The coming devaluation of Mooneys?

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The coming devaluation of Mooneys?

What effect does everyone think that the new technology Diamond and
Cirrus turbo diesels are going to have on the older airframes? The
planes are all composites with MFD and for the first time that Im
aware of you will have technology that can not be effectively retro
fitted to older airframes. Are the older Beechcraft and Mooneys of
the world going to take a haircut when there are a sufficient number
of SR22s and DA40s in the used market? Lastly if Diamond and Cirrus
each ship 100 planes a year how long does it take for us to see an
impact in the used market? On a separate note are the running costs
of a Diamond DA40 less or the same as say a Cessna 172?


Justin Cutler

-- Justin Cutler, February 6, 2004


The DA40 seems to cost about the same to maintain as a C172 similarly equpped if you ignore things like the MT Propeller's grease seal leakage, which as far as I know has so far been covered by MT and Diamond. According to Cessna made 42,500 airplanes in the 172 family. Cirrus is cranking out about 500 per year and the rest of the new design airplane companies ship only a small number compared to Cirrus. So it looks as though it will take approximately 100 years before the number of composite airplanes shipped is equal to the post-WWII inventory of metal airplanes still flying. Therefore it seems unreasonable to expect a dramatic crash in the value of old airplanes.

New airplanes are basically handmade. So the process of putting an Avidyne or Garmin glass panel in a 1960 Cessna 172 shouldn't be that different from putting the same glass panel in a Cirrus or Diamond airframe. Perhaps there will be an STC soon enough.

If new light planes came out that were dramatically better in terms of interior noise, comfort, climate control, and safety that would cause some havoc in the used market. But I haven't heard of any on the drawing board or in production.

-- Philip Greenspun, February 7, 2004

Update to my answer from three years ago (3 years!)...

One of the reasons we have to love aviation is the glacial pace of progress. The Cirrus diesel never materialized. Diamond's DA42 twin diesel is flying, but not popular as a personal transportation machine (they sell a lot to flight schools, though). Garmin finally has announced a retrofit glass panel to be STC'd for old Cessnas and the like, but the product isn't ready/certified.

Old airplanes have been falling in value since around 2001. Part of this is that Cirrus, Columbia, and Diamond actually do make enough airframes to supply a healthy fraction of the people who fly low performance airplanes a lot of hours. Whenever I am in the clouds in the Northeast U.S., all of the other airplanes on the frequency seem to be jets or Cirrus.

I think that the big reason old airplanes are falling in value is that the guys who know how to fly them and who want to fly them are dying and/or losing their medicals. A Mooney is of no value to a modern yuppie, as pointed out by some folks below, because he can't fly it and has no desire to learn.

Airplanes that are useful for business transportation and not terribly expensive to operate seem to be holding value very well. I priced the 1999 Piper Mirage (Malibu) a couple of years ago and more recently. The batch of planes produced in 1999 hasn't depreciated at all for two years. Maybe 50 were built and there aren't many alternatives if you want pressurization, FL250 capability, big cabin, deice, etc.

-- Philip Greenspun, June 25, 2007

Justin, your post makes two different points, and both are questionable in my opinion.

First, you are asserting that the newer turbo diesels are somehow unique to newer composite airplanes. The implied argument is that all pilots will want the better gas mileage that goes with diesels. The problem with that argument is nearly all of the diesel engine makers are announcing programs to retrofit older airplanes. Diamond is using Thielert, for example, and Thielert almost immediately announced a Cessna 172 retrofit, and I'm sure if the engine takes off they will retrofit others.

Second, you are implying that cheap composites will be available in sufficient quantities to force pricing on all airplanes down. I think any effect on pricing from composites will be minimal, for a few reasons.

