Seneca V Demo Flight Pirep

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Alexb2000, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I have known the local Piper salesman for several years. I have never done any kind of demo flight because I wasn't entertaining buying a plane. Anyway, he said he had a Seneca coming through Dallas on the way back from a show in CA and offered to give me a demo. So for those of you with any interest, here are my impressions:

    Walk Around: The airplane looks well built on the ramp, paint quality is good, interior quality is also what you would expect. I was surprised by a couple of things like incandescent lighting, boot instead of TKS, hot plate vs. windshield, etc. The plane looks wide and low, which makes sense once you realize the cabin is 46" wide inside. Gear is a robust strut design with all three tires the same 6.00X6, so grass fields would be no problem. Wing span is a little long IMO, 38' 11" makes a 40' door possible, but tight. The cowlings are a version V redesign they look good and provide very good cooling (more on that later).

    Power: It's powered by two 220HP counter rotating Conti. TSIO-360-RB's. The counter rotating props being the most interesting thing.

    Interior: Nice overall, but a little cheap for the cost of the aircraft. The engine controls for example were really stiff (friction was all the way out), lots of cheap plastic on the rear console, trim wheels, fuel selector, etc. Not a show stopper, but indicative of Piper's approach with the aircraft.

    Avionics: Piper did a great G1000 implementation two PFD's with one MFD center. Made complete sense for any twin possibly two pilot aircraft. Backup instruments were eliminated in favor of an aspen standby unit left of the pilots PFD. This one had active traffic, ADS-B, Vertical profile digital radar (vertical profile is the bomb IMO), dual AHRS (optional), and integrated engine management (left a little to be desired, but OK). They were real proud of the electroluminescent breaker panel (Nice, but ho humm IMO).

    Climate controls: We used both the A/C and heater within 10 min. Welcome to Texas! A/C worked great and we used it sitting at KADS for another 30 minute ground hold (VFR) in a glass bubble. Once airborne the temp quickly dropped to -10C, bring on the heat. Both worked very well and were appreciated on this trip.

    Let's fly this thing! First I have aggressive rudder foot syndrome. I am used to having to use a lot of rudder for almost anything and I do so unconsciously. This airplane doesn't need it with the counter rotating props. So this was an adjustment I would have to make all though out this flight. Put the power to it and it goes really good, rotate about 70, accel to blue line 88, climb out 110 at about 1500 FPM (close to gross). On the climb out I found it a little fidgety, not bad, but not jet like either, turning on the yaw dampener corrected that, but still left me wondering why. Control feel is more sporty and quick than I expected, overall a nice balance between stability and agility.

    OEI Performance: The thing you will hear often repeated is the 16,500' single engine service ceiling that these engines provide. I had a pretty poor impression of the DA-42's OEI performance when I tested it so I was keen to try this one. They didn't want to shut one down fully so they zero thrusted one. Really a non-event, my foot was left wanting something to do. We not only held 12,500 but were climbing at 500 FPM. I would say the OEI is as the book suggests and easy to accomplish.

    Fuel, leaning, engine management: LOP vs. ROP, what is your religion? How about just peak? Yup, that's right this is a bird that is most happy at dead peak. I've never experienced this before, but I played with this one 45 minutes to prove it to myself. Running at peak 75% power, about 30", no CHT was over 350-360, TIT was 1530ish. We had a 50 knot wind aloft so I made sure and run downwind to see if it would matter, it didn't. Cowls were closed the whole time. I messed with all kinds of settings and came to the conclusion that if it will run peak at cool temps that is the most speed for the fuel burn. At 12.5, 75% power, 156 KIAS, 350-360 CHT, 14 GPH per side. You can mess around from there but the gains are not that much. For example running the above configuration I showed an 800NM range. Running low power, LOP, go far mode, I lost over 20 knots and only increased the range to about 865NM. Lowest fuel burn I could get was about 11.8 per side at just under 130 indicated.

