Recently I helped a friend purchase a Cessna 340A similar to what I fly. He’s pleased with his purchase. In fact, when word got out, another local pilot who’s looking for a 340A approached me, and I’ve begun helping him, leading me to consider the process.
This airplane is an upgrade for both pilots, so there’s a learning curve. By “learning curve” here, I’m not talking about aircraft transition training, although that’s a consideration.
No, I’m talking about the knowledge needed to make informed choices in the market. For example, do you need air conditioning? You’ve never had it before, even here in the desert southwest, so perhaps you can get by without it in the new aircraft.
But, in a pressurized aircraft like the 340 series, the windows don’t open enough to keep you cool on a warm ramp, much less a hot one. So, unless you live and fly solely in a temperate or colder climate, you want air conditioning in your pressurized plane.
If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of the new breed you’re seeking, you probably should find out some assistance. Where? The first place to look is a type club. For our 340s, there’s the Twin Cessna Flyers, an owners’ club with some extremely helpful and knowledgeable owners and vast resources. Often, these type clubs have on-line forums where you can learn a lot.
Of course, a good broker can also help, but their objective is to sell airplanes and, well, time is money, so you might not get as much guidance as you could need. Clearly there are some superb brokers who will offer a lot of assistance, but remember that their allegiances could be divided.
Insurance might well require formal training on the new aircraft—if they’ll insure it at all. Consider at least systems training to better understand the aircraft as you begin your search.
Your best resource might be another owner. That other owner must be knowledgeable about the breed, understand the maintenance requirements, and have a similar model to what you want. Of course, having a lot of time for you is also a requirement as it’s rarely quick or easy to find your new airplane.
How have I proceeded with these two buyers? I avoid making a specific recommendation. I won’t say, “Buy that one.” But, I will go so far as to say, “That could be a good choice,” after a joint evaluation. I ask the prospective buyer to do the initial research, selecting aircraft that are good candidates. They then send me the listings and I go through the aircraft, commenting on anything that seems worthy. I might say, “Dated, haphazard panel,” or I might observe that none of the electronics provide ADS-B In.
I leave the detailed logbook analysis to the buyer, who hopefully engages his mechanic as needed. But, if questions arise, I’ll certainly try to answer.
Is this a business? It’s not. I’ve not charged for this assistance, although I suppose there could be a business in it. For now, though, I simply enjoy helping however I can. I’ve found that it’s loads of fun to go airplane shopping with someone else’s money. Besides, it helps me stay in touch and learn a lot, too.
I transitioned from a Cirrus G5 SR22T to a 340A in early 2022. I went through a dealer who advertised to specialize in twin Cessnas and is quoted in many Twin Cessna articles. They recommended a plane that was equipped with avionics more in likeness to the G1000 panel. They arranged a pre-buy inspection for the plane and handled the closing. Forward to the after prebuy, the shop charged over $60,000 for the annual and did a lot of work taking nearly four months. I am thinking all is got to be good now. Annual two now in progress. Took the plane to a very experienced crew and they found two apple boxes of loose abandoned electrical wiring with bare hot wires throughout the plane, the now two year old Garmin 600 autopilot that was installed by previous owner a few months before I purchased the plane did not use certified mounting hardware and drilled holes through the pressure vessel, the landing gear had a bolt put in backwards from the previous annual and nearly every cable was out of adjustment and every control surface was miss rigged. Now I am into the second annual over $100k. I upgraded the panel now as well to all glass Garmin Txi and with the two annuals and the $190k in avionics work, I have paid more for repairs and upgrades than i did for the airplane.
So what did I learn, buy the best cheap outdated plane you can find with good bones and put new engines, props, avionics, and interior and start fresh. You will have $500 to $600k easily in it, but you will have a wonderful long lasting well inspected plane that is so much more than a SR22 for travel with pressurization and 25 KTAS faster. And two engines better than one with parachute in my book.