• Review: Carenado PA34 Seneca II

    Piper PA34 200T Seneca II

    Publisher: Carenado

    Review Author:
    Shawn Weigelt

    Suggested Price:
    $27.95

    Buy Here

    Introduction

    We've all heard the familiar phrases, "twice as nice", "two is better than one", or "double your pleasure", so when it comes to having at least two engines in an airplane this often holds true. Just knowing that you'll still have power and the ability to climb even, while crossing large expanses of ocean, mountains, jungles, or the unforgiving arctic tundra would surely give pilots and passengers a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. The vast fleets of the world's airlines are made up of multiengine aircraft for a very good reason, namely safety. When it comes to piston twins in General Aviation, however, statistics support that there is, in fact, no safety advantage for a private individual to own a twin over a single. I'll get into that later as I explore engine out scenarios in Carenado's excellent Piper PA34 200T Seneca II.

           

    The real question for our readership, though, is this: How does Carenado's Seneca II measure up in the world of flight simulation? X-Plane users certainly aren't worried about their physical well being when they lose an engine, while seated in front of their home computer munching on Cheetos. For us, purchasing a nice twin engine add-on like the Seneca II is purely for pleasure, practice for the real thing, or both. Is Carenado's Seneca II, "twice as nice" when compared to some of their other fine models or those of the competition? Let's find out!

    Sights And Sounds

    Most of us are aware that when it comes to high quality General Aviation payware add-ons for X-Plane, Carenado and their sister company, Alabeo, have deservedly earned a reputation as some of the "best in the biz". The Seneca II has been available to X-Plane users for quite some time now, and was the company's first twin-engine airplane converted from FSX. It has all of the wonderful features we have come to expect from Carenado in recent years, including helpful views and options menus, opening doors, windows, and baggage compartments, fully clickable interiors, and excellent night lighting.

           

    Carenado modeled their Seneca II after the real world airplane from Piper powered by two 200 hp Continental TSIO-360E engines. Back in the 70's and 80's twins were all the rage in the General Aviation world, notably when the price of 100LL was significantly cheaper, with a huge variety from Piper, Cessna, Beechcraft, and others for the prospective owner to choose from. Today, GA twins are a dying breed, and only two US manufacturers, Piper and Beechcraft, still produce a six passenger twin in the Seneca V and Baron G58, respectively. Many twins today are tired, high time airplanes retained by flight schools simply to get students their multi engine ratings. This model for review is the PA34 200T Seneca II, first produced in 1974 as an improvement over the Seneca I, naturally, introducing turbocharged engines, and larger and improved control surfaces (ailerons, rudder, and stabilator). Today's Seneca V is the same basic airframe with a plethora of aerodynamic refinements, modern amenities, and a full three screen Garmin G1000 avionics suite. My, how times have changed.

    Light piston twins like Senecas tend to be somewhat faster than some of the other high performance singles out there, but are far better climbers with outstanding load hauling capability. Twins, especially turbocharged ones like the Seneca II, were, and still are, appealing to owners who do a lot of flying in hot and high conditions (the Rocky Mountains of the US to cite just one example). 400+ horsepower is already a lot of ponies to work with, but having turbocharged engines gives pilots performance at high-density altitudes closer to what normally aspirated engines provide around sea level.

           

    Weight and balance in small GA aircraft always interests me and Carenado's Seneca II can definitely haul a load just like the real deal. The developers have modeled the Seneca II in X-Plane with a 2,788 lb empty weight against a 4,570 lb gross weight. That leaves a whopping 1,782 lb useful load! Subtract 590.6 lbs of fuel and the Seneca II has a full fuel payload of 1,191.4 lbs. Those are insane numbers when one really thinks about it, and would make it a true six-passenger airplane with well over 100 lbs left over for bags if all six occupants weighed 170 lbs. This would essentially limit most owners or commercial operators to basically whatever they could fit in the airplane! X-Plane users will just have to use their imagination!


    2 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great review Shawn, many thanks!

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, on what looks like a truly fantastic aircraft.
    1. jgmustang's Avatar
      jgmustang -
      This is a very nice aircraft indeed. The FSX version, which I picked up a few months ago is one of my most flown aircrafts now.
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