Cessna 205/206/207

Cessna 205/206/207 (5)

The Cessna 205, 206, and 207, known variously as the Super Skywagon, Skywagon, Stationair, and Super Skylane are a family of single-engined, general aviation aircraft with fixed landing gear, used in commercial air service and also for personal use. The family was originally developed from the popular retractable-gear Cessna 210 and is produced by Cessna.

The line's combination of a powerful engine, rugged construction, and a large cabin has made these aircraft popular bush planes. Cessna describes the 206 as "the sport-utility vehicle of the air." These airplanes are also used for aerial photography, skydiving, and other utility purposes. They can also be equipped with floats, amphibious floats, and skis.

For real-time market valuations, Pro Buyer help, and more, visit Planephd's Cessna CE-206 or Cessna CE-207 marketplace pages. 

Cessna 206 takes the family to dinner. Or camping, for a night on the town, you name it.

Family Trucksters: Cessna 205, 206 and 207

The Cessna 205, 206, and 207, known primarily as the Stationair (and marketed variously as the Super Skywagon, Skywagon, and Super Skylane) are the heavy haulers of Cessna’s single-engine lineup. 

Cessna’s first six-seat single was basically a fixed-gear version of the popular Model 210. As Daryl Murphy, contributing editor emeritus and former Cessna marketing executive tells it, “…it became apparent to engineers that retrofitting the fuselage with fixed landing gear would permit the removal of the great hump they had to install in the rear cabin to house the main gear assembly and allow the addition of two more passenger seats.”

The prototype was subjected to extensive testing. More than 3,700 takeoffs and landings, and hundreds of hours of flight time proved the capabilities and handling characteristics of the new fixed-gear airframe.

Cessna’s first six-seat single was basically a fixed-gear version of the popular Model 210. As Daryl Murphy, contributing editor emeritus and former Cessna marketing executive tells it, “…it became apparent to engineers that retrofitting the fuselage with fixed landing gear would permit the removal of the great hump they had to install in the rear cabin to house the main gear assembly and allow the addition of two more passenger seats.”

The prototype was subjected to extensive testing. More than 3,739 takeoffs and landings, and hundreds of hours of flight time proved the capabilities and handling characteristics of the new fixed-gear airframe.

Cessna 205
The Cessna Model 205 is essentially a fixed-gear 210. Note the engine cowling bulge that was carried over from the 210.

Model 205

This new model was initially called the 210-5 and was certified June 14, 1962, under the 210’s Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS) 3A21. It was fitted with the 260 hp Continental IO-470-S engine from the 210B and hit the market for the 1963 model year as the Model 205. 

It could cruise at 163 mph and had a useful load of 1,550 pounds—an amount nearly equal to its empty weight of 1,750 pounds. The 205 retained the engine cowling bulge from its progenitor, originally where the 210 stowed its nosewheel on retraction.

It was an immediate success with more than 400 units sold in its first year on the market. The model 210-5A was certified July 19, 1963. 

Model 206

But as was typical of Cessna at the time, engineers immediately began tweaking the design. 

So many changes and improvements were made to the airframe that Cessna applied for a new TCDS. The new Model 206 was certified July 19, 1963. It sported a more powerful 285 hp Continental IO-520-A engine,  and a 42-inch cargo door. The cowling bulge was removed for a more streamlined look.

It debuted for the 1964 model year at $22,950. Customers appreciated the more powerful engine, along with the improved access and cargo door, and purchased 276 of the new 206s, with only 96 of the less expensive 205s selling that same year.

The 205 was discontinued with the 1965 model year, but the 206 would continue to be sold, with various improvements and changes, through 1984 when Cessna ceased its single-engine production. Production of the 206 was resumed in 1997 and the model continues to be sold today.

Model 207

In 1967, Cessna engineers went back – literally – to the drawing board to create a stretched version of the 206. 

Cessna 207
The 31¾ foot long fuselage of the 207 provided longitudinal stability and control.

They added 30 inches to the fuselage aft of the rear doorpost and extended the front baggage compartment by 18 inches forward of the firewall.

While the structure was beefed up throughout, costs were cut by splicing the added sections to the fuselage. Daryl Murphy describes the result as creating “decidedly awkward lines.”

The 207, powered by a 300 hp Continental IO-520-F engine, was certified Dec. 31, 1968, under TCDS A16CE.

William D. Thompson was also not an admirer of the looks of the 207. In his book, “Cessna: Wings for the World,” he wrote, “The 207 had, indeed, a crude looking fuselage that only an accountant could admire.”

Nevertheless and undoubtedly driven by its useful load of nearly one ton and seven-passenger capacity, the 207 sold 148 units in its first year of production. 

The 31¾ foot long fuselage provided longitudinal stability and control. 207 pilots have reported that the airframe is very forgiving CG-wise. 

Daryl Murphy noted that the 207 was a solid aircraft with a couple of exceptions: “About the only problems were vision over the 8 feet of cowling between the pilot and the prop, and keeping the airplane level while negotiating uneven spots on the taxiway—places you didn’t know existed until you taxied across them in the 207.”

788 of the Model 207 were produced before production ended in 1984.

The Stationair owners I’ve met over the years are ardent fans of their aircraft. With low production numbers and owners who tend to hang on to their aircraft, few become available for sale. 

Prices of used 206 models (no 205 or 207 models were available per my search) as of Dec. 8, 2019, showed a high price of $410,000 for a 2001 Turbo 206H amphibian and low of $117,500 for a 1965 P206. As Steve Ells once noted, “The main challenge, if you decide this airplane fits your needs, will be finding a good one.”

Are you a happy Cessna 205, 206, or 207 owner? Please share a photo and your story with me by emailing

Jennifer Dellenbusch is president of the Cessna Flyer Association. Send questions or comments to .

 

Model 205, 206 & 207 Variants

205 (Model 210-5)
Original 205 model, six seats, powered by a Continental IO-470-S of 260 hp, with a gross weight of 3,300 pounds landplane and certified June 14, 1962, as a variant of the Cessna 210. 
 
205A (Model 210-5A)
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-470-S of 260 hp, with a gross weight of 3,300 pounds landplane and certified July 19, 1963, as a variant of the Cessna 210.
 
206
Original 206 model, six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,300 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane and certified July 19, 1963.
 
U206 Super Skywagon
First U206 model, six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,300 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane and certified Oct. 8, 1964.
 
P206
First P206 model, six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,300 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane and certified Oct. 8, 1964.
 
