Piper Forum > Piper Models > Twins > twins getting cheaper to own


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Old 11-12-2010, 03:46 AM   #1
philiplane
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Default twins getting cheaper to own

With the dramatic fall in twin engine prices, many people will find it's just as cheap to own an older twin than a high performance single.

Even with the extra maintenance, gas, and insurance, the price differential between, say, a $50k Twin Comanche and a $80k Dakota for comparison- $30k will buy many years worth of maintenance and insurance. Plus that money is spread out over years of ownership, rather than up front in the purchase. In this case the twin only burns 2 gph more but it's 20 knots faster. Insurance is $2800 for the twin, $1900 for the single.

The key is picking the right twin. Sticking with four cylinders per side helps- Apache, Twin Comanche, or Seminole for example.

And after many years of twin ownership, I can dispel the notion about 3 times the operating costs for two engines. It's more like 1.5 times the cost of a single, when the owner does most of his own preventative maintenance.



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Old 11-13-2010, 01:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

No kidding! And you get the avionics you (mostly) want, autopilot and IFR is a sure thing. I'm not too worried if the paint looks good, just want it mechanically solid.

What do you think the sweet spot is on engine time? I've seen Seneca's as low the mid 30's with engines at TBO (but regularly used part 135's). My mechanic is OK with high time airframes/135 operation as long as it's been maintained and regularly flown.

I'm trying to weigh airframe cost or deprecation vs. engine rebuild cost which is more stable then the former.

I've got one repo man on the lookout for me, do you know any others?



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Old 11-13-2010, 03:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

You couldn't pay me to take any Seneca. The 1's were underpowered, the II's eat engines, the 111's are too heavy, and the V is too expensive to operate.

No Seneca has reliable engines because they are all overstressed. An Aztec, on the other hand, has 300 hp engines derated to 250 HP. They go well beyond TBO with little trouble. Same with a Twin Comanche.

Plus, Senecas have crappy nose gear that fails easily, even with the beef-up kit installed. They ride like a dump truck on a gravel road, and you have better visibility sitting in a porta-potty than in a Seneca. Plus the porta potty smells better than a worn out Seneca...

I survived many hours of multi-engine instruction in Senecas. They are Piper's biggest mistake because they do nothing well. If you want to haul a ton, literally a ton, get an Aztec. If you want speed and economy, buy a Twin Comanche.

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Old 11-14-2010, 04:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

So, what do you really think of the Seneca? I don't like the engine in the Seneca 2, which is what I was looking at.

You aware of a twin that has known icing and the easy loading/weight capacity as the Seneca 2, and doesn't burn a ton of gas? Wife liked the easy loading in my Cherokee 6, so the similarity to the Seneca obviously was a good thing.

Does the commanche have known icing? I'm looking for a real 5 adult airplane, 1400+ lbs useful.

The thing I have found, at least in the used market, is there is no perfect plane.

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Old 11-17-2010, 03:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

Older twins do not have "known icing". If the flight manual does not prohibit flight in icing conditions, then it can be operated in ice as long as it is properly equipped.
You can find Comanches with full ice protection equipment.

Senecas are not real 5 adult planes with baggage. You hit the zero fuel weight fairly quickly, and 1400 lbs is about the max useful load on any Seneca.

If you have to haul a load in ice, you need an Aztec. Useful loads as high as 2000 pounds means six people and all their stuff, plus fuel four for IFR hours and still below gross weight. Bigger cabin than a Seneca. It's NINE inches taller and you sit up straight in real seats, instead of smashing your head on the ceiling while virtually sitting on the floor in a Seneca.

Fuel burn is 22-28 GPH at 155-175 kts, very similar to a Seneca. Engines cost 50 percent less to overhaul and go far beyond TBO with reasonable care.

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Old 11-19-2010, 01:36 AM   #6
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

What do you think of the baby barons? Older 55's. My main interest in the Seneca was easier loading, but as you said, it has some issues. I will be checking out the Aztec a bit more toughly, just was worried about the fuel burn on it.

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Old 11-19-2010, 02:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: twins getting cheaper to own

When you build a house, how do you create load supporting joints in roofs and walls? You overlap the beams by a foot or so, and sandwich them with bolts because it's strong, right?

Well Beech did it differently. They butt the wing spar to the carry through and use two bolts on fittings to hold it together. So your wing panel is held on by two bolts at the front spar, and two bolts at the rear spar, carrying the entire load. It's the equivalent of sticking two beams end to end, and toe-nailing them together. Not the best arrangement and more than one Beech has lost it's wings due to this design. The fittings are magnesium and subject to corrosion, the bolts are life limited but most owners ignore it because they either don't know, or because it costs $3k to replace the bolts every 15 years.

I love the way a Baron flies though. I just wouldn't own one because of the spar design, the repetitive spar carry through inspections, and because the cabin is small. Remember, it's just a Bonanza with two engines.

The Piper Aztec evolved from the Apache, which was designed as a twin from the start. The Baron, Duchess, Seneca, Twin Comanche, and Seminole all evolved from singles so they are compromises at best. The Twin Comanche is the best of that group overall.

Barons burn 22-28 GPH just like an Aztec or Cessna 310. The Aztec is a few knots slower because it's so much bigger.



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