The Navajo Chieftain is a PA-31-350. I don't have the earlier model info in front of me, but it may indeed be 310 instead of 350, like the Chieftain. It's a sturdy cabin class twin that flies well, and it's far more forgiving than say, an Aerostar, which flies more like a small jet. Like the Piper Seneca, everything is simple and straightforward. The older Cheiftain model I fly has a gear speed of 128 kts, and you have to include getting slow enough to drop the gear in your landing plan. I use 18 to 20 inches for this phase, but I'm unsure what you'll use with the smaller engines. You'll probably be taught the airplane by an experienced pilot, and judging from the variety of aircraft you have flown, you should have no problems. If you have specific questions, send a pm, and I'll ask around.
I flew PA31's for about 600 hours. GREAT airplane. 2 things to tell you:
1) They don't fly well on 1. Not that most twins do but they don't.
2) Don't bring up the throtles to fast well doing a missed or airwork (stalls). The engines die.
On night doing a leg between KCMH and KAGC @ 7000' I had sometime to kill. Having a Prt 135 12mo check coming up the next week I decided to practice some airwork. So....after 10 min in cruise I start setting up for some slow flight. Do the slow flight in every configuration and since I'm dirty I'll do the landing stall. The aircraft stalls and I go "radar power" and BOTH engines die. OH #?!#?**?!# I'm thinking. Mixtures, props, throtles, flaps, gear, best glide????.......nothing......OK switch tanks........NOthing........pumps on........NOTHing.......mags still on? Yes.......NOTHING.....and I'm desending through 6800'. At this time ATC clears me to 3000' (I didn't ask it was just time to start down)...OK lets do this again .....M.P.T.F.G.tanks.pumps.Mags......NOTHING OH !!#?!?#?$??* I'm going to die.
So what to do what to do?????PRAY that will help. Desending through 4000' @ about 700fpm. OK time to declare and feather both engines. NO lie, hand on the props and PTT. "PIT approach ***** is (holy cow here come both engines as I pass through 2800') ah ah got the field in sight requesting lower."
Never asked the program manager why it did that. Didn't want to know that I did it. Opps.
I think it might have been vapor lock. Any thoughts on that.
On your pre-flight inspection (once a day), power up the boost pumps and look for fuel leaks, or any sign of fuel beneath the cowlings. This is particularly true on the turbocharged aircraft.
There is an service bulletin to check the security of the six bolts that hold the fuel pump housing together every (I think) 25 hours. On the turbocharged aircraft these bolts are difficult to access and the additional heat of the turbo installation causes greater thermal stress.
If you perform a search of Navajo accidents on the NTSB site you will be surprised how many fire & fuel exhaustion losses there are.
The Navajo is a good flying aircraft. Like some pilots said on this board, the turbocharged engines require a little more TLC.
That "care of turbos" aspect is very important. Bring the throttles up smoothly to about 30 % of their range of motion. As the plane starts down the runway, the turbos "catch up" and the sound and power improve quite distinctly. Now, move the throttles all the way up from there, to about a three second count. Engine guages check, airspeed alive, no warnings. Prime mentally for engine failure throughout the roll, and right up until you are out of usable runway.
Hot starts: pull the breakers for the boost pumps before turing on the master, or you'll flood, even if you've replaced the Continentals with Lycomings. You may be surprised at how easily a flood can happen. My breakers are just behind my microphone plug, so I often pull it out and let it dangle when I use those breakers.
STORY TIME, version 2.0
A friend was near Pottstown Limerick (PTW) in a full loaded Navajo when an engine quit. He was able to fly in on one motor all the way (30nm) to PHL, which has fire equipment, and make a controlled landing. He had several hundred hours in the Nav at the time, and is a crackjack pilot (that's a compliment, Jim) but I think it demonstrates the capability of the aircraft. Offer not valid in all areas, and your mileage may vary, void where prohibited.
Janitrol feeds off the right tank. Inboard tanks for takeoff and landing, outboards for cruise.
I flew PA-31's at Ameriflight, and I gotta say it's one of the most stable airplanes I've flown. Like someone said, it makes you feel like you are flying a bigger plane than you really are.
I assume you'll be flying Part 135 with it, and I can tell you from experience, it's an excellent and stable instrument platform.
