Seneca V Questions

Hi—I’m new to Piperowner.org, and joined in the hope that I can get some real-world info on the Seneca V. I have a Turbo Arrow III that I’m looking to put on the market soon, and the Seneca V is on a very short list (the other candidates being Beech B58 Baron or A36 Bonanza). I’m looking for something bigger/faster than my Turbo Arrow that can handle carrying 4 adults on 2 ½ hour trip (say, from my home airport of C81 north of Chicago to Memphis). I take a lot of over-water trips, and FIKI is also important. Can anyone with Seneca V experience help fill gaps in that internet research hasn’t filled?

• With A/C, FIKI, and typical panel, what is realistic useful load? Browsing ads on controller.com, I’m only seeing a couple of similarly-equipped planes that mention useful load, with figures around 1100 pounds (albeit with built-in oxygen, removal of which I assume would save considerable weight, but not a huge amount). With full fuel, that only leaves 365 pounds for people and luggage. Stopping at 72 gallons of fuel gives me another 300 pounds, but I’d have to only invite very skinny friends for that hypothetical trip to Memphis. Is 1100 pounds useful load typical with FIKI and Air Conditioning (meaning only very short trips/hops if I want to fill 4 seats), or am I apt to find planes with more generous load capabilities once I start shopping around?
• What is typical TAS and associated fuel burn at 8,000-10,000 feet, my general cross-country altitude range?
• Are there any Seneca V owners out there in the Chicago area who would be willing to show me their planes? I’m wrapping up multi-engine training in a Seneca 1 in Florida at the beginning of Feb, but assume there’s a world of difference between that and a Seneca V, and would love to get an idea what a Seneca V looks like beyond browsing photos.

For anyone also familiar with Bos and Barons as they compare to the Seneca V, in case some background info on those as other candidates would be helpful…I like the payload/performance of the Bonanza, but would have to give up FIKI to get the tip tanks that would allow the kind of usefulI need, and flight over water (as well as occasional trips over mountains)—as well as witnessing the aftermath of a Cessna 210 having to make an emergency landing at C81 after losing an engine in clouds—makes a twin attractive. The Baron seems to have awesome performance, but comes at significantly higher acquisition cost and may eat up more runway on hot days than I’m comfortable with (I operate out of a 3200 foot runway 10 minutes from home in Grayslake, IL).

Thanks in advance!
John

Comments

  • Hi John,
    I have Seneca 2 and 3 experience and currently own a fully restored/renewed Seneca 2. I have just over 1,500 pounds useful load and do between 180 and 190 knots in the low teens. I can carry 4 adults, full fuel and 200 pounds of baggage, approximately. My Seneca has 160 gallons which puts my endurance at 6.5 hours or 1,170 nautical miles. Enough to go from Milwaukee (where I live) to Miami non-stop. Here's a pic.

    Scott Sherer
    FAA Master Pilot
    Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.
    Need help? Let me know!


  • Here's a pic or two. Looks just like a Seneca 5 at 1/4 the cost.

    Scott Sherer
    FAA Master Pilot
    Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.
    Need help? Let me know!

  • Nice looking plane, Scott! Is FIKI available on a 2 or 3? Looking to wikipedia for changes between model generations, I ran across what looks like an authorative answer to my question about useful load on the seneca 5 (or at least ones newer than what I would be aiming for):"The Seneca V's gross weights remain the same as the Seneca III and IV at 4,750 lb (2,155 kg) for takeoff and 4,513 lb (2,047 kg) for landing,[6] therefore, with all of the added features, the useful load is reduced by about 200 lb (91 kg). The standard useful load for the 2014 model is 1,331 lb (604 kg) but typically is 1,134 lb (514 kg) when the aircraft is equipped with air conditioning, deicing equipment and co-pilot instruments."

  • Hi John,
    I have FIKI on my Seneca 2 along with 1,500+ pounds useful load. I don't have air conditioning but I do have co-pilot instruments along with FIKI and 160 gallons.

    Scott Sherer
    FAA Master Pilot
    Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.
    Need help? Let me know!

  • Scott, thanks so much for the very valuable info! The info you shared prompted me to do some digging in more productive directions, and it looks like a Seneca III could provide a lot of value that includes a "useful" useful load. I understand that the Seneca 2 offers vastly improved handling and performance over the Seneca 1, and that the Seneca 3 takes refinements a bit further, with useful load on a FIKI and air conditioning-equipped model running around 1370 pounds for useful load. That seems adequate for taking a few passengers along on trips of reasonable length. It sounds like the main benefits of a Seneca 5 are improved instrument panel layout and the ability to run at 220 HP beyond the 5-minute 220 HP limitation of the Seneca 3, at the cost of about 200 pounds in useful load. I'd been concerned that a Seneca 5 equipped the way I would like has about the same load as my Turbo Arrow, with much shorter range when I want to carry passengers. It seems that the Seneca 3 offers the best of both worlds, at significantly lower cost!

    If I could pick your brain a little more...The other aircraft that has popped up as being highly capable in terms of performance, useful load and all-weather capability is the Aztec. It doesn't seem as refined as the Seneca, and my wife loves the "barn door" (something the Aztec appears to lack) for loading bulky items in a Seneca or Baron (a plane that costs WAY more than a comparably equipped Seneca, at least for 1984 and newer versions with true dual yokes and better panel)...but it looks like a heavy hauler with good performance, and excellent all-weather/FIKI capabilities, with the trade-off centered on higher fuel burn, trucky handling, and needing to go with older aircraft that may or may not have the reliability of a newer Seneca 3.

    Do you have any insight into how a typical Turbo Aztec might stack up against at Seneca 3? In case typical mission info is helpful, I live in the Chicago area (so deal with icing conditions for a big chunk of the year), fly about 180 hours/year, do lots of weekend trips in the 500-mile range, do business trips across Lake Michigan about once a month, and do 2-3 1500+ mile trips each year (and would likely do more longer trips if I had an all-weather aircraft).

    Thanks so much for sharing your insight and advice!

  • Hi and I'm enjoying the conversation! Regarding the Aztec, I can think of two very good reasons to stay away from it in favor of the Seneca 2 - 5. First, on the plus side, the Aztec is a wonderfully comfortable airplane for both passengers and pilot. Everything about it is outstanding except for two things, when compared to the Seneca. First, the Seneca is still in production and that means that most of the parts for an older Seneca are available. Last year I had some very expensive corrosion to repair and Piper made parts for my Seneca 2 in about four weeks. It was outstanding. Also, there have been about 5,000 Seneca's built over the decades. This means that there are used parts by the bucketful out there, too, should you need one. Finally, the Seneca doesn't need much maintenance if it's kept up with a good annual inspection. While I don't have specific experience with the Aztec, I have read on more than one occasion that it's very expensive to maintain. Good luck!

    Scott Sherer
    FAA Master Pilot
    Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.
    Need help? Let me know!

  • Thanks so much, Scott! The Seneca still being in production and the number of examples that have been produced is something I've had in mind with regard to parts (while I haven't had to replace much on my Arrow, the few times I have had to get parts, it didn't take long to get them). "The Seneca doesn't need much maintenance if it's kept up with a good annual inspection" is particularly good to hear, especially coming from a Seneca owner.

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