Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, December 1, 2004


For many light-twin owners, Piper’s Apache is about as good as it gets

Geronimo!Let’s just say that you own a flight school in a huge and major market and you feel a need for a new multi-engine trainer. If you’re completely determined to buy new, you have only one choice, really, for a dedicated twin trainer, the Piper Seminole. (The diesel-powered Austrian Diamond Twin Star isn’t expected to be available until later this month.)" />

Equally significant, the single-engine service ceiling improves from 6,750 feet to 12,000 feet with the Geronimo mod package. That means that you could lose one mill and still maintain IFR MEAs over anything except the mountain West.

You might not expect a mere 12% in power increase to generate any notable cruise-speed improvement, and you’d be correct if power was the only upgrade. The Piper Geronimo’s engine swap is definitely the most expensive element of the conversion, but other features also contribute to the Piper Geronimo’s performance improvements.

Diamond Aire’s Talmage suggests that the horsepower is far from the only upgrade. “We’ve got aerodynamically cleaner cowls, an extended nose, a faired windshield, wheel-well doors that fully enclose the main gear, better wingtips, flap gap seals and a raked windshield. They all help in the subtraction of drag and enhancement of the cruise speed,” explains the CEO. “You can’t expect to realize a big cruise improvement simply by transplanting the larger engines.”

There also are a host of convenience mods to improve aesthetics, a third side window, inflatable door seals, a totally new interior upgrade, cargo door, super-soundproofing, double-pane windows and plenty of other upgrades.

The Piper Geronimo conversion isn’t totally confined to the original Apaches. Talmage reports that there are quite a few owners who have made Geronimos of their Apache 235s—using the 235-hp engines, of course—and wound up with the next best thing to an Aztec.

In cruise speed, the result of the full Geronimo modification is a realistic 15 to 20 knots more. Since the original Piper Apache 150 was far from the so-called fast lane—the airplane was working hard to produce 145 knots—a typical Piper Apache Geronimo conversion delivers more like 160 to 165 knots on a smooth day at optimum altitude on an ISA day with everything trimmed, all the vents closed and perfect rig. Young blocks his airplane at 150 knots and realizes that average most of the time.

At the opposite end of the flight, the airplane’s considerable aerodynamic improvements contribute to a reduced stall speed and a much better short-field performance. Captain Young doesn’t often operate his Geronimo into short runways, but he’s glad that the capability is there in case he needs it.

The full Geronimo conversion does everything better than the Piper Apache. It climbs much quicker, flies faster, is more efficient, looks better and is a safer twin than the original Apache 150. It’s true that the original airframes are 50 years old, but it infuses new life into the original twin.

SPECS: Piper Geronimo N4411P

Labels: Piston Twins


Add Comment