The typical cabin-class piston twin buyer is generally moving up from a high-performance single, or perhaps even stepping down from a jet or turboprop. With a need to go places comfortably and efficiently, these buyers recognize that a serious business airplane needs a decent cabin, credible speed and the ability to hack it when there’s ice or other rotten flying conditions in the forecast. Pressurization is nice since passengers don’t want to spend several hours with a plastic hose stuck up the nose.
Although not without its shortcomings—most notably certain loading limitations and an overly complex fuel system—the Cessna 340 fills that mission. Owners report that a 340 is flexible and capable enough to serve double duty for business and personal missions. It won’t be cheap to operate or maintain, but it pays back with decent cabin comfort and performance.
The 340 owes its existence to the boom days of general aviation during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the twin market was stratified and still developing. At the entry level, you had Twin Comanches, Apaches, Aztecs, Barons and the Cessna 310. At the upper end, the ritzy cabin-class Cessna 421, Beech Duke and Piper Navajo met the needs of well-heeled owners who could afford megabucks for an airplane.
The 340 arrived in 1972 as a lower-cost alternative to the Cessna 414, which had arrived in 1970.
Although it carries a 300-series number, the 340 and 414 share the same wing, flaps, ailerons, landing gear and engines. The 340 has an airstair door, thus you don’t need a ladder to get into it, as some have jokingly complained about the long-legged Cessna 310. The 340 carries less than the 414, but it’s faster on the same fuel burn.
From 1972 through 1975 the engines were Continental TSIO-520Ks, which produce 285 HP at 33 inches manifold pressure from sea level to 16,000 feet. However, most of the K engines in early 340s have been converted to Js or Ns.
The TSIO-520J engine, used on early 414s, produces 310 HP at 36 inches manifold pressure. The N engine, installed on later 414s and 340As, produces 310 HP at 38 inches.
The major difference between the K engine and the J and N variants is that the latter are equipped with intercoolers, which wash the heat out of the induction air as it flows to the cylinders. This yields better power and efficiency without stressing the jugs, something that can be good for longevity, but only if you know how to properly set the power.
The N engines produce their rated 310 HP up to 20,000 feet and provide higher cruise speeds and better climb and single-engine performance. Three-blade McCauley propellers, formerly an option, also became standard equipment in 1976; earlier 340s came with two-blade McCauleys.
Cessna 340s are prized for being all-weather machines, but aircraft certified for flight into known icing conditions, when properly equipped, came only in 1977. The following year, a maximum ramp weight of 6025 pounds was approved, and max weight for takeoff and landing was set at 5990 pounds for the 340A, compared with 5975 pounds for the 340. The last significant change in the line came in 1979, with the switch to TSIO-520NB engines (the B denotes a heavier crankshaft). Subsequent modification of cylinders, valve lifters and piston pins by Continental increased TBO of the NB engines from 1400 to 1600 hours in 1983.
But Cessna didn’t build any 340As (or much of anything else) that year and after putting together a scant 17 of the airplanes in 1984, production was terminated for good, with a total of about 1297 aircraft made. Some 872 are still registered.
The pressurization system is the same as that found in Cessna’s 400-series twins, with a maximum differential of 4.2 PSI providing an 8000-foot cabin up to 20,000 feet. Above that, the cabin climbs with the airplane.
Cessna offered an automatic pressurization control, which activates and deactivates while climbing or descending through 8000 feet, but more buyers opted for the variable-control system.
The variable system maintains a sea-level cabin up to 9000 feet, then delivers the pilot-selected cabin altitude until a 4.2 PSI differential is reached.
As pressurization goes, the 340 is relatively easy, requiring just a quick check and set for each flight. The pilot merely dials in field elevation plus 500 feet before takeoff and landing and selects desired cruise cabin altitude on initial climb. The rest is simply monitoring the system to make sure it’s delivering as commanded.
While the pressurization is easy, the same can’t be said for the fuel system. Start with the 100-gallon-usable tip tanks, which are the mains in this airplane. Add up to four auxiliary wing tanks, two holding 40 gallons, the other two holding 23 gallons. Throw in locker tanks, which add another 40 gallons. That’s up to 203 gallons in tanks peppered throughout the length of the wings.
