Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cessna 400 Corvalis TT

Cessna initiates changes to its recently acquired Columbia line of low-wing singles

cessnaFrom the moment you push the throttle forward for takeoff, it’s apparent the Corvalis has something extra under the hood. The big Continental pulls like a team of Clydesdales, devouring runway with almost automotive enthusiasm. Manifold pressure limit is 35.5 inches, and that’s adequate to maintain sea-level power all the way to the airplane’s max altitude of 25,000 feet.

Continental’s twin turbos manifest maximum effect by maintaining power as the airplane climbs above 5,000 feet. Expect 1,200 to 1,300 fpm in climb, 1,500 fpm when flying light. That means you can usually expect to see two-mile altitudes less than eight minutes after takeoff.

The reality of turbocharged operation is that most pilots still prefer to fly in breathable air most of the time. A turbocharger provides the flexibility to ascend to the mid-teens or even the low-20s flight levels if there’s a need, but most pilots prefer the bottom 12,000 feet of sky. The Corvalis TT’s quoted max cruise speed of 235 knots is certainly an attractive number, but it’s only attainable at a fairly hostile 25,000 feet at high cruise, pouring almost 20 gph through the engine.

The good news is that you don’t have to fly high. If you elect to ascend to the middle sky, the Corvalis TT still offers good speed under friendlier conditions. In our case, we strapped on the masks and climbed to 17,500 feet, the highest VFR altitude, and watched the TAS climb to an eventual 213 knots, 3.5 nm a minute. That’s more than half the speed of a typical VLJ at a quarter of the purchase price and probably a sixth of the operating cost.

Forget the 235-knot spec; even at 213 knots, you could easily transit the lower United States in less than a workday with only one fuel stop. This airplane could easily beat door-to-door airline time over substantial distances if you needed to fly to destinations not served by a major-hub airport.

Fuel burn on our flight was about 18.5 gph at the max cruise setting, so our fuel supply would have allowed four hours’ endurance plus reserve, worth an easy 850 nm and then some. Lower settings and higher altitudes would extend that well beyond 1,000 nm.

Like the old Cessna T210, the Corvalis TT thrives on long-distance cruise. The airplane is stable as a table and loves to stretch out and fly to the far horizon. Using reduced power settings, the airplane will log up to 1,250 nm at a sitting. With contoured seats, a copious interior and good soundproofing, both the Corvalis models should make good platforms for owner/operators.

Cessna has fully embraced the Garmin G1000/GFC 700 integrated avionics glass panel, and that system now graces the panel of both of the former Columbia airplanes. Synthetic vision is the latest avionics miracle, and it re-creates the view ahead so accurately, you’d think you were peering through a forward-looking TV screen. (I flew the latest iteration of Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology recently in conjunction with the Sun ’n Fun Air Show, and the artificial depiction of the lakes around Lakeland, Fla., was so accurate, it was missing only the boat wakes.)

The Cessna Corvalis TT joins the Cirrus SR22-G3 Turbo for top fixed-gear honors among the big-cabin four-seaters. Diamond may be introducing its DA50 Super Star in the near future, expanding the class to three models. It should be fun to watch the sales competition between three of general aviation’s most successful companies.

3 Expert G1000 Tips • By Joe Shelton


The G1000 has so many buttons and features that preparing it for flight can be a challenge. There are two things you can do to simplify the process. First, only use the right bezel on the PFD and the left bezel on the MFD. By ignoring the outside bezels—with the exception of the MFD’s FPL button—almost all of the controls you need are contained in the center of the panel. Second, use a flow like a reverse letter W to set up the G1000. Start with the MFD’s FPL button to create or select a flight plan. The flow will then follow along the MFD’s soft keys from right to left, up the MFD’s left bezel, setting altitude, autopilot, heading and NAV frequencies; checking the avionics switch panel; down the PFD’s right bezel checking each of the settings; and finally across the PFD’s soft keys and ending at the bottom left of the PFD.


For a VOR check, you could select each VOR separately and center the CDI to check the VOR radial. But for a quicker and easier VOR check, set the #1 and #2 NAV to the same frequency and turn on both bearing pointer needles. You’ll easily be able to see if both needles indicate the same position. Then use the radial values and differences that the needles show to document the check. If you find that they’re different, then you can determine the precise difference by pressing the CDI button to select each VOR, and then manually center the CDI for each.


The G1000’s Scheduler function allows you to set four different alerts/reminders. Enter the text of the reminder and then set the time as either periodic, one time or event. These are useful for such things as remembering to change fuel tanks, check fuel consumption, check oxygen consumption, check weather, etc. You can also enter an event for reminders like VOR checks, upgrading the G1000 navigation data, annual inspections, etc. The final field on each scheduled item tells the time remaining before the alert is activated.

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