First, the fundamental factor that affects general aviation price is demand. The reason a complex automobile can sell for $20,000 is economies of scale, and no such economies can exist in general aviation when so few people want to buy any airplane regardless of cost. The reason so few people want to buy GA aircraft is because they are too damned complex to fly (safely, in all conditions). To my thinking this has far more to do with avionics than airframe design. Once the revolution now going on in avionics works its way through to completion, an automated cockpit may be as cheap as buying a few PCs, and may make airplanes easier to fly. (What works against that however is the way the FAA stops innovation by small innovative companies.) At that point, maybe demand will rise and economies will start to develop that can really shift pricing downward in a radical way.

Second, you are assuming that a DA40 is a perfect substitute for a Mooney, and that is just wrong. The Mooney is a much faster airplane. The Mooney also has one of the best safety records going for general aviation. A big reason for this is because the Mooney designs incorporate very robust rollbars, very strong airframe designs, and rod connectors to the avionics rather than weaker cable-type designs. The longshot of that is that more people survive a hard Mooney landing than in any composite. You have a much better shot at having the aircraft stay in one piece if you lose control in IFR conditions in a Mooney. Extra speed and extra safety is worth extra money, to many people.

-- W Estes, February 8, 2004

Sorry, I meant rod connectors to the aircraft controls, not to the avionics....

-- W Estes, February 8, 2004

First let me say thanks for your thoughts. However I still don't get it. A mooney 201J is going to cost about $130,000 for a mid 1980's plane. According to Plane and Pilot the 201 trims to about 169 knots at 75% power. A Cirrus SR20 according to Plane and Pilot trims to about 160 knots 75% power. Based upon adds on ASO asking price is around $175,000 for a 1999 SR20.

I know this is a stretch and let me also say I haven't flown both planes. However if you were to upgrade the 201 to have the same avionics and engine management that the SR20 has what would it cost? Is $50,000 including the STC reasonable? Now you are at the asking price of a 1999 all composite SR20 you have a 9 knot speed advantage but a 15 year older airframe. Personally I would trade the 9 knots for 15 years, and composite construction. So lets say we are shopping for a plane with $180,000 in our pocket. I have the 201 upgraded with a Gramin PDF for $180,000 to chose from. (How they got the screens in around the yolks I don't know but they did.) Our other selection is the 1999 SR20. I don't think Cirrus, Diamond, Lanceair, and such have to make anywhere even near the run of the 172's. They only have to make a sufficient quantity for there to be a steady volume and supply in the used market. Then if others make the same decision that I did the guy that has upgraded his 201J with the Garmin will discount it to to turn it thereby causing the person with the stock 201J to discount.

Lastly I should say I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feeling or step on any toes. I love the 201J and especially the rocket conversions.


Justin Cutler

Ps. Will the combination of composite airframes, tighter integration of avionics, and diesels with fewer parts cause the annual and ongoing costs to be lower on a new generation plane?

-- Justin Cutler, February 9, 2004

I'm a Turbo Mooney owner and don't know that much about composite aircraft, although I've flown a Lancair IVP (wow) and a Cirrus SR-22 (ho-hum). Here's a dumb question: how will composite materials hold up to sitting in the sun for 20-25 years? I honestly don't know the answer but it's one thing I wonder about. I know my Mooney's paint would be shot after that much exposure, but the aluminum beneath would be fine. Are composites the same way?

By the way, any haircut that Cirrus, Diamond, et. al. give us Mooney owners will be a minor touch-up compared to the drubbing we got last year when Mooney chopped their new aircraft prices by 20%!

-- Joe Zuffoletto, February 21, 2004

The Turbo Mooney seems to be a great plane and anyone would be tickled to own one.

I have thought about the longevity of composite construction and the only thing I can think of are boats and corvettes. There are a lot of 25-year-old vets out there.


-- Justin Cutler, February 25, 2004

I know nothing about aircraft, but I can advise that I will only race a composite tub race car as:-

1)It is very strong (therefore safer than a spaceframe)if designed correctly. 2)Needs no maintenance other than a visual check. 3)Can be repaired economically by experts. 4)Does not rust or deteriate like metal (ask the military about the use of composites in their aircraft?).

