Best plane for 450 nm commute, 80 nm over water

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What to get for this mission?

First my background info:

I live in Cape Elizabeth, Maine near the Portland (PWM) airport. I have a camp in the
Magdalen Islands (CYGR)( in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
This coming summer Iメll need to go back and forth over ten times. It is a 450nm trip with
80nm over water. I will be flying late spring to early fall. By car, itメs a two-day trip up and
an 18 hr. grind home. Five of the hours are on a car ferry that leaves from PEI. So long car.

I do not have a license and will eventually get one but will not fly this route myself for
years until Iメm a well seasoned IRF pilot. I will hire an IRF pilot to fly me there. Most of the
time it will only be me and a pilot. Sometimes Iメll have a third person along.

CYGR is a port of entry but most likely customs will be cleared in Moncton along the way.
CYGR does not sell fuel.

Portland is Cessna country meaning that G1000 pilots are plentiful and Avidyne types not.

Because of the water Iメm thinking about a twin, the most likely candidate being a DA42.
I have also looked at a Cirrus SR22 Turbo and a Cessna 182. I have ruled out getting a
Cessna 310 or the like. Iメm considering new, demo or very low hours and want glass.

I would appreciate any input on what to get. I'd say the missions dictates all, Sure it would
be nice to fly myself at some distant point, but thatメs the whole enchilada.

-- Warren Roos, April 5, 2008


The DA42 should be a great airplane for this trip. I think you could defray some of the cost by finding guys who want to build multi-engine time. Your instructor rides with you in the front seat on the way to the island. The time-builder rides in the back. When the instructor departs, the time-builder moves into the front and logs the return trip. You could surely get someone to pay $125-150/hour for this.

The DA42 is also a great airplane for leasing to a flight school when you're not using it. The insurance will be high, so only do this if you don't have another way to deduct the airplane or if there is a huge amount of business.

The DA42 is a much better plane for this mission than the SR22 due to its capability of flying through known icing conditions. The SR22 with the TKS anti-icing option can probably do the trip as a practical matter, but it would not be legal.

The DA42 is a very easy plane to fly and there is no reason that you can't get a license in it. People did that in the old days, actually. They would get signed off to solo and then get a private multi-engine rating without ever having a single-engine rating. Might be tough to get insurance for that, but it should be possible and safe.

Don't make your decision on the G1000/Avidyne basis. The Avidyne is very simple to use and can be learned within a flight or two. The guys who know how to operate a G1000 also know how to operate a Garmin 430, which is what drives the Avidyne and which is where the complexity is on a Cirrus.

-- Philip Greenspun, April 5, 2008

Responding to Warren's follow-up question below...

The next step up in size? You would go to a six-passenger piston twin such as a B58 Baron. Now you have a plane that costs over $1 million new and drinks a lot of gas. You can get a used one cheap because the insurance, maintenance, and training requirements are so onerous. Maybe $500,000 for one from the 1990s and $250,000 for one from the 1980s. They are quite roomy in the back and many were certified for known ice.

Most people with cash, however, would move up to a turboprop such as the Meridian ($1M for an early one without glass) or a TBM 700 ($1.3M for an early one).

As you've noticed, any step up from a Cessna 172 gets expensive very quickly.

I wouldn't be too obsessed with glass at this point because Aspen Avionics has made it practical for older planes to be retrofit. A new plane with a Garmin G1000 and Garmin autopilot is a great transportation advantage, but mostly because of the great autopilot, not because the G1000 is so much better than the current retrofit glass panels.

-- Philip Greenspun, April 5, 2008

You put it nicely.

As I�ll have to have a raft and life jacks, carrying room and load will be reduced making my large beloved (as yet not plane tested) dog and or bikes not able to ride along.

If I had a hankering to routinely carry more what might be the next plane step up in size?

Perhaps I should think no further. The demo ride (including a 5000 foot a minute drop to show the motors would still run and the de rigueur climb with one engine) in a DA42 convinced this neophyte that while not commodious it is one rugged machine. But how are you going to keep �em down on the Farm once they have tasted the ride?

As nothing will ever be perfect and the DA42 sips, it is at the top of my list. The next price tier is not. And while I�m at it the DA42 broaches my wildest dreams. Portland to CYGR in under fours hours! Wow.

Shedding some of the costs will have to part of the mix. I think the local flight school is interested. The most reasonable part of the overall price is the hourly fee for a pilot. That�s kinda of sad.

-- Warren Roos, April 5, 2008

With lot of fuel/range on board the Beaches carry less load than the DA42! I bookmarked the Eads Socata for when I win the lottery. As Borat might say, "Very nice."

An モolderヤ DA42 will require the Thielert Centurion 1.7 Engines to be replaced at 1000 hours with the new 2.0 litter ones. They pro rate this (Take the 25,995 EUR and divide by 24 then multiply by 10 = 10,831 EUR.ᅠ This is the cost of one engine.) making for a 33K expense @ 1000 hours. This adds a bit but is quite reasonable given the pro rating. Reserves per hour on this are around $44 for a plane with 300 hours verses $33 for new. The real out of pocket cost difference is $7700.00. Besides reclining seats, can't see what a new one has that's much different. As the dollar is so poor against the Euro, why go there?

More and more the DA42 beckons.

-- Warren Roos, April 6, 2008

With all the Thielert problem and uncertainty Im looking at the tecnam p2006t... The DA42 WAS the dream aircraft...

-- Martin Antranik, May 11, 2008

I researched service for the Diamond. I called three twin star owners and form two I head of long waits for parts and of others woes. They told me not to get a twin star. Then I called two FBO operators and was also cautioned. I purchased a Cirrus. Que sera sera.

"Cessna Delays Delivering Thielert-powered 172s; Diamond Pledges Support To Customers Cessna has reportedly suspended plans to deliver the 100 diesel-powered versions of its Skyhawk that have been ordered. The action comes as the result of legal and financial turmoil at the German engine maker that has led to a drastic reduction in its stock value. Cessna has said it will continue certification plans for its Model 172TD, but has put production and delivery plans on hold pending the outcome of the Thielert drama. Meanwhile, Austrian-based Diamond Aircraft has pledged it will support its customers who own Thielert-powered DA42 TwinStars. The company said it will stockpile spare parts and take other action to support the aircraft."

-- Warren Roos, May 12, 2008