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I am getting back into flying after a 7 year layoff. 6oo+ total
hours with 150 hours IFR single-engine. Much of my previous flying
was at night and sometimes over mountains (never both at the same
time). Previouly owned an 1984 Piper Dakota PA 36, which was a
great plane, but slow and struggled at altitide. I prefer flying
high. I'm considering a 4 place light twin, and was originally
interested in the twin commanche. The turbo Piper Seminole PA 44 is
a newer airframe and appears to be economical to operate. Any
opinions on very light twins? I'd like to avoid airframes over 15
to 20 years old. Thanks, Alan
-- Alan Farrow-Gillespie, February 11, 2006
This is an easy question because there is only one modern light twin design: the Diamond DA42. I don't think the seats are especially comfortable, but it is certified for known ice and very cheap to run due to its exceptional fuel economy from diesel (Jet-A_ engines. I guess the Piper Twin Comanche is also a good choice, but you're looking at a plane made between 1963 and 1972.
-- Philip Greenspun, February 11, 2006
Would definitely recommend the Twin Comanche over the Seminole. They go faster on less fuel, carry more, climb higher, and in all respects are better constructed than the Seminole (which is really a Twin Arrow). The Comanche line had better corrosion protection than the Cherokee line, part of the reason it was more expensive in those days, and it would be tough for you to find one in which the airframe itself is in poor condition. Better yet, you can buy PA30's for $70k or so, then rebuild the engines, add new avionics, conduct a thorough annual, repaint, and put in a new interior, and for $150k you've ended up with a brand new Twin Comanche. We've had three over the years and have always been pleased (and I did a good deal of my twin training in Seminoles -- there's just no comparing the two planes in terms of overall flight characteristics...it's like trying to compare an Audi A4 to an Audi S4. They look pretty darn similar until you get behind the wheel).
-- Stuart Gitlow, February 15, 2006