However despite all this the prices of all aircraft will be based on the ole premise of supply and demand, the diesel effect will be greater in Europe where fuel(petrol) is a lot more expensive than in the USA.

-- Andy Langridge, March 31, 2004

Airplanes do not age like cars. There is a dramatic difference in how they are maintained. In a hairy situation, I'll take a Mooney anytime over a composite airplane but I do like the new birds - very nice. Mooney's are the strongest ga aircraft made. I own a 1965 Cessna 182 upgraded in and out and maintained to the highest degree. It is as safe or safer today than the day it rolled off the factory floor.

-- chris oliver, November 21, 2004

Interesting topic. I've flown the DA-40 extensively, dabbled with SR-22 a bit, and last year bought an '82 Mooney M20K (Turbo "231"). The Mooney is A LOT of plane for the money. The DA-40 is a fine airplane, but it's more of a short hop, 135 Kts fun machine. I look upon the SR-22 as a "virtual" twin, in that the BRS chute gives twin-like peace of mind when flying over terrain, especially in IMC. But it's hard to beat a turbocharged Mooney as an all-around high performance single. The airplane has good useful load, operates out of high -altitude airports with ease (Not so with normally aspirated airplanes such as the DA-40 or SR-22), and flies high and fast (TAS 190-200 kts at or near flight levels). With built in oxygen, speed brakes, and extended range tanks (1700nm), plus solid, predicatable handling, it's no wonder this model is a favourite amongst high time pilots. I'm glad I went with an M20K, and I can duplicate most of the gizmos in an SR-22 with the purchase of a Garmin 396, all while saving over $100K.

-- Oscar Fernandez, January 26, 2006

I'm gonna ramble a bit..

I suppose it's possible for the composites to devalue the stock of existing old-design airframes. Lets put it this way, I wouldn't be surprised. Especially for the older airplanes, but they stand to be devalued by any influx of newer, used airplanes into the marketplace. The older airframes were appreciating in value in the 80's and 90's when there were few new airplanes of any style being built. After the change in liability law and the recent boom in presonal aviation things have changed.

However, in a apples to apples match, many current old-design planes are and will remain quite competitive with the composites. Each plane brings something unique and individual to the table and for every nut there's a bolt...

Older planes that are very fuel efficient will do fine against newer ones with larger engines that aren't. The Mooney 252 has a cult following and is priced comparably to used TLS/Bravos - while the Bravo is bigger with a better engine it gulps more gas than the highly efficient 252.

I have owned Mooney 231, 201 and Cirrus SR22G. I just bought a 2000 Mooney Ovation 2. So I flew a 2003 SR22G which is a very nice - actually a great - airplane for a year but turned around and bought a 2000 Ovation. Why?

The Mooney while it doesn't have a Garmin G1000 glass panel has all the wonderful gizmos the Cirrus does except for E-TAWS. Or it will when Garmin delivers the GMX200 I have on order (mid July they say). I have TAS610 active traffic, dual Garmin 430's, a Sandel EFIS, XM WX, Stormscope, etc. On a low time airframe that will do 190ktas on approx the same fuel flow as the SR22. I have some things the SR doesn't - a true Flight Director and attitude based digital A/P. Have preselect which the SR does but I have altitude alert which is a feature annoyingly missing from the Avidyne/Stec setup in the SR. Oh yeah, I got cup holders too.

SR22 has a bit more room inside, widthwise, Ovation is longer. Both are quite luxurious compared to the MG Midget analogues I have been flying for years. Ovation has builtin O2, SR does not (that little tank they sell doesn't really count). Glass panel is fun and nice to fly but after 15 years of flying a six-pack and one year of Avidyne PFD I don't think it's appreciably safer or easier to use. Some features yes, but some are I think hard to quantify. I will miss the wind vector from the ADHRS. I never had a lot of confidence in the placement of the backup flight instruments in the Cirrus - too far down out of scan, head down is an invitation for vertigo. And unless you learn the position of every circuit breaker by feel, the chances of finding the one you need in an emergency are slim, at least without vertigo inducing head down time. I have a Mid Continent Lifesaver backup AI right in my face with its own internal battery in case of electrical failure. I don't know why every IFR pilot doesn't go out and buy one of these no matter what they're flying. My life is worth $4k to me - is yours to you? Needle Ball and Airspeed is all very well and good but if things go south for real, wouldn't you rather have an AI?