U206A
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 24, 1965.
 
P206A
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 24, 1965.
 
P206B
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Aug. 3, 1966.
 
TU206A
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Dec. 20, 1965.
 
TU206B
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Aug. 3, 1966.
 
TP206A
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Dec. 20, 1965.
 
TP206B
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Aug. 3, 1966.
 
U206B
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Aug. 3, 1966.
 
P206C
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 20, 1967.
 
TP206C
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 20, 1967.
 
P206D
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 18, 1968.
 
TP206D
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 18, 1968.
 
P206E
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-A of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 28, 1969.
 
TP206E
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 23, 1969.
 
U206C
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 20, 1967.
 
TU206C
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 20, 1967.
 
U206D
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 18, 1968.
 
TU206D
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Sept. 18, 1968.
 
U206E
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 28, 1969.
 
TU206E
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified July 28, 1969.
 
U206F
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Oct. 26, 1971.
 
TU206F
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-C of 285 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,300 pounds skiplane and certified Oct. 26, 1971.
 
U206G
Six seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,500 pounds seaplane and certified June 21, 1976.
 
TU206G
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-M of 310 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane, 3,600 pounds seaplane, 3,600 pounds amphibian and certified June 21, 1976.
 
206H
Six seats, powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AC1A5 of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane and certified Nov. 26, 1997.
 
T206H
Six seats, powered by a turbocharged Lycoming TIO-540-AJ1A of 310 hp, with a gross weight of 3,600 pounds landplane and certified Oct. 1, 1998.
 
207 Skywagon
Original 207 model, seven seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,800 pounds landplane and certified Dec. 31, 1968.
 
T207 Turbo Skywagon
Seven seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-G of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,800 pounds landplane and certified Dec. 31, 1968.
 
207A Skywagon/Stationair 8
Seven seats, powered by a Continental IO-520-F of 300 hp, with a gross weight of 3,800 pounds landplane and certified July 12, 1976. Certified for eight seats Sept. 11, 1979.
 
T207A Turbo Skywagon/Turbo Stationair 8
Seven seats, powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-M of 310 hp, with a gross weight of 3,800 pounds landplane and certified July 12, 1976. Certified for eight seats Sept. 11, 1979. 
Read more...
As Big as the Sky Itself

As Big as the Sky Itself

October 2014-

Ramona Cox decided years ago to set her goals high and never look back.

     In a remote canyon deep in the backcountry wilderness somewhere, the distinctive sound of a TSIO-520 Continental engine can be heard as a TU206 Turbo Stationair weaves its way around one blind turn, and then another, before dropping into a remote grass strip and taxiing up to the other planes and pilots already camped there.

     The scene is not unlike any other backcountry arrival, when a large, sturdy airplane loaded to the hilt with gear is "manhandled" right down onto where the numbers would be... if backcountry strips had numbers. But this Turbo Stationair has a giant clue right on its nose: big red lips, to signal to the other pilots that there is no man on board, and the only handling being done is by a female pilot with a quirky personality, an infectious attitude about flying, and a surprisingly diminutive frame.

     When Ramona Cox, known in aviation circles as "Skychick," flies alone into these backcountry strips, the eyebrows usually start raising about the time she climbs out and begins unloading enough equipment to make you think she must be the favorite customer of an REI store somewhere.

     At five feet even and 97 pounds soaking wet, Cox might not look like the Central Casting version of a backcountry pilot. She needs field-approved extensions on top of the factory Cessna pedal extensions just to swing the TU206's big rudder, and it's not uncommon for the three aviation-approved seat cushions uses to see over the panel to fall to the ground as she leaps down.

     But people who make the mistake of judging Cox by her size alone quickly learn that while the package might be small, inside lives a larger-than-life aviator who is living the flying experience very few of us get to enjoy.

     While we all use our airplanes for different reasons, Cox uses hers to let no day escape without chasing after each precious morsel of flying joy it possesses. To her, the next 24 hours is another opportunity to put the frantic pace of the Los Angeles area behind her and point those big red lips on the cowl of her plane at another slice of backcountry heaven.

     "Ramona may be physically tiny," says Shelley Siracusa of Austin, Tex., one of the many friends Cox has made in the aviation family, "but her strength and personality are as big as the sky itself. Relentlessly positive and sociable, she is the life of any party—and usually the organizer.

RamonaPhotoFog

     "She'll fly into any airport, even challenging, isolated backcountry strips where a missed approach due to moose on the runway is not uncommon. Sparkling with self-confidence, coupled with a genuine interest in other people and their stories, I suspect that the only places she's ever left without making a new friend are places where there simply weren't any other humans. And even then, she probably charmed the local grizzly bear population."

     Cox subscribes to the theory that the sky is truly genderless. As Siracusa explains, there is room in that sky for a skilled pilot that doesn't happen to look like a lumberjack. "One time at the Burning Man festival, I was struggling just to stay hydrated, and I saw Ramona emerge from a tent under the wing of her airplane, looking fresh as a daisy, perfectly coiffed, made-up and manicured, dressed in a fantastic outfit, with gifts to give and effervescent laughter announcing her arrival.

     "She always has endless aviation stories to tell, and has both the piloting skills and the toughness to rival any male pilot. She can hang with all of them, but remains undeniably feminine and charming. A rare bird, Skychick."

     Cox's success at living her wonderful aviation life really has nothing to do with gender. It's a factor, sure, but not the determining factor. "I would say that for me personally, being a part of the six percent of aviation that is female has not been a huge deal," Cox says.

     "It might have opened a door or two for me, but the key to equality as a pilot is being friendly, smiling genuinely at others because you're happy and excited to be doing what they're doing, and being open to try new things and explore new territory. It's letting your inner child come out to play, and in the process, those around you—both men and women—feel safe to do the same."

     As a member of an aviation family, Cox seemed almost preordained to end up as a pilot.

     "I was influenced by my father, a fearless adventurer," explains Cox. "He flew and owned several aircraft including Stearmans, Stinsons, a T-6, a Buhl Pup and a Ryan PT-22.

     "My father's enthusiasm for aviation gave my half-brother the flying bug and he became a pilot in the Utah Air Guard. He retired from the guard as a lieutenant colonel and flew everything from B-25s to KC-135 air tankers.

     "My father would take our family on camping trips, which I loved. He taught me to fish, and being a bit of a tomboy by nature, I was always happiest exploring the outdoors."

