• Review: Alabeo - PA44 Seminole

    PA44 Seminole

    Publisher: Alabeo

    Review Author:
    Ray Andersen

    Suggested Price:
    $34.95

    Buy Here

    Intro

    The PA44 Seminole is a four seat, low wing, non-pressurized, twin piston engine, light personal, utility and training aircraft manufactured by the Piper Aircraft Company since the late 1970's. The Seminole is developed from the Piper Cherokee but features the high T-tail that is also found on the Arrow IV.

    The original engines on the Seminole was two 180hp (135kW) Lycoming O-360-E1A6D, however these were later changed on the PA44 Seminole Turbo version to be the Lycoming O-360-A1H6 and LO-360-A1H6 air-cooled, direct-drive, horizontal opposed four cylinder engines still with a 180hp (135kW) at sea level, but with a greater and better performance at high density altitude.

    Alabeo PA44 Seminole

    Each engine drives one Hartzel HC-C2Y(K,R) propeller which is a twin-bladed, constant speed, fully feathering propeller with pitch control by oil/nitrogen pressure. The right propeller rotates in the opposite direction as the left propeller and hereby eliminates the torque and provides the pilot with a better control of the aircraft.

    General Information & Aircraft Specs

    Alabeo PA44 Seminole
    Produced by Piper Aircraft
    National Origin USA
    First Flight 1978
    Introduction 1979
    Role Training and personal aircraft
    Built 1979 to present
    Developed from Piper Cherokee
    Crew 1
    Capacity 3 passengers
    Length 27ft 7.2in (8.41m)
    Height 8ft 6in (2.59m)
    Wingspan 38ft 8in (11.77m)
    Wing Area 184ft2 (17.1m2)
    Empty Weight 2,360 lb (1.070kg)
    MTOW 3,800 lb (1.723kg)
    Power Plant 1x Lycoming O-360-A1H6 + 1x Lycoming LO-360-A1H6
    Alabeo PA44 Seminole
    Max Speed 202 kts
    Cruise Speed 155 kts
    Range 1,000 miles (1,630km)
    Service Ceiling 17,100ft (5,213m)
    Rate of Climb 1,200 ft/min (366m/min)
    Takeoff Dist >50' 2,200 ft (671m)
    LD Dist >50' 1,490 ft (454m)

    10 Comments
    1. SATJET's Avatar
      SATJET -
      Alabeo makes some great products, my latest the Tri-Pacer. This is well written article and a joy to read but I have one correction. The aircraft was not developed by Piper Aircraft from a Cherokee, it is an adaptation of the Twin Commanche with several designed fixes to make it more stable in flying characteristics. It was as always a very fast and economical twin and a great aircraft created to supply the Learning Trade with an economical and stable twin for multi engine training. Flying it is very different than the twin commanche as it is more stable and forgiving, this from a wing change and T tail.
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by SATJET View Post
      Alabeo makes some great products, my latest the Tri-Pacer. This is well written article and a joy to read but I have one correction. The aircraft was not developed by Piper Aircraft from a Cherokee, it is an adaptation of the Twin Commanche with several designed fixes to make it more stable in flying characteristics. It was as always a very fast and economical twin and a great aircraft created to supply the Learning Trade with an economical and stable twin for multi engine training. Flying it is very different than the twin commanche as it is more stable and forgiving, this from a wing change and T tail.
      Thanks for your feedback SATJET and nice to hear that you liked the article!
      In regards to the "developed by" part, then my information was from the Wikipedia where it's stated that the Seminole was developed from the Cherokee. However, the Wiki has sometimes proved not to be 100% accurate, so my apologies if that statement was incorrect.

      /Ray
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbrz View Post
      A few observations:
      1 ....control of the propeller blades pitch is by oil/nitrogen and not by the pilot and a control lever.
      ? Of course the Seminole has normal prop levers.
      2. During one stall the reviewer complained about missing realism because the Seminole didn't fall off into a spin.
      In the next stall test the Seminole did enter a spin and this time this wasn't realistic either.....
      Thanks for your feedback BBRZ - just a few comment on your notes.
      1 - the control of the propeller blades pitch. According to the Wikipedia about the Seminole and the Hartzell HC-C2Y propeller, then it is stated that the pitch is controlled by oil/nitrogen pressure - that said I also write that I had hoped for an animation of this because that should be there in real life. If the pitch is controlled by a lever (normally), then maybe that's due to a dual function, where it should be automatic but could be overruled by the pilot - or I could be understanding the wiki wrongly - if so, my apologies.

      2 - Correct I would like to have experience more realistic stalls. I have an education within aerobatics and have done stalls more times than I can count. My experience of the stalls in the PA44 was unfortunately not what I would have expected. No shakes, no rumbling wind, just a wobbling feeling and the nose slowly pitched down. Also the aggressive stall that certainly should have provoked a complete stall, resulted into something similar to a flat spin which should not be the result when pitching up with 60 degrees and combining that with a bank of 45 degrees - then the aircraft should fall over and enter a more realistic spin-like state and not a flatspin. I know that spins in FSX in general is questionable, but I have experienced more realistic stalls/spins in other FSX aircrafts that I have tried - This was just my experience and my opinion on the PA44's realism on that subject.

