Airplane Intel Podcast Show Notes

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Episode 26 Show Notes

Today, Don and I are talking turboprops with the Cessna Conquest I and Conquest II. Then we share some new meet up ideas and talk about some special plans we have for next week’s episode. Plus, two new ADs, the tip of the week, and new members to our Plane Partnership Program.

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the cessna conquest: a step in the right direction

The Cessna Conquest is a cabin-class, twin engine turboprop first introduced in 1975 to compete with the already successful King Air lineup. The Conquest comes in two flavors: The 425 Conquest I and the 441 Conquest II. The Conquest II actually came before the Conquest I. Introduced in 1975 to compete with the King Air 200, the Conquest 441 took first delivery in 1978. The aircraft is essentially a modified Cessna 404 Titan with Garret TPE-331-8 engines with either a three or four-blade McCauley or Harztell propeller bolted to the front. While the 441 resembles the 404 on the surface, its structure and systems are more in-line with Cessna’s jet products.  

The 441 typically seats 9, but has enough room for 11. The stock -8 Garret engines put out about 636 shaft-horsepower each, and can cruise up to 35,000 feet at 260 knots for 2,000 nautical miles. With 475 gallons of useable fuel, the 441’s gross weight is 9,850 pounds. Upgrade to the Garret -10 engines and performance improves tremendously, giving you 310 knots at FL350 burning just 75 gallons per hour for a range of about 1,600 miles with reserves. It’s goes even faster in the mid 20’s, but bring the power back some and you can stretch the range to about 2,200 nautical miles.

The Garret engines have a recommended TBO of 5,000 hours compared to Pratt-powered King Air’s and Cheyenne’s at 3,600 hours. Moreover, the 441 burns about 20 gallons per hour less fuel and flies about 20 knots faster. While these numbers are notably better than King Air 200’s, the 441 wasn’t always an operator’s first choice. In late 1977, a crash killed all seven aboard due to structural failure of the tail. This incident prompted the FAA to ground the entire fleet and required Cessna to seriously beef up the tail section of the existing fleet and all subsequent Conquests coming off the line.

Today the 441 is a sought-after airplane – they hold their value well and are selling for “like-new” prices in the low-to-mid $1 million range. A total of 362 were built between 1978 and 1986 with some 320 still flying today. According to Business Jet Traveler, average airframe time is approximately 8,000 hours with operators flying about 250-280 hours per year.

Stepping into a Conquest 441 isn’t too bad if you’re coming from a 414 or 421. However, if you’re like most aircraft owners, stepping into the Conquest 441 is a big jump, especially if you’re coming from a high-performance single or light twin, which leads me to a perfect segue into the Conquest 425.

Born in 1978, and produced from 1980 thru 1986, the 425 was introduced to compete with the King Air 90 as an intermediate step between light to cabin-class twins and the larger, faster turboprops and jets. Like the 441, the 425 boasts faster cruise speeds, greater range, and more efficiency than its closest competitor, the King Air C90. Equipped with two 450 shaft-horsepower Pratt and Whitney engines, the 425 is a great airplane for personal and business use. Fly four-to-six passengers 250 knots for 800-1,000 miles on about 15% less fuel than the competition.

As I alluded to earlier, the Conquest 441 came before the 425. The 441 was originally just known as the Conquest, and the 425 was first known as the Corsair. However, customer demands forced Cessna to make a few changes to the original turboprop version of the 421 including increased gross weight, more robust systems, and improved cabin. When these changes were made, the Corsair was renamed the Conquest I and the 441 the Conquest II. The most notable difference between the original Corsair and the Conquest I is an increase in gross weight to 8,600 pounds.

Your passengers will appreciate the spacious cabin, comfortable seats, a powerful cabin pressurizations system, and many more amenities that makes sitting in the cabin almost as nice as sitting up front. The cockpit is wide and spacious and provides excellent visibility. You’ll find a familiar cockpit, making transitioning fairly straight forward. As with any high-performance airplane, training is a must. SIMCOM and other providers offer five-day initial and three-day recurrent training for both models. Owners appreciate the aircraft’s handling qualities and its reputation for being easy to fly. The systems are capable, yet easy to operate, and you’ll also notice predictable maintenance costs and good part support. There’s even a Conquest Owner’s Club with tons of resources.

Peter Bedell of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association writes, “AOPA owned a Cessna Conquest for some 20 years starting in the early 1980s. It was the first turbine airplane I ever flew. Over the years, I was always amazed at how it soldiered on, day after day, mission after mission, with rarely a squawk or hiccup. Even today, I continue to be surprised at just how reliable turboprops can be. As with the Conquest, their systems are robust and reliable.” Enough said, right?

Well not so fast... As you may already know, things like service bulletins aren’t usually mandatory for part 91 operators flying piston airplanes, but that’s not necessarily the case for turbine-powered airplanes. One example is a supplemental inspection document, or SID for short, which addresses Cessna’s aging fleet. In a nutshell, the SID limits the aircraft’s life to 22,500 hours and requires recurring inspections as part of Cessna’s phase inspection program, which under Part 91.409f, requires mandatory compliance.

Despite recent additions to inspection requirements, the Conquest line is still a cost-effective airplane for many operators. With a nearly endless list of upgrades and modifications available today, Conquests continue to hold their value, making them a prime contender among even the newest twin-turboprops offered by Hawker-Beechcraft.