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AVSIG Discussion Sections >> Beechcraft

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Joel Aiken (RDU)
Public Guest


Reged: 05/16/04
Posts: 16
Loc: North Carolina
Bonanza or Columbia
      #140207 - 01/12/07 04:49 AM

I'm trying to decide between purchasing a Bonanza or a Columbia. I've been studying the pros and cons for a few months and can't decide which to go with.
I'm asking for your opinions.

I owned a Bonanza F33A from 1992 until 2001 when I sold it. Loved the Bo' but now I'm wondering if I should buy the Columbia.
I'm shopping for new or nearly new. I'm familiar with the price differences.

The Columbia appears to have a performance edge over the Bonanza, but feels more cramped (I have flown the Columbia on 2 demo flights).
I'm not sure what to make of the "composite" airframe. If it gets dinged, is it a lot worse repair that a metal airframe? Does the composite airplane weather OK when left on the ramp in the hot sun?
and what's the deal with lightning strikes? Is the composite more dangerous?

I love the G1000 (opinions here, too please) and can get it in a new Columbia for $460,000 but would pay at last $650,00 for a Bonanza with G1000.

Joel


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Dave Siciliano (ADS)
Top Gun


Reged: 05/17/04
Posts: 8469
Loc: ADS (Dallas, TX)
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Joel Aiken (RDU)]
      #140213 - 01/12/07 06:44 AM

Joel:

I don't quite know what you are comparing. Are you looking at an new A-36 v. the Columbia 300 (350)?

I owned an A-36 that was turbonormalized for 5 1/2 years and loved it.

If this is the case, the birds are quite a bit different as you have surmised. The A-36 had six seats, even if you don't use all of 'em. Most of the time, I left one or two in back out to carry 'stuff' (very important to be able to carry stuff ya know.) The Beech is retractable v. fixed gear in the Columbia. I also felt cramped in the Columbia when I few it. Not much flexibility with the bucket seats.

There are a lot of folks questioning the life and durability of the composite planes. It will take a different kind of expertise to properly repair them if damaged.

The Beechcraft is made very well. Has a great history. Still, Columbia seems to be well made but is selling fewer planes that some competitors.

This would be a difficult decision for me if I only needed what the Columbia would hold. In my case, I needed to fill four seats and to carry stuff; on occasion, needed more than four seats. The A-36 provided that flexibility. Have you compared useful load and payload?

Columbia hold more fuel; the A-36 is 74 useable.

Perhaps some others will chime in and trigger more thoughts.

Best,

Dave


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Stephanie Belser
Top Gun APC


Reged: 04/29/04
Posts: 5929
Loc: KFAM
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Dave Siciliano (ADS)]
      #140214 - 01/12/07 07:03 AM

My only thought is this:

When you have a problem with the aircraft and the only FBO on the field is the "Acme Flying School and Freight Service", what are the odds of finding a mechanic who is familiar with Bonanzas and what are the odds of finding one who is familiar with Columbia, much less finding that the shop has a set of maintenance manuals for the airplane?

The one thing you do not want to hear from a mechanic is a low whistle, followed by: "Hey, Harv, you ever see one of these things before?"

With the Columbia, you may want to get the CDs with the maintenance manuals on them and keep them with the airplane. For the Bonanza, maybe not.

Then again, for a difference of $200K...

Stephanie


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Rick Durden
Top Gun


Reged: 06/07/04
Posts: 4366
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Joel Aiken (RDU)]
      #140226 - 01/12/07 08:22 AM

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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Mike McNamara - 19N (NJ)
Public Guest


Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 156
Loc: New Jersey
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Joel Aiken (RDU)]
      #140239 - 01/12/07 11:00 AM

How long are you going to keep it?

20 or 30 years from now, Beechcraft will still be around in some form & you will still be able to buy parts. Columbia is less certain.

If you are only going to keep it for 5 or 8 years, this is much less of a problem.

For example, I have a 1965 Beechcraft Debonair; bought it in 1995. I have been able to buy landing gear parts, fairings that cracked, engine baffling, seat belt shoulder harness retrofits, and numerous other odd ball stuff with very few problems. I really think that some of these new manufacturers (Columbia, Cirrus) are not building into their cost model the engineering and parts support required to still be able to offer parts 30-40 years later.

Just my opinion.


