Turbo vs non-turbo Piper Arrow

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by aye29, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. aye29

    aye29 Filing Flight Plan

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    I've been looking at listings online for a Piper Arrow III or IV and I'm torn between getting a regular to turbocharged version. It seems like there are a lot more turbocharged Arrows for sale vs the regular. I know that the turbo engines would be more expensive to maintain but that's pretty nonspecific. How do the turbos compare to the regular engines in their ability to make TBO and maintenance costs? A lot of the listing online are aircraft that have Merlyn wastegates or intercoolers or both installed. How much would accessories like those improve engine temperatures and reliability?
     
  2. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    First things first. Why would you need a turbo?

     
  3. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    What Doc Bruce said earlier today about engine management in a Seneca, holds true also for unmodified Turbo Arrows. Plus, the Turbo Arrow engine is a six-cylinder Continental (don't get me started on Continental "quality" control right now), vs. a Lycoming four in the NA Arrow.

    Engine aside, the low-tail would be my preference. The T-tail's 13%-smaller stabilator, located out of the energized prop slipstream, means less pitch authority on takeoff and a longer takeoff run. The T-tail seems to me to have more tail-wag in turbulence, as well. Looking at the aerodynamic gimmicks (slots, fences, etc.) on an Arrow IV's stabilator makes me think Piper engineers had a heckuva time getting it to fly right.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  4. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    To really get your money's worth from a turbo you need to be regularly flying heavily loaded out of hot and high airports, flying out west (rockies) or making long trips with passengers who don't mind sucking on oxygen.

    Unless you truthfully fit into one of these categories N/A is the way to go. Below 10k feet there is no difference between turbo and N/A performance wise. You have to climb up to 15,000 plus feet to realize the extra efficiency.

    A turbo that has an aftermarket wastegate and intercooler fitted would make a noticeable difference in terms of performance up at altitude. But you need oxygen and a trip that is long enough to justify the time spent climbing up there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  5. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Indeed, I have the cruise performance charts for both the turbo and nonturbo arrows, there's no difference there until you get to oxygen altitudes.

    The Turbo Arrow was designed with a fixed wastegate. Seems like a really crappy idea, hence the popularity of aftermarket wastegates.
     
  6. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Agree with Wayne. Why?

    If you do long trips and need to top weather, good solution.
    If you fly in the rockies, good solution.
    If you want to go fast, LOUSY solution. Slowest of the SLOW Turbocharged 4 seat singles. Mooney is 20 knots faster, ~same engine.

    You will not make TBO unless you have a steady, genteel hand. Like Pilawt says, see my comments about operating the Seneca (TWO of those engines). http://www.pilotsofamerica.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1208613#post1208613


    Merlin Wastegates are a must, but are not sufficient for long engine life.
    And don't believe the Turbo Arrow Power tables. To get some the 75% performance, you're actually running 83% power.....the tables are NOT altitude compensated. Look at a Seneca II table for comparison.

    Now, if you need to do trips like the attached, on top of a winter Noreaster in a 60 knot headwind, the turbo is a good thing.....but you can't get a FIKI Turbo Arrow :(
     

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  7. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Turbo makes sense out west , maintenance is higher and you have to pay more attention to the turbo on power settinbs
     
  8. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    If you need a turbo buy one, if you don't skip it. When one of our customers wanted a SR22 and wanted us to use it on 135 he asked what features we wanted. We told him AC great, deice good FIKI better...


    Turbo NO.

    So if you live in the mountain west, turbo good

    If you plan to regularly fly on O2 turbo good

    Everywhere else turbo bad
     
  9. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Turbo makes sense wherever someone is willing to climb for awhile. The ability to climb over weather has gotten me to my destination several times. I bought the Turbo Dakota from a gentleman in Tennessee. He'd owned it for 9 years.

    Lots of folks seem to be saying the maintenance is higher. I wonder how much time they have operating their own turbo. Sure, flying someone else's turbo then I'm sure the engine/turbo will be abused.

    Of course the overhaul does cost more at TBO but the 5K for the turbo is a drop in the bucket.
     
