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I'm a student pilot and want to buy a plane to take my kids from S.
Florida to the Bahamas. My flight instructor will accompany me. What
are the practical differences between a 206 and a Saratoga for this
type of flying. I want a glass panel so I'm looking at a 2004 or
newer on the 206. I don't know the first year that the g1000 was
available for the Saratoga. What's the advantages of buying a 2007 vs
a 2006, 2005 or 2004 on the 206? Same question for the Saratoga based
on the earliest glass panel? I looked at the prices and there's a
significant drop in price for each year you go back. Is there
improved safety equipment on the newer models?
-- Doug Koval, January 11, 2009
Doug, Cessna began putting the G1000 in 206's in 2005. The advantage of a 2007 over previous models is the GFC700 Autopilot/Flight Director. For South Florida / Bahamas a huge advantage of the 206 over the PA-32 is the 206 has large opening windows on each side creating a lot of air flow in the cabin when you are on the ground. The high wings create shade. I don't think you would be happy down there in a Saratoga without the added expense and weight of air conditioning. The Saratoga may be a fuzz faster but not a lot. My experience is you may be able to eek out 160 kts in the PA-32. A normal 206 usually gets around 150. A turbo at 10-12000 feet will cruise at 160. You may find it more difficult to get insured in the Saratoga because of its retractable gear. The 2005 - 2006 206's have the KAP-140 Autopilot that you may already be used to in training aircraft. Please feel free to give us a call or email if you have further questions.
Charlie Masters Vice President Aircraft Sales Eastern Cincinnati Aviation 800-908-4359 firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Charlie Masters, January 13, 2009
I am a new pilot who did training in a glass DA40. Two weeks ago, we bought a 2005 T206. It is an excellent platform. That said, it is hell of a lot more airplane than the DA40 we sold. The check list items have an increased with the complexity of the airplane, and this would be more so with the Saratoga (which we also considered). The 206 has a long nose which compromises pilot visibility out the windshield a bit (after 12 hours, I am still not completely used to it), but the side windows offer a joyful view.
We came very close to an 06 Saratoga, but the ultimate decider for us was the G1000. I just prefer it to Avidyne. An important second factor was fixed gear. No chance of gear up landing, and it is beefy (a few landings have been real doozies, and am thankful for heavy duty mains).
You will be happy with the cargo capacity and space, especially if you are only flying with yourself and three others. Remove the third row of seats and you really have a flying Suburban. Speaking of seats, starting in 2005, they come standard with Amsafe airbags. HID taxi/landing lights I believe also came standard in 2005.
Good luck. You will be happy with either airplane.
-- Scott Zodin, March 7, 2009