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Piper Seneca: The Best Airplane of its Kind

by generalAviation
piper seneca

The Piper Seneca is a twin-engine light plane manufactured by Piper Aircraft in the United States. Since 1971, it has been produced continuously. The development history of Piper Seneca is quite intriguing. It started as a tri-engine and now flies as a renowned light two-engine commuter. The modern Seneca V model consists of a low-wing, six-seat aircraft with retractable gear and two turbocharged engines of the Continental TSIO-360-RB. On 11 December 1996, the latest Piper Seneca V was certified as a 1997 model. 

The Piper Seneca is a robust twin-engine aircraft with some substantial differences from its competitors in terms of piston twins. It has a standard three-screen G1000 panel that controls the maximum ceiling for its single-engine operations, a broader cabin, and much lower acquisition and operating costs than the competitors. This twin is proof of its class.

Model History and Development of Piper Seneca Aircraft

In the late 1920s, Piper Aircraft was famous for the Piper J-3 Cub. Piper Aircraft began developing multi-engine aircraft from the PA-23 Apache in the 1950s. Piper took a step by taking their single-engine Comanche PA-24 and converting it into the PA-30 Twin Comanche that is the twin-engine variant. Shortly after, Piper took its popular PA-32 Cherokee Six, and it flew the new tri-engine PA-32-3M with a 115 horsepower Lycoming O-235. However, the aircraft was primarily experimental, and only one prototype was constructed.

Piper still sought to produce a multi-engine version of Cherokee Six to build the next twin-engine, the PA-34-180. It was knocked out of three variants between 1967 and 1969, named the Twin 6. When the third prototype had been produced, the wingspan was enlarged by two feet, retractable gear added, and the engines modified to the 200hp Lycoming O-360-A1A. 

When it gained its FAA certification in 1971, this prototype became Piper Seneca 1, and the production commenced later that year. Piper manufactured almost 1000 of these aircraft over a period of three years. In those days, the Company got numerous handling complaints – tricky and lateral oscillations noted by some pilots. Piper was therefore responsible for designing the Seneca II PA-34–200T. It was named “T” by introducing 200hp turbocharged Continental TSIO-360E engines, thus enabling Seneca to function better at high altitudes. This model, which was released in 1975, had considerably improved flight control systems that addressed all previous problems.

The Piper Seneca is the evolution of the two-engine Cherokee 6. It is the most successful six-place light twin from its inception. Seneca developed the upgraded Cherokee Six trimotor, designated PA-32-3M, with two extra Lycoming O-235 and an extra 85kW (115hp) on either wing. In October 1969, the next twin-engine prototype PA-34-180 Twin 6 flew initially with two lycomers of 135kW (180hp). However, the definitive third Seneca standard, the PA-34-200 Twin 6, was first filled with fuel-injected 150 kW (200hp) IO-360s.

The 1974 model year with the PA-34-200T Piper Seneca II addressed handling and performance critics, incorporating modifications to flying controls and, more crucially, two Continental turbocharged TSIO-360-Es. Piper had planned to have a T-tail in the follow-on PA-34-220T Seneca III, but the main upgrades introduced were the 165kW (220hp) TSIO-360s rotating counterpart and an improved internal and instrumentation panel. Launched in 1981, Seneca III was replaced in 1994 by aerodynamic modifications. These modifications included axisymmetric engine inlets and a revamped interior of New Piper’s improved PA-34-220T Seneca IV.

In January 1997, the existing PA-34-220T Seneca V was launched. Its intercooler L/TSIO-360-RB turbocharged engines retain a nominal capacity of approximately 16,500 feet. They have seats for five with an extended worktable and optional telephone/fax standard entertainment/executive workstations. An optional sixth seat is available instead of the workstation.

The PA-34 Piper Seneca V: The Best Airplane of its Kind

The Piper Seneca V got certification as a 1997 model year on 11 December 1996. The cowls were altered once more to increase performance. Numerous cockpit switches moved from the panel to the headlining and a better engine type. The Continental TSIO-360-RB equipped with an intercooler was employed. The gross weight of 4750 lb. (2 155 kg) and 4513 lb. (2 047 kg) for landing the Seneca V remains identical to Seneca III and IV. The Piper Seneca uses both start-up and landing distance of less than 2,000′. It is fast and can rise almost 1500 fpm at 65 knots from the runway. However, most pilots are supposed to hold 1,000 fpm to cruise altitude. 

Earlier, Piper Senecas had a valuable load of 1.700 pounds. However, limitations of 1.400 pounds will restrict you with everything added up to the latest Seneca.  Seneca is limited to around 50 gallons of fuel with total passengers. This modification offers the Piper Seneca 90 minutes of flight time with a fuel reserve of 30 minutes and burns at a cruising range of around 24 gph. Cruising at 188 knots produces a range of 280 nautical miles – most charter activities are restrictive. Similarly, the range is 828 nautical miles in the Seneca. For efficient loading, baggage payloads can be split intelligently into the nose and back compartments.

The Piper Seneca V is a well-established air taxi and charter performer. Thousands of Piper Seneca’s operate worldwide to provide safe, reliable travel to those who do not usually have to be served by airlines in remote locations. The Piper Seneca V is the perfect business tool thanks to the configuration of many entrances and baggage doors with cabin class interiors comfort.


Since the first PA-34 was rolled out of the Piper factory in 1971, Seneca has continuously maintained continuous production, combining a robust airframe with a host of modifications and upgrades. The highly advanced Piper Seneca delivers what many pilots regard as the perfect characteristics of an avionics airplane: two power and system redundancy engines, good performance, safe handling, ice protection, and a wide range of comfortable cabins.

More than 40 years, more than 5,000 Piper Seneca aircraft have been produced and are still in production today. This plane has survived bankruptcy and a considerable change in the aviation industry, where most companies relinquish piston twins and opt for turbine individuals. The airplane is also licensed for the EMB-810 Embraer in Brazil and the M-20 Mewa in Poland. Depending on the option, the Piper PA-34-220T Seneca V will run around $750,000 new.

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