Where things get tricky for the uninitiated is which tank to use when. Use the mains, alone, for takeoff and landing. The engines can feed directly from the auxiliary tanks, but fuel in the lockers has to be transferred to the mains, which are the tip tanks. You have to make room in the mains first, otherwise you’ll vent the pumped fuel over the side.
And if you have only one locker tank (common on 340s), remember to use crossfeed; dump all 120 pounds from a locker into one tip tank, and the imbalance will be enough to upset even your autopilot. Unfortunately, Cessna never got around to simplifying the fuel systems in its 300-series twins (Crusader excepted) as it did in most of the 400s. Calling the tip tanks mains has its own issues. Ramp attendants have filled the wrong tanks (“Just top off the mains ….”). Transitioning pilots have switched to the aux tanks thinking they were drawing from the tips, and vice versa.
Despite this, the 340 hasn’t suffered an inordinate number of fuel-related accidents. Jerry Temple, an aircraft dealer specializing in the 340, says, “The fuel system is no big deal. I prove it twice a month to new twin Cessna owners. It can be mastered in one 2.5 hour cross-country.”
While known ice certification came in 1977 and up, the majority of 340s have what is called full deice. This usually mean boots on the wing and tail (with the exception of the wing stubs), heated props and alcohol spray for both sides of the windshield. This is adequate for many 340 owners. The few 340s out there with hot props only are tough to sell, but can be ideal for owners in warmer locations.
Air conditioning might be the factory system, which requires the right engine be running to get cool air. Parts for this system can be challenging to get. The Keith System, also called JB Air by many, is electric and can be powered by a ground APU, although in the real world of FBOs, a 340 rarely gets the APU. Support for the Keith system is good.
The 340 is a high flyer, with a service ceiling of nearly 30,000 feet. But most owners wisely operate in the high teens to mid-20s, where the airplane can be expected to true between 190 and 205 knots on about 30 gallons per hour at 65 percent power, and 200 to 217 knots on 32 to 34 GPH using 75 percent power.
Rate of climb at sea level is a respectable 1650 FPM, but climb performance tapers above 20,000 feet to a dawdling 300 to 400 FPM in the mid-20s. Not bad as twins go, but no turboprop, either.
The 340’s claimed single-engine rate of climb is 315 FPM, better than the 414 (290 FPM), Beech P58 Baron (270) and the Piper 601P (240) and 602P (302) Aerostars. Single-engine minimum control speed is 82 knots. Stall speeds are 79 knots, clean, and 71 knots in landing configuration.
Not all twins of the 340’s days have accelerate-stop and accelerate-go performance tables but, to Cessna’s credit, the 340 does. Under standard conditions, a 340 that loses an engine at liftoff speed (91 knots) can be brought to a full stop within 3000 feet of brake release. The POH also indicates that should a pilot decide to fly after losing one on liftoff, the airplane will clear a 50-foot obstacle after traveling less than 4000 feet over the ground after brake release (assuming the pilot does everything right).
The performance figures above are for 340s with 310-HP engines. Those that still have 285-HP K engines (if any) are nearly 20 knots slower in cruise, use roughly 200 feet more runway for takeoff and climb 1500 FPM on both engines, 250 FPM on one.
Handling and Payload
Cessna’s big twins have a reputation for being comfortable and easy to handle and the 340 fits that mold, although not entirely without warts. The airplane owes its speed to a relatively slick airframe and because it has flap and gear operating speeds that are on the low side, it can be a handful to go down and slow down at the same time.
For example, flaps can be extended 15 degrees at 160 knots (the limit is 156 knots for the first 300 airplanes built) to help slow the airplane to max gear-extension speed, a pitiable 140 knots. But slowing the airplane to 160 knots without stressing the engines can be a problem, if you believe in the shock cooling genie. Owners say descents and approaches require planning and occasional persistence with ATC if a slam dunk is in the offing.
Once the airplane is slowed down with gear and flaps deployed, however, it tends to sink like a rock, and some power must be maintained right into the flare. This is due in part to the split flaps, which are great for drag, but not so good for lift.