The problem is you'll have to stay well ahead of the game with stage-cooling. So you'll have to plan well ahead to be at your target speed before FAF if it's hard IFR day. 2 inches every 2 minutes was the norm for us. so if you are cruising at 30" MP, you want to get down to 18, you'll need to lose 12" at 2" per 2 min going 3 miles a minute.. how far out do you need to slow down?
I flew the Navajo for a while in AK, and It is a great plane for the job. Like the other guys said, pull the breaker for the fuel pumps in the summer time (I can't tell you how many times I stood next to the plane scratching my head wondering what the hell was wrong with it....), or it'll flood in a second. Take it easy on those poor engines, lots of metal moving around in there, I'd hate for you to have some go shooting out the side of the cowl. Lastly, think ahead. She won't slow down on a descent, and you can't pull the throttles back due to cooling.
Oops, one more tip: Throw at least 2 CASES of oil in the back for your checkride (assuming the airplane is empty). The Navajo is extremely nose heavy when its empty. Fully loaded you barely have to flare on landing. Without some tail weight, I guarantee you're gonna slam it in like a 737.
navajo PA-31-350 is a great airplane. here are a few pointers after flying it 500 hours with freight.
get the power back to 40" MP as soon as you get to 400 feet, they will overheat really fast if you dont.
dont cruise over 30" MP. it should burn about 40 gal/hr at this setting. with only 168 usable it burns up really fast.
it handles ice very well, better than any other piston twin ive flown.
at high density altitudes 3000+ you have to lean the mixtures 1/3 of the way back or more or they will flood and die. same goes for landing, dont just go "full rich" on final or they will flood and die inn the flare, and wont restart.
be sure to switch back to the mains for landing, the fuel selectors are easy to overlook and a dual engine failure on a 200-1/2 ILS isnt fun.
it was said before but it will take sometimes 5000+ feet for the takeoff on hot days and heavily loaded. some have the high gross kit allows gross weight up to 7368 from 7000#. these also have the 154 gear extension speed, which is useful
dont get slow as it is a major pig below 110 kts.
...how many people have mentioned flooding. Almost 300 hours in a Chieftan and I never had any trouble starting it. Never had a hiccup, a cough, or a stumble, for that matter. All I remember about starting the thing (keeping in mind it's been over three years) when hot was to throw the mixtures up for a one-two count, bring 'em back, and then crank it, bringing the mixtures up as it caught. I honestly don't remember any mention of pulling the pump breakers when it was hot, and I learned my Navajo craft from a guy who easily had 2000 hours in Navajo 350's and 310's (not so sure about the latter designation).
Our airplane was unmodified from stock but had simply unbelievable maintenance... It wasn't 135, it was Pt91 corporate, and since the owner was very, very rich, we kept that thing in the same kinda shape that one would expect of a privately-owned G-IV (which they also had!).
I'll tell you what, I loved that airplane... Probably the most fun I will ever have as a professional pilot. Going single-pilot on a nice sunny day with an empty airplane and all the time in the world to get home, sittin' back with the autopilot on, VFR over the Adirondacks, eatin' leftover club sandwiches... Great stuff. I miss it dearly.
And one thing that hasn't been mentioned... It'll carry a ton of ice. I was picking up loads of the stuff when I was on approach to an airport one fine night, blowing the boots like crazy, and when I taxiied in to the hangar, it took me over a minute to chip enough ice off the nose gear to get the torque link bolt out before the rampies could come along and snap it...
If you had the mixtures leaned out during your stall practice, and moved the power levers up in that condition above barometric, that would account for your double failure. On most turbo'd engines, the mixtures should be rich before advancing the power beyond barometric.
Typically a failure caused in this condition will not immediately be remedied until fuel flow is restored throughout the system. Another possibility is bad maintenance, and another is induction leaks (though if you were operatiing above barometric at any time, you'd probably have already discovered those, and there is little liklihood of the same thing occuring on both engines. If you had a weak controller and you had boost pumps on, you may simply have flooded the engine.
While hindsight is always 20-20, don't wait to declare an emergency, especially in the case of a double engine failure, for fear that someone will find out you "did something wrong." That's just not important until you're on the ground.