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- The Cessna TTx has been known by many names during its 14 year production history: Columbia 400, Cessna 400, Cessna Corvalis TT and most recently Cessna TTx
- It is a single engine plane known for being a pilot favorite, even if it was a commercial failure
- You can pick up a used Cessna TTx somewhere between $650,000 and $900,000 depending on its age and condition.
- The Cessna TTx has a maximum cruise speed of 235 knots (435 km/h) and economical cruise speed of 210 knots (389 km/h) True Airspeed.
- The Cessna TTx uses a Continental TSIO 550 C engine. It has an 18 gallons per hour fuel flow on average, but that varies based on altitude and power setting.
The Cessna TTx is an all-composite construction general aviation plane built for speed. This guide aims to help those intending to purchase one.
A total of 301 Cessna TTx were sold between 2007 and 2017. It sold for $810,000 in 2017 before going out of production in 2018. The TTX has advanced avionics, seats 4, and has a top speed of 235 knots. With a range of 1,260 nm, and an MTOW of 3,600 lbs. It burns 18 gph.
As a pilot and avgeek, I love most Cessna planes, be them big or small. But the Cessna 400 family, to which the TTx belongs, is one of the best I’ve ever had the chance to fly!
Cessna TTx Background
The TTX is uncharacteristic of the Cessna pedigree. It is a low-wing plane not designed for primary flight training. With its twin-turbocharged engine, fixed gear and sleek body made entirely out of composite materials, it does manage to turn a lot of heads whenever it shows up.
Originally built as the Columbia 400 by the Columbia Aircraft Company (a successor to the famed Lancair company), as a derivative of their Columbia 300 aircraft (itself a derivative of the Lancair ES kit aircraft), it was originally built to compete with the likes of the SR20/SR22 produced by Cirrus Aircraft.
When the Cessna Aircraft Company acquired Columbia Aircraft in 2007, all of Columbia’s aircraft went through a rebranding process, including the Columbia 400. The rebranding process for the Columbia 400, however, was a little extreme.
First released as the Columbia 400, it was rebranded as the Cessna 400. Not a particularly mind blowing name change. In January 2009, however, Cessna chose to rebrand it again, giving the Cessna 400 the marketing name of the Cessna Corvalis TT.
A further name change came in March 2013 when Cessna announced a new variant of the Cessna 400 family called the Cessna TTx. At this unveiling, it was given the model number T240.
Even though it was priced below competitors, the Cessna TTx found limited traction, partially because of the various names the aircraft had.
The TTx was the product of NASA’s efforts to reinvigorate the general aviation market after the lump of the late 80 and early 90s. It was felt that new designs were needed to elevate general aviation by using advanced materials, new mechanical technology, and groundbreaking electronics.
The result was the predecessor to the TTx that came with a strong yet light all-composite, sleek body, built on top of a lighter yet stronger structural frame, powered by a twin-turbocharged, fuel-injected engine, and guided by advanced automation and avionics.
Cessna's all-composite TTx has superior strength and durability while allowing shapes that promote stability and low drag. Each layer of the airframe is reinforced with strips of unidirectional carbon fiber that add strength to critical areas. Added to this they have a honeycomb core made of Nomex to add rigidity.
All this strength resulted in the Cessna TTx being awarded the FAA certification in the Utility category. Most GA aircraft are certified in the Normal category. Utility category aircraft, among other things, is certified for maneuvers up to 4.4 G as opposed to 3.8 G in the Normal category.
An unparalleled strength-to-weight ratio resulted in an airframe that is certified for unlimited life and an unusually high Va, maneuvering speed, of 158 knots. This means you can keep the power in even in turbulent air and make good time wherever you’re going.
Add to that, the Cessna TTX is certified for flight into known icing conditions giving you unparalleled capability packaged in a small GA aircraft.
In February 2018, Textron Aviation (who’d acquired Cessna in 2014) announced that production of the Cessna TTx would end due to their fulfillment of all orders for the type and that newer aircraft would replace it in production.