Entering the airplane through the luxurious airstair door gives a big-iron feel. But for the pilots, that wears off quickly when they have to squeeze through a narrow (7-inch) opening to their seats. Once you’re seated, the cabin is quite comfortable up front. The 340’s cabin is 46.5 inches wide and 49 inches high, about the same size as an Aerostar’s and 4.5 inches wider than a P-Baron’s.
If owners have any consistent complaints about the 340 line, they relate to lack of payload. Load enough gas for a 4.5-hour flight with reserves and you can take along only two passengers and their bags. Fill the seats with 170-pound FAA clones and pack away their 30 pounds of baggage each and you can carry enough fuel for less than two hours of flying.
Considering the payload limitations, the baggage space in the 340 seems a cruel joke. Among the cabin, nose and locker compartments, there’s a cavernous 53 cubic feet of space in which a maximum of 930 pounds can be crammed. That is, however, the maximum. Most 340s have at least one fuel tank occupying a locker, and nose baggage compartment space typically is compromised by avionics and other accessories..
The installation of vortex generators, however, brings a 300-pound gross weight bump. Considering an entire VG kit weighs about as much as the air in your tires, it’s about as close to a free lunch as you can get. If you’re considering a 340, by all means consider vortex generators.
Like any high-performance airplane, a 340 won’t tolerate skimpy maintenance. If rebuilt engine prices in the $50,000 range (times two), annual inspections at several thousand dollars and operating expenses of $400-550 an hour curl your toes (as they do ours), the 340 is not the aircraft for you. While some owners might get lucky with an occasional annual in the $5000-dollar range, experienced twin Cessna salespeople like Jerry Temple (he’s sold over 200 Cessna 340s since 1995) tells prospective buyers to expect $10,000 to $15,000 for annual inspections. He’s flown 340s with every engine/propeller combination and ones with every major modification. See Temple’s comments in the owner feedback section.
Owners we spoke with overwhelmingly agree the annual must be done by a shop with twin Cessna expertise. TAS aviation in Defiance, Ohio, was singled out by a few owners.But those with the budget should get their money’s worth out of this airplane. Some things to watch out for: First, there are the TSIO-520 crankcases, which have a history of cracking. In mid-1976, Continental switched to heavier cases, which helped a bit but certainly provided no panacea. A couple of knowledgeable sources estimated that about two-thirds of the engines flying in 340s right now probably are cracked in one place or another.
But not all cracks are critical and there’s a general sense that catastrophic engine failures caused by crankcase cracks are on the decline. All big-bore Continentals have a modest predilection for cracked cylinders and heads.
Cracked and blown-out cockpit windows were the subject of several reports, as were cracked Bendix mag housings and distributor blocks, loose horizontal and vertical stabilizer attach bolts and cracked wastegate couplings.
As far as ADs go, the 340 is neither the best nor the worst. AD 2000-01-16 requires repetitive inspection, repair or replacement of exhaust components in a range of Cessna twins, not just the 340. This AD was issued in response to cracks/failures that led to catastrophic fires. AD 97-0-13 requires replacement of certain hydraulic, oil and fuel hoses while another, 88-03-07, requires inspection of fuel crossfeed lines for chafing and modification of firewall stiffener flanges and fuel lines. AD 87-23-08 calls for ultrasonic inspection of the crankshafts, as does 97-26-17. Speaking of crankshafts, some 340s were involved in the Continental crankshaft recall of 2000. The logbooks should reflect this as AD 2000-08-51.
AD 96-20-7 calls for repetitive inspections of the Janitrol heater while 96-12-22 requires repetitive inspections of the oil filter adapters. 95-24-5 deals with repetitive prop inspections and 90-2-13, a type-specific directive, called for replacement of the main landing gear inner barrel bearings.
One important directive to check for is 82-26-05, which requires visual checks for cracks in the rudder balance weight rib every 100 hours until a new rib is installed. Such cracks have been the subject of numerous service difficulty reports.
