Why should I buy a 340 over a Malibu?

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  • #84356

    Hello everybody, perhaps you can help me figure out a question I keep going back and forth with. First off, a little background. I currently have a B55 Baron and after having four bonanzas and two barons, and have always considered myself an avid Beechcraft guy. The time has come for us to step up to something with A/C and pressurization so I have been looking at just about everything. The P Baron is pointless because I don’t gain much of anything over what I currently have. The Duke scares me maintenance wise, not to mention it is thirsty as all get. The Aerostar is like way too small and feels like I am trapped in a coke can. So this leaves us with the 340, 414, 421, and dear I say it Malibu. I actually got a wild hair a couple of weeks ago and made three offers on a 421C but were unable to come to terms with the seller, and looking back on it I am glad about that. It is just my wife and I, occasionally another couple, with no kids. We fly quite a bit, 240 hours last year, and go all over the country. I have settled on the final two airplane options as being the 340 and the Malibu. I was pretty well set on the 340 until about the past week or so when I started doing more research on the PA46.

    From what I gather, both airplanes can carry about the same load, both airplanes fly at about the same altitudes, the malibu uses about half of the fuel, the malibu has better pressurization, and the malibu cabin is 3 inches wider. So if I can get the same performance on roughly half of the cost, slightly lower maintenance (notice I say slightly), cheaper insurance plus not having to de recurrent sim training every year, longer range, and a wider cabin, what would make me go ahead and get the 340? I am having a hard time convincing myself that I still should go with the twin cessna. Can someone offer up some suggestions? I would really like to fly both airplanes and I think I may have found someone here in Houston with a Malibu but am still searching for a 340 to ride in, so if you happen to know who someone that could help please let me know.

    So the question is: Why should I buy a 340 over a Malibu for my mission?

    #99691

    If you want real comfortable space, look at a 414 or 421. Yes, it will burn more fuel, but the comfort and payload will surely make up for it, and 1973 and later models have great ac. The Malibu has a very small payload. Finally, on an IFR day or any day for that matter, it really sucks to lose an engine in a Malibu.

    #99692
    quote SGERBER:

    If you want real comfortable space, look at a 414 or 421. Yes, it will burn more fuel, but the comfort and payload will surely make up for it, and 1973 and later models have great ac. The Malibu has a very small payload. Finally, on an IFR day or any day for that matter, it really sucks to lose an engine in a Malibu.

    I realize that the 414 and 421 are a larger cabin with more space, but we just simply don’t have a NEED for that much room. The cabin of a 340 or Malibu will suit us just fine, as 95% of the time it is just my wife and I. Most of the Malibus that I have been looking at have a useful load of 1350-1400 pounds. With full fuel (120 gallons) that still leaves 680 pounds. My wife and I together aren’t even 300. If we needed more, just don’t go full fuel. This is pretty close in comparison to a 340 from what I can see. It seems that most have a useful load in the 1800 pound range. Throw in 203 gallons and you’re left with 582 pounds. It works the same way though, don’t carry full fuel and you can carry more people/stuff. There is no doubt that you have fewer options when losing an engine in a single vs a twin, but if I was super concerned or afraid of that, I wouldn’t have a single engine second airplane like we do. I am more concerned about accessories failing than the engine, but the Malibu also has dual everything.

    One advantage I can see is the ability to climb through ice better/faster in the 340 than the Malibu. I am from the sticks of West Texas. I don’t like ice.

    #99693
    quote SPearcy1:

    Most of the Malibus that I have been looking at have a useful load of 1350-1400 pounds. With full fuel (120 gallons) that still leaves 680 pounds. My wife and I together aren’t even 300. If we needed more, just don’t go full fuel. This is pretty close in comparison to a 340 from what I can see. It seems that most have a useful load in the 1800 pound range. Throw in 203 gallons and you’re left with 582 pounds. It works the same way though, don’t carry full fuel and you can carry more people/stuff. There is no doubt that you have fewer options when losing an engine in a single vs a twin, but if I was super concerned or afraid of that, I wouldn’t have a single engine second airplane like we do. I am more concerned about accessories failing than the engine, but the Malibu also has dual everything.

    One advantage I can see is the ability to climb through ice better/faster in the 340 than the Malibu. I am from the sticks of West Texas. I don’t like ice.

    As far as useful load, our 340 has 2008 lbs. ( recently weighed); with full fuel (203 gallons) that provide 800 lbs. payload. It doesn’t sound like your mission requires a large payload so it isn’t that much of a factor. I like Malibus but … I have had two friends with Malibus lose an engine ( both successful landings). The issue that I have with all high output aircraft recip. engines, including those on the Malibu series, P210s and pressurized twins, is that they fail more often than the <300 hp engines that fly in more dense air. If I didn’t fly at night and IMC I might consider a Malibu. If you are comfortable with the single engine vs. twin engine safety argument, it sounds like a toss up.

