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|Coats & Evans, P.C. |
Post Office Box 130246
The Woodlands, Texas 77393-0246
Piper Aerostar 700P
Seeking to expand its flight operation performance capabilities into the pressurized environment, C&E recently completed a search for and the acquisition of a pressurized aircraft. With no preconceived notions, C&E evaluated all of the various pressurized aircraft options in the market. Eliminating turbo-propeller driven aircraft because of the potential for a six-figure "hiccup" related to maintenance, C&E evaluated aircraft both of historic vintage, including pressurized Aero Commanders and twin Cessna's, to some of the newer generation aircraft.
Another Ted Smith design was the clear winner. Previously the designer of the A26 attack bomber and the Aero Commander twins, Ted Smith's concept and design for the Aerostar dates back to the 1960s. Beginning with the original model 600 that used a pair of 180-horsepower Lycomings, the Aerostar eventually featured a pair of 290-hp Lycomings, a wonderfully sleek design, a mid-fuselage placement for the wing, and incredibly packed cowl, and a single clamshell door where the pilot is always the last one aboard and the first one to deplane. The Aerostar also features a high wing loading that makes it very aerodynamically efficient with handling and ride attributes more similar to a small jet than to a light twin.
The original pressurized version of the Aerostar, the 601P, could cruise at 230 knots at 25,000 feet, with a cabin altitude of 11,000 feet, giving it a significant performance margin over all of its competitors, with about four hour's worth of endurance.
Ted Smith died in 1978 and Piper Aircraft took over the production of the Aerostar, moving it to Vero Beach, Florida. Through the late 1970s, Piper continued to enhance the Aerostar line, resulting in the 602P, with a different lower compression engine design and available certification for into known icing. The final factory version of the Aerostar, the 700P, was introduced in 1984. With a pair of intercooled, 350-hp Lycomings, the Aerostar's cruise increased to nearly 260 knots at high speed cruise power, with the ability to maintain power and cabin pressure to 25,000 feet. Depending on who you talk to, Piper built anywhere from 28-40 700 Ps during 1984.
After being thoroughly immersed in the Aerostar market during 2006, and becoming familiar with the individual attributes of almost every Aerostar offered for sale, and many that were not being currently marketed, C&E located a 700P that had quite probably the best pedigree of any aircraft in the market. Lovingly owned and maintained by its original and only previous owner Steve McNeil for over 21 years, N41MV has a scant 2200 hours on the airframe, and 700 hours on factory new engines several years ago. The similarities between how Steve managed and equipped the Aerostar and how C&E did so with its Aero Commander were uncanny. Steve had the Aerostar repainted on two occasions, with the interior redone in 1998. He had updated the instrument panel with the then state-of-the-art King KLN90B GPS, along with an Argus 5000 moving map. While the Argus has arguably been eclipsed by later versions of moving maps, it is one of the few units that can display the Aerostar's stormscope and ADF information. The Aerostar's King Silver Crown radio package continues to work wonderfully. In enhancing the Aerostar, Steve had installed accurate fuel monitoring in the form of a Hoskins digital fuel flow indicator and totalizer, and a Gemini 1200 digital engine analyzer. Both of these capabilities had been incorporated into C&E's Aero Commander. On the maintenance front, Steve had ensured that the Aerostar's big Lycoming's were subjected to an oil analysis at each oil change, just as we do with the Aero Commander.
What we ended up with was the latest and greatest version of the Aerostar, capable of cruising up to 25,000 feet in air conditioned and pressurized comfort, at up to 250 kts. cruise speed, in a sleek and fast package that handles just as superbly as it looks. We updated the instrument panel in one step by installing a comprehensive WAAS GPS on the pilot's yoke that features 3D virtual terrain and awareness, along with real-time XM radio weather imported directly onto the flight deck. The GPS also includes all of the instrument procedures charts required for IFR flight, also giving us the "paperless" cockpit just like the Aero Commander. The Aerostar opens up and facilitates high altitude operations in many parts of the country previously off limits to the unpressurized Aero Commander.