Temple told us that aging 340s (or other twin Cessnas) should have annuals by a shop that maintains several of them. The convenience of using a local shop that only works on a couple of them each year could catch up to an owner during the pre-purchase inspection made by a twin Cessna specialist.
While a typical buyer may have a few hundred hours in high-performance singles, insurance is usually obtainable at a reasonable price. The typical requirement is 25 hours dual in the aircraft and attendance at an insurance-approved school, usually with simulators and insurance-approved instructors, such as SimCom. Annual recurrent training is usually required.
Low-time owners also might not get more that $1M with per-seat limits of $100,000 until they have accumulated more 340 time.
Mods, Owner Groups
The 340 fleet has been a popular model for engine modifications performed by RAM Aircraft Corp. Their mods increase the number of powerplant options to five: the standard TSIO-520-NBS (310 HP), the RAM Series IV (325 HP), the RAM Series VI and VII (335 HP each) and the stock 310-HP engine with American Aviation Intercoolers. This last combo provides performance similar to the 325-HP RAM IV. RAM packages include a seventh stud on crankcase cylinder pads, which reduces the stresses in these areas that often cause cracks. (Contact RAM at www.ramaircraft.comor 254-752-8381.)
Improved turbocharger intercooling systems are available from American Aviation and are highly recommended by owners. The installation includes ram-air inlet ducts under the engine nacelles and more efficient (American says 28- to 70-percent more efficient) heat exchanger cores. The company says its system cuts the temperature of air entering the engine from about 170 degrees to 80 degrees, improving rate of climb by up to 300 FPM and adding up to 15 knots in cruise. (Contact American at www.americanaviationinc.com or 800-423-0476).
A STOL mod for 340s was offered by Sierra Industries, and included installation of Robertson-designed Fowler flaps and a trim spring that precludes the need to retrim the elevators when the flaps are raised or lowered. Sierra says the mod decreases accelerate-stop distances by 40 percent and improves short-field performance about 15 percent. Although still supported, the mod isn’t available for new installations. Contact Sierra at www.sijet.com or 888-835-9377.
Precise Flight makes speedbrakes for the Cessna 340. They’re of novel design and project into the airstream from a snug enclosure at the aft end of the engine nacelles. Contact Precise Flight at www.preciseflight.com or 800-547-2558.
Cessna 340 owner Philip Mattison told us of his switch to four-blade MT composite props that increased climb rates by 200 FPM and cruise speeds by 7 knots as well as giving cooler CHTs and smoother operation.
It’s rare to find a 340 without the aforementioned vortex generators, which essentially eliminate Vmc, give great control at low airspeeds and add 300 pounds to the gross weight. If you don’t find one, VGs are available from Micro Aerodynamics, Pacific Northwest Aero LLC, through RAM (as part of the company’s speed mod kits) and through Boundary Layer Research. Micro Aerodynamics is at www.microaero.com and 800-677-2370; Pacific Northwest is at www.pnwaero.com and 541-388-9902. Robertson STOL kits are still available, but the installation cost is usually prohibitive. If you need this, find a 340 with it already installed.
As for owner groups, there are two: the Twin Cessna Flyer at www.twincessna.org and the Cessna Pilots Association at www.cessna.org or 805-934-0493. TCF offers operations seminars that are highly regarded by owners. According to Jerry Temple, the TCF dues is “the best dinner bill you will ever spend.”
Cessna 340 Accidents: Landing Gear
We admit to a certain soft spot for the Cessna 340—thinking of it as one of aviation’s finest personal hot rods. Our review of the 100 most recent 340 accidents did nothing to disabuse us of that notion, but it did serve to remind us that its landing gear has to be maintained by the book and also caused us to wonder about the decision-making process of some Cessna 340 pilots.
First the good news about the landing gear-related accidents on Cessna’s smallest pressurized twin—to our utter amazement and, to our knowledge, unprecedented in our decades of looking at retractable-gear aircraft accidents, no one forgot to extend the landing gear before making a landing.
