Tired of jets during the week? For some flyers, the weekend is a chance to let rip for pure enjoyment. The new Cessna TTx has it by the bucketload
CESSNA is poised to re-enter the fast piston-plane war with its TTx high-performance single, the fastest in its class in the world. It gives pilots who want a real beast for personal time another choice.
In this class, the standards are composite construction, sleek lines, high speed cruise, a high quality cabin reminiscent of a big Mercedes or BMW, avionics powerful enough to echo bizjets, and a whopping engine up front.
A lot of grunt in a small airframe means these aircraft need treating with a lot of respect, and since we’d fired up the 310hp 9-litre twin-turbo flat six it had been burbling away with the caged energy of a tiger about to pounce. Now we were about to unleash the beast.
So, lining up on Cessna’s home Wichita runway 19R in the TTx was a little daunting. Adding to the mix is the fact we (myself and Jeremy Schrag, Cessna’s TTx demo pilot) are in the one and only TTx in the world, and I could almost feel all eyes in the adjacent HQ on us.
We start rolling, then with the rudder beginning to give straight-line control, push in the throttle smoothly all the way. Suddenly, we’re really rolling and my right foot is pushing hard on the rudder to stay straight.
Quickly we’re at 70kt and I ease back on the quite heavy side stick… we’re off. This sports car of an aircraft leaps into the air rapidly at a 1500fpm 105kt climb before we drop the nose slightly for a 1200ft/min 137kt True Air Speed (TAS) cruise climb.
Immediately I upturn a preconception. I expected the TTx to be similar to its long-time rival, the Cirrus SR22T, but it isn’t at all. The SR22T is a BMW M5 saloon, fast and big, relatively light on its controls. The TTx is a Mercedes AMG roadster: very fast, more compact, with heavier but very smooth controls.
Levelling out at 10,500ft and it’s time to pull the power back, set prop to 2450rpm, and lean the mixture – and also disengaging handy Rudder Hold function, which allow foot free flying when power and prop are set. The right MFD on the Garmin G2000 panel shows a fuel flow of 18.2 USG/hr (69 litres/hr).
The TTx is a perfect example of the trade-off between altitude, power setting, speed, and fuel burn in these types of sporty aircraft. To get to the quoted Max Cruise Speed of 235kt True Air Speed, you have to climb to 25,000ft which takes 19.5 minutes from sea level, covering 45nm and using 12.7 USG of fuel. Once there, set the prop and power to 85% (max continuous), and watch the fuel being swallowed at 25 USG/hr (95 litres/hr). MAximum range at this setting is 825nm.
You can moderate the fuel burn by pulling the power back to the 55% “Eco-Cruise”, for 13 USG/hr at 204kt, still a very respectable speed. If you don’t want to be at 25,000ft – the cockpit is unpressurised, so you would be using the installed oxygen masks – then the same Eco-Cruise at 16,000ft equates to 184kt True, and 1250nm range.
Every detail is optimised to reduce drag – such as the smooth cowling/windscreen join, careful placement of cowling fasteners, vented and streamlined wheel fairings, small upswept winglets, slippery fairing over wing roots and gear legs, and the shape of the steps. The underside exhaust draws draw cooling air across the engine, allowing smaller nose inlets and even the radio and GPS antennae have been positioned to create the least drag. Just look at the TTx sitting on the apron – it looks like racer standing still.
So what’s it like, boring a hole in the atmosphere at such a speed? Very comfortable indeed, in the front. The seats are comfortable and supportive but not a tight grip as in a sports car, and the cabin is well optioned – the all-black leather “Stealth” finish has the sex appeal of a Ferrari (i.e., loads) – and air-con is standard.
The gull-wing doors open upward, so getting in and out is easy, while inflating door seals mean it’s snug too. In the rear, the seats are cramped for adults but fine for younger occupants. Consider this a 2+2 rather than a full four-seater, especially if you want a fair amount of fuel.
Upgrades to the new TTx over its Corvalis predecessor include a TKS weeping wing deicer so it’s cleared for Flight Into Known Icing, important for the altitudes and all-year use this plane would expect to encounter.
The biggest change in the cockpit for pilots is of course the new Garmin G2000 flightdeck, the TTx being the first aircraft to get it; read about it elsewhere in this issue.
After some time, descending sees the deployment of the aircraft’s speed brakes, a way to help protect the very expensive engine up front from shock-cooling.
A lever on the panel deploys them, with no speed limitation, and they pop up from the top surface of the wing. There’s a slight increase in noise and vibration so you’re unlikely to forget about them, but even if you do, the TTx can still touchdown, takeoff, and do a go-around, with them up. It’s not recommended of course.
By now I’d forgotten the heavy stick forces and we came to land smoothly and quickly. Full flap of 40° down, approach at 90kt – “no faster,” said Jeremy, “or we’ll float forever” – threshold at 80kt, leave a bit of power on, main wheels down, and roll out… easier than I’d anticipated from such a hot rod!
Sitting in Cessna’s flight ops lounge, I reflect on the TTx. For some it will be an alternative to a Cirrus SR22T. If you fly mostly with just two of you, yes it is. The Cirrus is definitely roomier and more comfortable in the back, and the latest Generation 5 SR22T also has a 340lb payload advantage. Against that, the TTx is a lot quicker, and has new G2000 “Intrinzic” avionics system which is far more intuitive than the Cirrus Perspective.
Personally, I found the heavy stick forces of the TTx took away some of the fun of hand-flying, but some like it that way and in any case most pilots flying either aircraft will engage the autopilot soon after take off.
But that’s not the real reason for considering Cessna’s new TTx. No, this is an aircraft you really have to want and desire. It’s a high performance aircraft that looks a million dollars (as it should since the price is not that far off), with a fantastic level of equipment and beautifully finished. It’s a top-of-the-range, bang up-to-date aircraft that will stop people in their tracks when it’s parked on the apron.
Max cruise 235ktas
Rate of climb 1400ft/min
Max range 1250nm
Fuel burn 25 USG/hr at max cruise
Stall speed 60kcas
Takeoff dist 1900ft (579m)
Landing dist 2640ft (792m)
Direct operating costs $241.81/hr
Engine Continental TSIO-550-C six-cylinder, fuel-injected, twin turbocharged with dual intercoolers, producing 310hp
Prop McCauley, 3-blade metal, constant-speed
Wingspan 35ft 10in (10.92m)
Length 25ft 4in (7.74m)
Seats 1 pilot, 3 pax
Max Takeoff Weight 3600lb (1633kg)
Empty weight 2600lb (1179kg)
Payload 1000lb (453kg)
Manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, Kansas USA www.cessna.com