I don't know what to think about the chute. On the one hand I like the feeling of safety it gives you, especially if I had a medical emergency with my family on board. On the other hand, once you pull the chute you are along for the ride. What if you land half on, half off of a tall building? Not everyone is fortunate to land in a tree or a field. And don't forget that the gear must take up some of the impact so if you land in water you can get seriously hurt. I don't mind having it but I feel perfectly comfortable flying without it as I did for 15 years.

Visibility is better in SR, but Mooney has steerable nosewheel (I hated the free castering gear in the SR even though I have lots of experience in Tigers - maybe its the undersized brakes). Doors (only one) close better in Mooney. Thats fixed in brand new Cirrus but I can't afford the depreciation on a new plane.

Some like the looks of the Cirrus and from the front it is quite handsome, but I never got used to the egg shape from the side. Mooney looks like a .. well like a Mooney. It looks like its going fast on the ground.

I guess my wife said it best when I was struggling with the decision of which to buy - the Ovation or a similarly priced Cirrus - she said: "you're just not a Cirrus guy - you're a Mooney guy" I guess 500 hours Mooney time rubs off... I'm at home in an airplane with its tail on backwards..

BTW- Philip, I'm not sure how I came across this site but I met you last year at the MMOPA (Malibu Mirage Owners and Pilots Association for those not good at deciphering such nomenclature) convention in Groton. I was the guy flying a Cirrus (of course!).

Just one man's opinion(s), and I put my money where my mouth is.. I bought the Mooney.

Mike S.

-- Mike Stenzler, May 25, 2006

Not sure how I found this page, but it's an interesting thread to say the least. I think Justin sort of brings up a valid point. There are some things to watch for in the coming years as Cirrus and Diamond crank out some very attractive, fast, luxurious and well-equipped composite airplanes. And, they seem to be doing so at price targets that are right in line with the offerings of Cessna, Piper, etc. The problem with Cessna, Piper and company is that what they're bringing to market today is basically a "freshened-up" version of the same airplanes they've been selling for 50 years, whereas Cirrus, Diamond, and others are bringing fresh, innovative designs not weighted down with decades-old engineering. Then again, there's also something to be said for having a large, tried-and-true, experienced fleet. If, and it's a big if, I were ever to be in a situation so as to be able to afford a brand new airplane, say a 182, I would have to cast a serious eye towards the SR22.

But, I'm not a doctor, or attorney, or other poor schmuck with more discretionary income than I know what to do with, so I'm forced to shop around for the cast-offs of others. And that segueys to Justin's original query: "The coming devaluation of Mooneys?" Airplanes, like collectible cars, boats, etc., tend to be grossly overpriced when new, then rapidly depreciate for a number of years, and then, if they've proven themselves worthy and have been well-maintained, tend to stabilize in value or even appreciate. Not accounting for inflation, of course, take a look at the price of any classic Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Beechcraft, name your brand. I'm a pretty brand-tolerant guy. I've owned a Piper, and I currently own a Cessna and a Mooney, and all three airplanes are as old or older than I am (and I can remember Gerald Ford), and I paid several times their original sticker price 30 or 40 years later. Airplanes are not cheap, and never have been. So, if Cirrus can crank out a million airplanes, flood the market, and drive Mooney prices into the ground, I'm actually all for it. I'll immediately go out and purchase a fleet. But, I'm not too worried about that. Old airplanes, if not maintained, will eventually deteriorate and be worth nothing anyway, regardless of what else is for sale. If well-maintained, then they will hold value or possibly appreciate, regardless of what else is for sale. A Cirrus is going to attract a certain following, no matter how many airplanes Mooney cranks out. And likewise, Mooney has certainly drawn a following, which no number of used Cirruses (Cirri?) is going to impact. When you see a 25 year old 201 selling for $150k, you might think "Gee, why would I want to spend that kind of money on a 25 year old Mooney, when for a little more I could get a nearly new Cirrus with all kinds of extras?" Perhaps you should be asking yourself, "What is so special about a 201 that makes it worth so much?" And it's not just Mooney. Go price a used Bonanza. Classics like 182's, M20's, and Bo's are dearly loved by their owners because they represent decades of proven performance and value for their particular owner's particular mission, be it load, speed, comfort, range, whatever. Given the number of used Cessnas, Pipers, Mooneys, etc. in the GA fleet, I don't think a few 100 Cirrus and Diamond aircraft coming in the fold each year are going to have a huge impact. They will have an impact, I'm sure, as someone somewhere will always choose a Cirrus over a Mooney, but no more impact than their currently having when a new airplane buyer picks a Cirrus over a Mooney.