Cessna TTx Specifications
By pretty much every metric, the Cessna TTx is perfect for pilots who are looking for a performance aircraft or something that’s a bit more hands-on in-flight. Even with only the standard equipment installed, it’s a high-spec plane.
That’s probably why it has such a fierce reputation for being a pilot’s airplane, and why many of its fiercest supporters are also its most avid fliers.
Cessna TTx Flight Characteristics
The TTx uses a laminar flow wing that makes it very slippery. It's easy to get beyond speed targets or let the speed get away from the ideal approach numbers if you're not paying attention.
Fortunately, the TTx has speed brakes that you can deploy in any phase of flight. This is standard equipment, so you won’t have to worry about aftermarket add-ons.
Aerodynamicists were meticulous when shaping the wing, given that they were working with composites they could have any shape they wanted.
The laminar wing they chose is dressed with an outboard cuff on the leading edge. This effectively lowers the angle of incidence and therefore the stall angle since the angle of incidence has been lowered and keeps the outboard wing out of the stall even when the inboard wing stalls first.
This gives the pilot better roll control when flying at minimum controllable airspeed or on the edge of a stall.
The Cessna TTx is a little fast for a low-time GA pilot, or even a more experienced GA pilot whose used to flying slower aircraft. Even with the speed brakes that you can deploy. But Cessna went one step beyond. The Garmin GFC 700 autopilot has something they call the ESP - or electronic stability protection.
Even if you have the autopilot off, the ESP will continue to monitor the parameters of the flight and if it finds something beyond permissible parameters, it will activate the servos to execute corrective action.
For instance, if the nose pitches up beyond 17 degrees, it will kick in and push the nose forward. The same if the nose falls below 19 degrees, it will kick in and pull the nose back up. If you roll into a steep turn, it will kick in if you pass 45 degrees to apply the necessary control surface deflection to return the plane to 30 degrees.
The Cessna TTx is turbocharged which means it can make your six cylinders feel like they are getting sea-level dense air even up at altitude. This allows the plane to get up to 25,000 feet. This means you will need supplemental oxygen. Which, in the TTx, comes installed. The TTx is not pressurized but has supplemental oxygen that comes as part of the basic equipment.
The panel also has a slot where you can insert your finger and a readout of your blood oxygen level will be displayed on your MFD in the center console.
The Cessna TTx may not need any additional ratings or endorsements, but it will be worth your time to fly with a flight instructor that has considerable experience in the Cessna TTx.
Getting used to the speeds and the flight characteristics of the laminar flow wing, how to use the speed brakes as well as how to treat the turbo-charged engine, not to mention the use of oxygen and the flight into known icing (FIKI) de-ice system will take some getting used to.
And then there’s the rudder.
Unlike other modern GA aircraft, there isn’t a pilot-operated rudder trim. Instead, the Cessna TTx has what’s called a ground-adjustable trim. Yes, you can only do rudder trim whilst on the ground, not exactly great if you’re flying long distances or in several different conditions in a single leg.
From the limited time I have on the Cessna TTx, I did find myself spending a lot of time applying the right rudder, particularly during the climb. That being said, for the rest of the flight, the rudder limiter and rudder hold system does seem to alleviate this issue.
But let’s not forget the glass cockpit powered by the Garmin G2000.
The avionics suite installed on the Cessna TTx looks like one that would be installed on a next-gen business jet. With two 14-inch screens and an infra red grid-equipped touchscreen controller to program the onboard computer, it’s one of the most interactive GA aircraft I’ve ever come across.
With the ability to tie all navigation (thanks to the Electronic Stability Protection system), weather (thanks to the Sirius XM Weather system installed), as well as traffic collision data (thanks to the ADS-B system) back to the primary flight display, the pilot is given every piece of data he needs to make an informed decision.
In addition to the digital system, the Cessna TTX has dual AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System). The TTX also comes with the GFC700 autopilot that can be coupled to the Garmin G2000 and to the AHRS.
