340/340A (BOTH ARE THE SAME)
The 340 is probably the best of the best of the Twin Cessna line. It is easy to fly and easy to manage on the ground. With the 4 puck brakes it stops quicker and is easy to maneuver on the ground. It does not have bad gear problems. You have to watch steering control on landings and taxi off the runway for such things as cracked trunnions. Its gear is able to handle the load better than the 414 and 421.
The initial engine is a 310 horsepower tsio-520 that is capable of hauling all the seats filled and some fuel. The best set up is the RAM 335 and throw in the 4 blade mt props and it will climb like an angel and has as much speed as the 421 at altitude in the flight levels.
It is a great instrument platform, easy to maneuver as a smaller twin. You have to keep the speed up on approaches. You want them with VG’s and we recommend strakes as they also give a control advantage. You need to watch the base to final turn and make it as shallow as possible. The speed will slow rapidly on a low-speed level from a descent approach or that base to final turn. Of course, this happens on all the tip tank models. 120 knots is the magic speed we teach.
Dispatch wise if you do a pre-buy and maintenance with a real Twin Cessna Shop (not a “we also work on Twin Cessnas) you will have dependable dispatch aircraft. In 20 plus years flying all over the country especially back and forth to San Francisco area for 7 years it never missed a beat.
The only problem is it is crowded. It is harder to get into the cockpit but it is no worse than a Cessna Citation.
It is my plane of choice for quick trips or long trips. We have had 6 people in it and baggage and even though it was loaded it came off the runway with no problems.
The baggage is limited to wing lockers and a front compartment that can hold 300 lbs unless you have a Keith air conditioner which loses some baggage weight. You have wing lockers that also stores a fair amount and the back of the plane has a storage area. Make sure if you buy one you have the hydraulic r-12 system or an already installed Keith system. They are without air very hot. Some models that were purchased for use in the northern latitudes did not have air conditioning.
If i had my choice between a 340 and the 414 or 421C i would always take the 340.
The 340 is an easy transition aircraft. If you come out of a 310 or Seneca the pilot will adjust rather quickly compared to a 414(a) and especially compared to a 421 C. This is the story of easiest to hardest with the 421 C being the most difficult to master. The landings are a little tricky and you have to have speed and attitude right at the last minute.
CESSNA 414 AND 414A
The 414 is the tip tank model and the 414 a is the long wing. The “A” uses the long wing to control the altitude. The 414 a does the performance (ie. altitude, single engine) with the long wing. It has the same engines as the 340.
This is what my wife says is a 340 that become very close friends with a 421 on a night of passion. 421 cabin with 340 engines.
Again, the 414 a accomplishes it numbers with a long wing. My only criticism is that the engines and therefore the props are a little small and less powered for the cabin. You cannot load all 8 seats. You can probably with a lot of fuel only load 4. They have large baggage compartments but again the weight will get you into trouble. You might say (in my opinion) it is “to big for its britches.” I mean by that you have this big cabin but cannot use it.
You have to watch the speed on these airplanes on making a circle to land approach. The longer wing on the “a” helps a lot over the straight 414. The speed drops off fast on a turn and the stall speed goes up fast on the straight 414 A.
The key to these airplanes is room. The aisle is wider because of the larger cabin and it is easier to get in the cockpit but again it has the smaller engines.
The “A” also has the hydraulic gear and this is a benefit. It is quick and usually trouble free. There is an extra job on double checking gear up and down and at ast we drill that home. The straight 414 is tip tanks, electric gear and flaps. Again, no rolling take offs or high-speed exits.
CESSNA 421B AND 421C
The B model is the tip tank model with electric gear and the 421 C is the hydraulic long wing model.
If your pre-buy by a real Twin Cessna shop is accomplished and you maintain the plane by a real Twin Cessna shop the aircraft will do what it says it will do.
The story about the geared engines is garbage. I cut my teeth on a pressurized Navajo with a bigger engine than the GTSIO-520 and the key is keep the power in. Don’t throttle jockey the airplane and follow the RAM specs on settings. (Not advocating RAM just their charts.)