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Joel Aiken (RDU)
Public Guest


Reged: 05/16/04
Posts: 16
Loc: North Carolina
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Mike McNamara - 19N (NJ)]
      #140244 - 01/12/07 11:27 AM

Quote:

How long are you going to keep it?

20 or 30 years from now, Beechcraft will still be around in some form & you will still be able to buy parts. Columbia is less certain.

If you are only going to keep it for 5 or 8 years, this is much less of a problem.

For example, I have a 1965 Beechcraft Debonair; bought it in 1995. I have been able to buy landing gear parts, fairings that cracked, engine baffling, seat belt shoulder harness retrofits, and numerous other odd ball stuff with very few problems. I really think that some of these new manufacturers (Columbia, Cirrus) are not building into their cost model the engineering and parts support required to still be able to offer parts 30-40 years later.

Just my opinion.



Mike, thanks. I'll probably own it less than 10 years since I'll hit age 60 next month. I did indeed love my F33A and enjoyed the availability of parts (however expensive) and the ABS gatherings, etc. The Bonanza family is far and wide. The new composite aircraft seem to me to be an exciting new trend. and the A36 (G36) has now become so expensive it forces me to consider alternatives. On my demo rides in the Columbia (350 and 400) I'll have to say I was extremely impressed. I got so taken with the G1000 that I hardly paid any attention to he back seat and luggage compartment.
Joel


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Stephanie Belser
Top Gun APC


Reged: 04/29/04
Posts: 5929
Loc: KFAM
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Mike McNamara - 19N (NJ)]
      #140247 - 01/12/07 11:32 AM

Quote:

20 or 30 years from now, Beechcraft will still be around in some form & you will still be able to buy parts. Columbia is less certain.




Well, what matters more is whether or not somebody is holding the Type Certificate and if that holder is committed to parts support.

Stephanie


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Joel Aiken (RDU)
Public Guest


Reged: 05/16/04
Posts: 16
Loc: North Carolina
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Rick Durden]
      #140249 - 01/12/07 11:50 AM

Rick,
What a great reply.
I like all your comments about the strength of composite aircarft, the fixed gear "advantage", etc.
For some reason I have ignored the Cirrus in my aircraft search. I'll do some looking there, too.
I have been definitely leaning towards the Columbia 350 (or 400) over the Bonanza. The advantages of the Bonanza in my mind are the extra space in back, known quality and the long history of the tried-and-true airframe. But the Columbia is faster, considerably less expensive, still quality-built, and presumably less expensive to maintain (fixed gear, and no rivets...) From your post it sounds like composites are really strong and resistant to aging or weathering.
I've asked the Columbia sales people about the baggage space and here are his replies:

Total useful load on the Columbia 350 and Bonanza A36 are comparable, provided you are comparing them with comparable aircraft equipment. However, the baggage compartment in the Columbia is rated for 120 lbs capacity whereas the Bonanza is rated for 70 lbs.
Space wise, if you are comparing the true baggage space of the Columbia 350 and Bonanza A36, they are very comparable in cubic feet of space.
consider the Bonanza is going to burn a little more fuel per hour, i.e. 1 to 1.5 GPH more. And the Columbia 350 has much greater range with full fuel as you can carry 98 useable vs 74 useable in the A36 and you are burning a little less GPH in the Columbia.


Thanks again for your comments!
Joel


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Joel Aiken (RDU)
Public Guest


Reged: 05/16/04
Posts: 16
Loc: North Carolina
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Stephanie Belser]
      #140250 - 01/12/07 11:53 AM

It's a tough decision. I know you're right about finding maintenance at smaller airfields.
Joel


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Joel Aiken (RDU)
Public Guest


Reged: 05/16/04
Posts: 16
Loc: North Carolina
Re: Bonanza or Columbia [Re: Dave Siciliano (ADS)]
      #140252 - 01/12/07 12:04 PM

Dave, I'm looking at a 2006 or 2007 model 350 or 400
I love the A36's back seat area, but I think it would be used very seldom in my typical flying. Every once in a while I might like to take another couple along with me and my wife... for a weekend trip. I know it would be pleasant in the Bonanza, and I think the Columbia will accommodate us all with 120 pounds of luggage (30 pounds per person, that's pretty generous). But most of my flying would be just two people, so maybe I don't need to fret over the rear seat space and baggage area. My reply to Mike spelled out some of the details on useful load and payload.
Thanks for your comments,
Joel


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