Aircraft Review

July 2009 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: Cessna 337 Skymaster

One of the most affordable twins, Skymasters are easy to fly and offer good payload/range.

In the light-twin world, there’s Cessna’s 337 Skymaster push-me/pull-you design—plus a handful of Adam 500s—and then there’s everything else. Eliminating asymmetric thrust from the single-engine handling equation was what Cessna had in mind when it brought the Skymaster to market. It succeeded, since the airplane handles pretty much the same when one or both engines are turning. But some compromises were made along the way, many of which can hike maintenance costs. In an engine-out situation, conventional piston twins generally need to be handled with kid gloves lest the airplane get too slow and roll over on its back. Close to the ground, that can be very bad. Which is one reason Cessna aligned the Skymaster’s two engines with the airframe centerline, offering pilots the safety of a second engine without the penalty of adverse handling. If one quits, identify it, feather it and don’t worry about the dead-foot, dead-engine drill. The FAA even granted the 337 its own class rating, limiting pilots to centerline-thrust twins only. That part of Cessna’s plan worked, since there’s little question the Skymaster is easier to fly on a single engine than a conventional twin. But, since the VMC rollover accident doesn’t happen that often in the real world, the airplane’s overall accident record isn’t that much better than conventional twins.

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