Any SA226/Merlin III operators?

mshunter

Well-Known Member
Talking to a client, and he is looking to upgrade from his current platform (SR22) to something that better fits his growing medical business. They are fairly cheap, and there are a few low time examples out there, but what is parts availability like for an airplane that was destined in the 60's. It's still faster than a B200, but can it be maintained? We fly doctors around, so a reliability is a big concern. It's all Pt91 flying, so we can fly with deferred stuff, but it will make us look bad if we have a bunch of "inop" stickers everywhere.
 

AlWaYs HiGh

Well-Known Member
Oh god...if reliability is a concern, have them dig just a bit deeper in their pockets and get the Kingair. They will be much happier in the end.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
Oh god...if reliability is a concern, have them dig just a bit deeper in their pockets and get the Kingair. They will be much happier in the end.
Exactly. I would be plenty fine if I never logged another hour in a Metro. For flying around doctors (I presume), just cough up a bit more and get a King Air.

The Metro is remarkably efficient, but it's not a comfortable platform, and as they age, reliability is only going to become more of an issue.
 

jergar999

Yoke Pumper!
I flew the SA226 and SA227 for a freight operator. Reliability of the Metro III wasn't completely horrible, but worse than any other turboprop I've flown. Commanders are beautiful aircraft, my favorite aircraft to hand fly, and not quite the maintenance hogs that the Metro/Merlin are, but still harder to maintain and support than King Airs.

One other consideration is where the aircraft will sit. I never managed to start a Metro without GPU, Commanders have an electrical system that allows for starts in either parallel or series with both batteries and the system almost works but you really need to babysit Garretts even more than Pratts.

King Airs aren't particularly fast, but they are easy to deal with and have a decent useful load with tons of OEM and aftermarket support.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
I battery start Metro III's all the time, and as long as you have good batteries, that's not an issue. However, their battery capacity is a joke for the size of the aircraft and the power demands of starting a TPE331.

As far as turboprops, the Turbo Commanders are, by far, my favorite to fly. However, still more difficult to maintain than a King Air.

While I love flying King Airs, they are not especially fast, nor efficient, however, they do fly beautifully. The upside of King Air ownership is the fact that there is simply so much support out there for them that on almost any field, if you have a maintenance issue, you can likely find someone to deal with it. That simply isn't the case with an MU-2, Turbo Commander, or Merlin. The big operators make it work, as they have a fleet of aircraft, mechanics who know the airframes, and a parts inventory. You, as a 91 operator, would have a hard time keeping dispatch reliability with a Merlin, and and to a lesser extent, a Turbo Commander, Conquest, MU-2, etc.
 

z987k

Well-Known Member
I think the key to reliably flying the garret powered airplanes is having a mechanic that is familiar with the engine, and isn't of a freight mindset.
From a pilot perspective, I've never understood the love of the King air. Compared to many other airplanes out there, it flies like crap and it's slow as hell for the fuel it burns
 

Hubbs

Well-Known Member
PC12. Expensive to buy, but a /47 will carry 6 and their stuff, fly for 4 hours plus at ~250 true and burn less than 500lb/hr.

Got $2.5m?
 

WacoFan

Bigly
Why aren't you looking and thinking "Lodestar"???

Merlin? King Air? What a bunch of weaksauce. Man up and step into a Lodestar...
 

Inverted

Give your balls a tug Jonsey..
If you have a concern about not having deferred mx items, dont get an SA226-227. They don't fly squawk free.
 

mshunter

Well-Known Member
I see a lot of complaints coming from a lot of freight drivers who flew airframes with 30k plus hours (I did it to, if only for a little while). The ones we are looking at are all sub 10k hour airplanes. Totally different animals.

How hard are parts to find?
 

Maurus

The Great Gazoo
I see a lot of complaints coming from a lot of freight drivers who flew airframes with 30k plus hours (I did it to, if only for a little while). The ones we are looking at are all sub 10k hour airplanes. Totally different animals.

How hard are parts to find?
They shouldn't be hard considering the airframe left production in 2003 and tons of operators still fly them. Especially in Canada.

That said. Dispatch reliability will be an issue. Even with a low time Metro. There were a couple corporate merlins in the hanger at the flight school I thought at. They were always in maint for similar stuff as our freight metros.

If you want garretts get a Conquest II.

I just hope you aren't pushing it on the guy because you have the type rating and want to use it.