  10. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    It's not just the turbo, turbos make the exhaust hotter, so it doesn't last as long (and is often more expensive) more hoses, check valves, waste gates, waste gate actuators, turbo mounts (rust rapidly due to the heat) and the engine is working harder to boot.

    It is all fine and dandy if you are using what it give you, but rather wasteful if you aren't.
     
  11. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    Warning! Do not buy a turbo unless there is no other way to accomplish your goals. Secondly do not buy a Turbo Arrow. I am as pro Cherokee as anyone in the world but TA's will sink the maintenance ship.

    When you say "I know a turbo costs more maintenance." No you really do not. I know this because I said that too when I bought my Turbo plane. It was really in good condition I thought and I had owned an airplane already and I thought I knew what the maintenance costs could likely be being that I am very conservative.....Wrong.

    The engines begin at about $40k to rebuild, they are not easily rebuilt which limits you to signature/factory OHs which is much more expensive and then you may not get a quality job that is error free even with signature Rebuilds.

    Lycoming engines in Arrows and Cherokees are what makes Cherokees so damned cheap to own but the Turbo arrow uses a Conti engine that is expensive, expensive, expensive to feed and maintain. The Turbo adds complexity and maintenance expense on top of that.

    I have a lycoming engine with a add on rajay (probably the cheapest way to implement Turbo) and even that easily doubles the total cost of maintenance for my plane. If I subtract all the expense I have had in 5 years owning the Comanche my total cost of ownership would be half and my maintenance would be less than half. Flying just a little agressively can cost you a few cylinders cracked for heat. You will never want to let a close friend and trusted aviator borrow your Turbo plane as you can get a melted engine back.

    Turbo Arrows are worse than most turbos IMO. I had two friends with TA's and they estimated their hourly operating costs over $200-250 per hour, most of that is not fuel. At the same time my Cherokee cost me less than $40 per hour and my Comanche probably costs less than $150 per hour.

    They are complicated with many many subsystems to go wrong. Not a good first plane to own.

    I wish you luck in any direction you choose to go and if you have deep pockets go anyway you like and report back to us. But if you have a limited budget that you wish or need to stay in, you want to consider other airplanes/Engines.

    BTW this is the same engine as in the Seneca twin and the Turbo Dakota so read on engine maintenance in those three air planes. Subscribe to aviation consumer now it will save you a bunch of money.

    PS the reason there are a lot for sale is that they are expensive to maintain so many pilots think they know what they are getting into, find out and bail but only after trying to own them for less maintenance, do not keep up with it then sell them in horrendous condition and you really need a specialist to maintain them right. The factory TBO of the engine is like 1500 rather than 2000 for most other Arrows and then most guys probably cannot make TBO. You have the bad Conti bottoms and jugs, double that with higher pressures and double it again for higher heat.

    If you can ignore this advise than you are a better man than I am, or???


     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  12. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    All the old experienced aviators tell you buy horse power not turbo when that is possible. Once you reached the limits of horsepower then you must go with turbo or supercharging.

    So you can consider 155-165 knots airplanes that have 250hp-300 hp and the total cost of fuel, maintenance and ownership could be cheaper.

    non turbo: Bonanza's, Debonair, Comanche 260, 182 RG and others.
     
  13. NineThreeKilo

    NineThreeKilo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    My first job was flying a realestate guy around in a PA28RT T tail, so shes got a soft spot in my heart.

    All that aside, the plane flew great, nice IFR platform when needed with a TSOed GPS, LOC and GS, cruised around at about 145-150kts with the few speed mods this one had, I could load it to the gills and still make any airport the boss wanted to get into, once you got the know the plane you really could bring her down quick, drop gear, flaps and grease it on.

    Would I buy one personally, no, not really, I'd get a Comanche or Navion. But when you dont have to pay the mx bills, it sure was a nice office.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  14. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Maintenance and expense wise, the TA is similar to a Mooney 231, just at considerably slower of a speed. In addition to changing to a different manufacturer, you are also dealing with more cylinders, spark plugs, EGT probes etc. it is really not comparable to the NA version or Archer. The closest NA bird is probably the 235. I understand the TA to be Pipers answer to the griping from their dealers and customer base after they discontinued the Comanche line.