The bad news is that there were 14 gear collapse events and one in which the pilot could not get the gear to extend. Of the gear collapse adventures, two were as the airplane was being taxied away from the shop following maintenance on the gear. The electromechanical landing gear of the Cessna 340 cannot be “adjusted” on a piece-by-piece basis—you can’t, for instance, rig just one leg of the gear. It has to be rigged as a unit, starting in the middle and working outwards.
The other big area of concern we saw was connected with the sweaty palms on the Cessna 340’s yoke when the weather was down. Three pilots killed themselves trying to scud run. There were seven loss of control (LOC) crashes in IMC, two of which involved pilots who weren’t on instrument clearances trying to land in dense fog. One LOC accident involved a pilot who told ATC right after departure that he had to stay out of the clouds because of an “instrument problem.” Rather than return, he repeated the mantra to subsequent controllers. He eventually flew into clouds, lost control and flew into the ground.
CFIT accidents claimed seven 340 pilots and their passengers—more than half of those involved pilots who decided that approach minimums were for others and flew into the ground before arriving at the airport.
In the “what was he thinking?” department, one 340 pilot, with passengers, decided to buzz his gun club. On the second pass he hit a 50-foot tower 40 feet up, making the airplane unflyable and killing all aboard.
Returning to the good news department, we expect to see a bare minimum of 15 runway LOC (RLOC) accidents per hundred mishaps of nosewheel airplanes. We found only four in our Cessna 340 survey—and three of those involved runways contaminated with snow and ice.
There were, however, six times when the pilot couldn’t stop the airplane on the available runway.
In our experience, the 340 is not tolerant of sloppy airspeed control, especially at the lower end of the envelope. There were 12 stall/spin crashes, most of which were in the pattern. One of the pattern stall pilots was found to be badly impaired due to heavy ingestion of painkillers. Four of the stall events were in airplanes that were carrying a load of ice.
The 340’s fuel system demands respect; nine pilots either ran out of fuel or mismanaged it, leading to unintended landings.
One pilot tried to take off with the gust lock still installed. Rather than abort, he tried to remove it on the roll. He was unsuccessful.
I bought my 1980 340A in 2004 and fly it an average of 190 hours per year. This is my sixth airplane and I never expected to keep it so many years. It has proven to be a reliable and capable aircraft for my business travel. I fly probably 50 percent of the time alone and other times with one or two associates along. It is a comfortable and flexible aircraft for hauling three or four adults on 200-to 300-mile trips.
My typical trip is business traveling; usually 200 to 250 miles at 10,000 to 15,000 feet, which is the sweet spot for the airplane. I can fly these trips at 20,000 feet or higher when weather is a factor, but for the most part I only get into the flight levels when flying longer legs. It also has the flexibility to fly high or low to take advantage of the winds aloft without a fuel burn penalty. Speed varies with conditions but, I plan on 190 knots true at 12,000 feet and 215 knots true at FL200, burning 34 to 36 GPH of fuel.
I fly 1000-plus-mile trips a few times a year, but if I was doing that every month, I would be looking for a plane with longer range. My plane has a 183-gallon fuel capacity, but topping the tanks limits people or cargo.
My plane has 310-HP engines with the AA intercooler modifications. The AA mod helps keep the engines cool during high-power operations and produces more power than the stock intercooler-equipped planes. I am on my second set of engines and have had no issues other than things hanging on them like alternators, vacuum pumps and exhaust pipes.
My plane is equipped for FIKI and that just makes it legal. It will handle the icing conditions all right, but only to get to ice-free air. Icing is a frequent event during the winter and this equipment is a must have since I operate from Fargo, North Dakota. I also have the Keith air conditioning in the plane—a must, even in North Dakota.
A couple of years ago I upgraded most of the avionics, but kept the Cessna 400B autopilot because it works really well. I installed the Garmin G500 and GTN series touchscreen navigators, plus the GDL88 ADS-B system. I also installed the GWX70 radar—a big improvement over the legacy radar. I removed all of the primary engine instruments and installed the JP Instruments 960 engine monitoring system. I made this investment primarily for safety and it has been trouble free.