    A Meridian would look nice in your hangar too…

    Geoff

    #99694

    I posted the question of Aerostar vs 340 vs 414 vs 421. I’m currently flying our 2nd Piper Aztec, a 1979 F model with a usefull load of 1740 lbs., a full 300 lbs less than our previous 1966 C model. The primary reason we fly a twin vs a high performance single is that my in-laws live just south of Grand Rapids, MI and normally just on the eastern edge of the lake effect crud that normally occupies that region.

    For us, flying across the lake to/from WI, plenty of fuel combined with Known Ice capability and the second engine really give me a lot of options. We just flew to/from Macinack Island and slowed down to time the passing of some thunderstorms at our home airport. With the power pulled back, burning 9.6 per side, we putted along at 140 TAS over Lake MI at 8000 ft waiting for the storms to move away. It worked perfectly. I wouldn’t purposely “slow down” over LM in a single.

    Expansive cabin space isn’t a requirement for us. My wife and I don’t add up to 300 lbs soaking wet. I’m 5’9″, she’s about 5′ even. Speed and endurance is what we’re looking for in a nearly all weather configuration. I’d kill to have a 200kt twin that could carry 300 gallons of 100LL for a 2100 lb usefull load. Just me and her and lots of go-juice, with the option of leaving some of that at home to fill 4 more seats.

    #99703
    quote COCHRANE:

    quote SPearcy1:

    Most of the Malibus that I have been looking at have a useful load of 1350-1400 pounds. With full fuel (120 gallons) that still leaves 680 pounds. My wife and I together aren’t even 300. If we needed more, just don’t go full fuel. This is pretty close in comparison to a 340 from what I can see. It seems that most have a useful load in the 1800 pound range. Throw in 203 gallons and you’re left with 582 pounds. It works the same way though, don’t carry full fuel and you can carry more people/stuff. There is no doubt that you have fewer options when losing an engine in a single vs a twin, but if I was super concerned or afraid of that, I wouldn’t have a single engine second airplane like we do. I am more concerned about accessories failing than the engine, but the Malibu also has dual everything.

    One advantage I can see is the ability to climb through ice better/faster in the 340 than the Malibu. I am from the sticks of West Texas. I don’t like ice.

    As far as useful load, our 340 has 2008 lbs. ( recently weighed); with full fuel (203 gallons) that provide 800 lbs. payload. It doesn’t sound like your mission requires a large payload so it isn’t that much of a factor. I like Malibus but … I have had two friends with Malibus lose an engine ( both successful landings). The issue that I have with all high output aircraft recip. engines, including those on the Malibu series, P210s and pressurized twins, is that they fail more often than the <300 hp engines that fly in more dense air. If I didn't fly at night and IMC I might consider a Malibu. If you are comfortable with the single engine vs. twin engine safety argument, it sounds like a toss up.

    A Meridian would look nice in your hangar too...

    Geoff

    I think the Malibu is a fine plane – it really is a hard working engine though. The glide performance is great but engine failure on takeoff leaves few options. Looks like a ~ 2000 Malibu is 400 to 500k and a 2000 Meridan is 700 to 800k. If you can swing it, the Meridian would be the better choice for performance. Perhaps 250 kts on 250 lbs per hr. Useful load with full fuel is only 557 lbs. (not going to fill those 6 seats on long legs)

    You can get a great twin with a bigger useful load for well under 400k and have plenty of money saved for gas, etc

    Eric

    #99706

    To me, the biggest negative for the Malibu is a single engine that works too hard. Better pressurization than the 340 means it takes a lot of air from turbos that are trying to feed an engine. Malibus have lots of engine failures, although their good glide ratio seems to help them with that. Slow climb rates irk me, and I don’t think they have great build quality. Of course, 340s have their issues as well. Malibus are expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain. I think they have more weird little issues than 340s personally.

    One question I have – do you really need pressurization and turbos? They do add to MX quite a bit. Have you considered adding AC to your Baron? We are looking at the same in our 310.

    #99708
    quote TDUPUIS:

    To me, the biggest negative for the Malibu is a single engine that works too hard. Better pressurization than the 340 means it takes a lot of air from turbos that are trying to feed an engine. Malibus have lots of engine failures, although their good glide ratio seems to help them with that. Slow climb rates irk me, and I don’t think they have great build quality. Of course, 340s have their issues as well. Malibus are expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain. I think they have more weird little issues than 340s personally.

    One question I have – do you really need pressurization and turbos? They do add to MX quite a bit. Have you considered adding AC to your Baron? We are looking at the same in our 310.

    I did think about it initially, but adding a $23,000 A/C to a B55 isn’t worth it to me and I would never see a penny of that money. Plus wife is getting tired of sweating so A/C is a must, and there is no denying the added comfort and lack of fatigue from flying in pressurization.