     There was plenty of fun poked at Cox for being a girl who wanted to fly, and like most any pilot, she took the ribbing as just part of being in this community. "When my CFI finally said it's time for me to solo," Cox says, "I made several nice landings, but hadn't told my father that I was taking flight lessons, and was waiting to tell him after I soloed. "So I headed to his house to surprise him and coincidentally, my half-brother—the Air Force pilot—was visiting from Utah. I told them the story of waiting forever to take off behind some KC-130s, and the family banter started.

     "My half-brother said, 'Well...it takes time to clear the airways for 25 miles when they hear a female is going to fly.'

     "Then my father added, '...and of course, the tower guys had to do 50 'Hail Marys'!'

     "We laughed for a bit and my father glowed... I knew he was proud."

     Along with flying her TU206 into any backcountry strip she can find, Cox has over 200 hours flying T-34 Mentors. The Mentor she flew had a Blue Angels paint job, and with a group of friends, she did formation demonstrations at airshows and at the Reno Air Races in the late 1980s.

     "I earned a Wingman patch," [now called a FAST card], she said, "and the highlight of flying the T-34 was formation fly-bys during the warbird formations at EAA Airventure Oshkosh. During this time, there were only a few women doing formation flying: Julie Clark in her T-34, Sue Parish who flew a pink P-40 Warhawk... and me."

     Back then, the occasional comment by another pilot was waved off by Cox without so much as a second thought, because when you are living a flying life this grand, there is no room for any nonsense like being judged on flying skills simply because of gender. And when you consider why she flies in the first place, you see that it means absolutely nothing.

     "My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was six years old," Cox explains, "and when she passed four years later, I experienced a distinct revelation that there were no guarantees in life. From that day forward, I made a point to enjoy each day as much as possible and not let fear get in the way of enjoying life.

     "After she passed, my father took custody of me and my life changed. He was a positive and inspirational man who taught me that I could accomplish anything I wanted as long as I put the desire and energy into it.

     "I went from being a very shy, introverted child to an outgoing teenager and adult. By setting out specific plans of action and methodically taking the steps to accomplish them, I took up skiing and became a top ski racer. I also took up scuba diving and videography, and have filmed schooling hammerheads in Costa Rica, mating mantas in Yap, sunken ships in Palau and sharks in Galapagos."

     She extended that verve for life into flying after one ride in a very unique airplane. "While ski racing in 1984, a fellow racer and I were waiting for our turn at the starting gate. He mentioned that his job was building experimental airplanes and offered me a ride in his plane, a Rutan-designed Long-EZ.

     "At the airport, I eyed his little machine—which looked like something out of a 'Star Wars' movie—and climbed into my seat. Once airborne, he let me take the stick and feel the sensation of piloting the aircraft. Looking out of the Long-EZ's clear canopy, I felt like a bird and was instantly hooked.

P6213997

 

     "The following week I signed up for ground school at UCLA and was soon flying a 152."

     Those flight lessons of course ended with a pilot's license, which Cox uses today to live life like there is no tomorrow. Because the last thing this lady wants is to find herself asking "what if?"

     "When I was in my early twenties," Cox explains, "I created a visual goal book which I filled with photos from magazines. It depicted my goals and dreams and I starting systematically setting the plan of action to accomplish them.

     "Part of that book included a section on aging and included things like a woman in her nineties that led backpacking trips for youth. I realized that the saddest thing for me would be to end up in the rocking chair with the 'shoulda-woulda-couldas.'

     "My 'dream goal' photo had a woman standing next to a plane wearing a beautiful lace dress—I picked it specifically because my goal has always been to maintain my femininity despite the fact that I was participating in a male-dominated activity. That's also why I put the big red lips on the front of my aircraft."

     She started really checking off some of those goals not long after moving in next door to Clay Lacy at the Pine Mountain Lake airpark. Anyone that knows Lacy—a highly successful and motivated aviator—knows hanging around with him means going full-immersion into his aviation world. And when someone like that is your next-door neighbor, you can expect great things to happen.

     "I was introduced to backcountry flying when Clay invited my friend and me to visit the place he owned on a grass airstrip at Pistol Creek, Idaho. It was my first time flying the backcountry, and the moment we landed, I could see that this type of flying resonated with my soul.

     "After spending a couple of days at Pistol, we headed to Moose Creek where we camped and I was hooked. Just like the backpacking I had done years earlier, I felt at home in the wilderness."

     And when Cox talks wilderness, she means it. "With my plane, I can get to remote destinations quickly. As an example, Shafer Meadows (8U2) is an airstrip in the middle of 1.4 million acres of wilderness.

     "It would take days to walk in, and pamphlets at the ranger station on the field are titled 'Encounters with Grizzlies' and 'Living with Mountain Lion,' and there is signage on the field that specifically tells you to avoid leaving food in the plane."

     In her day job, Cox is a salesperson for MotoArt, a company that, according to Cox, saves aviation history by recycling military and commercial aircraft parts into functional furniture. She also does an enormous amount of writing for her Skychick.com site, where she has photos of backcountry airstrips with recommendations for air-camping gear.

     So how could she possibly find time to leave the office to go play in the backcountry? She takes the office with her.

     "The fantastic backcountry airstrips I love so much are all far away from my home airport in Torrance, Calif. (KTOA)," Cox says, "so I had to figure out how to run the technology I needed without electricity, Wi-Fi or standard internet connectivity.

     "After much research, I accomplished that goal. My remote office means having a cell phone that works in cities during fuel stops, a satellite phone which works virtually anywhere, a small portable laptop and printer, and solar panels to charge everything, with extra batteries that could be charged and used to power my devices during overcast or stormy days," Cox explains.

     "One of the goals was to make sure that everything I bought could be powered by solar. So lanterns, flashlights, cell phone, computers all need to use a 12-volt plug or work with an inverter."

     A recent major upgrade to her Stationair's panel has given Cox even more flexibility in flight, and the new avionics may even lead to her finishing up her instrument rating.

     "I'm very excited about my new panel!" she told me. "The two big new items are the Garmin GTN 750 touch screen GPS Nav/Com MFD, and a GDL 88 universal access transceiver. Collectively, they provide 2020 ADS-B compliance. I now have ADS-B In datalink technology for subscription-free weather including NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, SIGMETs, AIRMETs, TFRs and more."

     Ramona Cox has carved out the kind of aviation life that defines what General Aviation is all about. Flying is about freedom, and with private airplanes, that freedom means beginning the day in an office in L.A., and eating freshly-caught trout taken from a glistening stream in a backcountry airstrip for dinner.