    I fly a turbo plane, dont really need the turbo for my flying and the speed difference to the NA bird is not that great, but I sure enjoy the ability to climb above the bumps in a hurry or the ability to keep climbing on top in the winter. My partners are die-hard turbo flyers, when I asked at the meeting whether going to a newer model but NA I was met with a incredulous 'why would anyone want to do THAT ?
     
  15. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Wayne's right.

    Why do you need it?

    If you're just puttering around the pattern or flying low, the turbo will be of no benefit. If you want/need to go high, you'll want the turbo.

    My choice was to go turbo (I have a Commander, not an Arrow). I've not been displeased. When I got it, I was doing a lot of long-distance, IFR (over the weather) business travel, including flying out west. Higher usually = better for the flying I have done. It was also helpful in Texas during the summer to more quickly get above the blistering heat down low. But it's of no benefit if you stay down low.

    As for maintenance, yes, it's a bit more maintenance, but in my case that hasn't been significant. The only real exhaust issue I've had was a hard to find crack at exhaust joint before the wastegate (that torched a few of the probe wires). My engine has a mechanically-linked wastegate, so there isn't the tubing, etc of an upper deck controller - but that limits some flexibility (and means you have to be gentle applying power). You do have to be a bit more attentive of engine temperatures. I have a Lyc. engine in my plane - the Conti's are different (especially the wastegate arrangement).

    My plane has a cruciform tail - not quite a T-tail, and certainly not a low tail. It's quite stable both TO/landing and in-flight. Ground roll is not exceptionally long (saving for high-DA airports where all planes have a longer roll). Full T-tail is a bit different, but I personally wouldn't let that scare me off.

    So... define your mission & choose from there.
     
  16. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup, the waste gate on a Turbo Arrow sure needs a lot of maintenance.

    Like I said, I wonder if those who claim the maintenance is higher actually have any experience...
     
  17. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It depends entirely on how you operate it.
    It's like the safety argument: "Can GA be as safe as an automobile?"
    A: "Yes, if you remove all the idiot factors."

    That requires discipline.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  18. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Not sure about the Mooney 231, but the later 252 version of the M20K allows higher operating altitudes than the Turbo Arrow. The Arrow is limited to an arbitrary maximum operating altitude of 20,000 ft.
     
  19. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    Those limits aren't always arbitrary.
     
  20. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I've spent a fair amount of time studying the T210 relm, apparently LOP ops can see bootstrapping as low as 14,000 on warmish days. How does that compare?
     
  21. john smith

    john smith Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Having flown both the Arrow 3 and Turbo Arrow 4, I would opt for the N/A Arrow 3. Its a better performer if you are not operating in the mountains/hot&high.
    The Turbo Arrow 4 I now fly is a dog! I cannot get more than 300 fpm no matter what airspeed I try.
     
  22. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Might be worth investigating the price of certain turbo components if they break, most notably the turbo and the exhaust.

    The exhaust Y on turbo Twin Cessnas I've heard quoted at about $17,000.

    I'll stick to naturally aspirated.
     
  23. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Playa fo real
    I have to echo many of the comments. I flew a Turbo Arrow for a few years and it was a complete money pit. I got it because, at least on paper, I could make 16K+ MEA's over the mountains on an IR flight.

    Of course, the truth of the matter is, you don't want to be over the mountains, at those altitudes, in IMC, so.... all it really did for me is make really long trips a little faster when I could cruise in the oxygen altitudes.

    I'm flying a NA Arrow right now. Huge difference - I don't actually NEED an on-field mechanic to troubleshoot the engine after every ten hours of flight. Maintenance costs are lower, by far. And I have no problem getting over the Sierra mountain passes, even on a hot day.

    That's why you see so many Turbo Arrows for sale.
     
  24. Skylane81E

    Skylane81E Final Approach

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    With that engine, yep, the stock watergate needs little maintenance, I seem to recall that there are other options however
     
  25. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The turbo is about five grand to replace, and you generally go through two of them to one engine TBO. I've had one nearly fail in flight. It was making audible grinding noises and the mechanic said it was probably five minutes away from seizing.
     
