Used Aircraft Guide

PA-46 Series Wrecks: IMC Issues

We went through the NTSB’s accident database for the most recent 100 accidents involving the PA-46 piston series—Malibu, Mirage and Matrix—and found that the early engine and nose landing gear issues with the airplane appear to have been resolved. We did, however, see what we felt to be an uncomfortably high rate of accidents in IMC involving spatial disorientation, CFIT and loss of control. …

Certified PreOwned Aircraft: Price-Setting Revisited

It’s important for manufacturers and dealers to understand and support the used market because it affects the credibility of the brand. In Mooney Aircraft’s case, if an individual wants to purchase an aircraft, but can’t justify (or can’t afford) a brand-new one, a range of pre-owned choices still keep buyers in the Mooney family.

Piper Super Cub

The development of Piper’s Super Cub is as much a story of survival as it is progress. While the role of the original J-3 was mainly for training, Piper had to bring more utility to the table than the Cubby’s 75 MPH cruise speed, 200-mile range and 450 FPM climb performance. Enter the refined PA-18 Super Cub, a design that’s still being tweaked some 66 years later through several so-called Cub clones, which includes nicely executed models from Cub Crafters and American Legend Aircraft, to name a couple.

Piper Archer/ Cherokee 180

In the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s, personal airplane manufacturers were heavily invested in marketing their products the same way Detroit had been selling cars: Get new owners hooked on an entry-level model, offer several step-up models and make annual but incremental improvements. Just as Detroit’s Big Three had dealer networks, Beech, Cessna and Piper had them also, offering everything from primary flight training to maintenance, rental and charter.

Accident History: No Smoking Guns

When we looked at the 100 most recent accidents for the Archer/Cherokee 180 series—50 for each model—we saw some crunch causes we expected and a few we didn’t. First, in an airplane often used as a trainer, we expected to see a significant number of landing-related accidents. We did. Thirty percent of the airplanes came to grief due to either runway loss of control (RLOC), hard landing, runway overshoot or a botched go around. We didn’t…

The Cessna 182 Skylane: History & Review

Perhaps one reason for the 182 Skylane’s longevity is that it has good hauling capability, good dispatch reliability, a relatively comfortable cabin and maintenance shops know how to work on it. Except for its intolerance for mismanagement on and around the runway—giving it an awful ranking in the NTSB reports—we suspect buyers are comfortable with long-term Skylane ownership. For many, it’s as far up the pecking order as they’ll go in their flying careers. These days, you can buy a 182 with a full G1000 glass panel and a luxe interior for a price in the high $300Ks. A big investment, to be sure, but far less money (and far less speed) than a new Cirrus SR22, as one example.

Landing Prangs

If you’ve ever practiced balked landings in a Skylane, you know how critical it is to keep the heavy nose down when transitioning out of the flare and into climb when configured with flaps, nose-up trim and full power. Our recent scan of 100 recent wrecks proved that Skylane pilots might benefit from more practice for these situations. …

Avionics Upgrades: Throwaway Labor

The sobering reality of major avionics upgrades is the financial hit you’ll take when the aircraft gets into the hands of a professional appraiser. It sure is tempting to simply tack on the avionics shop’s total invoice to the average retail price of the aircraft. Sorry for the buzzkill, but it doesn’t work that way. That’s because an appraisal doesn’t factor in labor costs when considering the value of the upgraded avionics. And that labor…

Aircraft Appraisals: Field Research is Critical

Buying aircraft, financing aircraft, or even leasing aircraft are processes dense enough to almost make you give up. Appraisal reports make it easier, but it is crucial to know your appraiser is NAAA-certified and working through an established aircraft valuation database. Why? Because aircraft price publications are the default resource for aircraft valuation, and they don't always account for refurbishment, avionics upgrades or aging airframes.

Nextant Aerospace Puts the Aerodynamics Into Aircraft Manufacturing

Modifying airplanes that the original manufacturer got almost right has been a constant in general aviation. But lately, we call it something different: remanufacturing. And if any company is the Alpha dog of this process, it’s Cleveland-based Nextant Aerospace, which has had impressive success remanufacturing Beechjet 400As. Now it’s poised to repeat the trick with the popular King Air C90 series.

AvGuard Warranty: Roll the Dice

An alternative to paying the price premium for a certified factory pre-owned aircraft is paying for a fixed insurance premium for aftermarket warranty coverage. Dating back to the 1980s (originally offered at a used Piper dealership), AvGuard’s current AmTrust Financial Services-backed aftermarket extended warranty covers unscheduled maintenance for piston singles through mid-size jets and helicopters, based on a choice of 200, 500 or 750 annual flight hours. The program covers 447 makes/models manufactured between 1985 and 2015 and doesn’t require an inspection.

The Cessna Aircraft 150/152

As we reported in the August 2015 issue of Aviation Consumer, the maturing support network for LSA models is building at least some confidence in their dispatch reliability. But for owners and flight schools looking for a simple and reliable trainer that’s easily supported on most every maintenance floor, it’s still tough to beat the familiar Cessna 150/152 series.

Cessna 150/152 Wrecks & Landings

As would be expected in an airplane widely used as a trainer, our review of the 100 most recent accidents involving the Cessna 150/152 series found that 38 were landing-related. A breakdown of those numbers revealed some interesting details: There were two pilots who couldn’t get stopped on the available runway—quite a feat for an airplane with massive flaps and a slow approach speed.

Pre-Owned Aircraft: Everything You Need to Know

Cirrus, Mooney and Cessna offer factory certified pre-owned aircraft as alternatives to buying new models. This is attracting attention in a brisk and comparably priced refurbishment market. It’s an attention-getting and confidence-building strategy that’s worked for years in the auto industry. To be sure, there’s at least some sharp marketing involved here. When the manufacturer provides a certificate of approval for maintenance history, cosmetic condition and prescribes a thorough engine and airframe inspection process, dealers tack on a premium that’s roughly 10 percent more than a non-certified used model, in many cases.

BARON CRASHES: OTHER AND FUEL

The NTSB reports of the 100 most recent B55 Baron crashes turned up some unexpected results: there were only three runway loss of control (RLOC) events, far fewer than we expect for tricycle-gear airplanes; for an airplane with a fuel system that has a reputation as simple, the majority of the 15 fuel-related accidents involved mismanaging the system and fuel selectors and over half of the pilot-induced gear-up events involved retracting the gear on rollout. We have long been impressed with the landing gear design on the Baron—it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to maintain. Only two of the Baron accidents involved a system failure in which the pilot could not get the Firestones down and locked.