     This tiny pilot with a friendly personality is proof that in our genderless sky, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, big or small. The exhilaration of flying is available to anyone who has the motivation to turn goals into accomplishments.

Sierra EXIF

 

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and creative director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design (celestedaniels.com). He's an instrument-rated private pilot and has been writing the Airplanista Aviation Blog (airplanista.com) since 2005. You can find him on Twitter as @Av8rdan. Send questions or comments to

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Classic Airframe, Cutting-Edge Powerplant: Upgrade and Overhaul Options for your 206

Classic Airframe, Cutting-Edge Powerplant: Upgrade and Overhaul Options for your 206

June 2013-

With so many STCs you have many alternatives, and all of them offer technical and operational improvements for your 206.

Cessna’s 206 is a very fine airplane. The 206 series evolved from the Cessna 205 that hit the market in 1963. Model 205s were equipped with a six-cylinder fuel-injected 260 hp IO-470-S engine from Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM). Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) was 3,300 pounds.

The 205 was suspended after two years and 577 airplanes, and replaced in 1964 by the Super Skywagon 206 that maintained the 3,300-pound MTOW of the 205 but got a power boost of 15 hp (to 285) due to the installation of a normally aspirated TCM IO-520-A.

In 1965 the U206 line was introduced and stayed in production for 23 years. MTOW was boosted to 3,600 pounds within a year with the introduction of the TU206A in 1966. A turbocharged TCM TSIO-520-C powered the TU206C.  

 

Cessna marketing renamed the airframe often in the first few years. First the 206 was the Super Skywagon. Within a year or two the turbocharged version was the Turbo-System; the normally aspirated version was the Skywagon for two years before Stationair (station wagon of the air?) became the name for seven years. Then in 1978 it was again rebranded as the Stationair 6 and Turbo Stationair 6 until the last one of slightly more than 7,000 206s had rolled off the line in 1986. Cessna Aircraft currently offers the 310 hp Turbo Stationair.

 

Aged airframe, new powerplant options

Prior to the introduction of FAR Part 33, “Airworthiness Standards: Aircraft Engines,” certification standards for piston engines were contained in Civil Air Regulation 13.

Part 33 standards mandated that all piston engines certificated under this newer standard produce the rated power, minus zero, plus five percent. In other words, the new rules required that new engines put out the rated power, no exceptions.

The 550 series engines, but not the 520 series engines they replace, are Part 33 engines.

Increased TBOs for new or factory rebuilt CM Gold Standard engines

Continental Motors, Inc. (formerly Teledyne Continental Motors) recently extended the TBO of Gold Standard engines. In April of this year, Continental Motors released an update of Service Information Letter (SIL) 98-9B. The subject of this letter is “Time Between Overhaul Periods.”

A press release dated April 9, 2013 shows:

“Continental Motors has increased TBOs up to 400 hours on Gold Standard Factory produced engines. The majority of engine models manufactured after February 2012 will see TBOs increase by 200 hours with frequent flyers receiving up to 400 hours. 

“In 2012, Continental Motors introduced its Gold Standard Factory Rebuilt and New Engines. These engines incorporate improvements in technology and manufacturing processes that have allowed us to increase the TBO. The increased TBO is affective on nearly all Continental Motors Factory produced engines beginning in February 2012 as designated by serial number 1006000 and higher. Nearly all models will receive the benefit of a 200 hour increase over the existing TBO. Aircraft owners that fly 40 hour per month will receive up to 400 hours.

“Additional information is available at www.ContinentalMotors.aero/TBOExtension.”

The IO-550 series of Continental engines meet the new Part 33 power standard due to a number of factors. The first is slightly more displacement by increasing the stroke by ¼ inches to 4.25 inches. Only 550-G and later engines have crossflow (CF) heads and a balanced flow induction system. The IO-550-F does not utilize the crossflow cylinder heads; the IO-550-N does. The advantage of the CF design is better economy.

 

Crossflow heads and balanced induction

In a crossflow head, induction air and fuel enter the combustion chamber from one side of the head: the top, in the case of the 550 series of engines.

After the compression and power strokes, the exhaust and combustion by-products flow out of the cylinder head through the exhaust port on the opposite (bottom) side of the head. This configuration is a more efficient than head designs where the inlet and exhaust ports are on the same (i.e., bottom) side of the head.

Separating the inlet air from the heat of the exhaust system also greatly lessens preheating of the inlet air before it enters the combustion chamber, thereby maintaining air charge density.

The balanced flow induction system incorporates individual intake air tubes that lessen the possibility of unmatched airflows into adjacent cylinders. Non-balanced flow engines have two common induction tubes or logs: one below the left and one below the right row of cylinders. Induction air from the log is pulled into the cylinders one at a time; these intermittent
“gulps” of air from the common airflow affects the airflow into each of the other cylinders common to the log. The result is uneven air quantities delivered into each cylinder in the row.

The uneven airflow in the common log induction system can be compensated for by adjusting the flow rate (tuning) of each fuel injection nozzle. More even airflows equal more uniform power pulses from all cylinders and a smoother engine.

Instead of just replacing the existing engine, 206 operators now have several options to upgrade to more powerful engine and better engine designs. The following are companies that provide these options.

 

Atlantic Aero, Greensboro, N.C.

John Ackerman at Atlantic Aero told me that the company holds two re-engine STCs for the 206. The older of these approves the installation of a 300 hp IO-550-F in all 206s beginning at serial number 657 (beginning of 1967).

The newer STC approves the installation of the IO-550-N engine. This “N” engine is the latest IO-550 iteration (permold case), is rated at 310 hp and features a crossflow head configuration.

The sandcast engine cases have a belt-driven alternator on the back of the engine. The permold engine case has the gear-driven alternator mounted in a right front position on the engine case.

The 550-F upgrade, being a sandcast engine, is straightforward. The 550-N upgrade kit—Atlantic calls it the 550TI for tuned induction—also includes two additional improvements that are required to install the permold case “N” engine in airframes with the existing sandcast mount system. The conversion also includes a brand-new Hartzell 82-inch Super Scimitar propeller.

The kit is available for T206s and removes the TSIO-520 engine and all of the turbocharging components. This deturbo kit includes a complete new exhaust system along with sheet metal to close up the old exhaust hole, along with sheet metal to close up the cowl flaps (the new engine does not have any heating issues).

