilot, etc. Moral of the story: Don't lose an engine in a Navajo.
     
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  37. jbrrapa

    jbrrapa Filing Flight Plan

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    On a Seneca II, both starters are the same.
     
  38. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That's good info, I didn't know that. I suppose they change the gearing.

    On Lycomings the starters are different. Once in the test cell we couldn't figure out why an engine wouldn't start. After a while we realized which direction the prop was turning and saw puffs coming out the engine inlet air filter. Oops...
     
  39. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Another thing I don't like about the Senecas (aside from the I), especially for a low-time pilot, is the fixed-wastegate turbo setup. Get in a pickle during landing, shove the throttles forward for the go-around, and buy yourself a pair of new engines because you just way overboosted the ones you had and probably blew them up. And maybe ended up having to save that already-bad landing you were trying to go around from and wreck the plane.

    I'm not at all a fan of airplanes that you can't put the throttles to the firewall and get 100% power and no more. Turbo 182 with its throttle-linked wastegate is similar.

    The other issue with it is that the turbos are always going, so it's difficult to cool them down and you have to run the engines completely at idle for a while before shutdown to keep from coking up the turbos - And because of that, they also make a TERRIBLE twin trainer. I've flown one that was used for that purpose. They'd reduce MP on the critical engine on the way out to the practice area to try to cool it down prior to shutting it down, but it still ended up in the shop all the time.
     
  40. TheHulk

    TheHulk Pre-Flight

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    Interesting, I'll look into that information. Last thing I wanna do is fry my engines lol.