Tip 19 – 340 Thoughts and Comments
Published in Twin Cessna Flyer 7/95; Cessna Owners Magazine 12/96
By: Jerry Temple
Phone: (972) 712-7302 Fax: (972) 712-7303
This article contains my thoughts and comments about Cessna 340s. I am a former Cessna factory marketing type and I was a Cessna contracted representative for twins in the California, Nevada and Arizona area back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I daily flew a 310 or 340A as my “company car.” I served dealers that sold new twins and regularly flew retail customer demonstration flights. I am a Dallas based broker that specializes in 300 and 400 series Cessna twins.
Far different than most brokers, after an initial review of an aircraft, I travel to see it, talk to the owner, pilots, mechanics, review log books, confirm specifications and take my own photos and videos. I try to honestly and professionally represent the aircraft. I believe I am the only dealer/broker that is recommended by The Twin Cessna Flyer and I highly value that referral.
I annually deliver and test fly several 340 and 340A aircraft, broker several, appraise several, inspect several for buyers and they are a major portion of my daily life. In this article, the term 340 also means 340A.
First, no aircraft of any type has been more effected by Vortex Generators than the 340. For many years, I’ve heard owners cry that they love their 340, love its many features, etc., but with 163 gallons of fuel, it’s a 2.5 person airplane. Now, with VGs, you get a 300 pound in gross takeoff weight/useful load. Now with the average 340 and 163 gallons, you can put 4 – 200 pound men in the aircraft and likely have 50 to 60 pounds left over. Hence, owners are keeping their 340s that might have traded up and more buyers want the 340 that might have passed over it. Less supply, more demand = all time high demand and all time high prices.
Speaking about vortex generators, I’ve flown and purchased kits for most every type of Cessna twin. The VGs might look the same, but the product from Micro Aerodynamics is the best in my opinion. The kits come faster, the paperwork is more complete, the instructions are better and after market support is 10 times better. Since I’m often selling a twin with VGs already installed, reviewing logs for a purchase or present during a pre-purchase inspection, I often find missing Form 337s and STC documents. One call to Charles White is all I ever need to make. The correct paperwork, spare VGs, airspeed indicator faces are immediately sent at no charge. The other vendors, apparent copycats, seem focused on a one time kit sale. I am a big fan of vortex generators and have seen and demonstrated stall speeds, new VMC and approach/takeoff speeds to customers and FAA Examiners. Simply eye opening! I estimate that 40 to 50 per cent of the 340 fleet now has VGs and practically every sale I make involves VG installation, if not yet equipped. To save the customer money, I get the kit wholesale and pass this savings along. I also provide a free check out to customers installing VGs or flying a 340 with VGs already installed. The 340 was made from 1972 to 1975. One can say 340 or 340A in the same breath and not get into trouble. Practically all of the early 285 HP 340s today have 310 HP engines. I’ve never seen a 285 HP 340. There are the usual RAM mods upping the HP from 310 to 325 or 335. I’m a big fan of American Aviation intercoolers. For about $10,000 you get a lot of value. I’ve witnessed the 10 – 14 knot TAS increase in cruise they advertise and I’ve witnessed the cylinder head temperatures staying in the green when climbing at blue line on a 100 degree day. The 340/340A and 414/414A like to get hot on climb. There’s nothing you can usually do but lower the nose and take forward airspeed over vertical speed. With the AA intercoolers, you can climb at any safe speed, plus go faster in cruise. Yes, you’ll bum more fuel, but every one of my 340 or 414 customers will take that any day.
The old 340s are just as popular as the later years. The exterior and interior dimensions are practically the same, performance is practically the same and remember, they most all have 310 HP.
The only 340 that I will not try to sell is the 1984 340A. I believe 16 were “manufactured.” In reality, most were begun in 1982 and just parked or stored in various states of completion until Cessna thought a few could be forced into distributor inventories and eventually into dealer inventories . These “1984s” were given 1984 airworthiness certificates, a massive price increase and off they went. As usual, it was no longer a Cessna factory problem. Cessna had been paid. Just try to sell a 1984 today. It’s a 1982 and the world knows it. Owners are buried about $100,000 over the value of an identical 1982, or other year 340A. Many thought that by buying one of the last ones, they’d make money. That was 1984. Today, take your loss and move on.