    Airwork: Nothing like telling a demo pilot and salesman you want to stall their new twin. The demo pilot flinched, the sales guy said, "just keep it coordinated", so we did. It stalls power off, just like any aircraft, about 62-63 knots, dropped the right wing some, nothing you couldn't pick up easily. I would call it middle of the road with Cirrus/Corvallis being the best by far. This also has envelope protection of sorts, bank more than 60 and it pulls you back to 45. Get it in an unusual attitude and they have a blue Level button that puts the aircraft straight and level using the autopilot (wonder where they got that idea?). All those things worked fine. Basically a straight forward flying aircraft.

    Overall: I am a hack pilot that spends more time reading aviation boards than I do flying. That said I was able to land twice at night, in a twin I've never flown, with only minor verbal guidance for the appropriate speeds and power settings. That should tell you that with some experience this is a piece of cake twin to fly. Also, given that we are talking about a FIKI, turbo, etc. bird, I found the workload to be very manageable. In 10 hours or less of transition training I believe I would be comfortable going anywhere in it including appropriate bad weather flying.

    Wishes: Not unique to Piper, but I get the sense that everyone is trying to keep up with Cirrus, not surpass them. The blue LVL button was just a straight ripoff IMO. I also saw an old airframe that had been gussied up with the new bells and whistles. Yes, there were some improvements like the cowlings (awesome cooling), but overall an older Seneca with a good paint job would be indistinguishable. I would also have liked to see things like LED lighting, TKS, or hot windshield as standard. Looking through a hot plate is just yesterday on a $1.3M bird. Speaking of standards, the option list is long, very long, I guess so they can accommodate any customer, but that said it would make sense to just standardize some of these things like dual AHRS, am safe belts, etc.

    Positives: Easy engine management for a twin turbo, amazingly easy. Heat was just not an issue to my surprise, but I didn't fly it out of Vegas on an August afternoon either. Straight forward airplane, just something that any pilot could get in and operate without being a Naval Test Pilot. Short field was awesome, 25 degree flaps, 38", release brakes, rotate at 70, and you're off in ~1600'. Given some practice it would be easy to land in a similar distance.

    So there you go, just my impressions on a 2 hour flight. I'm ready to hear from the experts. :)
     

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  2. narchee

    narchee Line Up and Wait

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    Nice review. What was the interior quality like for the rear passengers?

    I don't understand why would this make a difference?
     
  3. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Thanks for the write-up, Alex. While the Seneca is on my list as a twin I just don't get, Piper must sell enough to still build them.
     
  4. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Club seating in the rear like a Bo or Baron. Writing table and a console between the middle row. Not bad, but I would rather see the rear a completely flat floor with all rear seats quick removing.

    Some aircraft seem to cool different moving from a strong headwind to tail because of different air pressure on the cowl. Just my experience perhaps someone like Ted could elaborate further.
     
  5. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Why is that?
     
  6. cirrusmx

    cirrusmx Line Up and Wait

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    i am currently flying a turbo seneca II. For some reason i get better numbers than the ones on your review. At 10-12 ft agl I usually true out at 170-180 knots at 75%. The initial climb rate is pretty awesome at lightweights, 2000 fpm or greater not uncommon and at 120 cruise climb speed I usually get 1600 fpm, which is not bad at all. Overall the plane I fly is a good airplane, but I dont know about the new ones which cost over a million dollars and the payload is limited. Of course, the seneca II panel lacks the glass avionics with only has a 430, dme, vor, loc, and a six pack. I am strong believer in avionics technology and computers, on average they make a flight safer. Now a days you are probably better off with a late model sr22T rather than a brand new seneca and thus the low sales volume the piper seneca registers.
     
  7. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I was listed indicated at 75% so our numbers are pretty close all around. I agree on all counts the Cirrus pretty much kicks ass for $500k less, given that you don't have a mission that really requires a twin.
     
  8. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Generally don't like the cabin, don't like the engines, I think they could've overhauled the Aztec with a better result.
     
  9. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I find it incredible that anyone would spend $1.3mil for a new one. Who does that!?
     
  10. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    From a pilot/owner perspective I'd probably agree. From a manufacturing standpoint, the Aztec looks like it would have been labor intensive to build. Perhaps that's why it faded away while the Seneca has remained? :dunno:
     
  11. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The only thing I don't get with the Seneca is why they have never adopted a full reference wastegate? :dunno: It just doesn't make a bunch of sense.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    The Aztec was very labor intensive to build, hence the replacement by the Seneca. My point was they could've revised the basic Aztec and done a better job with it, but it was easier to build a twin Cherokee Six.
     
