Transition to Piper Seneca

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by MJR Pilot, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. MJR Pilot

    MJR Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    I am a 700-hour pilot with most of that time in a Piper Arrow II (200hp, retract, so it's complex but not high performance). Also instrument rated. I've never flown anything more powerful / faster than an Arrow. I will soon be starting multi training in a late '60s Piper Seminole, and once complete, I have my eye on purchasing a Piper Seneca V. Seeking the group's opinion on whether a Seneca V will be "too much" plane for a pilot of my experience. I'm told that a Seneca is "like a Saratoga with two engines", and this has me wondering if I'm biting off more than I can chew. I will be getting my multi rating in a Seminole which should give me some comfort, and I will of course complete at least the minimum insurance transition requirements in the Seneca. I study and train hard and would expect to do at least several transition lessons beyond the insurance minimums. Would welcome the group's thoughts on whether it's reasonable to transition to the Seneca, especially if any of you have flown both Arrows and Senecas and are speaking from experience. Thanks!
     
  2. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    I think you'll be fine and your worrying too much about it. It's a pretty natural step up from where you are now. Get good training, study a lot and you will do well.

    The Seneca really a PA32 with two engines. Handling is pretty benign, and performance is decent (depending on the model and year) with the turbo engines. If the Seneca V has the fixed wastegate that the III has, that is definitely something to be careful about though!
     
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  3. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Should be no big deal for you to step up to and fly the Seminole and Seneca. The main issue with flying twin piston aircraft imo is pilots don't maintain their emergency procedures currency. And then if an engine quits they are surprised, and the plane is flying them instead of the other way around.

    Like every airplane the Seneca has a few quirks that you need to keep in mind, and that's where an experienced instructor in type can really pay. They have a fairly high incidence of nose gear collapses because of ham fisted pilots not handling them properly.

    I owned an Arrow in the past (and 3 different fixed gear Cherokees, including a Dakota) and currently own and fly a Piper Aztec.
     
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  4. MikeNY

    MikeNY Pre-Flight

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    Yes, in these models.
    [Arrow I,II,III,IV and Seneca I, Seneca (manual Rajay turbo chargers), Seneca II and V.]
    Yes, your 700 Arrow hours will help, a lot.

    For single-engine to multi, Arrow to Seneca was a natural progression. Piper familiarity, counter-rotating props, prior experience with constant speed prop/retractable gear, and docile/stable PA34 handling.
    Your proposed Piper step-up a good path ... if committed to the multi training, and maintaining multi-engine proficiency.
    Turbo-charged engines require some attention, but with training and experience, unlikely to find a Seneca “too much airplane”.

    Short, easy-read articles may also help answer Seneca questions:
    -Pipers Magazine, (if you subscribe, check May 2020 issue with Seneca focus)
    -Avweb Aircraft Guide: Piper Seneca
    Aircraft reviews in The Aviation Consumer:
    -Piper PA-34 Seneca
    -Aircraft Guide: Piper Seneca
    -Piper Seneca
    -Pipers PA34 Seneca

    If looking at purchase for a used aircraft, related question to consider are costs. (insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc)
    For example, PA32 cabin is the same as PA34, but consider costs for a (h.p.) single vs a twin.

    If committed to costs, training, and proficiency for a multi-engine, Arrow to Seneca, a good transition.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
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  5. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You should be fine I transitioned from an arrow to a beech travel air with no problem,have also flown the Seneca .if your proficient in the arrow you do fine in the Seneca.
     
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  6. JuggyJet

    JuggyJet Pre-Flight

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    I can tell by the tone of your post, you will do just fine flying a Seneca or any other airplane. No other GA airplane has made me feel safer than my Seneca. Enjoy your twin training!
     
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  7. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can do this in about ten hours but you won’t feel “comfortable until about 30 hours.

    it’a a well mannered bird.
    I would strongly suggest Merlin upper deck pressure controllers, however for you want to operate in the upper teens.

    4000 hrs in type.....they do require landing speed discipline.
     
  8. MJR Pilot

    MJR Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks everyone for the responses - very helpful and much appreciated. Seneca it is.
     
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  9. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

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    The Seminole and Seneca are both very docile twins. They will feel overwhelmingly fast and complex at first but you'll soon be very comfortable in them. After a few months in the Seneca you'll be complaining about it being too slow just like everyone else. :)
     
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  10. Lukas

    Lukas Filing Flight Plan

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    Ive got some 1100 hrs in Seneca II flying Cargo in the past (only about 15hrs in a 200hp Arrow but many in other complex singles). Id say if U were a 100hr pilot id be a bit worried. But with your total experience and so much complex time- go for it! And dont worry too much if U can handle it cause you will easily get there!

    PA 34 is only about 30kts faster than an Arrow (about 165kts cruise) and needs just a bit more planning and anticipation in flight (esp app and landing). Senecas are very stable airplanes but you need to be on speeds during your approaches. Theyre not too forgiving on short runways, during hard landings and i wouldnt land them on grass strips. Its too fast of an airplane and too low of a prop clearance for grass. Nose wheel doesnt seem too sturdy for grass either. When i started my descents i lowered my manifold in 2” intervals every 30 seconds or so (at least in upper altitudes). This helps with gradual cooling of ur turbos. In over 1000 hours i never had the turbos act up and my mechanic would often say whatever Ure doing with these engines keep doing it. The turbos are great if U take care of them (good lubrication, slower throttle movements and good descent cooling). In winter months where most of the wx and icing in northeast would be below 10,000’ the turbos would always take me a hair above it all with no problems. U couldnt do that in normally aspirated Aztecs loaded with cargo. Those guys would always sit below me in icing asking me how is it up there..?