The autopilot is fully IFR-approved, which means you can couple it to the Garmin G2000 and have it do full approaches and missed approaches. You just can't fly it down to the ground.
Cessna TTx Price
The Cessna TTx sold for just over $800,000 when it was still rolling off the factory floor. With pretty much everything standard, at the base level, just an extra $50,000 got everything but the kitchen sink put into the TTx.
That was about $50,000 less than its main competitor, the SR22T. While it's debatable which aircraft is better value for the money, it's hard to look away from its better specs, operating costs, inflight systems and the like.
With more than three hundred aircraft produced and sold during its time, there isn’t a large number of TTx that come up for sale at any given time. When they do, they are typically in good condition.
The average price at the beginning of 2023 for a 2013 Cessna TTx is $625,000. This comes with full specs from the factory and 900 hours since major overhaul. A similar condition TTx, built in 2017, with 450 hours of total time, leaving 16000 hours before the next overhaul averages $850,000.
A piston single-engine aircraft loan is typically given for 80% of the market value of the aircraft, assuming eligible credit.
Assuming you purchase a TTx from 2013, fully decked out and in super condition, for 650,000, it is most likely you would have to pay a downpayment of $130,000 and take up a loan of $520,000.
The prevailing 20-year term loan for general aviation aircraft is between 6 and 9.5%. Assuming 9.5% as part of this example, you will find that your monthly payment will be $4,844.
At this rate, when all is said and done and you've made your last payment, you would have paid out $642,000 in interest, plus the $520,000 in principle, and the original $130,000 down payment for a total of $1,290.000.
Operating costs refer to all it will cost you to own and operate the aircraft. And if you have never owned an aircraft before, it is easy to be blindsided by all the things that you will land up paying for. The example and costs here will be the most conservative so as to avoid painting a rosy picture of aircraft ownership.
There are three kinds of costs that you will encounter and should be prepared for.
Fixed Costs. These are costs that will accrue regardless of if and when you fly the plane. Things like monthly payments, insurance, and hangar fees will continue to mount whether you take it around the pattern.
Direct Operating Cost. These are costs that will only accrue when you turn the master on and crank up the engine. It is based on the hours flown. For instance, fuel and engine oil.
Maintenance Cost. There are two kinds of maintenance costs, scheduled and unscheduled. Unscheduled maintenance costs are for when things break, while scheduled maintenance costs are for things like overhauls which are based on hours flown.
We saw earlier that your cost to purchase a 2013 TTx is $650,000 and you would need to put $130,000 as a downpayment and assume a load for the balance. This resulted in a $4,844 monthly payment. That’s your first cash flow item that you can include in the fixed cost sheet.
The second item is your insurance. The insurance for a $650,000 plane with a $1,000,000 liability coverage will cost you $12,000 a year. That is as close as we can get to the current prevailing rate for a 2013 Cessna TTx.
A T-hangar on my field costs $400 a month. That’s $4,800 a year.
In a year, your fixed cost will then total $74,928.
Direct Operating Cost
Calculating hourly fuel usage on your TTx, or any plane for that matter is not an exact science. Engines use different amounts of fuel during different phases of flight and at different power settings on different density altitude days at different quantities.
On average, however, the Cessna TTx burns 14 gallons per hour. Take that amount and multiply it by the price of fuel at your local FBO. Mine is $7.60 at the moment. That would work out to be $106.4 per flying hour.
Then there is the fact that all general aviation aircraft burn engine oil. Some more than others. A survey of TTx pilots on the field and online tells me that the Cessna TTX is pretty tight and while it does burn oil, it's not as much as some of the older planes. On average, the TTx burns 2 quarts every four hours you fly it. At $10 per quart, that works out to be $5 per hour.
Some folks like to include landing fees under this column. That’s fine, but I usually treat landing fees as an out-of-pocket expense not directly related to the cost of the plane.
