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piston twin aircraft

Piston Twin Aircraft are fixed-wing, multiengine aircraft typically used for business and personal use. Piston engines (or reciprocating engines) use alternating cylinders driven by fuel combustion. As gas forces the piston rod into linear motion, the attached crankshaft turns rotationally, driving the propeller. Aircraft piston engines typically use 4-6 cylinders with more cylinders decreasing vibration. Operating with a usual altitude of 15,000 feet (however, some newer models can exceed this figure), the piston twin is used for covering distances no greater than approximately 1200 miles.
The popularity of piston twin engine aircraft has greatly declined over the years as the aircraft’s capabilities and role has largely been superseded by single turbine aircraft. Further, the rising cost of fuel prices puts strain on the efficiency of dual engine aircraft. The piston twin had its heyday in the 1970s with over 2,000 annual shipments to buyers between 1973 and 1979. Now, the average number of units sold is less than 100 yearly (70 in 2010). Previously considered a “step-up” from a single engine, the piston had a reputation during its time for greater load capacity and faster performance, as well as safety due to the redundancy of a second engine. Additionally, with its larger size, the piston twin aircraft was able to be equipped with more options than single engine aircraft (such as radar and ice protection).
As technology advanced over time, these advantages were no longer singular to piston twins. Capabilities previously only available on twin engines (including weather radar, engine pressurization, air conditioning, and luxury options) is now common to all aircraft. Weather radar signals can now be delivered from satellites, single engines can now be equipped with redundancy systems, and the microelectronics revolution has made equipment smaller. With single engines now offering similar capabilities, the inherent difficulties of operating and managing an engine failure situation on a piston twin make them a less attractive option. Of all major aviation manufacturers, only a handful – including Beechcraft’s Baron 58 and Piper’s Seneca V – are currently in production.

piston twin aircraft Manufacturers List