Piper’s Seminole began life about 30 years ago as one of a new breed of multiengine trainers. It was built with an eye toward safety and was designed as a replacement for earlier, less successful multi-engine trainers.
Earlier multi-trainers tended to be a challenge due to their behavior near VMC. VMC — defined as the minimum airspeed at which directional control can be maintained with the critical engine inoperative — in pre-Seminole days meant uncommanded rolling and yawing at airspeeds well above the stall.
Piper decided to tame VMC by installing counterrotating propellers on their new multi-trainers. This eliminated the critical engine and lowered VMC. In the Seminole’s case, VMC is 56 KIAS — just one knot above the 55-knot stall speed in the landing configuration and one knot below the clean stall speed.
This is one of many reasons why Seminoles continue to be one of the tamest, friendliest light twins ever built – and well-suited for the multi-engine training role.
The Seminole is designed with simplicity in mind. The flaps are mechanical, and are actuated by the same simple floor-mounted hand lever used in many Piper products, many of which are used as initial training aircraft at ECAC. Two 55-gallon fuel tanks live in huge nacelles behind the engines, and there are only three fuel selector positions: On, Off, and Crossfeed.
Compared to the original Piper design, the newer Seminole is an improvement in the cockpit as well. The panel is clean and uncluttered, with a Garmin GNS 430 GPS/nav/com as standard equipment. A horizontal situation indicator (HSI) and second GNS 430 gives a far better level of situational awareness in training compared to other older models found at less progressive flight schools.
As an instrument flying platform, the Seminole is exemplary. Thanks to the T-tail there’s little in the way of pitch changes and retrimming requirements with configuration changes. Use the proper target values and the airplane behaves well during instrument procedures. Performance is what you might expect from a light twin, but this is a benefit in the role of a trainer – the airplane doesn’t fly faster than the student can learn.
Landings are uncomplicated, and using short-field techniques (full flaps, 75 KIAS or slightly less over the threshhold, depending on weight) the Seminole displays great short field performance.
|Displacement||361 cu. in.|
|HP||180 each engine|
|Carbureted Or Fuel Injected||Carbureted|
|Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller||Constant Speed|
|Fuel Capacity||110 gallons|
|Min. Octane Fuel||100|
|Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour||Unknown|
|Weights and Capacities:|
|Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category||3,800 lbs.|
|Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category||N/A|
|Standard Empty Weight||2,589 lbs.|
|Max. Useful Load Normal Category||1,211 lbs.|
|Max. Useful Load Utility Category||N/A|
|Baggage Capacity||200 lbs.|
|Oil Capacity||8 quarts per engine|
|Do Not Exceed Speed||202 KIAS|
|Max. Structural Cruising Speed||169 KIAS|
|Stall Speed Clean||57 Knots|
|Stall Speed Landing Configuration||55 Knots|
|Climb Best Rate||Unknown|
|Wing Loading||21.1 lbs./sq. ft.|
|Power Loading||10.55 lbs./hp|
|Service Ceiling||15,000 ft.|