Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Choosing A Six-Seat Single


Efficiency, comfort, modern technology and so much more


In our current era of financial belt-tightening, efficiency counts for a lot. Vero Beach and Wichita are really getting it right with their newest batch of six-seat singles. Why? Because today’s six-seat singles offer a great combination of comfort, baggage capacity, speed, ease of flying and modern technology for people who need to cover a typical 250-mile stage length with four to six passengers and a lot of luggage.
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PIPER MIRAGE
If you really need to fly high, fast and over the weather, and you’re okay with the extra insurance requirements, then this can serve as your personal version of a Citation or Learjet. For a single, it’s fast, offers a big cabin and is pressurized. It will easily cruise at near-airline flight levels. It’s really a cousin to the Meridian, but without the costs associated with a turbine engine. Of the piston singles, depending on your outlook, this is the Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz Maybach Limo of the six-seaters.

PIPER SARATOGA
This is an American favorite for business or for pleasure. If you can fly a Cherokee, then you can fly a Saratoga (as long as you have some dual and experience). A Saratoga is really a new Cherokee 6, which is really a big Archer, so it appeals to the private, noncommercial, lower-time, newer pilot. It can probably carry the most luggage of any of the six-seaters. It’s priced competitively with the G36 and slightly higher than the 206.




Today’s Marketplace

With GA avionics that are, in some cases, better than the systems in many commercial airliners, and optional air-conditioning and anti-ice on most new models, the six-seat single has really come into its own in private air travel. In most every case, today’s modern six-seat singles will do more than any other category of private aircraft on a cost-per-seat-mile basis. They’re easy and fun to fly, and most importantly, cost-effective and affordable.

These days, King Air and Lear owners are actually trading down to new Saratogas. Why take a turbine or jet on a 300-mile trip with two people when the Turbo Saratoga can travel for a sixth of the cost of flying either of those planes? A penny saved today is a big deal to everyone.

Even Cirrus owners have been known to order Matrix or Mirage airplanes because they’ve realized the need to carry more people without significantly increasing operating costs.

Some Cessna 421 owners are buying new Cessna 206s for the cabin size and economy. Sure, the 206 is slower, but if you’re saving about $500 per hour, what’s a few more minutes? Duke and Beech Baron owners are among the buyers of new G36 Bonanzas; they’re still getting six seats, but with better avionics and fewer visits to the gas pump and mechanic.



six seater
For a larger view click on the table above















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