By any measure, Skylanes are almost universally regarded as wonderful machines, blessed with docile handling, reasonable performance, good reliability, and in some cases full fuel, four-place capability. These days, creature comforts are generally excellent, regardless of the size of your creatures, the avionics suite is nothing short of amazing, and the airplane continues to carry a phenomenal payload. Still, position an old and a new Skylane side-by-side in bare aluminum trim, and you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Cessna is unlikely to pursue that design until the market turns around, however.
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By any measure, Skylanes are almost universally regarded as wonderful machines, blessed with docile handling, reasonable performance, good reliability, and in some cases full fuel, four-place capability. These days, creature comforts are generally excellent, regardless of the size of your creatures, the avionics suite is nothing short of amazing, and the airplane continues to carry a phenomenal payload. Still, position an old and a new Skylane side-by-side in bare aluminum trim, and you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference.
Cessna is unlikely to pursue that design until the market turns around, however. Discontinued with all other Cessna piston singles in , the revived Skylane has evolved into a handsome package that continues to endear itself and give the competition a run for the money, specifically BECAUSE the basic design remains true to the original.
Cessna did. Like the DC-3 and Boeing Stearman in other general aviation markets, the venerable Skylane is far from perfect, but almost a half century after its introduction, it continues to offer perhaps the best combination of simplicity, performance, comfort, economy, and payload in the industry.
In Western skies where runways often perch a mile or more above the sea, the trend is definitely toward turbos. Combine a 90 degree F day with the field elevation of Albuquerque or Denver, and many normally-aspirated airplanes simply need not apply. High density altitudes are less of a challenge with such power on tap. Bastien also owns Universal Flooring Systems, a commercial flooring company with contracts up and down the West Coast and as far east as Phoenix.
Perhaps the most innovative safety improvement is the AmSafe Aviation Inflatable Restraint inevitably A-I-R , a system of seatbelt-mounted airbags designed to inflate within milliseconds of detecting a 16 G impact. Automotive-style airbags were out of the question because of weight, airframe, and certification considerations, so Cessna contracted with AmSafe to create a simpler, but similarly effective, method of restraint. The new generation of Skylanes also features the Garmin G glass cockpit.
At its full gross weight of pounds, the Skylane is pounds heavier than the old Skyhawk SP, and the additional weight manifests itself primarily in pitch. As with most, current-generation Cessnas, adverse yaw is virtually non-existent, making rudder coordination unnecessary in banks shallower than 35 degrees. A built-in, four-position oxygen system is standard on the T-Skylane, and the new generation of cannulas makes oxygen use more tolerable than the old, full facemasks.
If you fly regularly with a skittish non-pilot, these can be a valuable option. A turbo offers the benefit of better speed at all heights above about feet, but higher altitude also provides better VHF radio range, reduced traffic congestion, less turbulence, and better weather. The Turbo Skylane can realize significant performance benefits at non-oxygen altitudes.
The Lycoming is so severely de-rated, that max cruise power is listed as 88 percent. With 87 gallons in the tanks and a typical burn of 17 gph at high cruise, plan on nm plus reserve between fuel stops. For those pilots with long-range bladders who can endure eight-hour legs, dramatically reduced power settings can extend range to nearly nm. The turbocharging and associated plumbing does inflict a pound penalty on payload, and the result is the airplane will no longer lift four folks and full fuel.
TBOs were lower, turbocharged engines ran hotter, fuel burn was high, maintenance cost more, and pilots were justifiably concerned about reliability. The airplane also returns to Earth with similar reliability, demanding minimum piloting skill. Stalls are gentle and forgiving, and easily recoverable. That contributes to excellent manners in the pattern. Takeoff and landing runway requirements are minimal, if not exactly in the STOL class.
Just remember to remove the wheel pants if you fly off-airport. If you fly out west where the Earth demands airplanes to match its mountains, a Turbo Skylane may offer exactly the right combination of ingredients.
Combine excellent reliability, plentiful performance, and reasonable comfort, and you have the formula that has made the a winner for nearly a half-century. Just when Cessna thought it was safe to discontinue the normally-aspirated and turbocharged avgas s in favor of the new Skylane JT-A, fate stepped in with a surprise.
As the new JT-A was nearing certification, one of the test airplanes suffered a complete power failure and had to be landed off-airport. The test pilot did a good job and walked away, but the certification effort was set back quite a bit. This left Cessna in the unenviable position of having no Skylanes to sell, since the avgas models had been phased out.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Skylane saga.
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