      NB: In the review I described my experience during various stalls with a different outcome, so if I write that I missed a more realistic stall - not going over to a spin in a less aggressive situation, you cannot use that statement in the next stall test with a different setup of varibles, e.g. being the aggressive setup that did result in a spin-like situation, but a flat spin instead of a normal spin which should have been the result for that setup.

      I hope that I don't sound to aggressive in my answers to you - the aircraft is a good quality aircraft which I most certainly would recommend.

      /Ray
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbrz View Post
      Concerning the variable prop pitch. There's no dual function or 'override'. It seems to be a case of misunderstanding how a constant speed prop works.

      Concerning stalls. It's very difficult to predict what happens after the stall break, especially during an accelerated stall. AFAIK no GA twin has been spun or even tested during an accelerated stall.
      If the plane hasn't been tested IRL under these conditions even a coarse prediction can't be done.
      That said, the combination of a wing loaded plane like the PA44 and a T-tail doesn't make a flat spin unrealistic at all.
      However, I'm surprised that the Alabeo version spins at all, as this feature can be only found in high quality FDEs.

      Sorry, but I had to Google the AFAIK and IRL since my internet slang is not that good :-)
      I agree that predicting a result after the stall kicks in is very difficult - as I also mentioned in the article, I have never flown the PA44 in real life. However, my real life experience tells me that the result should have been different than what I experienced.

      I have done the majority of my stalls and spins in real life, in aircrafts with a high T-tail, and they do spin nicely. Of course this has primarily been without engines located on the wings, which I agree could give a different result. However, some of the stalls and spins that I have done in real life were actually performed in aircrafts that had a ballast load in the wings and with a high T-tail, and I have never experience going into a flat spin in real life with that setup.

      Normally when I have performed aggressive stalls with a high nose pitch up combined with a 45 bank, the effect/result was quite aggressive spins. Of course I cannot generalize, but that is my experience from real life and the reason for my comments on the spins in the PA44.

      In regards to the prop pitch - again if I misunderstood the wiki, then my apologies.

      /Ray
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      With T-tail:
      -Diamond HK-36 Super Dimona
      -Schempp-Hirth Discus
      -Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus (however this was unintentially and quickly stopped - it is not approved for spins)
      -Grob 103C Twin III Acro
      -Schleicher ASK21 (do not spin very well)
      -Pilatus B4
      -Glaser Dirks DG-300

      With normal tail:
      -Schleicher Ka8
      -Cessna C172
      -Socata Rally 180

      I did have the pleasure to be a part of a spin test with the Schempp-Hirth Cirrus Standard (not as a pilot though) - that turned out to be risky when being stalled in heavy thermals. The issue we could find back then was the horisontal stabilizer was one piece instead of a devided piece with the stabiliser and the elevator. On this model the stabiliser was the elevator which gave quite some challenges.

      I love doing aerobatics and spins was something I did quite often :-)

      /Ray
    1. lear45xr's Avatar
      lear45xr -
      Good review and article but when SATJET says "always a very fast and economical twin" have to disagree on the fast part. I received my multi, MEI and ATP in a PA44 plus instructed in one and I assure you there is nothing fast about it. Maybe a 150 knots on a good day. That's the same speed as a Cirrus SR20. Great economical trainer just to slow for having over 300 hp.
    1. hyenafur's Avatar
      hyenafur -
      Quote Originally Posted by lear45xr View Post
      Good review and article but when SATJET says "always a very fast and economical twin" have to disagree on the fast part. I received my multi, MEI and ATP in a PA44 plus instructed in one and I assure you there is nothing fast about it. Maybe a 150 knots on a good day. That's the same speed as a Cirrus SR20. Great economical trainer just to slow for having over 300 hp.


      I have to disagree with you. If you are flying it like an actual airplane instead of a trainer, you can get the aircraft to 150kias. I flew one from Dallas to Atlanta at around 140kias by retracting the cowl flaps and leaning the mixture, as well as filing for 12,000 rather than 10,000, but on most flights, we rarely went above 125 when we kept them down.
    1. hyenafur's Avatar
      hyenafur -
      Not a bad article over all, though I am curious to see how it would react if you used a program like Sim Physics, to see if they were able to adjust the errors in the aircraft config file. The 44 is very hard to get into a spin unless you get it into Vmc. The 430s and 530s as well as the G500s and 600s are never well explained even in the real world unless you actually delve into the manuals or jump in the aircraft and play with them.
    1. lear45xr's Avatar
      lear45xr -
      hyenafur you're making my point for me. 140-150 knots is slow. That speed for a 360 hp 4 seat aircraft that burns 18-20 gph is simply slow. it's a good trainer no doubt. You just rarely see these used for personal transportation, there's a reason for that. There are much better choices for the cost.
    1. hyenafur's Avatar
      hyenafur -
      Quote Originally Posted by lear45xr View Post
      hyenafur you're making my point for me. 140-150 knots is slow. That speed for a 360 hp 4 seat aircraft that burns 18-20 gph is simply slow. it's a good trainer no doubt. You just rarely see these used for personal transportation, there's a reason for that. There are much better choices for the cost.
      outside of fuel burn, the main reason they never became popular was the life limiting parts. They're a fantastic trainer for a while, but I think we are both in agreement that if you're going to buy a twin for personal use, something like a Seneca would be the better bet.
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