  26. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I remember you telling me about that. Any idea what the exhaust components cost?
     
  27. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After reading about all the grief Kareem endured with his plane I remembered why my old partner was so anxious to sell his and buy back into my 210 that I had bought from him several years earlier.

     
  28. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not speed or performance wise comparable. Comparable in the number and complexity of systems and as a result maintenance cost.
     
  29. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The TSIO-360 always seemed to me to be one of those engines that looked good on paper but just didn't have the strength to do what was asked of it reliably. The big bore Continentals seemed to do a better job.

    When I was at a Mike Bush seminar at Osh a few years back, he said that in his opinion Lycoming made a good small engine, and Continental made a good big turbo engine. Although I wouldn't discount the big Lycoming engines entirely, I think that's a reasonable summary of the two companies' strong suits.
     
  30. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    250hp seems to be the cutoff for me. Above 250 I'll take the IO-550
     
  31. CaptLabrador

    CaptLabrador Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Maybe its just my experience with what are probably crooked beat up flight school arrows...but why an arrow when maybe there is a 206 or 210 out there. I cannot stand flying the PA28R-200. Feels underpowered, heavy, ovens on hot days and just doesnt do anything for me?

    Just my two cents, my experiences in them havn't been great.
     
  32. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The big turbo Lycomings are quite stout. The part that they have going against them is a rotten turbo controller that is unfriendly to the pilot vs the Continentals. My other gripe is that most big turbo Lycomings aren't intercooled, which was a dumb idea. Although I believe that had more to do with it not being needed to meet detonation requirements and the airframers not wanting to pay for them.

    But on the whole, I agree. I'm really happy with our 520s, and part of me wishes we'd tried harder to put 550s in at overhaul.
     
  33. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    I did most of the training for my commercial in a Turbo Arrow, then when it came time to do the checkride it was down for engine maintenance. I ended up taking the retract part in a C182RG which was just as well because I was used to Cessnas. I liked the Arrow but the turbo was overkill in MO.

    Subsequently almost all my piston time was with turbocharged big Continentals in Cessnas. I thought they were fine for the job but I was doing mapping, mostly based in Idaho, then years in Colorado.

    I find the engine control feedback with Clark's Turbo Dakota to be much touchier than the Continentals I was flying. Of course it could very well be that I am just not used to piston engine response any more. I am also not left-handed so I think making fine movements is harder for me from that side. Weirdly I am more cautious about touching the Frankenkota's throttle than the yoke.
     
  34. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    5 minute? So dramatic. Was the mechanic Cuban by any chance?
     
  35. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This!

    Unless you're regularly flying at least 300nm legs, the turbo makes no sense at all. Remember that to get to the altitudes where a turbo does you any good, you'll need to spend a lot of time (and distance) climbing and descending - Figure a thousand feet of climb per 20nm of trip distance for a good cruising altitude. That means that if you're going from one airport at 1000-ish MSL to another and they're 400nm apart, that FL210 would be a good cruising altitude, all else being equal.

    So, look at the kind of flying you do. Is your favorite destination 250nm away? The turbo is a waste unless you're out west. Do you want to do *frequent* trips 1000nm away? Okay, maybe it's worthwhile. Are those 1000-mile trips less than once a month? The slight trip time difference you'll gain probably isn't worth it.

    Especially in the case of the Turbo Arrow, it's probably not worth it anyway - In that class of airplane you can get a normally aspirated Mooney M20J and go just as fast without having to climb as high (meaning your trip time will actually be faster because you won't be climbing for as long). A member of this board (David White) has a very nice M20J for sale...
     
  36. Alexb2000

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    I'm not real surprised that find myself in disagreement with most.

    I think of a turbo as an option on many airframes that cost a little more when new ~5-7%, a little in maintenance, and maybe 30 lbs useful. For that price it effectively doubles the flight envelope. Who wouldn't want that?

    I use the Rocket Engineering oxygen boom's. passengers love them as do I. Makes O2 a non-issue.

