Thursday, June 19, 2008
The Mystique Of The Baron
The basic design may be 40 years old, but the 2008 Baron G58 flies with a newborn’s enthusiasm and
The Seneca's second advantage is lower fuel burn by virtue of its smaller engines, on the order of 26 gph total. The reduced consumption is matched by reduced capacity, so it doesn't translate to any better range or payload.
The Baron G58's landing-gear lever (above). With its two 300 hp Continental IO-550C engines, the aircraft can reach a 202-knot cruise speed at 75% power.
The Baron and Seneca both offer excellent access to an air-conditioned, comfortable cabin that seats six via aft side double doors (though mounted on opposite sides). Hauling six large folks in either airplane, however, would be a challenge, especially if the model were equipped with the gamut of options, as most are. The Baron mounts its aft doors on the right, and the Seneca's are on the left, but both offer easy access to a long, comfortable cabin. Separation between the conference-style second- and third-row seats is generous, which minimizes overlapping legs. If there's no one in the opposing seat in back, you can put your feet up and feel like a business-class airline traveler with a luxury footrest.
With the Baron's standard 194-gallon tanks topped off, a fully equipped aircraft offers only about 300 paying pounds. That's equal to one pilot plus baggage or two lightweight folks. In order to haul six full-size people plus reasonable luggage, you'd need to limit fuel to about 58 gallons, roughly an hour and a quarter plus reserve. You obviously always have the option of leaving the airplane partially fueled if you must substitute people pounds for fuel pounds.
I've had the good fortune to ferry a half-dozen Baron 58s around the world, and they've been consistently good rides. They offer few objections to being loaded as much as 1,000 pounds over gross. In one instance, I brought an older 58 back from Nadi, Fiji, to San Francisco, Calif. The airplane had an additional 300 gallons temporarily plumbed to the engines from the aft fuselage and nose baggage; handling remained acceptable and range was never a consideration.
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