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Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by A J Smith, May 4, 2021 at 6:02 PM.
Does anyone know if there is a section dealing with Piper Turbo Arrow?
I'm new here.
I don't think so, but I owned one outright for about five years. Ask away.
I am on my second one.
I have had some of the greatest experiences and longest trips in my TA III. it's stil the plane that almost killed me.
I thought there would be more people that had a Turbo Arrow III. I really like the plane.
It's easy to fly and gets up and goes.
I had medical issues and couldn't fly it for a few years. All I could do is taxi it around the field
every few weeks. Trying to get my Class III special Issuance back now.
Was it the plane or you that almost killed you?
So what is your assessment of the plane, and the turbo too?
I have a non-turbo Arrow, if that helps. I know.... not as cool as the Turbo Arrow....
I've owned a Turbo Arrow III outright, and later an Arrow II in a partnership.
The Arrow III (and subsequent tapered wing Arrows) have 72 gallons of fuel capacity, which gives it quite a bit more range than a II or earlier models. They are a bit more stretched out and roomy (or at least they feel less cramped in the back anyway.) The TA III is a tad heavy and has an anemic climb rate, but the nice thing is that it can maintain the same anemic climb rate at a DA of 10,000 feet. Above 10,000 feet, the TAS can start to be impressive at max cruise power. Flying from either KSAC or KOAK to KSEE, I can easily make the flight on one stop, and in theory even back without fueling.
The tapered wings are heavier than the Hershey bar wings, and feel more sluggish in handling, plus they tend to float down the runway more if you come in slightly too fast. Also, Turbo Arrows are nose heavy, not just due to the weight of the turbocharger, but also they have more stout front gear than the non turbo models. Probably to handle the heavier weight. As a result, they are hard to flare properly with no weight in the back.
TSIO 360 engines have a reputation for losing a lot of oil through leaks and blowoff. Mine was really bad. Compressions were fine, but regardless pretty much every flight ended up with a long belly oil cleanup session and oil was a consumable. Adding an Airwolf separator helped but didn't solve the problem. I mean a new engine would solve the problem. But that is the $64,000 question. Literally.
Maintenance is expensive. Six cylinders = twelve plugs. I went to fine wire plugs in an attempt to reduce mag arcing, which becomes a problem above about 12-13K.
A&P's experience was that you typically go through two turbochargers for every major overhaul. So... about losing a turbocharger. The TSIO 360 is boosted above sea level atmospheric pressure to get full takeoff power. I think stock engines are 41" MP for takeoff. Mine was 38" due to an intercooler modification. Typical cruise for me was 33" - 34". If you lose the turbocharger in flight you revert to normal aspiration, but at whatever the outside atmospheric pressure is minus the losses through the seized compressor blades. I don't know what that would end up being, but I'm not confident it would be enough to maintain level flight. I had one nerve wracking flight from Little River back home, and not too long after departure, I could hear grinding noises coming from the engine area. I determined that to be the turbocharger that was in the process of counting down its retirement. Trees and coastal mountains did not present good options for forced landings. I did make it home without total failure. The A&P told me that the turbocharger was within probably a couple minutes of seizing solid. It was coked up pretty bad. That was a $5K bill. Maybe the decision to fly all the way home was bad. I don't know. I sure didn't need the drama.
Just because, on paper, you can make a 16K enroute MEA through a mountain airway, doesn't mean you should. There is no way in hell I'm going to be in IMC at those altitudes. Plus, unless you install pressurized mags, arcing is going to be a problem effectively limiting your altitude to not that much higher that you can get with an NA Arrow.
The other thing I have found was that, above 12K, the engine would not run smoothly lean of peak, forcing me to run rich of peak, incurring a huge fuel penalty. The sweet spot for economy was right around 11-12K because of that.
All turbocharged engines have to be operated carefully, because you can run them too hard at altitude, but a fixed waste gate TA even more so, as there is no overboost protection. When taking off, you have one eye on the MP, and the other eye on everything else. Also, the fixed wastegate has a critical altitude of 15K (I think that is the altitude) where you don't want to cruise. Don't ask me why.
The first time I ever flew the Arrow II, was on a flight back from KTVL (South Lake Tahoe) on a hot summer day. The Other Guy flew the leg up there, with myself and two of his friends that he was dropping off. The field elevation is about 6,300 feet, and you have to clear a mountain pass at about 10,000 feet. I flew the leg back, from the right seat. It didn't perform stellar, but it performed well enough. It handled just like the Cherokee 140 that I used to rent, except you could pull your feet up. I found it just to be a more fun plane to fly, and the bulletproof Lycoming IO360 was cheaper to maintain and a lot less worrisome. 93.4% of my flights are at 3,000 MSL, so, I have not found normal aspiration to be a limiting factor.
I know I'm bagging on the Turbo Arrow and others have had good luck with them. I think it can fulfill a mission involving long distance, but on a new engine, pressurized mags, and an automatic wastegate. $$$.
Thanks I appreciate the rundown. It makes me feel better with my decision to go with an Arrow Ii. At the time of purchases I had an opportunity to go in partnership with a turbo arrow IV. I am glad I passed. Funny thing is the same guy sold his turbo arrow IV and now rents my Arrow II.
Awesome write up
The PA28 series are probably my all around favorite airplane. For the right mission it really can't be beat. I find it ergonomically very comfortable
Your note about the climb rate is true, I never realized it though until I read it.
You could try the Piper forum.
@Sac Arrow thanks for the write-up. What would you say you average TAS was when cruising?
I want to say around 150 kts at 10K without overly pushing it. Down low, around 130.
Now I feel a little cool-er at least for owning a non-turbo (as some would say, NA) Arrow.
Honestly, I'm with @Tantalum. Great plane. Hauls my wife, kid and I with light packing and full fuel as far as I can stand to fly in one go. We have the older, Hershey bar wing and it came with all the 'speed mods'. Ours is actually quite slippery and will true out at 150 at 7-8k' getting around 10gph or a tad less. Comfortable (enough). Fast (enough). Fuel efficient (enough). Not the best, but for my money it's a great aircraft for what I need it to do - fly 3 hour legs under 10k at a good enough clip.
At 9K to 12K I will true out at about 145 @ 65% (30" & 2400 RPM). Had a good tail wind coming back east and GS of 175 Kts - 185 Kts. I usually figure around 11 GPH and that gives me a comfortable fudge factor. I do carry O2 and if I will go to 15K if a good tail wind will get me over 200Kts.