Welcome to The Airplane Intel Podcast, the weekly General Aviation podcast for aircraft owners, operators, pilots and mechanics. We deliver practical advice, tips and strategies to make aircraft ownership simple, safe and cost effective.
This week, we discuss everything you need to know about the iconic Cessna 340 cabin-class twin. Then, Don talks about his experience starting an airline, I share some affordable ADS-B solutions, and Don reveals the tip of the week. Plus, general aviation news, fuel prices, and your questions.
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Cessna 340 Info
Due to popular demand, we’re talking about the Cessna 340, a classic cabin-class twin that is still one of Cessna’s best airplanes. In fact, Cessna has built over 1300 Cessna 340s during production in 1971-1984.
Taking a look at the big picture here – the Cessna 340 is a 6 – place pressurized cabin class twin, the first of its kind. IT competes with other piston twins such as the Beechcraft Duke, and Piper P-Navajo – but barely. Neither of the competitor aircraft offers the dispatch reliability and quality of the 340. There is also an unpressurized version of the 340 known as the Cessna 335.
Originating as a cabin-class version of the successful Cessna 310, the 340 has many components derived from its little brother including the nose, landing gear and empennage. but the wings come from its bigger brother, the Cessna 414 chancellor.
The original 340s were equipped with two 285 hp Continental TSIO-520-K engines whereas the Cessna 340A, introduced in 1975, were equipped with 310hp TSIO 520-NB engines with smaller diameter props to reduce noise. And the Cessna 335 is equipped with 300hp TSIO-520-EB engines.
While the 340 is capable flying a bit faster, typical cruise speed is about 210knots burning about 40 gallons an hour giving the aircraft a realistic range with passengers, luggage and fuel of about 4 hours with reserves, but can have a range of up to 1400 nm in economy cruise. Max gross weight for the airplane is 5990 pounds, giving it a power to weight ratio of 9.6 pounds per horsepower. The aircraft has a ceiling of 29,000 feet, but typically cruises in the high teens or low twenties. Initial rate of climb is about 1650 fpm.
But hold on a second – there are number of modifications that are available for the Cessna 340 including vortex generators, GAMI fuel injectors, engine heaters, spoilers, STOL kits, aft fuselage strakes, air conditioning systems, and cowling mounted recog lights. There are also a number of engine modifications available from RAM. We’ll put the full list from RAM in the show notes, but to summarize, the RAM series IV increases the stock 310 HP on the 340A to 325, RAM series VI give it 335 hp per side. Most aircraft are equipped with 3-bladed Harztell or McCauley props, but there are a handful of 4-bladed composite MT props out there, too. Depending on the set up, prop TBO is either 5 years/1500 hours or 6 years 2000 hours. However, when operating under Part 91, prop and engine overhaul times are merely a suggestion. Likewise, service bulletins and Cessna’s supplemental inspection documents (SIDs)—which address aging aircraft—are also optional under Part 91.
In 1977, Cessna offered certified flight into known icing options which consists of boots on the leading edges of the wings, and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. Also, props are electrically heated as is the pilot windshield. The system also includes a beefier alternator, heated pitot tubes, static ports, and stall vanes. Finally, an ice detection light is the last piece of the puzzle.
What about the aircraft’s short comings? Well, while the aircraft is technically a six-place aircraft, it is not likely to get full fuel. Like many piston and even many turboprops, you trade fuel for useful load. Also, while the 340 is a cabin-class twin, the cabin is significantly smaller than its big brothers the Cessna 414 and 421.
And what about maintenance? While the 340 is not known to have the engine maintenance issues associated with the p-Navajo and Duke, you can expect higher maintenance costs than a smaller, less complex twins. Also, there are a few other maintenance considerations in terms of ADs. For starters, the exhaust system must be visually inspected every 50 hours. Components must also be removed from the aircraft for inspection and possible replacement during engine overhaul. Next the landing gear, which should be rigged annually. There is also a wing spar Service bulletin out there, but it’s not due until 15,000 hour Total Time. Most 340s flying today have half those hours.
The final consideration is training. As always, when stepping up into a larger, faster, more complex airplane, training is a must. Most insurance companies will require formal training as well from approved schools such as Simcom or Flight Safety.