Both kits give you a new induction system to include alternate air along with new engine controls, a fuel flow/manifold pressure gauge and a new tach.

Another Atlantic Aero innovation is the Smooth Ride engine mounting system. The Smooth Ride system is available on both upgrades and adds two additional engine mount pads and vibration absorbers adjacent to the existing forward two mounts. This greatly reduces the amount of engine vibration felt in the cabin and stops the need to periodically replace engine vibration absorbers due to engine sagging (commonplace with the original mounting system). The installation of a set of STC’d mount legs is required on the IO-550-N upgrade to adapt the permold case to the Smooth Ride system.

Ackerman said that each 550 engine upgrade kit includes a factory rebuilt Gold Standard engine (a new engine is available for an additional $6,000), new hoses, new engine controls, new instrumentation, and a new induction system with alternate air system.

Today’s price for the kit is $66,844. According to Ackerman, installation man-hours average about 125 for the engine and an additional 25 to fit the new mounts in the airframe for the Smooth Ride system.

 

Davis Aviation, Bristol, Tenn.

Davis holds an STC to replace the IO-520-A or -F engine in all serial number 206s with the 300 hp IO-550-F engine. In addition, it offers a separate STC for  replacement of the turbocharged TSIO-520 engines in turbo model 206 airframes with the normally aspirated IO-550-F model (deturbo modification).

Davis also holds STCs for prop-only upgrades for both Hartzell and McCauley props. As Donna Jones explained it, “This mod is an option that lets owners replace the older threaded hub props with a new prop that fits both the 520 and 550. You can upgrade your prop first, then use the same prop with a low pitch blade angle change at a later time.”

The IO-550 STC installation allows a way for owners of pre-1978 (serial number 4075 and below) 206s to install an extended hub propeller without modifying the existing cowling. This upgrade moves the empty weight center of gravity (EWCG) forward about 1 ½ inches. Cessna made the extended hub prop standard beginning in 1978.

Davis Aviation purchased the STCs developed and held by Bonaire at the end of 1998.

Davis STC installation kits do not include an engine but Jones said that she will do the research required to “spec out” the engine for buyers to make sure they order the correct engine, and does work with other STC holders to make sure each customer gets the package that best fits their needs. Other prop-only options can be installed outside the Davis STC in conjunction with the engine installation. Jones works with other STC holders to make sure each customer gets the package that best fits their needs.

Jones added that Davis has a worldwide network of distributors and have upgraded many aircraft in foreign countries. Most of the Davis STCs are approved in Brazil and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) countries.

 

RAM Aircraft, Waco, Tex.

RAM aircraft is known for quality engine overhauls of Continental big bore 520 series engines. RAM’s overhauls are among the most thorough and best overhauls in the industry.

RAM holds STCs for engine modifications to the 300 hp IO-520-F in normally aspirated 206s beginning with serial number 657. RAM also has a STC for replacing the 285 hp TSIO-520-C engine in 1976 and earlier T206s with a 310 hp TSIO-520-M or -R engine in T206s beginning with serial number 657.

RAM-developed upgrades to these engines include fine-tuning the reciprocating balance of each crankshaft to two to four grams (a one-dollar bill weighs about a gram), smoothing oil system passages, volumetric and flow match checking of RAM “Nickel New” cylinders, heavy crankcases with seventh-stud modifications, and installing new lifters and new RAM high efficiency camshafts with lobe profiles that reduce cam train loads and improve fuel economy.

Bob Collum at RAM said that the company usually keeps 25 engines in stock that can be built up to ship within three days. In addition to high-quality overhaul skills, RAM also stands behind each engine with one of the best warranties in the business.

 

Texas Skyways, Boerne, Texas

Jack Johnson of Texas Skyways has been modifying and upgrading Cessnas for decades. The Texas Skyways upgrades are STC’d for installation on all 206 models up through the U206G models (through 1986 production). Buyers can choose from the IO-520-F (300 hp for five minutes; 285 continuous) or the IO-550-F (300 hp continuous) engines.

Both of these engines use the sandcast case and therefore no changes are required to the mounts, baffles, or wiring; this keeps costs low and makes it easy to swap out with the original engine.

Johnson strongly recommends—based on vibration and performance surveys done at Texas Skyways—the installation of a Hartzell PHC-J(C) (G)3YF-1RF/F8068 propeller. Texas Skyways calls this the “Buccaneer” prop.

The price for a factory rebuilt engine and the STC is $44,472; the prop and spinner add $11,461. These are exchange prices with Texas Skyways. Upgrades/installations can be done at the Texas Skyways factory in Boerne, Texas for $3,500 over a two-week period.

Johnson says, “When we’re done, it looks like a new airplane firewall forward.” The Texas Skyways upgrade can also be done at a local maintenance facility after purchase of the STC and kit.

Vitatoe Aviation, Chillicothe, Ohio

Larry Vitatoe obtained an STC to install a turbo-normalized IO-550 in the P210. Vitatoe also did the work to obtain a STC to remove the original 520 cylinders and install a set of crossflow cylinders and the crossflow induction system on IO-520 engines, and to install CF cylinders on IO-550 engines.

These mods provide a step up in engine efficiency and are quick and easy to accomplish. Prices for the CF mods to both the 520 and 550 series engines start at $33,000.

Vitatoe also has STCs for the installation of improved Hartzell and McCauley propellers.

 

Wipaire, South St. Paul, Minn.

Wipaire manufactures floats and specializes in floatplane maintenance and upgrades. Floatplane operators always need more power.

Wipaire holds an STC for the installation of the 300 hp IO-550-F in the 206. The change is easy and one advantage of the 550 upgrade is lower noise since the 550 makes 300 hp at 2,700 takeoff rpm versus 2,850 rpm from the 520.

Prices start at $2,300 for the STC and $4,700 for the installation kit. The price for a new Hartzell prop and the Wipaire 550 upgrade kit is $15,000. The propeller from the 520 may be used on the 550, but it’s not ideal—and it must be sent to a certified prop shop to have the internal stops reset.

 

Put in an IO-550 and you can ditch that pesky turbocharger

Increasing numbers of these normally aspirated engine upgrade kits are being installed on turbocharged versions of the 206. The turbocharger and related systems are removed and replaced with a new exhaust system. Modifications made to the cowling and cowl flaps complete the change.

One advantage of replacing the turbocharged engine with a normally aspirated engine is that normally aspirated engines are more thermodynamically efficient than the turbocharged engines because of higher compression ratios.

