Fixed Gear Vs. Retracts

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by easik, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hey Y'all,
    working on my next video piece "fixed gear airplanes vs. retractable gear airplanes".
    Please share your opinion on the major differences in terms of Looks, Cost, Performance, and Ease of flying.

    Generally speaking retracts would cost more to operate and maintain, but they are faster because of the 'drag' factor. No tricycles holding down the airplane. And retracts do look sexier IMO. Curious anyone who's owned both, what were the difference in cost with maintenance and insurance?

    Please share specifics. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  2. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Pattern Altitude

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    Sounds like you should be watching a video about the topic rather than making one.
     
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  3. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not sure what sense you're trying to make with your comment. Because I ask others on their thoughts on a topic doesn't mean I am not knowledgeable about the topic to begin with. I wouldn't make a video on it if I knew nothing about it. This is a discussion forum no?
     
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  4. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    My 5 airplanes have included 3 retracts and 2 fixed. I find the whole "maintenance and insurance cost" argument to be hollow. Is there a difference? Eh, maybe over the short term, especially low time in retract at the beginning. But over the long term any differences are lost in the general noise that is airplane ownership spending. It's not like most people go out and compare direct model combinations where you can choose fixed or retract on an otherwise identical model. Even Archer vs Arrow vary on such things as constant speed prop.

    The used airplane market as it exists now is such a crapshoot that you MUST consider mission first, and then find the best available airplane that meets that. If you start out saying, "I'm going to ignore retracts because my insurance premium for the first year will be $300 cheaper," then you are truly letting the tail wag the dog.

    This argument would be different if you were talking about new airplanes, because then you wouldn't have to consider the actual history and equipment of the specific aircraft; you could just build it to spec. A "new Bonanza vs new Cirrus" discussion is an entirely different one.
     
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  5. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Ive considered upgrading to a retractable, but the insurance increase alone has kept me from doing it. I just talked to my agent last week about this, and he said I would see my rates quadruple AT MINIMUM. Yeah? No thanks! Guess I’m never in that big of a hurry.
     
  6. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    That doesn't make any logical sense, and certainly that hasn't been my experience.

    As far as hull loss coverage is concerned they are insuring replacement (if that's what you want covered, in motion or not), and my experience is that premium is directly related to the insured value of the airplane, regardless of whether it's a single or a twin, retractable or not.

    If your broker is saying you as a pilot are four times the liability risk just because you are flying a retractable, I'd go looking for another insurance company.

    When I bought and started flying my Aztec my insurance slightly more than doubled. But the insured value of the hull was also twice my immediately prior fixed gear Piper single, and I have 6 seats vs 4, which the insurer told me increased the liability coverage cost.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  7. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Gear related maintenance costs on our Cardinal over the last 5 years have not added up to the cost of the AD on the IO-360 to inspect the push rod bushings. And this isn't the very simple gear design of the Arrow.

    I'd say the maintenance cost is a nothing-burger. [To use an overly used term of the day]
     
  8. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Yeah, this.
     
  9. teejayevans

    teejayevans Pattern Altitude

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    BS, insurance runs about 1% of hull value on Mooneys, the first year runs 2-3% depending on your experience, once you get to 100 hrs in type it will drop.
     
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  10. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When pricing insurance comparable models (without regard to fixed versus retract or taildragger vs. tricycle) the price is pretty much a function of your credentials (hours, ratings) and the HULL VALUE you're insuring for.

    While there's a little more work typically to be done at annual time for retracts, that can easily be swamped by having some onerous ADs on the plane even with fixed gear.

    There are some really slick fixed gear planes that will blow the doors off of some of the older retracts.

    You can't speak in generalities, you need to look at the exact models you're considering.
     
  11. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    Seems high to me. When my partner and I bought the 201, we had zero complex time, and very little high performance time[1]. $120k hull and $1M smooth was $1500 the first year, and it dropped to and has remained at ~$1200/yr the second year and beyond.