Diesel versus gas. I don't think this is going to be a big deal at all. If diesels ever take the market lead over gas engines, and I kind of hope they do because I like the economy, simplicity, and longevity, then the existing, aging fleet will retrofit. My Mooney is 40+ years old, and on it's 2nd engine. Who's to say the next engine won't be a diesel? They're already putting them in Cessnas.

Composite versus aluminum. You know, there's been a lot of chatter about which is better ever since (maybe before) Burt Rutan engineered his first homebuilt. I'm a homebuilder, too, in what little spare time I have, and I looked at a LOT of kits before settling on an RV. I chose it partly because of the sheer number of examples flying, but also due to the choice of materials. I'm not afraid of epoxy and fiberglass, I just don't see any benefit in it. Aluminum structures can be built to be extremely strong, lighweight, durable, and very easy to repair and maintain. Don't believe me, just look at the thousands of pre- and post-WWII warplanes still in existence, or look at the thousands of airliners flying. Not saying a composite aircraft can't have an equally impressive history, it just doesn't. Not yet. There's no evidence composite will last longer, or be stronger, or even *lighter*. Lots of people talk about that last one, but I've yet to see a composite design that's just a fast, just and strong, and *lighter*. Here's another thought: maintenance. A nice thing about owning a Cessna, or Piper, or Mooney, is that every A&P is trained to work with sheet metal. Dinged your stabilizer on your Mooney getting it out of the hangar? Easy fix. Do that to your Cirrus, and could *your* A&P fix it? Not saying it's hard to do, just wondering if he's ever done it before.

Lastly, economy. Because I'm a Mooney driver I've taken an oath to defend the breed. Therefore, I would stack my M20E up against *any* comparable new airplane on the market, and compare total cost of ownership (TCO) per mile or per knot.

-- Tim Keen, August 7, 2006

Interesting forum. I've recently become interested in flying and have just started lessons, along with two other people in my company. We'll get our private certificates & continue straight on to IFR, high performance and multi-engine. Within a year we'll be buying a company airplane to regularly make the hop from New Orleans to Miami. This discussion is interesting because we can chop a hundred miles off the trip (which will be flown twice weekly) by going over water, but I think we'll only do that if we end up with a twin engine plane. The most likely candidate so far is the Diaamond Twinstar, but we've also been looking at fast singles. Many of the Mooneys are fast enough to erode the benefit of flying over water - but one of my concerns in reading about the used plane market is the prospect of hidden metal fatigue. Any metal subjected to flex and vibration fatigues and from what I understand there is no external sign of fatigue in a metal before it starts to crack. I also understand that yearly inspections do not call for any extensive examination for metal fatigue. Surely that has got to be a concern to the aging metal GA fleet. I love the idea of getting one of the low time older Mooneys - but the prospect of hidden corrosion coupled with the worry of hidden metal fatigue worries me. If a plane is severly stressed early in its life there might not be much external evidence but the stress does not self- heal - it just compounds over time. comments?

