Rick Durden
(Top Gun)
01/12/07 08:22 AM
Re: Bonanza or Columbia

Joel,

For me both the Bonanza and the Columbia are cramped <g>. Nevertheless, I would have a hard time with the decision unless I knew I would rarely carry more than two aboard. The Columbia 400 is almost beyond compare. I've made some long trips in one and whether going against the wind down low or with it up high, it's a very amazing and overall comfortable airplane.

The Columbia is the stronger airplane by far, it is certified in the Utility Category, and the certification standards on composites are so incredibly, almost rediculously, conservative that I will be utterly amazed if a Columbia ever comes apart. (The Bonanza inflight breakup rate, with V tails removed, is the same as the Cessna 210 and Piper Saratoga.) The Columbia structure is overbuilt to a level that is hard to belive. It's a little like the approach Beech took to the Twin Bonanza because they wanted to sell it to the military and so certified it Utillity with a maneuvering speed above cruise speed.

Composite structure is just plain strong. (There is no evidence to the contrary - other than OWTs that may have been started by the aluminum airplane makers.) It doesn't get hot enough on a ramp anywhere on this planet to degrade it. Hail that dents aluminum bounces off of composite, so the risk of hangar rash is less. Small dings are fixed with what amounts to an epoxy mix and a hair dryer. It's being taught in A & P school now and Cirrus has been educating mechanics on composite repair pretty heavily, which benefits Columbia buyers. A major screw up from a loss of control may mean replacing a wing as opposed to repairing it.

The accident rate for Columbia is almost as low as the Diamond series, and no one is sure why.

The Columbia 300 I flew had a very aft-tending C.G. (you couldn't carry anyone in the rear seat if any baggage were carried. It was an early one, but if you are looking at any in the series, do some sample weight and balance work. The 400 did not have the problem. In the 400 with two big adults, full fuel, Jepps, baggage for a week and survival gear, we were right at gross weight, yet it walked right up to FL250 in less than 25 minutes and then ran at 215 KTAS operating LOP.

In turbulence I hit my head on the roof of both the Columbia and Bonanza. Bonanza has better rear seat room. Emergency egress is probably a toss up, the Columbia comes with a big hammer to batter your way out if you wind up inverted. I like having two doors as opposed to one.

I like having fixed gear from an insurance and maintenance cost standpoint, unless I'm in ice. I like the side sticks far, far more than the yoke that is sitting there waiting to kill me should there be a serious impact and otherwise blocking the view of part of the panel all of the time, making some of the panel space unusable.

People come up to you on the ramp and ask about a Columbia, they don't in a Bonanza <g>.

However, if I were to regularly carry an adult in the back seat I'd get a Bonanza or Cirrus. Cirrus has the roomiest cabin of the group by far.

Warmest regards,
Rick



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