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Are traditional piston twins more likely to get less maintenance than singles?

A controversial topic

I have met a number of GA-scene individuals who happily said they are less bothered about maintenance because they have a spare engine.

The aircraft for sale here is perhaps another example.

Also to me it seems impossible to not notice the number of really shagged twins, especially around the UK, with the Aztec being perhaps the biggest victim.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think there are just as many “shagged” singles. Any operator who cares about their aircraft will look after it the best they are able, and if they dont care, they dont care. Nearly everyone has a budget and one person’s defintition of without consideration to cost is not anothers.

In a sense this is the same old argument that Cirrus pilots fly in conditions they shouldnt because they have a chute. I guess there maybe a few who really think like that, but I very much doubt there are more than a few. I find it very hard to believe that many twin pilots would subscribe to short changing vital maintenance on the assumption the extra engine will get them out of trouble.

Of course I could be wrong.

You’d need to define shagged. If its paint, interior or avionics that’s not shagged…

Perhaps if there are chunks missing from the props, all the rod ends are seized, tail corroded, fuel tanks leaking and the landing gear only works intermittently then perhaps that would qualify as shagged. There are just as many singles which are no longer in service and are parked in a clutch of nettles as twins.

Last Edited by WilliamF at 09 Mar 22:10
Buying, Selling, Flying
EIBR, Ireland

I don’t disagree with the thesis that the average legacy piston twin receives less TLC, conversely on average the high performance SE fleet seems to be better maintained and retain a higher re sale value, despite some types being long in the tooth.

I expect the average twin piston owner bought cheap and then realised he/she could not afford the real maintenance. Put another way, a £15k maintenance year is a reasonable budget (give or take £10k) in the twin world, but it represents 30-60% of hull value. A high performance SE piston might be 40%-60% of this (with much more predictability) but annual maintenance probably is 10-20% of hull value and therefore seems economically rational. As always YMMV.

Oxford (EGTK)

Put another way, a £15k maintenance year is a reasonable budget….

I met a guy who wanted to buy a 58 Baron as his last SR22 annual in rgv was £20k and he said if he was going to be paying that sort of money he might as well own a twin.

Buying, Selling, Flying
EIBR, Ireland

as his last SR22 annual in rgv was £20k and he said if he was going to be paying that sort of money he might as well own a twin.

The Q should have been asked WHY he got billed £20k

FWIW, one “prominent” Aztec pilot had written on various forums that his annual maintenance bill was £20k. And he did say which maint company he used. I went there not long ago… I have never used them but would have placed them very much at the lower end of the cost scale, and the Aztec owner said so himself openly on a few occassions.

Of course one could maintain a piston twin to the same standard as any other plane, but statistically this doesn’t seem to happen.

My guess is that nowadays people who operate piston twins (not DA42s) are statistically above average likely to be doing so because they got them cheaply, or because they are worth so little that they cannot trade up (a bit like once you move down to Spain you can never come back to the UK, due to property prices). So the owners are more likely to be financially strapped.

Also, the piston twin market is not really benefitting from the new models which reduce the average age of the fleet (e.g. SR22s). I know the Seneca and the Baron (?) are in theory still being made, but you only need to look around to see that most piston twins are ~30 years old. That alone will increase maintenance costs.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

the number of really shagged twins

Isn’t the issue that there are not many new entries in the twin market (Other than Diamond). Meaning that the people who want to fly a twin for whatever reason are stuck with the older models. Meaning any twin you come across is generally speaking of older age than a single.

Re. maintenance, don’t know. So the people that say this, are they saving on maintenance on the left, or the right, or on both …!

I remember when one of my air pumps (vacuum) packed in in the middle of IR training. Flew to mechanic and got it fixed pretty quick. Now, would I have continued had that happened on a longer trip where light IFR would have been expected? Probably. Heavy IFR, probably not. VFR – most certainly. What I’m trying to get at is that deferring one item in a redundant system is OK to do in my book as long as it’s not a flight safety risk. Was my plane more “shagged” with one less pump? Yes. Was it unsafe to fly? No.

I always want all things to work, but I will defer smaller stuff sometimes until it makes sense to bring in and address all items on a squawk list etc. I think this is one of the nicer things about being an owner – you don’t have to pay for all maintenance up front like on a rental. You can pace it out and address smaller niggly things when it best suit you or your finances.

OTOH if you had a hangar you could work in, and a freelance A&P, you could just fix the pump before the next flight

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Finding a hangar here is like finding a gold nugget in the ghetto. Long waiting list and for the few that come up, you’re paying as much as for a one bedroom flat.

Last Edited by AdamFrisch at 14 Mar 19:39
12 Posts
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