-- robert watters, August 8, 2006

Can't speak for every metal airplane out there, but here are a couple things to consider on a Mooney: - They have beaucoup access holes in the wings and fuselage that can be removed and inspected if you're concerned about corrosion. You wouldn't pull every single one off every annual, but I pulled every single one during the pre-buy inspection before my purchase. At 40+ years old, my bird is in fine shape. The folks at Mooney were kind enough to zinc chromate all the critical parts (spars, ribs, etc). - Mooneys are way over-engineered. Search the net for many discussions on this topic. Built like tanks. They also have the best IFR safety history for planes in it's class. - To my knowledge, there has only ever been ONE in-flight break-up of a Mooney, and that poor soul flew into a thunderstorm. AOPA safety articles and the NTSB accident database are excellent places to research these things.

Corrosion can be an issue, especially if you live on the coast. But a careful search for the right plane and you'll be fine. There are also excellent after-market corrosion-preventitive solutions. I would not worry about metal fatigue.

-- Tim Keen, August 8, 2006

Regarding metal fatigue: Aluminum wings and tails are designed strong enough so that they don't (during maximum g loading) flex far enough to yield or stretch the metal. Therefore they don't fatigue. If there is any concern by the FAA during the certification process, there will be some life limit on the structural member. You can kind of compare it to bending a coat hanger. If you flex it just a little and never to the point of stretching or work hardening the metal it will never break. If you bend it far enough to stretch the metal one way and then the other so that it yields, it will fatigue and break. I know this is a simplified explanation but I believe the dreaded "metal fatigue" that composite airplane sellers refer to really doesn't exist.

-- Jim Christy, November 15, 2006

The original Mooney M20 had a gross weight of 2200 pounds, and the prototype flew on a 150 hp engine. I've wondered what kind of efficiencies could be achieved if we could mate the Twinstar's diesel engine to the original Mooney airframe and incorporate the Mooney 201 improvements? Not so important right now, but when Avgas is $10 per gallon we will all be real interested.

It remains cheaper to upgrade an older aircraft with electronics and STC's than it does to buy a new one, and I don't see how a handful of Cirrus, Diamond and Lancairs will change that.

By contrast, the LSA certificate is creating such an influx of good performing 2-place airplanes that the used market for 150's, 152's, Tomahawks etc. may eventually be depressed. You can buy a 1320 pound gross weight LSA with a useful load better than a 150, more speed, better climb performance, MUCH better economy, for about $90K, some as little as $70K, brand new, and when the used market starts filling up with these the older 2-place designs should be depressed. Not all of these LSA manufacturers will survive, but while they're here we may have a light plane bldg boom that approaches 1960's levels. If the LSA program is hugely successful, we might conceivably see it extended to 200 hp 4-place planes as was once proposed, and THEN we might see some price movement donward in this class.

On the issue of metal fatigue, we have a whole fleet of DC-3's made out of aluminum that have in the neigborhood of 70,000 to 125,000 hours on their airframes. Not many GA aircraft come close to that. Aircraft that are not pressurized don't go through a lot of stress in each cycle. Further, older aircraft design was not subject to finite element design on a computer, so much of the aircraft designed in the 50's and 60's are simply overbuilt compared to newer aircraft. I did hear of a gear collapse from fatigue once, but the plane was being used as an air taxi between 2 corporate sites 20-miles apart, and they said it had probably cycled 20,000 landings!

-- Richard W, February 20, 2007

The quality of the lay-up is critical in determining strength. Bonding failure between lay-ups and cyclic exposure to the sun in the long term may find composite aircraft flying that are no longer capable of meeting the full stresses of high wing loads in max gross or rough flight conditions resulting in catastrophic failures in flight.