I caution callers that articles I send contain very old prices and supply numbers. I’ve often disagreed with the prices I’ve seen in Aviation Consumer articles. Cessna 340 demand is at an all time high as are prices. Just make ten calls for 340s advertised in Trade-A-Plane. You’ll be surprised. Sellers daily hit me with very high minimum amounts they’ll accept.
I use three price guides just as a telephone reference. The standard Price Digest (Blue Book), and still the one most lenders are married to, and the NADA Guide and the new Vref from Fletcher Alridge, the former Blue book editor. I find great fault with all of their “market research”, but I feel the new Vref is most accurate. I suspect Mr. Alridge got tired of all of the dealer criticism and began a new book.
I love flying the 340. It’s the only Cessna that truly rotates on takeoff or landing. Most twins, all types, really take off from three wheels and land on three wheels unless a major effort is made to keep the nose off. The 340 rotates on the mains, rolls a little and with a positive angle of attack flies off. On landing, the reverse. Touchdown on the mains, roll and slowly the nose comes down. It’s an acquired control touch and shows an experienced 340 pilot.
I annually fly several 340s and give several basic 340 check outs to new pilots. The most common problem, and one associated with moving up to an aircraft that flies higher and faster is starting the descent soon enough. It only takes a few arrivals 4000 feet too high to get the idea. Most transitions are very easy. 310 owners need only to be shown the pressurization system. The rest is the same. The fuel system is not a problem. One flight is all it normally takes. Most 340s came with the 163 gallon usable fuel system. Some have a single left side 20 gallon wing locker or nacelle tank which equals 183 usable. A very few have the double 20 gallon wing locker tank system, or 203 usable. Most have factory or JB air conditioning. With the factory system, maximum factory fuel can be 183 gallons. Today, factor air conditioning parts can be a problem. In Addison, Texas, Keith Systems owns and manufactures the former “JB Air.” It’s expensive at about $12,000 plus 70 – 90 hours to install. Be sure to check on avionics under the nose area floor before assuming the Keith installation costs. Avionics changes over the years may sit where the A/C must go, requiring expensive avionics movement. You can get parts and the JB/Keith system is all electric, thus allowing the aircraft to be pre-cooled with aux power like a jet. A 340 without air is a steam bath. Like fuel systems, de-ice/anti-ice will vary widely. Many will have only hot props, a few with full de-ice (hot props, boots and alcohol), and fewer with known ice. With known ice, confirm that the $8,000 + hot plate is on the aircraft and works. Make both a condition of sale. Ask about crazing. Most have some. Too many windshield anti-ice plates are in an owner’s garage or the shop has it.
Remember, on the aircraft and working, Cessna 340 buyers generally now own, or recently owned, non-pressurized light twins like 310s, Baron 55s and 58 and high performance singles like Bonanzas, 210s and 182RGs. The 340 is the best Cessna product to convert a long time Beech loyalist to Cessna. Bonanza and non- pressurized Baron owners look at the P Baron, and call me. It’s a fairly easy sale. With one you step up onto the wing and the rear passengers are locked in. With the 340 you get a cabin class airplane, passengers can change seats and, in most cases, it costs less. A superb, not just good, owner’s organization is The Twin Cessna Flyer. For a small yearly subscription price you get an excellent monthly magazine with valuable information and operational facts. About three times per year they hold an excellent twin Cessna ground school. It’s really designed for owners/pilots. Well worth the money! Light twin owners and high performance single owners have come to realize that Cessna will likely never build great owner flown twins like 310s and 340s again. Even if I’m wrong, at what price? A new non-pressurized Baron 58, all decked out can cost well over $700,000. A low time 340A in 1995 that cruises at over 200 knots in pressurized, air conditioned comfort, with little or no problems, is not bad at $175,000 to $250,000. So, I love to sell them, fly them, train in them and their future is very bright. They’re an excellent investment. Please call if I can be of further assistance, at (972) 712-7302.