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Posted by Bill Cox Featured Plane. A turbocharged version premiered a year later with essentially the identical engine supplemented by a blower.
Unfortunately, the timing was all wrong. Skylanes had always been popular airplanes in any configuration, but the market was turning downhill in the early s, and Cessna, Piper, and Beech all scaled back production to meet diminishing demand.
I was delivering airplanes to Europe and Africa at the time, and I still remember how much I liked the retractable gear. Retractable gear was the final improvement that made the RG a standout design in those heady days. This gave the retractable Skylanes the dubious distinction of being two of the shortest-lived Cessna models, through no fault of their own. So, here we are in , and the Skylane RG has been laid to rest for some 30 years.
As if we needed an excuse, it seemed a logical idea to look back at the old Skylane RG and consider what preceded it and what followed it. A turbo model with only hours total time and hours on the engine, the airplane was fitted with a standard stack of Cessna radios plus a King DME. The paint was new, but the rest of the airplane was original: a year old, middle-of-the-road family station wagon without a mean bone in its aluminum body.
Perhaps for that very reason, many pilots regard the folding-foot Skylanes as among the best used-plane buys on the market. In addition to simple systems, docile handling, and good load-lifting capability, Skylanes of all types have long enjoyed outstanding resale value.
Both of the retractables offer better payloads than the higher gross weight. Aside from the obvious addition of retractable gear, another major change on the Skylane RG was a switch from the carbureted Continental O to a Lycoming O engine, primarily to accommodate the retractable-nosewheel housing. In other applications, the big cubic-inch Lycoming churns out as much as hp Navajo Chieftain, Mirage , and Cessna considered upgrading horsepower on the RG. In the inevitable domino effect of any design change, more power would have precipitated a higher fuel burn.
In turn, that might have necessitated a larger fuel capacity to preserve range, demanding a higher gross weight which could have increased stall speed, possibly requiring aerodynamic changes.
The result would have been substantial design and certification expense. As a result, the finished airplane was rated for only hp, a mere 5 hp more than the original Skylane. Max rpm for both climb and cruise was set a neighborly rpm, relegating use of the prop control to the ramp.
Such severe derating meant the big Lyc was hardly working, and the result was a hour TBO on both the normally-aspirated and turbocharged RGs. While the minuscule horsepower increase by itself made no difference in climb or cruise, one might logically have expected the shift from fixed to retractable gear to yield more than 12 knots of speedup. One explanation may be that a standard Skylane would be working hard to generate knots, whereas virtually all the Skylane RGs could score knots.
In other words, the real gap between the two models may have been slightly greater than book numbers suggest. Flying the RG is reminiscent of flying a standard Skylane in almost all respects.
Liftoffs are a decidedly casual affair with only hp pushing pounds of airplane. The engine is essentially turbo-normalized rather than turbo-supercharged, with maximum manifold pressure set at 31 inches. This also means any change in manifold pressure, rpm, or mixture dictates changes to all other settings. Similarly, any changes in ram air pressure caused by climb or descent affect higher manifold pressure, and that also demands adjusting prop and mixture.
Gear retraction is a decidedly simple affair, with no significant pitch change and wheels swinging down and then arcing back into the belly wells with the help of pounds of hydraulic pressure. More than one hotdog RG pilot has retracted the feet a little early, letting the wheels slam into the runway, sometimes resulting in a noseover and major prop dings. Early s did employ doors, but the sequencing mechanism was more trouble than it was worth, causing a number of accidents.
All later Cessna retractable singles the Cardinal, Skylane and Cutlass swing the wheels back into simple wells. Speed loss by eliminating the gear doors was only two knots, and the reduction in headaches with gear doors proved well worth the change. Once the airplane clears the runway and starts uphill, climb rate settles on an easy fpm or more if the RG is lightly loaded. The standard-breathing Skylane RG suffers a slightly lower service ceiling than the stiff-legged airplane, because of the additional weight of turbocharging.
Predictably, the heavy breather does its best work up high and is approved for 75 percent cruise at 20, feet. This means that critical altitude the maximum height at which the engine can produce sea-level power is about 14, feet.
Perhaps the primary advantage of a turbo in day-to-day operation is the preservation of climb, a safety benefit that has more meaning than fast cruise.
At 12, feet, when the other two s are running out of steam, the Turbo Skylane RG can still deliver fpm. At these heights, you can expect about knots true on 14 gph. Any pilot willing to strap on a mask and high jump to the flight levels will find the basic speed advantage is an extra 15 knots of cruise. If the airplane does well up high, it does even better down low. Handling in the pattern is simple as long as you keep the trim moving.
Cessna recommends a knot short-field approach speed, equal to 1. Bill Cox took his first flight in a Piper J-3 Cub in and has logged some 15, hours in different types of aircraft since. He can be contacted via email at flybillcox aol.
Click here or above for a free digital version of Cessna Owner Magazine. I do NOT own, but am looking to buy. Just curious other Thirty years after its official demise, pilots still love the Cessna Skylane RG, normally aspirated or turbo. In some cases on older airplanes where there were significant variations between year models of the same airplane, specs may disagree with those from various other sources but will always be within one percent.
Previous Cessna Owner Magazine July Next Cessna Training in a War Zone. About The Author. Bill Cox Bill Cox took his first flight in a Piper J-3 Cub in and has logged some 15, hours in different types of aircraft since. Related Posts. Box A Zone 1. Box B Zone 2. Box C Zone 3. Box D Zone 4.
I own one and I need parts. I own one, but am looking to sell. Just curious other.
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