Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sports Sedan Of The Six-Place Singles

Largest of the Bonanzas, the G36 nevertheless retains the type’s excellent performance and control harmony

It’s hard not to love a Bonanza, especially if it’s the stretched model 36. The Bonanza has been around in one form or another for some 64 years, and though the current six-seat models are a far cry from the originals, it’s easy to understand their longevity. Like many pilots, I’ve been flying F33s and A36s for as long as I’ve been a pilot, and I’ve come to regard them as the peak of the pyramid in many respects.

Technically, the model 36 was conceived as a stretched version of the E33A and introduced in 1968. The goal was to allow room for an additional row of seats and solve the CG problem on the four-seat Bonanzas. To that end, the cabin was stretched 10 inches and moved forward, relative to the wing. Beech added a pair of cargo doors on the aft starboard fuselage and the baggage compartment was omitted. The model 36 has been in continuous production ever since, accounting for some 4,700 airplanes.

If you’re looking for a normally aspirated, six-place machine with good speed, reasonable comfort and the best-harmonized controls in the industry, the Bonanza is the airplane to beat.

…And hardly anyone can.

These days, there are only two models in the normally aspirated six-seat class: the Cessna 206 Stationair and the G36 Bonanza. In configuration alone, you couldn’t imagine two airplanes more widely divergent in both mission and capability. The Stationair is a fixed-gear heavy hauler, designed primarily for utility transport, and the Bonanza is a plush, comfortable cruiser, intended more for luxury, cross-country travel.

The differences are so significant that some prospective buyers of either type expand the class to include the turbocharged, cabin-class Piper Matrix. The Matrix is an unpressurized Mirage that offers a considerably reduced empty weight by reason of the pressurization plumbing left in the factory-parts bins. The difference is a significant 177 pounds, almost exactly one passenger’s worth. Also, not insignificantly, the Matrix enjoys a base price that’s $130,000 lower than that of the Mirage. Accordingly, the Matrix is the world’s newest six-seat, cabin-class single. Defining cabin class often hinges on an airstair door, though some pilots argue it relates equally to the 2+4 conference-seating configuration.

The G36 Bonanza’s model designation pays tribute to Garmin’s remarkable G1000 flat-panel avionics suite, the system that’s now installed in virtually all new Cessna, Beech, Diamond and Mooney piston products. Beech’s Garmin package encompasses practically every feature of the G1000, including the GFC700 autopilot with altitude and rate of climb preselect, terrain avoidance, Traffic Information System uplink, yaw damper, six-place intercom, dual WAAS GPS, Mode S transponder, XM radio, Synthetic Vision Technology and a number of other features. There ARE some options available on the G36 Bonanza, but the delivered airplane comes fully equipped and more than IFR-capable. Also standard on the 2010 Bonanza is the Garmin GTS 820 Traffic Advisory System that acts as an ADS-B “in” component and uses active interrogations of transponders to provide traffic awareness.

Labels: Piston Singles

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