    Leave somewhere like North Las Vegas on a summer afternoon with a ramp temp of about 130. Push all the knobs forward climb at 8-900 FPM to 17k not touching the engine. Cruise home in smooth cold air. What could be easier?

    Top a winter storm system full of misery at 20k and ride in perfect conditions on top, it never gets old.

    10-20k is no man's land and a great way to avoid a lot of traffic and unfavorable routings.

    Any flying in the summer southwest thermals and I want to be at 16 minimum.

    On the tail wind days climb up and get a real push (often 30-50 knots).

    Climb through weather with 100% of rated power. This can mean a lot at certain times.

    Climb high and increase glide range, 20k over a swamp, cold water, etc. is a lot more comfortable than 2k.

    Mountains of course.

    The real issue is many pilots have a mental service ceiling of 10k. In that case, I agree a turbo offers nothing.
     
  37. hindsight2020

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    Not so fast there professor, Dave said his East-german-sitting-ergonomics cherry cost him $32K/yr in 8 months in maintenance alone. That's just off the charts upside down. I'm pretty sure that buys a lot of turbo overhauls and cylinders on a conti -360, which I don't particularly value mind you (six cylinders for only 200HP). Firewall aft, the turbo arrow is just an arrow (read: cheap to keep and doesn't internally rust or requires a Master Pastry Chef to reseal, like the mooney does). If I'm gonna spend that much on a flying money pit like that I might as well have the turbo and get high as a crackhead before an Intervention.

    I fly a NA arrow and would never consider a turbo of only 200HP, but I rather have an Arrow airframe than a Mooney.

    That aside I agree with you. For a east of the rockies mission and sub 400NM 90% trips, the turbo is an unnecessary expense AND the turbo setup in the arrow is poor.
     
  38. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, but now it's cherry from a mx perspective too! :D

    Mooneys ≠ money pits. The Ovation has cost less than the 182 in per-hour mx.

    Why? :dunno:

    Especially when you can get the same speed normally aspirated...
     
  39. taters

    taters Pattern Altitude

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    5 k is about right, the last turbo overhaul invoice I have was for $5100 , the prior turbo did almost make it to TBO before a (new cylinder ) defective piston disentegrated ruining the engine and prop hub.
    Ref TNIO-550 A36

    Bottom line there is a luck component involved , I've see people run it right and have terrible luck and vise versa.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2013
  40. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    People who want to go fast, but only on short trips.

    Huh... Those look pretty cool. How does it work in terms of routing the oxygen tube? (O2 in the Mooney is above your head in the center of the plane). Is it a permanent mod to the headset?

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a turbo. I've had the Ovation up to 16K several times, and when there's weather I wish I had better climb performance in the mid-teens. I can average better than 1000fpm to 10K but up at 16K I'm at 400fpm or less. And for the longer trips that I do, and topping weather, the turbo would be great. However, there's still no point to it on short trips. Even with a turbo on a long-body Mooney it's going to take you 8nm per 1000 feet to climb and descend. Going to 20,000 feet where the turbo will really shine will take 160nm just for the climb and descent (in fact, likely more). Just not worth it for a 200nm trip where you'll be spending only 10 minutes in cruise if you did that.

    Again, though, you'd better be going somewhere.

    And on the headwind days... :dunno:

    Definitely.

    Definitely... But in the Ovation I can climb to 16K and cross Lake Michigan up north within glide range of shore at all times without a turbo too. (Ahhh, excess horsepower. :))

    Believe me, I lust after turbos - But for many pilots, they don't make sense. If frequent long-distance travel is your mission, then they do. I'm kind of in the middle - I do about 5-10 long trips per year. I must admit, a turbo would have been really nice on a couple of them in the past year, but not having it didn't keep me from completing the mission either.

    In some ways, the birds with lots of extra horsepower instead of a turbo are better - You get to go pretty fast on *all* your trips, still maintain a good time-to-climb up to 15K or so, and don't have to maintain a turbo. It's the really long-distance stuff where the turbo really shines.

    So... In all, Alex, I agree with you on why turbos are good - I just think that a lot of newer pilots don't recognize their limitations.