Lance vs. Turbo Lance advice

I’ve been searching for a six seat airplane to fly my family around in. I’ve settled on the Lance as the best compromise for our typical mission (price, payload, cabin size, speed, range, etc). I’ve been looking for a normally aspirated Lance, but recently came across a Turbo Lance that’s close by and seems to meet my requirements for condition, equipment, and engine time.

I’m a little apprehensive about buying a turbo. I don’t think I want the extra initial purchase price, higher overhaul cost, mechanical complexity, and higher fuel burn, for a small boost in cruise speed (Although going faster is always cooler, right?!?). I don’t think we’d like putting a tube up our noses in order to fly the Turbo up where it’s advantages shine,

So here are my questions:

  1. Talking to the current pilot about how he operates the plane generated a question about turbo vs. NA IO-540’s. He says he uses 31” MP for take-off (I don’t have a POH to verify if this is the correct MP for take-off). Both engines are rated for 300 hp, but wouldn’t the turbo generate more than 300 hp at 31” mp if the NA 540 generates 300 hp at atmospheric pressure (approx 28”)?

  2. This plane has the Turbo Plus Intercooler with the cowl that has the lovers in the top of the cowl. Does this really fix the overheating issues I’ve heard about?

  3. The throttle was hard to push up, but the pilot says it gets easier when warmed by the engine. Is this a sign it needs to be replaced? I’ve heard it’s expensive, but what is the approximate cost?

  4. What about Turbo vs non-Turbo IO-540’s experience in making it to TBO or beyond.

Also, if anyone has advice whether the Turbo is still worth buying if I don’t plan on going above 12,
500’. Or if they have experience with their family not liking, or not minding supplemental oxygen.

My gut feeling is to keep looking for a non-turbo Lance that meets my requirements, but I’m getting tired of looking at all the ads daily, and being disappointed. I realize there’s a big advantage in buying a plane close to home. I also know the guy who currently flys the plane for the owners, and the mechanic who maintains it, they’re both good trustworthy people.

Thanks for the help,


  • The Lance is an amazing airplane. I've owned three Senecas over thirty years and the Seneca shares the same fuselage with the Lance and Saratoga. It's the largest cabin you can get without pressurizing the airplane. As for turbo vs non-turbo: I've owned 8 airplanes. Four have been turbocharged. Three Seneca's and my latest, a turbo Arrow. I'll take the turbo any day. Climb rate improves as you climb. Cruise improves as you climb. You can get O2 if you want (I have O2 and use it a couple of times each year) but I can go to 12,500 if I need to, like getting over Ohare Airport Class B. I can climb to 20,000' to get over weather if I have to, and I do once in a while. Hot in the summer as in high density altitude? The turbo will handle it. I can think of no downsides to having a turbo that negate all of its positives. For me, turbo every time.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I have to start up by saying I am selling my turbo lance.

    You really don’t get the advantage of a turbo below 9000 in cruise speed. After 9000 the plane speeds up a lot.

    As Scott said, Turbos are nice for climb

    (Getting up above 9000 means cool air if your down south and out of the bumps, it’s also a great way to put nervous passengers to sleep.

    If you plan on flying IFR in areas where you could get ice definitely get a turbo.

    A turbo is nice in the climb.

    As to turbo vis non turbo maintenance wise.
    There are a number of areas where you can get bit on Maintence other then then engine.
    I think the over all condition of the plane when you get and how you operate the aircraft will dictate your maintenance costs more than the engine in it.

    In the end If you know of a lance in good condition close to your house with the gagits you want get it.

  • I was a “victimi”of turbos..within a week of my Saratoga Turbo purchase, needed a new turbo for $5K.. BIG ouch! But I did have the consolation of knowing the aircraft was safer for flying my family..

  • HI Kent,
    Right you are. :) I'm really glad it worked out that way

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Thanks for the advice. I ended up buying a different airplane than I was asking about, but it’s another turbo. I’m very excited about finally owning my first airplane. I’m sure I’ll be on here a lot in the near future with a lot of questions. Thanks again!

  • You're welcome. I'm here for you any time!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • hi- i’m looking for at a Turbo Lance now… would like to go into Gunnison CO and a couple of other high altitude fields. Can anyone share the performance charts (specifically climb and time, fuel, distance). I haven’t had any luck locating the correct POH online.


  • Bwoolsey,

    I've printed some performance charts from my POH for my PA32RT-300T Lance II, hope this helps. If you need any others, just ask...


  • If you are looking, I have been toying with selling mine. I just haven’t decided. It’s in the shop now for the TurboPlus kit and it’s also getting a full panel makeover based on a G3X and GFC 500. I also have a GTN650 Xi on order, but I don’t expect that to be in until January-ish. Hoping it’s done end of October.

    Call me an idiot, but I plan on buying a Rotor X helo. It’s so rare I fly with more than two people, keeping the Lance is more about what I could do vs what I really do. I dunno in any case. When I fly the “new” plane, my tune might change.

    Back on topic, the TC Lance is a very capable machine. Even in the flatland, I can fly the T Lance will full power plus reserve anywhere, and it’s especially nice on hot days. I’ve been to 17k and it’s so nice to pour on the coals and just haul arse. I will say that you have to fly fast at Alt though, because if you try and fly it like you are down low, the plane feels sloppy and loose. Thin air I suppose.

    This is anecdotal, but I climb at 1k ft a min, 32 gph in the climb at 32”, 2575. On initial climb, I run 2700/36” at 35 gph around 1200fpm until Maybe 3k ft AGL. Im typically well above pattern alt as I turn downwind. The TC Lance gets with it for sure. Cooling is indeed the biggest factor in engine management. Heat comes up quick and w/o the TurboPlus kit, that limits your performance. With it, run it like a raped ape as long as you can pay the fuel bills.

    My POH is with the plane 80 miles away or I’d go snap a few pics of the pages you desire. Sorry, that’s a long haul, but if I do get down there anytime soon, I’ll get what you need.

    I own and fly a 79 PA32RT-300T. Previous aircraft are a 79 Archer and 76 Arrow.

  • The Piper turbo system is simple compared to the twin Cessna fleet. A fixed wastegate is easily managed and generally you only have a couple adjustments in throttle from climb to cruise.

    Cessna mounted the turbo to the airframe and not the engine in the 400 series twins. The only way it works at all is a system of red hot bellows to account for the vibration of the engine vs airframe. Subject to some expensive AD's.... I think it also has given turbo's a bad rap. The Piper system is not complicated like this.

    Turbo's are perfect for aviation applications above 9000 ft as mentioned. If you are always below 9000 then the utility might not be there.

    Eric Panning
    1981 Seneca III
    Hillsboro, OR (KHIO)

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