This works out to be $111.40 per hour.
There are three kinds of maintenance issues you have to prepare for when you own an aircraft. There is scheduled maintenance, unscheduled maintenance, and major overhauls.
Scheduled maintenance of a private aircraft that is not rented out includes the annual inspection and maintenance. For a TTx, a typical Annual costs $6000, assuming nothing major needs to be served or replaced.
There is also the reserve you should keep for unscheduled maintenance. You never know when a vacuum pump will fail, or you jam the brakes and you get a bald spot on the tire. Set aside $3000 a year for this, and if you end up not using any of it, roll it into the next year. If you end up using all of it, then allocate more for the following year.
Finally, you have to think about overhauls for the engine, props, and so on. These are predictable. The overhaul cost of the TSIO-550-C engine is $48,000, and they have to be overhauled every 2000 hours. Meaning that each hour costs approximately $24.
The prop needs an overhaul too and that is every two years or 1500 hours. It costs about $1500 for this. This works out to be $1 per hour.
Total Operating Costs
Before we can put it all together we need to make one last determination of how many hours we intend to fly the plane in a year. For now, let's set that at 400 hours.
Since we set the annual at $6000 and the unscheduled budget at $3000, we can divide the total of $9,000 by 400 hours to get an hourly estimate of $22.50. We already know that fuel and oil add up to $111.40 per hour. Prop overhaul is $1 per hour, engine overhaul is $24 per hour.
All this adds up to $158.90.
The fixed costs above added up to $74,928 per year. If we flew 400 hours, we could prorate that to $187.32.
That would give us a total hourly cost of $346.20.
Cessna TTx Speed
The TTx is a fast and slippery airplane. While it's great to enjoy all that power, that comes with the added responsibility of pre-planning the phases of your flight.
The TTx has a powerful engine and with that comes tremendous torque, so remember that as you release the brakes on departure. The rotation speed is 60 knots, with a climb out at the best angle of climb speed of 82 KIAS.
The best angle of climb will get you over a fifty-foot object at the end of the runway within 1900 feet.
Transitioning to the best rate of climb at that point requires that you pitch for 117 KIAS while reducing manifold pressure to a continuous climb setting.
Flying the TTx at minimum controllable airspeed is something I encourage all students to do when they first fly an aircraft. The TTx is no different. While most people are ready to see how fast it can go by giving it full power, learning to fly the plane slowly is critical to getting a feel for the plane.
The TTx hardly buffets but if you forget to turn the Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) off, it will lower the nose and advance the throttle when you begin to fly the TTx slowly. When you do, the plane will begin to feel a little mushy, as all planes at the cusp of a stall do, but the TTx has more than sufficient control surface authority at this speed.
Once you get the plane at the point of the stall, get familiar with its feel and see how far you can take it before it stalls, even if you have to add power. Remember your rudder.
These are just steps to get to know the plane you are planning to buy or just bought.
Once you’re familiar here, go ahead and go for the full stall. Then recover. Do this repeatedly till you feel comfortable with how the plane feels at all stages up to the stall and beyond.
Cessna TTx Fuel Burn
The TTx has twin turbos so take advantage of this by going as high as you can. Most people do not take advantage of altitude. The Cessna TTX burns an average of 13 gallons per hour.
At 40% BHP, the IO-550 burns 7.6 gallons per hour. At 50% BHP it burns 9.5 gph. At 60% it burns 11.3, and 15.1 gph at 70% BHP. At 80% the TTx burns 18.2 gph.
To keep this fuel burn in the TTx setting the manifold pressure to 26 inches at 3000 feet and the RPM to 2500 will give the engine 80% BHP resulting in 176 knots TAS.
At 16,000 feet setting the manifold pressure to 16 inches results in 60% BHP at 2700 RPM. This results in 12.4 gph.
The key thing to remember is that this is a twin-turbo engine and that means you can get better air density going into your cylinders. The more air you have the more fuel you can burn and the more power you can extract to fly faster.