The Cessna T303 Crusader was the
last piston twin designed by Cessna and, in some ways, the most advanced. It was
originally designed to compete as a low powered trainer but market economics changed
in the late 70's, and it emerged as a cabin-class twin that would replace the
310 and compete with Navajos, Senecas and Barons. Only 297 aircraft were built
between 1982 and 1984 when the economy forced the shut down of most general aviation
piston aircraft assembly lines.
The 303 is known for its flying qualities. Cessna went to great lengths to make it a sweet handling, safe aircraft. Wind tunnel testing was extensive and the entire airframe was tweaked with cuffs to perfect airflow. Single engine handling is very good, thanks in part to counter rotating engines. For a cabin class twin, it's a good short field airplane and will clear a 50 ft obstacle on a standard day in 1,750 feet. Trailing link landing gear makes for soft landings.
The cabin is roomy and comfortable but it is non-pressurized. Real world cruise speeds are about 170 kts with a fuel burn of 25 gph. Systems are simpler than most other Cessna cabin class twins. For example, there are just two wet wing fuel tanks that hold a combined 153 gallons. There are no conventional cowl flaps. The de-rated TSIO 520's that power the Crusader carry 2,000 TBO's and are known for often actually getting to that number.
With its distinctive cruciform tail and smooth lines, the 303 is a beautiful airplane. Cessna was on the right track with the Crusader and, had it continued in production, might have evolved into a new line of better flying, more comfortable cabin class twins.
Click here for a video tour of a nice T303 Crusader (No longer for sale)