    [1] Yeah, yeah, technically at 200hp the 201 isn't a high performance airplane, but it flies like one. And how did we get high performance without the complex? The mighty 182!

    EDIT: Oh, we've owned the plane 12 years, and this year is the 1st year we've had any gear related expense other than the annual swing. We needed new donuts and the gear motor/transmission had to go out for inspection. We're probably good for another 10 at least on the gear now.
     
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  12. Challenged

    Challenged Cleared for Takeoff

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    Both of the approaches into my home airport have me flying over water so I do like having my retract in case I have to put it down off-field.
     
  13. Landing Fees

    Landing Fees Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Going from 56 hours TT to a Meridian? It isn't a total stretch, our experience when considering adding a partner was that he would have increased our policy by $1600 from a pretty reasonably $1K. He was at 190 hours no IR few complex/HP.
     
  14. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Difference:
    "The Zen of Retracts"
    One stays down unless you knock it off.
    One goes up and down. Until it doesn't.
     
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  15. MD11Pilot

    MD11Pilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My insurance broker just informed me that my policy was going up about $200/year. They shop many different providers and the one I am with now (Global) was the lowest increase. I attended a Bonanza specific flight training during the year as well as the ABS Safety seminar, member of the wings program etc. but they said that these wouldn't matter with my experience. The broker said that every company they dealt with went up this year. Not sure why. Going to the hangar to swing the gear and do some lubing and rigging in an hour. My retract maintenance costs might be a few dollars higher than my friends 182 and only because of a couple of needed bushings etc.
    Here is the caveat on retract vs fixed costs. Stay ahead of the maintenance and don't let things go when something needs to be done. Keep everything lubed well, observe speed limits, keep the struts and wheel wells clean and the tires and struts inflated properly and the costs are minimal.
     
  16. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So I must ask. Exactly what is a nothing burger?
     
  17. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    means it costs nuthin', or very cheap if it do :)
     
  18. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pre-takeoff checklist

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    All bun and no meat.
     
  19. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    It is actually a difficult comparison to make, since most retractables also have constant speed propellors, which adds to complexity and expense. I suppose one could compare a Skylane with an RG Skylane, or a Warrior with an Arrow? My Cherokee was far less expensive to run, both insurance (nearly doubled) and maintenance.
     
  20. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    No BS. Now, I've neglected to say that the hull value doubles as well...but that is to be expected when you're upgrading from a simple Cherokee to an expensive retract. I personally would refuse to fly a four place retract that I could get for the same price as my Cherokee. Also, it might not be that the retract is so expensive, but more like that the Cherokee is so cheap, when it comes to insurance.
    I also didn't mention that I currently have 500 hours tt, with 0 in complex...
    Either way, I'll pass.
     
  21. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    And as a reference, I currently pay $480 a year for $35000 hull, 0 deductible, 1 million liability.
     
  22. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

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  23. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    It's something political types say to imply that a story (usually about them or their party) has no meat.
     
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  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not too much of a difference in mx or insurance IMO, if you're low time maybe that first year insurance might be a little high, but after that it'll come down.

    Personally I've owned both, professionally flown both, have friends with both, I like fixed and RG the same, just depends on the mission.
     
  25. cgrab

    cgrab Cleared for Takeoff

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    Contact the guys at cardinalflyers.com. The straight leg and retract Cardinals are very similar and there are enough of them flying to get a reasonable comparison.
     
  26. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That like a jam sandwich... two pieces of bread...jammed together?
     
  27. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Very similar to a Wish Sandwich.
     
  28. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have zero ties to AOPA other than being a simple member. My insurance went down a little this year and I increased my hull value a bit. I didn't do any insurance accepted training or sims either. If you haven't checked, you should hit them up for a quote. If you have or aren't a member and don't want to be, disregard. I just mention this because I think we bought about the same time and your broker told you every company they deal with went up...just not my case. I did shop the market before renewing with AOPA and they were again better than the rest.
     
