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Premier 1A ride and pictorial.

A forum member on one the US boards I frequent reached out to me and offered me a ride in his 2007 Beech Premier 1A. How could I say no? Took a while to coordinate, but in the end it worked out really well as his passengers bailed on him and it was just the two of us, so I could monopolize his time with my questions and really nerd out.

The trip was from Palomar airport in Carlsbad where the plane is based, up to Salinas for a seafood lunch at Moss Landing – and back. Flew up at FL320 and back at FL310, as it was a pretty short trip. Normally he tries to go as high as he can.

What can I say? This was my first private jet ride ever and I have to say my mind was slightly blown. What a nice, relaxing way to travel. No vibrations, very silent – you just get whisked up at 4000ft/m. I could get used to that very quick. But then when we started talking costs, well, then……

Rather than fill this with wordy stuff, I’ll let the pictures speak mostly and just add a to them.

When I arrived the GPU was hooked up at the FBO and the cabin was already nice and cool and avionics on.

This is Bob. He has a company that makes springs for the aerospace industry, mainly. As you can see the front baggage compartment is pretty large. And if you look closely on the door, you’ll also detect the fuselage is all carbon fibre.

Cockpit fired up on the GPU. Proline 21 system from Rockwell. Looked like a complicated system, but as we flew it I came to learn it’s actually pretty logical.

Bob bought the plane from a Mexican owner who’d kept her mechanically good, but the interior was dated. The Mexican owner was based at a high elevation airport and didn’t like how much rwy the Premier used, so he wanted to get rid of it. Bob put a brand new interior in and repainted the plane. It’s spotless both inside and out.

This is one of the big selling points of the Premier. Much larger cabin than the comparable Citations and much faster. On the downside, not as much range as the Citations.

As in most aircraft, you still have to be a Circe du Soleil acrobat to get in….

…but thankfully there’s a strategically placed ceiling handle to support you at your most unbalanced moment.

All the checklists are on the screen and automated, so Bob just pushes a button on the yoke to tick each item as it moves forward. This makes the cabin really uncluttered. All he had was a little cheat sheet to calculate V-speeds and that’s about it.

The FMS. Looks really complicated, but at the bottom there’s a scratch pad where you put in values (altitudes or a frequency) and then you just press the button on the sides where you want it to go. It’s actually pretty intuitive.

After all the first-flight-of-the-day-tests are done, this is what it should look like on the annunciator. Bob calls it “the smile”.

Starts are really simple. Just press the yellow start button, wait for 12% N1 and pop the power lever out from it’s detent to introduce fuel. The plane does everything else by itself. Also, only having experience with TP’s, it was amazing to see how quick they spool up and get stabilized. Engines were up and running in about 10 seconds.

Taxiing out at Palomar. The airfield is built on an old dump, so the rwy has settled and has a distinct dip it in, which can fool the eye.

Powering up for T/O. You can see the flaps are set to 10 degrees.

Force of god just pushing you along – before you know it, you’re off! One of the criticisms of the Premier is that it uses a little more runway than a straight wing Citation, but it sure didn’t feel that way on this one. Felt like we we’re off in about 2000ft, but maybe that was just my tinted experience.

A problem you don’t have in many other aircraft is that you need to pull back quite drastically on climb out, or else you’ll bust the 200kts in class D limit very quick…

..and here we’re getting close to 240kts indicated as we’re climbing 3300ft/min! Wow!

As you can see, fuel flows are not for the faint of heart down low. Here we’re burning about 1260lbs/hr. It will drop down to below 1000lbs at altitude, but staying low really hurts the FF’s. 68kt headwind on the nose.

Coming in to Salinas.

Short final at Salinas. Vref speed this day was 114kts, I think.

Taxiing to parking at Jet West. Nice little mom-and-pop FBO on the field that borrowed us their crew car so we could go have lunch.

1200lbs fuel used for the trip. About 1hr in the air.

I forgot to take any photos of our great seafood lunch at Moss Landing, but here Bob loads some fresh Cioppino soup into the rear luggage compartment to bring back to his family.

Maybe because it’s such a nice ride, fast and spacious, its looks are growing on me. The Premier has been accused of looking like a Pelican, and there’s a little truth in that.

This angle is really pretty – makes it look like a G650! The door dampener is very sturdy and the steps don’t feel flimsy at all, like many other aircraft. Since the whole fuselage is carbon fibre, you can not use paint stripper when you repaint. It has to be sanded down. And to make things worse, it has a fine mesh below the surface to channel lightning. So the repaint job is very involved and costly.

Bob’s paint job looks like new and he says he himself spend every weekend at the airport washing it and waxing it. He’s that kind of hands on owner. He even uses an orbital polisher on the leading edge hot wing regularly, to make sure it shines. Plane is super clean. So it’s natural that he’s pretty adamant that he wants to be present at refuels and makes sure he protects the fuel cap from scraping the paint.

Front wheel folds forward and there’s a speed limit of 200kts for gear extraction/retraction.

Main wheels are straight legs. Some say this makes the plane harder to land smooth than a trailing link gear like the Cessna has.