  13. willywildes

    willywildes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Sell international like hot cakes. Try to find a nice used one, they'r almost as rare as hens teeth. My partner sold his V in two days, For top dollar. Went to South America. That's who buys them.
     
  14. Unbeliever

    Unbeliever Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Maybe on the ground, but up in the air, wind direction only affects ground speed.

    150 knots TAS is 150 knots TAS no matter where the wind is going.

    --Carlos V.
     
  15. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    I wasn't talking about airspeed.
     
  16. Mason

    Mason Pattern Altitude

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    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  17. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Why wouldn't they just buy used ones for 10% of the price?
     
  18. willywildes

    willywildes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Depreciation tax. Businesses buy new high dollar planes. 10% of the price... I can tell your not in the market.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  19. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    To your point there is one G1000 Seneca for sale used, a 2013 for $950K.
     
  20. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ Final Approach

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    I did all my multi training in a Seneca II, enjoyed flying it immensely.
    Twins with turbos drinking 26gph are high maintenance for a flight school.
     
  21. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It's still cash out the door, the plane is not free.

    Also, you can get a 70s era Seneca II for $130k last I checked.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  22. red4golf

    red4golf Line Up and Wait

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    Great PIREP.

    You just made it that much harder to get back in to the 1970's C172 with the shag carpet and duct tape that I currently rent.

    Guess I need a better job.... ;)
     
  23. Unbeliever

    Unbeliever Pre-takeoff checklist

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    OK. Then explain how 150 kts TAS upwind is different than 150 kts TAS downwind, aerodynamically.

    In both cases, the airplane feels do difference in wind pressure.

    Sure, the ground speed is different since the mass of air the airplane is moving through is moving relative to the ground, but aerodynamically, the physics is identical.

    --Carlos V.
     
  24. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    A buddy of mine sold his last ear and it went to South America as well, Brazil I think.
     
  25. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    In my thread on "Stick and Rudder Moments", I used something like this as an example*, and I recall some thought it was far fetched.

    See...it's not!



    *"5) I’ve heard it said cowl flaps are especially useful when flying downwind, when cooling would otherwise be compromised by the tailwind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  26. Alexb2000

    Alexb2000 En-Route

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    Here are my random thoughts on the subject. First if I were using an old single analog CHT gauge I could have flown the rest of my life and proclaimed from the tallest mountain that the wind makes no difference. The instrumentation just didn't support enough detail.

    Since the advent of engine monitors and recording individual cylinder temps, minute temperature differences become apparent when I'm setting there in cruise for hours at a time staring at the information. On my 206 I've notice a 5-10 degree change in CHT based on a strong wind. I am not a fluid dynamics expert, so I have no idea exactly why. Perhaps a slight pressure change in the cowl as I mentioned, or slight turbulence in the relative wind, IDK.

    I've also experienced the same effects because of air density, mostly above FL200. I'm sure many here would say it doesn't matter either.

    All that said, I just don't care to dive into it. If it doesn't exist for some then it isn't an issue. If it isn't an issue then why argue about it? If it is something you've seen then it is manageable. If someone with the right background can educate me on the subject I'm all ears, otherwise I'd rather skip the pointless bickering.
     
  27. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Commercial operators and business operators do fine with new equipment.
     
  28. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  29. narchee

    narchee Line Up and Wait

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    If you want a new light twin with G1000 and turbos this is the only choice right now. As someone mentioned A LOT of them are going to South America.
     
  30. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    No, the G-58TC Baron exists as well IIRC.
     
  31. narchee

    narchee Line Up and Wait

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    You can't buy one new now.
     
  32. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Why is that?

    The Beech website is still showing the G58 in production.
     
  33. narchee

    narchee Line Up and Wait

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    What I meant is you cannot buy a new turbo G58. They have IO-550C's.
     
  34. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah, gotcha.
     
  35. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Pretty sure you can order it with a FADEC TSIO even. Maybe they they changed since the corp takeover, but a couple years ago at either OSH or SnF I was talking with a Beech rep and he said you could basically do a custom order.