  29. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Cleared for Takeoff

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    In my opinion, retracts: Look=better, Cost=none yet, Performance=I go faster when the gear is up, Ease of flying=pretty easy, only takes the flick of two fingers to raise and lower them. I'm a fan. Haven't owned any fixed gear to compare but I've flown a lot.
     
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  30. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    When talking about the the <180 knot SEL segment, the thing that moved the fixed gear Cirrus in to replace the Bo’s! Arrows and RGs is the realization that well designed legs and nacelles give little away to retracts in terms of performance.

    I test flew my RV10 with exposed legs and wheels, then installed the cover-ups after engine break-in (SOP for fresh engined 10’s). I gained 18 knots at 3,000’.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
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  31. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    That seems a very reasonable insurance premium for sure. :thumbsup: Adjusted for inflation that is less than I was paying for my Cherokee 160 more than two decades ago.

    But if changing planes and moving to something more valuable probably still worth shopping around. I usually go out for quotes every 2nd or 3rd year just so I know how my current premium stacks up
     
  32. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    Cons: Potential for gear up landings, maintenance costs, weight. The more complex the plane, the more there is to go wrong. Speed advantages are not usually that great and fuel consumption goes way up. Say if you were considering an Archer vs. an Arrow, in terms of overall costs vs. performance/cruise and range, the Archer is the better choice. Just depends on what you consider to be important.
     
  33. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    This
     
  34. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    That's really cheap.
     
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  35. wayne

    wayne Line Up and Wait

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    ^ This. Get the plane that meets your needs and don't worry about retract vs fixed gear. While retractable gear may look cooler below 200 knots it's not much of a help on speed. I've flown both and really don't care either way. I'm flying a Baron primarily, occasionally a SR22. Working on getting a partnership set-up on a SR22, but also considering another one instead on a Mooney. Range, speed, useful load, avionics are all important, but fixed gear vs retract? Not so much.
     
  36. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So it’s just a bun. Why not just call it a bun if that’s all it is? An empty bun might as well be called a “nothing BBQ” or a “nothing chicken sandwich” or a “nothing tenderloin sandwich”.

    And who says a burger has to be on a bun? If you give sac a couple pieces of lettuce and nothing else, would that constitute a nothing burger to him?

    When I first heard the term I sort of thought it meant a plain burger versus let’s say a bacon cheeseburger. I took nothing as to mean there is nothing on it.
     
  37. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  38. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    I've never owned or regularly operated a retract. Just flew a Mooney enough to get the required add-ons for IFR.

    I take great comfort in the operational simplicity of fixed gear on my RV10 and my old Maule. It's just one less thing to screw up or break.

    Let me take that initial statement back - I've owned 2 retractable aircraft - A PIK20 and an LS6 sailplane. Made many landings in both including dozens of not-so-standard off field landings. Only forgot once during an aborted start of a race but a watchful ground crew person broke radio protocol and saved me much embarrassment bless her heart.

    I did have the honor of watching a one time world champion glider racer skid one in on a practice day in Hobbs. Just ouch!
     
  39. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I am in dred fear of landing gear up. In a way I lucked, out, the Johnson bar in my aircraft was really difficult for me to master, I can't imagine forgetting it. But, anyone can get distracted, especially absent minded professor types. That's why I try and have the gear down and the airframe dirtied up before I hit downwind, which is where distractions tend to occur.

    Now that it isn't a big concern running the bar on take off and landing really isn't that big a deal. I suspect throwing a switch is even less so. I think it really does boil down to mission. The Mooney had the most speed for my budget bar none.
     
  40. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had a neighbor with a Johnson Bar mooney. Took me a lot of effort to get the hang of locking it down. I like my Navion. While normal operation is hydraulic, the system is pretty dirt simple and once you get it out of the uplocks it's likely going to slam down and locked (the mains will certainly, the nose gear doesn't take much more). In fact, the emergency extension procedure on the Navion is a bigger handle (with the hydraulics off, the 4" handle on the panel doesn't quite have leverage enough to pull the up locks by itself. A larger handle under the panel (about a foot long) gives you more leverage.
     
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