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
The panel on the six-seat Bonanza G36 features Garmin G1000 avionics that include the GFC700 autopilot, terrain avoidance, traffic information, XM radio and Synthetic Vision Technology.
Payload can be a challenge, however. If your typical load is two adults up front and four kids with Nintendo in back, there’s no problem. You can download fuel and probably still fly three hours between pit stops. If you need to carry a full hockey team, however, an FAA-certified 1,020 pounds of people, you’re out of luck, as the airplane is only approved for a max payload of 950 pounds. The other 183 pounds (31 gallons) must be fuel. That’s not especially unusual, incidentally. I know of no six-seat piston airplane that will accommodate a full load of people and topped tanks.
It’s a little tough to compare speeds of the three models, as the Matrix employs the Mirage’s 350 hp turbocharged engine, the Bonanza is normally aspirated with 300 hp, and the 206 flies with fixed gear and 310 hp. With the benefit of 50 more horsepower and twin turbos, you’d expect the Matrix to do a little better than either of the other two. For a normally aspirated machine, the Bonanza scoots right along, an easy 170 knots at high cruise, even if you’re not doing everything right, perhaps as much as 174 knots (the magic 200 mph) on a good day when you are.
Though the Bonanza’s cabin is the narrowest of the three, it’s also the tallest, so seating position is more upright than supine, creating the impression of spacious comfort. The G36 makes maximum use of its dimensions, even managing to include armrests. In fact, it’s only a half-inch wider than a Skyhawk, but it doesn’t feel cramped. I flew with a Beech pilot for this report, and neither of us qualify as little people. Still, the G36 enclosed us snugly but without discomfort.
I operated an A36TC for Victor Sloan of Victor Aviation in Palo Alto, Calif., for several years in the ‘90s to demonstrate the smoothness and power of Victor Engines. Victor had the airplane tricked out from spinner to tail cone, and I campaigned that solid red Bonanza all over the USA for 200 hours, showing prospective engine-overhaul buyers what a balanced, blueprinted engine could do. The duty was a delight in almost every respect.
I did say almost. One aspect that wasn’t always loved was fuel capacity. All model 36 Bonanzas built since 1973, except the B36TC, have offered 74-gallon tanks. With 300 hp out front, fuel burn at max cruise is just under 16 gph, so reasonable endurance is 3.5 hours plus reserve. There’s always the option of climbing higher to a height where 65% power is all there is, and burn drops to more like 14.0 gph. This extends endurance to 4.0 hours, the standard of the industry.
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Labels: Piston Singles