February 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm #83451
I’m looking to purchase a 421C. I’m interested in all feedback from present owners as to what they think are the most important things to look for in the purchase. In addition, what are recommended upgrades. Thanks so much. DaveFebruary 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm #94657
I can only offer general advice, not specific to the 421.
First, on paper, design the perfect airplane for you. How is it equippped? How are the interior and paint. Is it flashy or plane? How much time on the engines, props, systems, etc. Next, decide where you’d be willing to compromise. Are you willing to accept a bit older panel, or perhaps older engines? Set limits. (Personal recommendation: At least assure that the autopilot is a quality unit that will continue to do the job. The original Cessna 400B and 800B are OK. King is probably best. S-Tec is a compromise that may not do as good a job as you want. The older Cessna autopilots should be avoided.)
Now, and only now, go looking.
Time is your most important asset. Use all you’ve got. Do your research, look at a lot of planes. Sure, if you look through the ads carefully, you may pick “the right one” out of an ad, but it’s still best to look at multiple airplanes before making a decision. If you don’t have the time, “buy” the time by using a reputable broker. Jerry Temple has a superb reputation among twin Cessna owners.
A couple notes on pricing:
First, you’re buying a multi-million dollar airplane for probably 10-20¢ on the dollar. Don’t believe me? Go price a new Baron. Maintaining used airplanes requires mostly new parts. New parts keep up with the price of new airplanes. Expect to pay as if you’re maintaining a multi-million dollar airplane, because you are.
Next, there is a conventional wisdom out there that says you should budget up to about 25% of the purchase price for maintenance over the first couple years. While, in my opinion, that’s the right attitude, there should be a sliding scale — the better the “bargain” the more you’ll likely pay to get it in shape. But 25% is a reasonable rule of thumb. The idea being that even if the bird is well maintained, it’s typically not being sold because it was used frequently and lovingly maintained. It may have been well maintained, most are being sold becaue they’re not being used enough to cost-justify their continued existance. You find things, many things, when suddenly putting 100 hours in 6 months on a plane that hasn’t flown that much in the last decade, regardless of how thorough the annuals may have been.
Twin Cessnas are great airplanes. They’re a joy to fly and they serve their missions well. Right now, they’re a bargain to purchase. But, to enter the ownership experience without disappointment, you’d be better off to recognize that the bargain ends there and they are expensive, complex and time-consuming to maintain. But worth it!
Edit: I mistyped Jerry Temple’s name.February 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm #94673
In being involved in two 421C model airplanes and training people in others I have learned some about pitfalls in buying.
1. Get a pre purchase inspection. (Good shops like TAS in Defiance, OH, Air Impressions, or if out west possibly Tom’s Aircraft) The money spent here will return to you many times over. You will end up with a more reliable airplane that you are not sinking tons of money into later. Make sure the shop functionally checks the operation of every electrical system (lights inside and outside, heater, windshield, de-ice systems, etc).
2. Get a pre purchase avionics evaluation. This is especially important for the Auto Pilot System. The older Cessna AP’s can really cost a lot of money to fix. I would personally look for something with a KFC200, KFC225, or possibly an STEC 55 or 65. Make sure all the avionics function and work correctly with the Auto Pilot.
3. Lower time airframe does not always mean better. Granted generally an 8,000 airframe will have more problems than a 3,000 or 4,000 hour airframe, but I would rather have an 8,000 airframe that has been well maintained than a super low time airframe that is neglected. There is a reason they are low time airframes (they have sat for long periods of time).
4. Talk to the owner about how it was flown. This will give insight into the care taken with the engines and airplane.
5. Have an experienced 421 pilot who knows the avionics and systems fly the airplane before the purchase to verify that it flies and runs well.
6. Get good training before you fly it yourself. This is more than just the flying part a good understanding of the systems will make you a better pilot and an even better manager of the maintenance on the airplane.
You can email me or call me with any questions you might have that I could help with.
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