I am very interested in all types of aircraft and would like to build both an aluminum and composite airframe craft as projects when I retire in a few years. In my research the one thing I can say is that if I purchase a composite aircraft it will not be a kit unless I build it because you can not see layer bonding failures and delamination in the substrate of a series of lay-ups with the naked eye. I ran across one home builder of a cosey Mark IV that felt so strongly about it he stated he would cut his plane up when he quits flying rather that accept the liability of selling it to someone else. He said he would not be able to sleep at night if a new owner experienced a catastrophic structural failure in flight.

I know I'm off the track here but I've read about people buying partially constructed plans built or kit built composite aircraft from the original owners only to have to scrap the project or nearly start over due debonding of poor and contaminated lay-ups on birds that luckily in some cases would never fly or, if flown, it would only be after extensive corrective surgery or amputations in cancerous areas to save their adopted projects.

-- Kenneth Harrison, February 27, 2007

To answer the second part of your question I did a cost analysis of the DA-40tdi vs. the Cessna 172 for Embry-Riddle two years ago. At the time avgas averaged $3.11 in the US and Jet A averaged $1.60. The DA-40 cost $10,100 more at the time but recouped the extra investment in 980 hours as the diamond saved $18.00/hour in fuel at the time. Now the price gap is significantly greater and it would likely take as many as 3000 hrs to recoup investment. Insurance for the two types is very similar though the Cessna was marginally cheaper at the time. Since then the DA-40 has taken the title from the C-172 for best safety record in the industry. An interesting note is that TAE powerplant must be REPLACED every 2400 hrs (it is currently 1200 hrs but diamond is paying half) instead of just overhauled. This adds ~$6.00/hr relative to the cessna as the ubiquitous IO-360 is very economical to overhaul. Additionally the gearbox on the TAE diesels are currently being replaced avery 300 hrs but Thielert is covering the cost. Performance is simlar at sea level but no contest above 5000 feet with the turbo diesel besting the Cessna by 20knots and 300fpm.


-- Nate dePutter, March 28, 2007

I was just combing through blogs and i came across this one. Obviously a lot of mooney lovers on this page. As for me I have a cirrus. To each his own but all I can say is that cirrus is actually still making planes while if you call mooney you'd be lucky if someone picks up the phone.

-- Scott Haufe, March 5, 2012

I am a student pilot right now training in a Cessna 172SP for my ticket and looking to buy my first plane to continue for IFR after my checkride. My goal is to fly far, fast and efficient and looking at Cirrus, Beechcraft and Mooney. Looked at 182 but they are not that fast. My concern over Mooney is the company went BK and has not made a new airplane in years so concern about parts and maintenance as well as training is a worry.

-- Ben Prusinski, December 25, 2012

Ben, You should start a new thread for more opinions, but your concern is misplaced. Companies making mods and parts are healthy and dependable. Only when they are making planes do they go bankrupt. The longevity of steel framed planes will keep Mooney in business for the foreseeable future unless they start making planes again. Then, they may go BK again, like Beech just did. That's not a concern either. Some short term parts issues develop around BKs but someone always fills the need soon. When there are less than a thousand hulls still flying, then you get real shortages.

The real concern is which plane is best for your needs, and training. Search for an instructor before you buy. Your area may not have a knowledgeable instructor for your type available on any of those planes and each has issues of its own which affect safety. Your life may not make it convenient to use an out of town instructor.

-- Eric Warren, December 26, 2012

Composite lifespan:

I work in the aviation industry. Our Eurocopter EC-135 has fiberglass composite rotor blades. With an airframe total time of 980 hours, we are on our 3rd set of rotor blades. First set cracked beyond limits at the highest stress point (where the cuff and airfoil intersect) The second set actually "kinked" in the middle due to non operation overstress (they were subject to jet blast on the ground)

I'd like to take credit for finding these flaws, but I can't. The issues were found after the blades were CAT scanned. It was otherwise invisible to the eye and not detectable via a "tap test". If it takes a CAT scan to find such flaws, how are we going to test large, composite parts for stress related flaws? Such as after 10 or 20 years of service.

-- Franklin E. Fraitus, April 12, 2014