This is a long-range heavy hauler that will almost do what a King Air C90 will do. It is a 205 knot at altitude aircraft that has a large storage capacity. All of them have a potty and refreshment center. These engines only have problems if the maintenance is bad.
They will fly on one engine with a good load If you know what you are doing and with our training. They are a heavy airplane at 7,000 plus pounds and require a heavy aircraft touch. Example when you rotate you put both hands on the yoke, whereas in a 340 it is one hand with one hand on the quadrant.
It is at cruise at 20 plus per gallon engine. You need a good engine monitor system and we recommend a JPI760 or big money JPI 960. We teach engine management. If you know how to fly these engines then no problem. Take them off full power, decrease minimum power using our charts and leave them running at 1530 to 1550 tit and let down with full power. Do not reduce until 8 miles out (roughly) with small increments. Use the first notch of flaps to hold speed and 120 knots and it is easy to control on the approach.
Again, great long range low noise airplane but a real twin Cessna shop needs to service it. (I am trying to help you here based on 50 years plus of dealing with these aircraft) once you get it under control maintenance wise, keep the oil changed early and it will do the job. It flies great at 20,00 feet to 25,000 feet. Right there with the King Air c90.
We have pilots who are low time in large twins who want to buy a 421 C. These planes are easy to fly but complicated to handle especially on the ground. They are large and cumbersome in ground handling. Cessna built a big airplane and put it on a light gear and light brakes. At an idle they are like a jet they have to be managed with brakes. The rudder pedals are airline style with feet movement having to be raised to work the brakes and lowered to work the rudders. You cannot make rolling take offs and they use a lot of runway to land. You cannot make hard exits and rush braking as the trunnions will take the load. In other words, the gear is weak for the size.
421 C aircraft are auto pilot airplanes. (Actually all Twin Cessnas are autopilot aircraft) they fly extremely well but it will take time to get used to managing the systems especially in an emergency. You cannot just jump into a 421 C and immediately be confident in the aircraft.
On all of the Twin Cessna aircraft, you cannot, repeat cannot do emergency procedures in these aircraft involving the engines as you will crack the cases. You do not do shutdowns on these engines ever. Those instructors or pilots who tell you that you can will get you into trouble. You have to take a quality sim training course with instructors who know and fly these aircraft. They are complex.
Of the three aircraft the Cessna 340 is the easiest aircraft to transition to. The hardest aircraft to transition to is the 421.
Note: I have no “dog in this hunt” in regard to maintenance and pre-buys. I am just sick of pilots coming in for training who do not understand Twin Cessna maintenance and fall into the cracks with maintenance facilities that do not understand everything about these planes. Remember it is just a lot of money involved and your safety.
The key to successfully operating a Twin Cessna begins at the pre-buy. We cannot emphasize this enough. After 50 plus years of dealing with aircraft purchases, flying Twin Cessna aircraft for more than 25 years and owning Twin Cessna aircraft, 340 and 421 C aircraft, the key is to use a Twin Cessna shop that only works on Twin Cessna aircraft. There are shops that also work on Twin Cessna aircraft, But these are not Twin Cessna shops. In our opinion after dealing with the planes there are only two real Twin Cessna shops that know these planes in and out, Air Impressions in Waco, Texas and TAS in Defiance, Ohio. We have dealt with aircraft purchases “after the fact” only to have the owner get “nailed to the wall” on a purchase that a so called “Twin Cessna shop” missed critical items. We had one person who trained with us who got lead down the road by a Florida company who let a “really good shop” on the field review in one a 421 C that later ended up being total junk and un-flyable. Do not end up like this. Good deals are not out there. Good deals are planes that are in trouble maintenance wise. Finally, watch for brokers that direct you to “their” maintenance person. It is a set up. It is funny when you tell them you want the plane checked by Air Impressions or TAS. They, the broker, will give you all kind of reasons not to use them why? Because these facilities will go over those aircraft with a “fine tooth comb.” think about it.