The IO-520 and -550 series engines have a compression ratio of 8.5:1 while the TSIO-520 has a compression ratio of 7.5:1. The reduction in compression ratio is required to protect the engine due to the elevated turbocharger compressor discharge air temperatures that are pumped into the engine air inlet at high power settings.

Secondly, the IO-550 engines do not have a five-minute max power restriction like the 520 series engines and since the power numbers are true in accordance with the requirement of FAR 33, the owners I know who have elected to ditch the turbo system and upgrade to the IO-550 have not been disappointed.

 

Do the numbers

The costs of any upgrade should be considered whenever it’s time to overhaul or replace an existing engine. Upcharges are likely when exchanging a 520 for a 550 series engine. There may also be upcharges if the exchange engine is an older-style light case and/or the crankshaft is a non-VAR crank. (“VAR” is short for vacuum arc remelting, a secondary melting process used in high value applications to improve the quality of the metal. —Ed.)

All of the upgrades listed above will provide both technical and operational improvements for your 206. Powerplant upgrade options range from a straight engine upgrade to the 550, on to the Vitatoe crossflow cylinder swap on an existing 520 or 550 series engine, and finishing up through the 310 hp Atlantic Aero IO-550-N.

Each of these companies offers its own package of benefits to buyers. And there’s no need to go to one shop for the engine and then on to another one for the prop, etc.—all of these shops can put together and install the upgrades as a complete package.

Be sure to ask about core charges, upgrade charges, freight costs, kit contents and propeller options when putting together your ultimate 206 upgrade package.

 

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 39 years and is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as associate editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (EllsAviation.com) and lives in Paso Robles, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to .

 

Resources Contact Information
Atlantic Aero, Inc. atlantic-aero.com
Davis Aviation Services, Inc. davisaviationservices.net
RAM Aircraft, LP ramaircraft.com
Texas Skyways, Inc. txskyways.com
Vitatoe Aviation, LLC vitatoeaviation.com
Wipaire, Inc. wipaire.com

 

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Miss Versatility: Cessna’s T206 Turbo Stationair

July 2012

Cessna’s glamorous tomboy is both a “mini-airliner” and a cargo carrier that can cope with rough airstrips

You know the kind of woman who is the last word in elegance, but also goes hiking in Levi’s and a work shirt?The Stationair is a bit like that; it has dual personalities. It’s a glamorous mini-airliner, but it’s also a cargo-shifter that can cope with jungle airstrips.

The Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair provided for this flight test by Cessna’s dealer is the model first introduced in 2009. It has an all-glass panel, a turbocharged engine, on-board oxygen and leather seats for six. In 2009 Cessna introduced a number of detail improvements over earlier models, including better position and landing lights, and—for the first time—air bags.

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Miss Versatility: CESSNA’S T206H TURBO STATIONAIR

Miss Versatility: CESSNA’S T206H TURBO STATIONAIR

July 2012

Photos: Keith Wilson

You know the kind of woman who is the last word in elegance, but also goes hiking in Levi’s and a work shirt? The Stationair is a bit like that; it has dual personalities. It’s a glamorous mini-airliner, but it’s also a cargo-shifter that can cope with jungle airstrips.

The Cessna T206H Turbo Stationair provided for this flight test by Cessna’s dealer is the model first introduced in 2009. It has an all-glass panel, a turbocharged engine, on-board oxygen and leather seats for six. In 2009 Cessna introduced a number of detail improvements over earlier models, including: better position and landing lights, and—for the first time—air bags.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have two people accompanying me on this flight. Cessna’s chief pilot for piston engine flight operations, Kirby Ortega, and I enter by the crew door on the left, while our passenger, Cessna UK dealer Steve McKenna, climbs aboard through the double doors on the right. The double doors give access to the passenger cabin, which seats four.

Ortega tells me that with the optional tiptanks, the Stationair can carry six 13-stone (approximately 180-pound) adults and enough fuel for three hours of flight. Without the tiptanks, a realistic load is four adults and two children, or five adults. Some owners remove the last row of seats to make even more luggage space, not that the Stationair really needs it.

A word about those double doors. The door opening and space inside are generous enough to load an aircraft engine strapped to a pallet. And you can leave the doors behind—the Stationair can fly without them—for dropping parachutists. Entry through the crew door is assisted by a step on the left wing strut.

After climbing in, my first impression is of an uncluttered panel with two G1000 screens that is rather on the deep side. This means that I can’t see over it very well.... until the winding handle under each seat is pointed out to me. Raising the seat as high as it will go gives me a much better view. Since the side windows are both deep and also extend forward right up to the panel, the view out is generous for such a large aircraft and gets even better when I pull the slide toggle and move my seat toward the front to give me full rudder travel.

The Stationair has a turbocharged engine, which has two advantages. In its mini-airliner mode, it enables the aircraft to fly high, out of turbulent weather. In its Levi’s-and-work-shirt character, a turbocharged engine makes it possible to fly from hot and high airstrips where a normally aspirated engine would be gasping to breathe.

Its ability to mimic an airliner has one limitation, though: the Stationair isn’t pressurised. At high altitude, crew and passengers must wear cannulas. These are discrete plastic nozzles you put in your nose that deliver oxygen from a pressure tank tucked out of sight. Ortega points out the small control panel in the roof that regulates the oxygen delivery.

The seats are hand-stitched leather, smell wonderful and add to the considerable feel of luxury you get in this aircraft. The diagonal seat straps (shoulder belts) have a bulge. This is the air bag that inflates in a crash, just like the one in your automobile. Each has an armoured hose—which I can see under the seats—connected to a compressed air supply. The bulge in the diagonal strap is too small to be intrusive.

The crew and rear doors aren’t slammed shut as they are in lesser aircraft, they are pulled closed and then secured with a lever. In the crew door, the lever folds neatly into the armrest.

Ortega runs through the preflight checklist and then directs me to start the 310 hp Lycoming with its three-blade, constant-speed propeller. Engine information (also, navigational data) is displayed on the right screen and the left provides flight data with an artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and altimeter, plus several additional refinements. Under Ortega’s direction, I taxi the Stationair, after first releasing the handbrake under the instrument panel.

TAXI AND PREFLIGHT

As we are in a line of parked aircraft and the Stationair has a longer fuselage than the four-seaters I usually fly, I need to check clearance behind. This isn’t difficult, because I can see the tailplane through the passenger windows just by turning my head. I say something about the longer fuselage and Ortega chuckles. “Actually, the 172 has a longer fuselage,” he says. I’ve been fooled by the big passenger cabin and the extra two seats.

