Plane & Pilot
Thursday, September 1, 2005

New Piper’s Saratoga II TC

Still “The One” for the turbo six-seaters

Any list of general-aviation evergreens is bound to include certain airplanes: The Cessna 170 and 172 would be near the top of the list; Piper’s venerable Super Cub would be a strong contender; Beechcraft’s straight-tail Bonanza would definitely qualify; and the Piper Cherokee Six also would likely make the list." />

Full icing certification can be expensive, especially for an aircraft manufacturer located in Florida, and Piper didn’t apply for known icing approval on its TKS system. In the ‘80s, Piper used a Cheyenne II as an ice-dispenser aircraft and would fly certification aircraft behind the dispenser, accumulating the required loads of ice and breaking it off to prove their de-ice systems for certification.

These days, the company would need to fly far north, find icing conditions and complete the required FAA flight tests on the road, far more expensive and slightly more dangerous, as well. Full known-icing approval also demands dual alternators and other mechanical accommodations.

For all those reasons, it wasn’t economically feasible for Piper to seek full approval. The very name, Piper Inadvertent Icing Protection (inevitably PIIP), suggests the system is only for accidental encounters with frozen IFR. That means you can’t depart into known icing, but you can use the system to get out of an emergency encounter. PIIP is priced at $27,500.

As with most big singles, the Saratoga II TC won’t carry full seats with full fuel and the options most pilots prefer. Piper lists the Saratoga TC’s standard useful load as 1,149 pounds. Subtract the inevitable 50 pounds of miscellaneous options and another 76 pounds for a fully serviced TKS system, and you’re left with 1,023 pounds of truly useful load. Full tanks would reduce that to 411 pounds in the cabin. You get the idea.

Fortunately, two factors help mitigate the situation. Most pilots rarely carry more than two or three folks at one time, and it’s not always necessary to fill the tanks. Sight gauges in the wing make partial fueling easy. If you were planning an IFR trip with a pilot as well as three passengers and wanted a hedge against icing, you could still carry nearly 60 gallons of avgas easily enough for two hours plus the appropriate reserves.

Two hours of flying could take you quite a ways over the horizon in a turbocharged Saratoga. At non-oxygen altitudes, the Saratoga TC can deliver cruise speeds better than 170 knots, and that number jumps over 180 knots at 15,000 feet. With two hours of endurance at high cruise, you could plan on nearly 350 nm, farther than most business or personal trips. If the payload allowed carrying full fuel and you needed longer range, the Piper Saratoga TC could reach out and touch a destination over 900 nm away. Max operating altitude is 20,000 feet.

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