One of the most common questions I get about the Twin Cessna 414 goes something like this: “What was it like flying that old school airliner”? I will share with you the ins and outs of owning and operating this legendary airplane.
Cessna produced two models of 414’s. The first, known as the Cessna 414 Straight was produced between 1970-1977 and sports two tip tanks on the wings. You will often hear talk on the ramp that the tip tanks are the aux tanks, but in fact they are the mains, while the aux tanks are bladders in the wings. The second model, known as the Cessna 414A was produced between 1978-1985, was given a longer nose, traded in the tip tanks for a sleek tapered wing and gave it wet wings to remove the cantankerous bladders.
Stock 414’s came with two 310hp Continental TSIO-520 engines. My airplane was equipped with RAM VI’s. RAM is a company who specializes in hopping up the 520 to produce an engine that pumps out 325hp – 335hp per side. The series of engines available for the 414’s are the RAM IV, RAM VI and the RAM VII.
The RAM VI on this 414 burnt 60GPH in the climb and 42GPH in cruise.
The 414 is a wonderful airplane, but maintenance and upkeep is not for the faint at heart. I spent about 18months flying the 414 and my time went kind of like this. Fuel, fly, take to the shop. Fuel, fly, fuel, fly, take to the shop. Fuel, fly, fuel, fly, fuel, fly, upgrade. Fuel, fly, fuel, take to the shop. You can see the commonality of a few items that make your wallet cry uncle: Fuel & Maintenance!
IFR: The plane is a dream to fly and approaches are stable and predictable. If you fly it by the numbers the plane does exactly what you planned it to do and doesn’t give you any surprises. My 414 was equipped with speed brakes and with the ability to deploy them all the way through the arc from VNE to landing, they made managing engines, speeds and temps super simple.
Pressurization: Featuring a 4.2psi max-diff pressurized cabin, passengers can enjoy a sea level cabin to 9,000 ft., and hold an 8,000 ft. cabin at 20,000 ft.
Engines: TSIO-520 RAM VI which produced 335HP per side. I was very pleased with the performance of these engines but I’m told that the larger turbo on the RAM VII model allows the plane to cruise up to and comfortably sustain FL250.
Flight Characteristics: Like with any twin, you need to be on our toes for take off, especially one putting out over 300HP per side. Should you loose an engine, you are going to have a handful, but once you have climbed through 1,000 ft and you pull back for a cruise climb, the plane handles predictably and easy. I always felt like it was a sports car, yet with controls which were gentle, responsive and light. Even with the 414 being such a predictable plane, it is complex and required me to have a mentor pilot on my first several flights. Something I view as a must for any pilot new to the twin cessnas.
FIKI: This model (1977) was a FIKI (Flight Into Known Ice) equipped aircraft and as you can see in the pictures, it does handle ice relatively well.. Granted, you never want to hang around in it but knowing it will handle ice is comforting to the mind whether it is encountered at 19,000 ft or on approach.
Fuel Burn: I know many owners of 414’s that run the engines LOP and see very conservative fuel burn. I ran ROP and saw on average 200kts at 42GPH combined in cruise.
C.G. (Center of Gravity Envelope) on the 414 straight models is pretty good but they are a bit tail heavy so packing all the weight you can in the nose is a consideration when loading up for a trip.
Duration: There were several times I loaded 6 people and luggage for a weekend with enough fuel to make a 2hr trip comfortable with IFR reserves. The other extreme wold be two people for 1000nm.
Upgrade-ability: The plane offers a huge panel and you can customize until your wallet runs dry. The upgrades shown below are a Garmin G600 install tied into the AutoPilot (stock) and GNS 530 with GPSS.
Potty: I might add that while it wasn’t first on my list of important things, it’s very nice to be at FL220 and have a toilet for passengers. Something you wont’ find in the Cessna 340 and IMO it’s worth giving up a few knots for the extra room.