The Stationair feels firm to taxi and with such a good view over the nose and to the sides, is a pleasure to “drive.” The response to brake, throttle and pedal is immediate, giving a pleasant sensation of absolute control. There is one small difference from taxiing a more compact aircraft: I can feel the weight of the elevator pulling the yoke forward.

Ortega directs me through the usual pre-takeoff checks: cycling the prop, correct fuel tank, and all the rest of it. Finally I set 20 degrees of flaps. Ortega informs me that the Stationair has two landing flap settings: 30 and 40 degrees.

FLYING THE T206

We won’t just be test flying the T206H today; we’ll be photographing it. The camera ship for this photo shoot is a Yak-52. We decided during the preflight briefing that we would to take off in formation rather than in stream, as the two aircraft are fairly evenly matched. I am prepared for the Yak to outperform the Stationair, but we lift off before it and I have to throttle back slightly to keep station. By my estimation the Stationair’s takeoff run is only around 150 yards.

The controls come alive as soon as we start moving. I take the weight off the nosewheel with some aft yoke, apply right rudder to counteract spiral airflow, and apply more backpressure to the yoke as we reach liftoff speed. Where some aircraft fly off by themselves, the Stationair does seem to require action on the pilot’s part to separate the airplane from therunway.

The photographer likes to shoot from the left side, so I have the Stationair positioned to the left of the Yak as we draw in closer. I approach cautiously, because the Stationair’s cabin is pretty wide and I’m sighting on the Yak from the left seat. This means positioning it in the right window, past Kirby Ortega, and requires some accurate flying. It becomes easier when I allow the Stationair to ease back, so that the Yak appears in the front windshield.

My positioning of the Stationair from now on isn’t up to me; it’s decided by the camera operator. (He uses hand signals, because his head is out in the open.) As he moves me into different positions I discover that by craning forward I can be almost directly underneath the Yak and still keep it view.

Gradually I become used to the Stationair’s control response and blind spots. In different airplanes, these, plus performance and handling, determine the difficulty of each photo shoot. The Stationair, I discover, is one of those aircraft where you absolutely must not draw ahead, because throttling back to slow down takes an unusually long time to take effect. Having to catch up with the camera plane, though, is never a problem, since the Stationair has plenty of power. The Stationair feels like the big aircraft it is, though its controls are not excessively heavy; it is the airplane’s weight and momentum that makes the controls heavy, not its gearing.

One photograph requires sideslipping the airplane and drawing up to the camera at full power for a head-on shot. This really is fighting the Stationair’s built-in stability and I am audibly grunting and gasping with the effort. However, I can sustain an impressive sideslip and the cameraman gets his photograph. Sideslipping during an approach would be a lot easier, of course, with a lower airspeed and without full throttle.

Once the camera ship peels away and radios that it is returning to base, we can fly on our own in order for me to assess the controls. Initially I try rolling from 40 degrees of bank one way to 40 degrees the other. It takes a bit of muscle, but I can manage it one-handed.

Response to the controls in all three axes is good. Move rudder or yoke, and the airplane does what you tell it to.

A MINIATURE AIRLINER

In cruise mode the Stationair really isn’t all that different from a Cessna 172. You can take your hands and feet off the controls and it just keeps steaming along. It feels bigger and more stable, though.

I say as much to Ortega and he says, “Actually, I don’t hand-fly the airplane that much, and I doubt whether our customers do, either.” With two G1000 screens and a sophisticated autopilot, this is an airplane that you program and leave the flying to the computers, he says.

Ortega proceeds to demonstrate. “First, turn on the autopilot,” he says, pointing to a button at the top of the right screen. “Now the airplane is flying itself. Next, you adjust the manifold pressure to 28 inches and the rpm to 2,350.” This I do with throttle and pitch controls in the usual way, monitoring the readings in the right-hand screen.

“Now press ‘lean’ and ‘assist,’ ” directs Ortega, pointing to buttons above the right-hand screen, “and lean the mixture until the turbine inlet temperature”—he points to where it’s shown in the right-hand screen—“peaks at 1,620 degrees Fahrenheit.”

All of this produces the economy setting. (There’s also one for “best power,” which gives maximum cruise). At the end of it, the fuel consumption settles at 15.4 gph and the airspeed (on the left G1000 screen) at 147 knots true. However, we are at a low altitude for cruising in an aircraft like the Stationair; add another 10,000 feet, and Ortega says we’d be cruising at 155 to 160 knots.

“That’s the joy of this airplane,” says Ortega. “Once you’ve taken off, you can hand over to the autopilot, tweak the engine, set your waypoints and headings—assuming you didn’t do that before takeoff—and sit back and enjoy the view and talk to your passengers. Most importantly, you can give your attention to monitoring traffic, the radio and the weather.” It does sound like a nice way to fly and also, I imagine, reassuring for the passengers. It’s a style of flying that is truly like being in a miniature airliner.

However, this wouldn’t be much of a flight test if I left everything to the autopilot, so I press the red button on the yoke that disconnects it and take back manual control.

THE REAL TESTS

Stability, as you would expect in such a relatively large aircraft, is good, though not quite rock-steady. The controls don’t feel heavy when you are making the small adjustments of cruise flight. If you do bank by more than 20 degrees, you need to wake up your feet, because there is some adverse yaw to correct. The rudder becomes even more essential when I try flying a figure-of-eight at a bank angle of 40 degrees. Maintaining a steady bank angle, turn rate and neither climbing nor descending present quite a challenge in a big, fast aeroplane like this, but it can be done.

Next I sample the level stall. The stall warner sounds a good five knots before the nose drops, which is accompanied by a moderate wing-drop, though this is correctable with aileron. The stall without flaps seems to come at around 65 knots. Stalling with full flaps (40 degrees) is an even gentler affair and the break arrives at the lower speed of around 60 knots.

Achieving a stall break in a steep turn has me grunting and straining at the controls again. When the break comes, the rotation is in the safe direction (away from the turn), so that the aircraft levels its wings. This part of the flight test requires so much muscle that it’s difficult to imagine anyone imitating it in real life.

When, instead of recovering, I hold the aircraft stalled, it adopts an impressive descent rate. I also notice in the approach to the wings-level stall that the Stationair can descend rapidly while in something like an approach attitude. This behaviour implies that it’s the possibility of mushing down into a heavy landing that you would need to bear in mind—say, when approaching a short airstrip—rather than a stall followed by an incipient spin.

