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Single-engine or twin-engine aircraft?

Let your needs narrow your choices

Among the many decisions you will make when choosing an airplane is whether to purchase a single-engine or a twin-engine model. Thousands of business owners and recreational pilots begin their venture into aviation with a single-engine piston airplane, while others find a twin-engine better fulfills their needs.

Comparing the capabilities and features of each in terms of performance, peace of mind, training and maintenance will help you determine which aircraft will help you best meet your goals.

Performance

Both twin-engine and single-engine piston aircraft are well-suited for short missions under 300 miles. They can easily access smaller airports with shorter runways, increasing the number of airstrips they’re able to reach within their ranges.

The second engine increases an aircraft’s payload and speed. In addition to faster cruise speeds, the added horsepower of a second engine also improves takeoff and climb performance.

Peace of mind

Intangibles such as peace of mind are often decision-makers for owners and operators. Many prefer the redundancy of a twin-engine aircraft when their typical missions take them over mountains or large bodies of water. Some twin-engine models, like the Beechcraft® Baron®, include added engineering that keeps all systems—even cabin comforts—running off one engine.

Of course, modern single-engine airplanes are also incredibly advanced. They’re equipped with the latest technology, including autopilot systems that help with handling.

Training

Flying a single-engine or a twin-engine aircraft requires the same base instruction and licenses, but if you’re planning to fly a multi-engine aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration requires more training, because with two engines, there’s more to manage and monitor in the cockpit.

Any complete aircraft type rating demands intimate knowledge, practice and preparation for safe operation.

Maintenance

If your mission profile still has you deciding between a single-engine and twin-engine aircraft, maintenance costs could be the deciding factor. A common misconception is a twin-engine aircraft costs twice as much to maintain and operate, because it has two engines. While it’s true keeping up with inspections, overhauls and unscheduled repairs will cost you more on a twin-engine than a single-engine, overall it’s considerably less than double the price.

Once you review these four considerations, match your specific needs to the available models. Your options should narrow to just a handful of choices—a much more manageable task.