What Plane Should I Buy? Twin-Engine Edition

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Sluggo63, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I know, I know... Twin Bonanza.

    Let me start by saying that I probably don't need a twin. Feel free to talk me out of it.

    I'd like to keep the purchase price below $200,000, around $175,000 would be preferable.

    The 75% mission would be 210 lb me, 120 lb wife, a 70 lb dog and luggage from the Phoenix area to Austin, TX (~800 NM).

    I could get to 90% with the addition of these two trips:
    The 400 lbs of people above and luggage from PHX-DEN (~550 NM over/around the Rockies)
    Four adults (780 lbs-ish) and luggage to Vegas (~300 NM)

    For responsible me and the 75% solution, I'm thinking Turbo Saratoga. We owned a PA-32-300 before and really liked the roomy cabin.

    For the devil-may-care/you can't take it with you 90% approach my wish list would be a Seneca II/III or C-310Q/R. FIKI would be nice and the wife really (really) wants club seating.

    I was really leaning towards the Seneca II because I thought that would fit all that I wanted to do until I did a little more research and found that the IIs have a Max Zero Fuel Weight of 4,000 lbs. With EWs around hovering 3,300 lbs, I wouldn't be able to do the 4-adult trips no matter how much fuel I leave off. I've read that the Seneca IIIs have an increased MZFW, but I couldn't find what that number is or what the EWs would be. I also couldn't find if the C-310s had any such ZFW limit.

    So, I throw my question to all you much-more-knowledgeable folks to steer me in the right direction.
     
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  2. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    NOT a twin bonanza unless you like antiques and being outrun by $40k mooney singles while torching 28gph

    That budget would swing a Baron 58. I think that's the real "get a bonanza" answer here. :D

    Other than the club seating, not many twins won't do that mission, frankly, unless they're little trainer twins.
     
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  3. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    How about a Twin Bonanza? ;)

    Since you're doing longer trips, I might lean towards the 310 due to the speed vs cost. I've never been in the back of one though to know how roomy it is. The Aztec would be great for ice and hauling, but might feel a little slow for a routine 800nm trip vs a 310.

    There are several Aztec and 310 drivers here on the board.
     
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  4. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Or get a Duke. Fast, beautiful, and oooooooh so thirsty (making "torching 28 gph" look like a starvation diet.)
     
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  5. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    FourFourteen?
     
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  6. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    55 series baron.
     
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  7. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    If the wife wants the club seating, I think a Seneca or Baron 58 are the choices in your price range. Otherwise I think a Q model 310 would be a great option.
     
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  8. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pattern Altitude

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    Missed the part about club seating. If she can get over that, my recommendation stands, otherwise I'd say get a 58.
     
  9. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I may be in PHX for biz later this month if you want to try a 55 on for size. Maybe you can sell mama on the rear seating and save yourself 50-60 grand :D
     
  10. Fracpilot

    Fracpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    310Q owner here. The 310 will do that trip easily and have a 200nm reserve. We fly it with 4 seats. Taking the back 2 seats out leaves a ton of room for cargo. Usually it’s just my wife and I. We’ve taken the 2 dogs before and it’s easy to get them in through the baggage door. Mine is 50lbs, not 70lb like yours. You can do a lot with a 1700lb useful load.

    I flew my “plus size” bro and his 6’2 kids last week. None of us are small and we played as football linemen. My bro is a big boy at 305 and was very comfortable in the back seat. It has a lot of room back there. My wife sometimes sits in the back because it can be more comfortable.

    We love our 310 and you can get them well below your budget. I’ve put new avionics in mine and have had an extensive annual done. I’d like to put a new right engine, VG’s, paint, interior, and I’ll barely be under $200k with a damn near brand new plane.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Arnold

    Arnold Line Up and Wait

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    Commander 700? Cessna 303?
     
  12. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Twin Bonanza owner here - get a Twin Bonanza :) $200k will buy a really, really nice one. You may not get there super fast, but you'll be comfortable.

    In reality, that trip and budget screams 58 Baron. If you really want to get over the Rockies, maybe a Duke if you can find a really good example. Seneca's are fine airplanes, but they fly like trucks (but if you've owned a PA32, you're used to that).

    Malibu is also worth looking at, but I don't think your budget will do it.
     
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  13. Cervieres

    Cervieres Pre-Flight

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    Beautiful airplanes. I’d buy one just to look at it in my hangar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
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  14. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's what I thought, too, until I saw the MZFW on the Seneca II. That wouldn't allow me to carry 4 "modern" adults. I may have to look closer at the Barons.
     
  15. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm shying away from the cabin class/pressurized aircraft just due to my perception of the higher operating costs. Although my wife keeps resharpening the pencil trying to make a 340 work. It's not in the cards yet, though. I'll keep letting her dream.
     
  16. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I really didn't mind the way the -6 flew. Maybe it's just me, but it felt stable. We really like the roominess of the cabin on it though. That's what keeps me coming back to the Seneca series.
     
  17. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Let me know, I may talk you up on that offer. Lunch will be on me... if the virus hasn't shut everything back down out here by then.
     
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  18. muddy00

    muddy00 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Twin Grumman Cougar of course but I might e biased
     
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  19. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For under $200k, Turbo Cessna 210 with TKS. You know what they say - “a twin piston only takes you to the scene of the crash”.
     
  20. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Ohh, man, you are so totally in luck. One of the four remaining airworthy Champion Lancers is for sale!