After this we fly back to the airport we started from and join the pattern. I slow the airplane to the limit speed for first stage flaps (there are separate limit speeds for each stage) and throttle back until the speeds settles at 70 knots, which Ortega says is a good approach speed. Once we’re on the approach, I lower second stage flaps. I am aware of having to re-trim to take out the elevator load, which can become uncomfortable otherwise. I have a choice of a knurled wheel under the panel or an electronic trim switch on the yoke.

A touch of sideslip on final approach gets us on the right descent path. The airplane is steady and I have a good view of the runway. The controls are noticeably lighter at these speeds, but still firm. A moderate pull on the yoke has us rounding out as the runway flashes by underneath. We float a while, losing energy and with the nose coming up.

Just when I’m having to strain to see over the nose, the main wheels touch down in a gentle landing.

I estimate a touchdown just a hundred yards from the threshold. Within another 30 yards the nosewheel descends and we’re on all three wheels. I open the throttle—this is a touch-and-go—and lift the nosewheel again. There is the classic turbocharged-engine slight delay between throttling up and full power kicking in.

We run a short distance and this time the Stationair lifts off by itself (whereas with first stage flaps I had to pull back on the yoke to get it to lift off). Ortega notices how this surprises me and says, “It’ll do that with second or third stage flaps.” I hold the airplane down in ground effect to let it accelerate to climb speed then climb away. We ascend at 1,000 fpm indicated.

A FUMBLE

Since this comfortable cruiser is also used on jungle airstrips, I want to try a slower approach speed and so I come in for my second landing at 65 knots with second stage flaps. The view over the nose isn’t as good, but the airplane feels just as smooth at the lower speed. This is to be another touch-and-go, but I am distracted by the flap switch and fumble my performance. In a way, it’s good when things don’t go altogether smoothly in a flight test, because it’s then that you can really assess an aircraft’s pedigree.

While I’m fiddling with the flap switch, I allow the Stationair to lift off prematurely. This time we’re definitely short of speed. Not only that: I’ve made the flaps retract past the takeoff position to fully retracted—just at the worst possible moment. All that the Stationair does in response is to gently descend back to the runway, bounce once, but in gentle slow motion, meanwhile picking up speed (we’re at full throttle) so that after the bounce we stay airborne. I climb away without flaps, mentally giving thanks for an airplane that covers up my clumsiness.

TAKING LIBERTIES

By now I feel completely at home in the Stationair and have started to think of it as a utility airplane that you can take liberties with. So much so that when our next landing risks being held up by another aircraft backtracking on the runway, rather than opening the throttle and going round the pattern again, I do what I’d do in a utility plane.

Decades ago I flew aerobatic contests in a Laser. To save weight we took off with just 20 minutes of fuel, and quite often returned with only five minutes to go before running dry. The airplane was terrifically manoeuvrable and if someone was obstructing the runway we used to stay in position on the approach by flying a series of steep-banked ‘S’-shaped manoeuvres. That way, if the engine did run dry, we could still get down on the runway.

I adopt a tamer version of this now in the Stationair, with 35 degrees of bank at 75 knots, not staying in one position exactly, but greatly slowing our approach to give the backtracking airplane plenty of time to clear the runway.

Bearing in mind that we are at 650 feet while this is going on, it’s hardly surprising that Ortega begins to feel uncomfortable and asks me to please stop. Fortunately the runway is now clear, so we are able to land without having to go around.

“Sorry, Kirby,” I tell him, as we cruise down a more conventional approach, “I didn’t mean to alarm you.” He says I’m forgiven.

I’m a little embarrassed, but nevertheless decide to really see what Miss Versatility will do when she isn’t being decorous.

I say this to Ortega while we make a last touch-and-go and he agrees that I can make my final circuit a tight one, within the airfield’s boundary and end it with a short-field landing. The tight, low circuit is great fun, and the Stationair’s controls don’t feel heavy now that I’m used to them. At this level and turning fairly steeply, I appreciate the generous windows and high seating position which gives me a confidence-boosting view throughout.

LANDING

My final approach is at 65 knots with full flaps and a touch of sideslip to increase the final descent so that the wheels just clear the boundary fence. We cross the threshold with only a trickle of power and I have time—though not much—to get the nose up to ensure a touchdown on the main wheels.

We round out and land with very little float and the nosewheel comes down shortly after the mains. Two seconds later I go for the brakes and have to back off a touch because of nosewheel shimmy, but the backing off kills the juddering and I can continue braking with increasing firmness until we come to a stop.

Turning to backtrack, I ask Ortega to estimate our landing distance. “I’d say that was 150 yards,” he says, and is too polite to add, “... though I’ve seen better.”

The Stationair is a wonderful airplane, combining comfortable, fast cruising for six with utility capability. It’s the last word in versatility. No wonder Cessna has sold so many, and you can find them flying in so many different parts of the world.

CESSNA T206 SPECIFICATIONS

DIMENSIONS

 
Wing Span:
36 feet<
 
 
Length:
28 feet, 3 inches
 
 
Height:
9 feet, 3 inches
 
 
Cabin width:
3 feet, 8 inches
 
 
Cabin height:
4 feet, 2 inches
 
 
Cabin length:
12 feet, 1 inch
 

WEIGHTS AND LOADINGS

 
Max Takeoff Weight:
3,600 pounds 
 
 
Empty Weight (as tested):
2,349 pounds 
 
 
Useful Load:
1,251 pounds
 

PERFORMANCE

 
Max cruise speed:
178 knots 
 
 
Stall:
54 knots
 
 
Vne:
182 knots 
 
 
Initial climb:
1,051 fpm 
 
 
Takeoff ground roll:
915 feet
 
 
Landing ground roll:
735 feet
 
 
Max range:
630 nm 
 
 
Service ceiling:
27,000 feet 
 

ENGINES

 
Textron Lycoming turbocharged TIO-540-AJ1A, developing 310hp at 2,500rpm, driving a three-blade, heated constant-speed McCauley propeller

 

Author - Nick Bloom, a prolific writer and accomplished competition aerobatic pilot, has flown and written about some 100 different aircraft. For six years Bloom was editor of the UK’s best-selling General Aviation magazine, Pilot. His aviation novels include “Ace” and “The Flight Instructor.” In the workshop next to his private airstrip near London, he has rebuilt a Stampe and a Tipsy Nipper and is currently constructing a Currie Wot. Send questions or comments to .

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