The 340 requires good maintenance by shops with expertise on the type. My 340 has been reliable, but it is expensive to keep it in top condition. I was told that if I could not stomach a $50,000 unplanned maintenance expense, I shouldn’t buy a 340. I figure the maintenance costs will run an average of $150 per hour, net of engine and prop reserves.
I belong to the Twin Cessna Flyer Association—the best resource for expertise on the airplane. The association sponsors seminars and conventions, plus also has an active forum where questions can answered to help keep the aircraft’s reliability and safety at a higher level. I do recurrent training annually, even if it’s not required for insurance. It’s just a good idea.
My 340 is fun and easy to fly when flown by the numbers. It’s also comfortable, quiet and best of all, it’s pressurized.
Fargo, North Dakota
Our 1982 Cessna 340A with RAM VI and American Intercoolers is a pleasure to fly. It’s nicely balanced on the controls with a solid feel that’s responsive and predictable, yet somewhat heavy, befitting an aircraft with a gross takeoff weight over 6000 pounds. It’s no effort to fly and is very stable in flight. Hand flying in IMC is no problem. It doesn’t seem to have any bad habits.
I can achieve nearly 230 KTAS if I’m willing to push (and burn nearly 40 GPH). I choose to run significantly lean of peak for the reduced temperatures and cleaner operation. Interestingly, though, the NM per gallon is about the same. LOP gives me an honest 180 KTAS all day long, burning a bit less than 30 GPH total. I operate in the low flight levels, but it’s happy up to about FL230. Above that, the turbos are working pretty hard and the cabin is above 10,000 feet anyway.
The factory air conditioning is a mechanical nightmare, powered by a hydraulic pump on the right engine, driving a hydraulic motor coupled to the compressor. When it works, it’s fine. But it’s proven to be troublesome to keep working due to Freon leaks. Compared with over $30,000 for a retrofit new electric system, however, one can tolerate a lot of needed repairs. Inflight cabin air circulation needs improvement and that’s a project I’ll look at during my next annual. It’s common for the front two seats to be quite comfortable, while the rear seats are very cold and no amount of existing fans and circulation will smooth out the temperature variations.
With reasonable attention to speed, landings are straightforward, easily controllable, and occasionally reward me with a gratifying roll on. Crosswind performance is predictable and I’ll accept up to 20 knots of direct crosswind without concern. The factory brakes are inadequate and although I can easily touch down on the numbers, even with heavy braking it can take close to 3000 feet to stop. I won’t operate on less than 4000 feet of runway. RAM has a brake upgrade I’m considering.
Beware of the autopilot. The factory autopilot was from Sperry, but designed in the early 1970s or perhaps before. It’s fine when it works and it’s pretty reliable, but if it fails, Autopilots Central in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Executive Autopilots in Sacramento, California, are the top two shops that can still actually repair them. Nobody currently makes a suitable replacement. Although some of the Genesis/S-Tec line is STC’d, I firmly believe that rate-based autopilots have no place in a complex twin flying in serious weather.
The 340 is not a failure-prone aircraft, but there’s a lot of it, so failures are inevitable. For example, after about 50 trouble-free hours since annual, on one flight I lost an alternator and an EGT probe. Be prepared to spend the effort and money to keep your machine in top health. Defer maintenance or cut corners, though, and you’ll likely experience unpleasant surprises.
That brings up what I see as one of the top fallacies in aviation regarding most used aircraft purchases. You can find a 340 for perhaps under $200,000. The mindset when doing so is often that you’re purchasing a comparatively inexpensive airplane. Then, when the first annual costs $25,000 or more, the unsuspecting owner is shocked. A better way to look at it is that if the 340 were available new today, it’d sell for probably well over $1.5 million. We’re required to maintain an aircraft to near-new standards, right? Thus, all 340 owners are maintaining a $1.5 million airplane. In that light, a $25,000 annual doesn’t seem unreasonable. (Annuals are typically much less, but can certainly reach that high if the airplane isn’t maintained.)
I’ve chosen not to calculate my costs, but the estimate from the Twin Cessna Flyers of around $500 per- hour seems reasonable. Of course, this is variable based on how aggressively you plan for cheaper fuel purchases and if you participate in your own maintenance.