What is his mission exactly? Going from SR-22 to a SA-226/7 is a large leap. Chances are a Twin Cessna or similar may be a good bump to start with.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
 

mshunter

Well-Known Member
They shouldn't be hard considering the airframe left production in 2003 and tons of operators still fly them. Especially in Canada.

That said. Dispatch reliability will be an issue. Even with a low time Metro. There were a couple corporate merlins in the hanger at the flight school I thought at. They were always in maint for similar stuff as our freight metros.

If you want garretts get a Conquest II.

I just hope you aren't pushing it on the guy because you have the type rating and want to use it.

What is his mission exactly? Going from SR-22 to a SA-226/7 is a large leap. Chances are a Twin Cessna or similar may be a good bump to start with.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
The type won't matter for the 226? But, we are shopping price as well as mission capability. The jump in business is HUGE. We have gone from one/two flights a week with one person to flying almost every day and the clients are getting restless because of length of some of the flight. The type of mission we fly now has us leaving people and equipment behind. We have looked at a few 414's, run the numbers on a Pilatus(they don't work as well as we'd like), and he keeps shying away from the price/total time on the majority of King Air's.

The 226 is much more efficient than a 90 or 200, but I want to make sure that the maintenance isn't going to kill us. We also have a charter certificate that we are in the process writing some upgrades to that has a P baron on it that will be leaving soon. So we are looking for another airplane that this guy wants to put on certificate to try and off set some costs.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
From what it sounds like here, I would seriously consider a -10 powered Conquest II. A true 300 knot airplane in the upper flight levels on 500pph. A joy to fly, and much more reliable than an SA226.
 

SpiraMirabilis

Possible Subversive
MU-2. Marquise or Solitaire, depending on your cabin size requirements. Cheap, mostly reliable, fast.

Or maybe an older TBM if you're only flying 1-3 people at a time.


There are some other airframes with the acquisition cost is fairly cheap because they don't fit into too many niches. Cheyenne, its a little bit too small. MU-2, it is "scary".

From someone who flies a PC-12, it would be ideal for your mission but it costs a lot to buy because they're mostly new and even the older ones can be converted to the /47 which increases their value.

It's not the hours on an airframe that make it a maintenance hog. These are airplanes that are maintenance hogs usually from the beginning, its just another column you need to figure in the cost of operation.
 

GX

Well-Known Member
I'm not claiming "expert" here, or anything. Because... As most of you know, I'm low time, and just got hired in my first gig. I got hired to help build the business, AND fly the airplanes. I've spent a considerable amount of time in recent weeks learning this aircraft as I have had no former experience with it. I've spent more time with the owner of the company, and the airplane than my gf in the past 10 days. I can also guarantee that we know more about any Merlin that is currently on the market than anyone. ;)

I cannot disagree more with what Patrick said about the Merlin. The company I am working with manages the largest fleet of Part 91 Merlins in the country. Most people who have opinions of the Merlin have spent little, if any time around them, let alone in them. Not a rip at Patrick, or anyone here, but simply conveying my experience around the flight line. It's one of those "polarizing" aircraft. A lot of opinion, very little substantiated fact. More "I've heard it does XXXXX, than "When I flew it, the one I flew did XXXX".

Oh god...if reliability is a concern, have them dig just a bit deeper in their pockets and get the Kingair. They will be much happier in the end.
Reliability is NOT an issue. It may also help that none of our aircraft have been dogged. And the aircraft we manage are some of the lowest timed aircraft in the fleet. I can get you some numbers, but there has never been a mission lost due to a breakage. However, the owners are always on top of their maintenance.

The Merlin flies farther, longer, and with more usable weight than any comparable KA. The Merlin carries 6 hours of gas (though ass time in that plane is 3.5, or so), and it burns 75-95 GPH. And faster; we trued out at 280 last night at FL250 coming back from Utah. At a lower DOC, as well.

The battery/starting issue is well documented. That is true. You won't get it started without help. You CAN, but not for extended operations.

Parts availability is not an issue. The aircraft ran in production from 1969 to 2000. Parts are available through M7 Aerospace, located in San Antonio, in the same facility that the Merlin was built. They are a stable company, and they have an agreement in place with Swearengen through 2030, or 2040. So... That's the parts issue.

I can go through each one of these issues raised on this thread, but you won't get the detailed information that you are needing to make this kind of involved decision.

Get in touch with me and we can get you factual, hard numbers into what running and operating this aircraft will cost. We can show you, exactly, what each aircraft burns, how much has been spent in maintenance over the year, or 5 years.

Hope it helps.
 
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