    ChampionLancer.jpg

    With this bird, you could (probably) carry both you and your wife for as far as 300 miles in a little under three hours. Might want to stick to the flatlands, though, the single engine service ceiling is 2000 feet.
     
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  21. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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    There’s no ZFW on 310’s.

    Only the R’s are available in FIKI. I love my NA Q but given what you’ve stated, I’d get a Turbo/FIKI R. FIKI not critical, then Turbo Q would work. I have full de-ice and the only difference essentially is I have alcohol windshield vs hot plate. Alcohol seems to work fine. I avoid ice and when encountered, I escape it ASAP.

    Whatever you decide, have fun shopping!
     
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  22. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member

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    Unless I added wrong when I was checking out the POH, trying to make the same decision you are trying to make, the max payload in my friend’s Seneca (which I think is a II), based on empty weight and maximum zero fuel weight, is 1077 lbs. That adds up to 4 adults of fairly stout construction, on average.

    I’ll be following this thread in the hope of being talked out of a cabin class twin for my family’s mission. Since my last thread on the topic, commercial air service for our mission has gotten markedly worse, so the temptation is stronger than ever.
     
  23. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Shoot... I will say I am an absolutely ZERO expert on buying airplanes. But, I will say I LOVED the C310. Have about 1200 hours in R, and Q models. Loved it.
     
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  24. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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    500/600 series Commander would do well, but I don’t know about club seating or FIKI capabilities without some research.
     
  25. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Soooo, your wife plans to luxuriate with her girlfriends while sipping mint juleps in the club seating in back while you're sweating the close-to-minimums approach all by yourself in the left seat up front?
    Just askin' :D

    As you certainly already know, if club seating and avoiding a pressurized cabin class airplane are mandatory conditions, you're pretty well limited to the Seneca and Baron 58. Neither are particularly attractive twin piston airplane choices as an owner or pilot quite frankly.

    The twin engine airplanes that seem to have the most beloved followings from experienced twin piston owners on this forum seem to me the ones most often dismissed or ignored by those that have never owned a piston twin. And I don't recall anyone raving about owning and flying a Seneca or B-58, despite the club seating, on this forum.
     
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  26. Jim Carpenter

    Jim Carpenter Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Seneca numbers that I recall (not necessarily the final word):
    Seneca II with VG's gets max ZFW of 4168. The III and IV have max ZFW of 4470, whether VGs or not.
    You really need to specify your budget as operating costs. The purchase price becomes (nearly) irrelevant the day the bill of sale is s9gned over to you.
    Your $175-$200K range gets you everything from a Twin Comanche to Dukes and Aerostars, and all the 300- and 400- series Cessnas. Twin Comanche (nice little planes, but limited load and utility) might cost $200-250/hr and a Duke will be close to $600/hr. How much do you want to play?
    The PHX-DEN trip skews the criteria towards big guns, but since that is a once-in-awhile event, accepting limitations (fair weather, round-about routing to avoid really high mountains) would, to me, make it reasonable to consider N/A Barons or the Seneca. Anywhere near the mountains, playing the FIKI game also requires turbocharging and flight level capability, pressurized or not, IMHO.
     
  27. Arnold

    Arnold Line Up and Wait

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    However, the engine out service ceiling is higher than all S.E. engine out service ceilings.
     
  28. Kristin

    Kristin Cleared for Takeoff

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    For club seating, deice, comfort, and good flying characteristics: Baby Navajo (PA-31-310)
    For 75% and sanity: Twin Comanche
     
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  29. WDD

    WDD Line Up and Wait

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    Mandates from wives cannot be ignored. Club seating is what she wants.

    For your price range, what about a Saratoga? Not a twin, but hits all of your requirements.
     
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  30. bradg33

    bradg33 Pattern Altitude

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    Aerostar is actually a pretty interesting option. Can be had comfortably in the sub-$200k price range. Fast, relatively efficient (for a twin), and a reasonable cabin size. Aerostar is on my personal short list if i upgrade at some point.
     
  31. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    While that's generally true, the price and operating cost delta between a Cessna 340 and a 310 can buy a really *really* nice couch.

    :D
     
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  32. Erik1010

    Erik1010 Pre-Flight

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    A B58 checks nearly all the boxes, and your wife will get her club seating.
     
  33. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Your wife wants to buy a 340:

    --> buy a 340
     
  34. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You could also look at a short body Navajo.
     
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  35. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Or a sugar baby.
     
  36. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's exactly what she plans on doing...

    I get what you're saying, but it seems that the Seneca/310/B58 are ubiquitous in the light twin markets. I think they do have their followings (almost cult-like in some cases). I'm not opposed to looking at some of the non-standard answers, but I think from a parts/maintenance aspect, getting one of the more "common" models may be the way to go.
     
  37. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    True, the VGs would get me closer to the MZFW I would like. The IIIs have an increased MZFW, but from what I'm reading, and increase is negated by the heavier airplane leaving the same ZF load.

    I'd like to keep the operating costs to around $300/hour +/- depending on performance.
     
  38. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I know, I know... the angel on my shoulder keeps whispering "get a Saratoga... it's all you really need." The problem is the devil on the other side is screaming "YOU NEED A TWIN!":devil:
     
  39. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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  40. Sluggo63

    Sluggo63 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think the hard part is trying to figure out what a standard EW is. What I've been seeing online it varies from 3,000-3,300 lbs. Which leaves 1,000-700 lbs of non-fuel stuff. The 300 lb swing, really does mean the difference of an adult and bags. There so many different options that change that number (VGs, lighter alternators, newer/lighter avionics) I guess I really have to go plane by plane and see.