    #99709
    quote TDUPUIS:

    To me, the biggest negative for the Malibu is a single engine that works too hard. Better pressurization than the 340 means it takes a lot of air from turbos that are trying to feed an engine. Malibus have lots of engine failures, although their good glide ratio seems to help them with that. Slow climb rates irk me, and I don’t think they have great build quality. Of course, 340s have their issues as well. Malibus are expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain. I think they have more weird little issues than 340s personally.

    One question I have – do you really need pressurization and turbos? They do add to MX quite a bit. Have you considered adding AC to your Baron? We are looking at the same in our 310.

    I did think about it initially, but adding a $23,000 A/C to a B55 isn’t worth it to me and I would never see a penny of that money. Plus wife is getting tired of sweating so A/C is a must, and there is no denying the added comfort and lack of fatigue from flying in pressurization.

    The slow climb rate is of the Malibu is a concern of mine. I really just need to fly them both and then go from there. I have a Malibu ride lined up, but still no luck on finding a ride in a 340, so if anyone knows someone in the Houston area that could help, please let me know!

    #99710

    Have you looked at non-permanent AC installation? There are the portable freon units that can be installed in the plane and also the ice units. If it’s mostly you and your wife, then that might be a reasonable option. Because we tend to have a full cabin, it is not an option for us.

    I do understand the fatigue aspects of pressurization (or lack thereof), but I personally think the heat is a bigger deal for me. Everyone’s body is different, though, so it comes down to knowing your body. What eventually convinced us not to bother with pressurization was the significantly higher cost and risk for expensive repairs, plus having an airframe in good condition already. We didn’t want to have to repeat that process with a new airframe.

    Malibu engine reliability is my biggest concern. I guess I just don’t like piston singles, although I do wish our piston twins had autofeather.

    #99712
    quote SPearcy1:

    I currently have a B55 Baron and after having four bonanzas and two barons, and have always considered myself an avid Beechcraft guy. The time has come for us to step up to something with A/C and pressurization so I have been looking at just about everything. The P Baron is pointless because I don’t gain much of anything over what I currently have.

    I disagree.
    You get A/C.
    You get pressurization.
    You get turbocharging.
    You still fit in a T-hangar.
    You get club seating.
    You get good high-teens, very low FL cruise performance, in shirt-sleeve comfort.
    You get 200+knots on 30-32 gph LOP.

    Those *are* game changers in my book.

    Disclosure: we have a 58P, and are looking to upgrade to a 421C for cabin comfort and the psychological piece of mind of a potty. If it was just the wife and I, or if the kids were older (so potty planning was easier), the 58P is a pretty sweet spot in the spectrum.

    If you’re a Beech guy, I’d definitely at least evaluate the 58P. I don’t think it’s pointless over a 55. The 58P is a bit of a runway hog. I’d be leery of basing it anywhere under 3500′ at sea level, though the airplane is capable of using much less.

    #99713

    —> “I really just need to fly them both and then go from there. <–

    Stuart,

    I think that is a good plan – fly em both and then continue your analysis with that behind you.

    There are trade offs with both planes. Rate of climb is offset with the fuel and cost for the second engine and engine failure options are offset again by the cost of the second engine; you know all of this as you have a twin. I am positive the 340 will cost more to fly/mile than a Malibu but you get what you pay for.

    This is a twin engine loving group here and I am biased. Personally I have been flying twin engine planes too long to do the type of flying I do in a SE recip. Like you, my other plane is a SE but I don’t fly it any distance and hardly ever after sunset and never in marginal WX.

    If the AC does not spoil your wife, the pressurization will spoil you for sure. Good luck on your hunt for a plane.

    Jim

    #99714
    quote JSOKOLOFF:

    Disclosure: we have a 58P, and are looking to upgrade to a 421C for cabin comfort and the psychological piece of mind of a potty. If it was just the wife and I, or if the kids were older (so potty planning was easier), the 58P is a pretty sweet spot in the spectrum.

    I’m glad you put that disclosure in there Jim – I was going to have to bust your chops if you didn’t!!

    Robert

    P.S. I dropped you a note on BT in reply to your message but haven’t heard back… I’m at 5B2 at the moment if you want to come up during the week. Also will be at Osh and may be at Triple Tree.

    #99716

    I owned a 340 for one year and sold it in 2009. Too many things to fix.
    I went to look for a Mirage. I made a proposal for a 2005 Mirage and they accepted. One day I was at Lakeland Sun and Fun, look at the interior of the Mirage again, and I retired my proposal for the Mirage. I did not like the seats being almost at the floor.
    I bought another 340.

    #99718

    I don’t know if this is accurate about all 340s, but most of the 340s that I’ve seen have ac that doesn’t blow directly on the pilot. 73 and later 414s and 421s have vents on the arm rests that blow directly on the crew. This was a major factor in my choice of planes.

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