Starting with a well-chosen aircraft initially and adding extensive panel upgrades, our 340 is equipped with most of the bells and whistles—it’s as close to an all-weather GA airplane as is practical. We’re diligent about maintenance and the airplane seems to reward that effort. It serves us well for most any mission we undertake and we’ve never had to go commercial when we’d planned to take the 340.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Referring to this aircraft as a 340 or 340A is of no consequence since all 1972 thru 1975 340s have had engine upgrades. In over 21 years of selling Twin Cessnas, I’ve never seen a 285-HP 340. All 340s have 310 HP (per side) or more.
The several horsepower options are: the basic/stock 310 HP, the 325-HP RAM Series IV, the 335-HP RAM Series VI and VII and the 310-HP engine with American Aviation intercoolers. This modification provides RAM IV-like performance.
Propellers will be 76-inch three-blade heated McCauley or Hartzell models. Occasionally a 340 will have a four-blade MT composite propeller. The MT mod is expensive and I do not believe it’s worth the cost.
The term ‘labyrinth’ was once used in Aviation Consumer when referencing the Twin Cessna’s tip tank fuel system. I have spent years disproving the implication of a hard-to-manage fuel system. With a proper checkout, it isn’t an issue. Often on an initial 2.5-hour cross-country where the system can be demonstrated, I’ve had many a new 340 pilot look at me and say, “Is that it? What was all the talk about?”
Common airframe modifications are VGs, aft fuselage strakes, Power Pak spoilers, wheel covers and the R/STOL systems, which is no longer supported by Sierra Industries. The useful load will vary depending on RAM conversion and VGs, but typical is 1700 to 1800 pounds with payloads of 600 to 800 pounds.
Flight Safety no longer offers twin Cessna training. Simcom uses aging non-motion FTDs and customers report frequent malfunctions. There are several insurance-approved in-aircraft training firms that offer both initial and recurrent training. Dan Moore of Watauga Flight Service receives high marks from twin Cessna owners.
Frisco, Texas (www.jtatwins.com)
I’ve owned a Cessna 340 for about 25 years. It is a great two- to three-person aircraft with full fuel and baggage. If you plan to fill the cabin, do not plan to fill the tanks or take 70 pounds of suitcases. You can get off the ground just fine, but if you lost an engine, you would be in a world of hurt. That being said, single-engine performance is reasonable for a piston twin, based on my personal experience.
I heartily recommend vortex generators and quite frankly, I would not fly the aircraft without them. They create much greater rudder authority and reduce Vmc to below stall speed.
I fly with GAMI fuel injectors and operate LOP running 32 inches MP and 2300 RPM at about 15.5 GPH per side. The best altitude seems to be between 16,000 and 18,000 feet. At those altitudes, the engines stay cool for the most part, and I generally see 195 to 200 knots true. The best part about flying at those altitudes is hardly anyone else is there, so there are rarely traffic callouts or flight plan deviations.
My missions are generally between two and eight hours of flight time, so I generally flight plan for no more than four-hour legs, which gives me about one hour of reserve fuel (163 gallons, no nacelle tank).
Insurance is about $4400 for $1 million smooth and $300,000 hull value. I could not sell the plane for $300,000, but also could not replace it for much less. Annual simulator training is required, which runs about $2500 plus travel expenses.
After 25 hours of dual instruction, I thought I had it all down pretty well until I went to the simulator course. Not only was the single-engine training important and eye opening,
I learned that systems knowledge is critical and especially helpful when telling your mechanics what needs to be fixed. I’ve had multiple engine outs and only one was after I had the engines overhauled by a great shop.
Annuals run between $5000 and $10,000 depending on what is broken. My most frequent problem was vacuum pump failure, but this was solved with a cooling shroud and changing the in-line filter when the pump fails, which keeps the vane dust from getting into the de-ice system.
Don’t expect the boots to work very well above 10,000 feet. The density altitude really takes the oomph out of the pressure side of the vacuum pumps. Also, like you said in a recent tail icing article, the 340 does not like flaps in icing conditions, so land with no flaps. The elevator horns—which are up with flaps down—pick up ice like crazy.