Here you can see the area rule in effect. The cutout in the fuselage to minimize drag. One of the reasons, as well as the swept and very thin wing, that this plane is faster than most Cessna Citations using the same engine.

Artistic angle of slight oil leak?

To me, the rear elevators look really small. Now, that could be because they’re further up and it’s hard to judge scale, but that’s the impression I have. Even the wingspan is surprisingly small. I doubt it has much more span than my Commander.

Here’s the luggage compartment again, but wait…

…as you turn the corner it goes on all the way to the back! You can easily get skiis in here. Huge.

Bob showing the California way of flying jets – relaxed!

FL310 on the way back and now the headwind has turned into a tailwind….

Hauling ass, as they say here. 501kts GS. Bob says it regularly does 455kt TAS, which is very fast for this class.

Coming down over the LA basin. It gets pretty busy, so they get us low early so as to not interfere with LAX departures.

On final to Palomar. It was very busy coming in, and we had to dodge a last minute smaller plane that came pretty close. ATC had to vector us around before we could turn back and do the ILS. Bob likes to do full approaches even in VMC, which is probably good practice. You don’t want to muscle jets around seat of the pants style in tight patterns.

What a great plane. Yes, it costs a lot of money to run a jet, but you also get performance you just can’t get anywhere else.

She gets pushed back in her hangar and goes to bed.

All in all, the Premier is very impressive. Huge cabin, very fast, very quiet. But the reason it’s a little discounted in the marketplace is that it has slightly less range than the competition. About 1000nm is basically it with comfortable IFR reserves. Also, Beech and Textron stopped making them and they were not considered a success, despite selling over 400 of them. Still reasonably well supported by Textron, due to an enthusiastic owner group that encourages them to stay interested.

Bob was great and very upfront with all the costs. He pays about $300/hr for the engines to be on the program. He needs to fly 150hr per year and if he doesn’t get up to that, he has to pay the difference. Coming from a King Air, he said he used to think being on a program was silly, but now he absolutely loves it. Gives him peace of mind and he knows his resale value is protected. And apparently Williams have great service. He’s also on the Rockwell program and that’s about $16K per year, but that makes care of all the avionics, database replacements, screens etc. Just a screen going bad would probably cost more.

The type rating at FlightSafety was no joke, though. 18 days initial, 10 days recurrent! I though that sounded like a lot, but that’s the way it is, apparently. Perhaps you can do it quicker in the plane, but not sure of this. He’s been going to Flight Safety for years, so he likes it (although there are cheaper options).

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 30 May 18:33

Nice Adam,

They are very fast but are apparently a bit of a maintenance nightmare. Owners love them and they are relatively cheap for the performance.

EGTK Oxford

Thanks Adam. Recently watched a similar report here:

It was Greg, not Bob. They must all be eager hit 150 :-)

LPFR, Poland

Greg and Bob good friends! I guess it’s a small community in the Premier-world.

Thanks for posting this. Looks like a great experience!

always learning
LO__, Austria

I should add that Bob paid $1.8mill for the plane. Which of course, is tons of money for us mere mortals. But when you compare it to a PC12 or a TBM or even a Cessna Mustang or CJ-series, is actually pretty competitive. That’s a lot of bang for the buck in this price segment. As long as you can live with the tradeoff between the shorter range, and the bigger cabin and better speed.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 31 May 04:40

I think it is runway performance that is a serious limitation, particularly in Europe. When you look at the stats there are a disproportionate number of runway overruns in Premier 1’s. It relies a lot on the brakes. You suggested a Vref of 114 even at a fairly light weight; a CJ4 would be less than 100 when light.
But despite all the stats on range/price/fuel etc, and the armchair experts saying get a PC12 or whatever, I think you now understand why there is nothing to match a jet!!

Last Edited by Neil at 31 May 09:46
Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

The erroneous apostrophe on the checklist on that very expensive glass panel would drive me bonkers :-)

Is that a retrofitted glass panel? It seems strange to have that huge annunciator display with dozens of tiny lamps each for a particular thing to be annunciated when you have acres of screen to display that kind information on.

Andreas IOM

alioth wrote:

The erroneous apostrophe on the checklist on that very expensive glass panel would drive me bonkers :-)

Is that a retrofitted glass panel? It seems strange to have that huge annunciator display with dozens of tiny lamps each for a particular thing to be annunciated when you have acres of screen to display that kind information on.

The checklist is editable, someone has just made a typo when changing it.

The Premier has the annunciator panel there, but the autopilot comtrol panel on the glareshied (the right place). The CJs have the annunciators on the glareshield and the autopilot on the pedestal.

On the CJ the annun panel is led with LCD shutters. Not sure on the Premier but unlikely to be individual lamps.

Last Edited by JasonC at 01 Jun 12:17
EGTK Oxford

No, I think the PL21 is how it came. The huge annunciator panel is perhaps not how it would be done today, but I think panels were still in a transitional period at this time. Just saw a TBM 850 panel the other day and remember reflecting on how “steam-gauge-y” it all looked. In my mind an 850 is a pretty new plane and I would expect wall to wall glass, but we forget how recent these additions are.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 01 Jun 15:53
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