    In general with Seneca 2s, even though U have turbos you cannot load them with 6 people (not sure how differently the V handles but id imagine its not that far off). Just cant do that unless U have like 10 gallons on each side. Its a good 5 passenger 0 cargo, 4 passenger + some cargo plane. Its not really able to carry a lot of weight (unlike an Aztec, etc which were the heavy haulers at my company). With full fuel Ure now getting closer to 3 passengers limit on a warm day (just my opinion). But in end, theyre great airplanes. Theyre fast, pretty comfortable (although getting into the pilot seat can be a challenge as youre stepping so low from the wing into the seat), most have an easy double loading door in the back, and theyre a lot of fun to fly.

    Id say after so many hours in an Arrow you will have no problem with the transition. Maybe like U nentioned- find a place that gives dual in PA34 just to get a few hours of familiarity in them after Ur multi training. If U have any more questions or need more info PM me. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
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  11. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lukas is mostly correct but with the upper deck pressure controllers it's a different aircraft. Adequate engine cooling and Critical altitude of 19,000 feet. Mine has 1520 useful load. And with upper deck controllers you can run 180 knts up high (carry lots of oxygen).....
     
  12. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    +1

    I ended up with an Aztec because I wanted the higher useful load and avoid owning turbocharged engines. But during my rather extensive research of piston twins the Merlyn upper deck wastegate controller and the aftermarket intercoolers were the most coveted modifications, in that order, for the Seneca engines.
     
  13. Martin Pauly

    Martin Pauly Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    My advice is to commit to regular recurrent training of OEI procedures. Those skills are perishable if not used for a while, and while the additional engine can save your bacon if you use it properly, the asymmetric thrust with one engine inop can also kill you faster if you don't know how to respond. Multi engine flying can be very safe, but it takes the pilot's commitment to regular training.

    - Martin
     
  14. YKA

    YKA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You will be fine! Did my multi ifr in a II when I had around 80 hours, and was half owner of a III for years, very easy to fly.
     
  15. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good transition airplane, in fact just a good airplane. The engines are a bit fragile, but other than that your in a good transition plane. Remember this.......The other "good" engine will only take you to the scene of the crash! AND never forget that fact. You are better off shutting down the good engine and crashing straight ahead in control, than to crash out of control trying to save the airframe. Light twins don't often have the performance to get you back around to a safe landing. And lots going on trying to fly AND Verify, identify and feather and keep the greasy side down and get maximum performance out of an angered cat by the tail all at the same time. So remember the airframe is expendable, you and your passengers are not.
     
  16. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    I would have thought a Seneca V (or really any of the turbo'ed ones -- so 2-5?) would have sufficient performance to manage OEI.
     
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  17. YKA

    YKA Pre-takeoff checklist

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    They do...but...the pilot has to be calm, good, and did I mention calm. Panic kills a lot of people in twins. They don't understand why they are struggling, and then do something dumb. Problems are a lot less the plane, a lot more the pilot. 220 hp drags a fairly light plane around just fine, and they handle extremely docile on one engine, even with 4 souls and 3/4 tanks, but the idiot in the front left seat has to have his/her head in the game, and stay calm. I refused to even declare it an emergency, just called tower ( told myself that no matter what to be calm ) and told them I was a one engine Seneca, and requested straight in. I was actually asked to 'please repeat, did you say that you only have one engine'. I repeated that was correct. Then he asked me how far out I was, altitude, how many people onboard, and was I declaring an emergency. Said no emergency, just requesting straight in if he didn't mind. He cleared me straight in, and when I switched to ground once down, that gal told me I "was the calmest engine out pilot she could imagine ever listening to". To which I replied 'if i panic my ability to be a rational pilot is gone, and my passengers will be upset'. My staying calm kept my three passengers calm to. My instructor deserves the real credit, she was very good, always calm, and made me practice emergency situations. I was damn sure not going to kill people I loved. Don't ever let someone's telling you that a twin is hard to fly on 1, or it will just take you to the crash sight, effect your ability to make it happen, and return to the airport. In case anyone wonders, yes there were closer airports, but I chose to make a 180 in the valley I was flying up, and return to my home airport, because the runway was a lot bigger, and I was familiar with it. So I made the choice to fly approximately 30 nm back home, instead of about half that distance to a strange airport. If I had to do it again, I would make the same decision, although some people told me after the fact, they would have gone to the closer airport.
    ps. Yes it would still climb despite being on one, and also turned 180 degrees well in the valley I was flying up, well below the terrain height on both sides of me.
     
  18. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Like every piston twin it depends on how it is loaded, density altitude, phase of flight and so forth.
    We both know all too well it comes down to what does it take to keep it above Vmc, and preferably something close to blue line. If it means keeping the nose down, descending...well the Gawds are telling us it's time to land. :dunno:

    I like to fly mine light (easier to do with the useful load of an Aztec, 310 and many Barons). Margin of safety and more options that way. I tell my pilot friends I like to fly it like a twin and load it like a single.
     
  19. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    :) I was responding to the advice to shut down the second motor lest it take you to the crash scene. It seemed... not really applicable to the twin under discussion here.
     
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  20. 6t6

    6t6 Pre-Flight

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    I was a 129 hr PP who hd not flown since 1979. I bought a TwinComanche and proceeded to upgrade the panel and start flying again. Before you even fly a twin spend a lot of time in the sim (20 hours min) with an instructor who does many hrs of instruction a week in that sim. In the twin it's procedure, procedure and procedure. Very experienced sim instructor can save time, money and and simulate so many scenarios that just isn't advisable in the airplane. For example engine cut at 500 ft on takeoff or on final on an IMC approach. Transition was very smooth and felt at home right from the beginning. Now 500 hrs and IR and I too want a Seneca for the seating an A/C. No not too much airplane with the right training.