Key Takeaways

  • The Columbia 400 is equipped with a Continental IO-550 engine which has a power range of power range from 280 hp (209 kW) to 360 hp (268 kW).
  • A Columbia 400 aircraft costs between $420,000 to $485,000 - with most people paying $293 per hour for variable operating and maintenance costs.
  • The Columbia 400 is the fastest single-engine fixed-gear aircraft ever created and it is commonly referred to as the Cessna 400, particularly with all models released after 2007.

The Columbia 400 is regarded by pilots as being a world-class aircraft with top-notch performance that shatters the bulk of its competition.

These are the specifications for the Columbia 400:

  • Engine - Continental IO-550 engine
  • Max Speed - 235kts
  • Cruise Speed - 158kts
  • Stall Speed - 69 KIAS
  • Rate of Climb - 1,500fpm
  • Range - 1,107nm
  • Fuel Capacity - 98 gallons
  • Payload + Fuel - 512lbs
  • Passenger Capacity - 4 (including 1 crew member)
  • Length - 25ft 1in
  • Wingspan 36fit 1in
  • Height - 9ft
  • Empty Weight - 2,500lbs
  • Maximum Take-Off Weight - 3,600lbs

After extensively researching Columbia’s aircraft, I have gathered enough information to provide a detailed overview of the 400’s specifications. My research has indicated that the specs of the Columbia 400 are often mixed with the Cessna 400 given the merger of these two aircraft manufacturers.

Table of contents

HideShow

Columbia 400 Overview

The Columbia 400 is often referred to as the Cessna 400 or Cessna TTx. This is a low-wing, single-engine aircraft and it features a single-gear design. This is considered to be a legendary aircraft with massive praise from the aviation community. The Columbia 400 has impressive specs and performance capabilities - ranking as the fastest single-engine fixed-gear plane ever made.

Production of the Columbia 400 started in 2004 and the aircraft had immediate approval during its first flight. The Columbia 400 was manufactured until 2018 when it was eventually discontinued. However, this aircraft has had an interesting trajectory to its discontinuation - primarily due to the merger that occurred between Columbia and Cessna in 2007.

Cessna is one of the most respected names in the aviation industry - with so many praised aircraft released in their line-up over the years. In 2007, Cessna combined forces with Columbia, and the two manufacturers worked together which resulted in the Columbia 400 becoming the Cessna 400. This has resulted in some confusion as to what this aircraft should actually be called, as it is commonly referred to by either name depending on who you ask.

The Columbia 400/Cessna 400, is a top-of-the-line aircraft with top-of-the-line performance, which is why it is considered by many pilots to be one of the best single-engine planes ever built. It was launched as a follow-up to the Columbia 300 and 350, which both had pretty similar specs and design characteristics, but with a less powerful engine.

One of the key characteristics of the Columbia 400 is its turbocharged Continental IO-550 engine. The ingenious design of the Columbia 400 combined with its composite material body and superior engine are what enabled it to become the fastest aircraft of its league, which is why the plane’s production continued for nearly 15 years.

A key year to keep in mind when evaluating the Columbia 400 is 2013, when an advanced version of the aircraft was released - the Cessna TTX model T240. Although the design of the plane followed suit with its predecessor, the Cessna TTX model T240 features upgraded avionics and interior - making it one of the most sought-after variations of the Columbia 400.

Columbia 400 Specifications

When Columbia launched the 400, this aircraft received a lot of praise for its specs and performance capabilities. As the world’s fasted single-engine fixed-gear plane, the Columbia 400 has a lot to offer a pilot and it is a great aircraft for hobby flying as well as casual taxiing.

Over the years, the Columbia 400 has seen some improvements and upgrades. That is why the specifications of this aircraft can vary slightly depending on the year that you evaluate. Let’s take a closer look at the specifications for the Columbia 400.

General Specs

  • Passenger Capacity - 4 (including 1 crew member)
  • Length - 25ft 1in
  • Wingspan 36fit 1in
  • Height - 9ft
  • Empty Weight - 2,500lbs
  • Maximum Take-Off Weight - 3,600lbs

Performance Specs

  • Max Speed - 235kts
  • Cruise Speed - 158kts
  • Stall Speed - 69 KIAS
  • Rate of Climb - 1,500fpm
  • Range - 1,107nm
  • Fuel Capacity - 98 gallons
  • Payload + Fuel - 512lbs

Engine

The Columbia 400 is equipped with a Continental IO-550 engine which has a power range of power range from 280 hp (209 kW) to 360 hp (268 kW). This six-cylinder Continental piston engine is one of the key reasons behind the Columbia 400’s impressive speed.

Routine maintenance is essential for keeping this engine alive, which is why Columbia/Cessna recommends a TBO of 2,000 hours.

Columbia 400 Cost

The Columbia 400 is a stellar single-engine aircraft and you certainly get what you pay for when you commit to this plane. It is currently sold at a very reasonable price of roughly $450,000 - with most estimates ranging from $420,000 to $485,000.

However, there are plenty of Columbia 400s that are selling at a higher price than this. Naturally, the condition of the aircraft, as well as its model variation will have a significant impact on its final dollar value. Let’s break down the costs of buying and owning a Columbia 400 in more detail.

Columbia 400 Used vs New

There are very few Columbia 400 aircraft left that are in new condition. This is mainly due to the plane’s manufacturing being discontinued in 2018. With that said, many pilots and collectors have left their Columbia 400s virtually unused, making it quite possible to find an option on the market that is in mint condition.

A brand new Columbia/Cessna 400 is going to cost quite a bit more than a used model - with aircraft currently selling at around $650,000. This is for a stock Columbia/Cessna 400 that has not received any additional upgrades aside from what the manufacturer installed. A modified Columbia 400, can potentially cost more than this figure.

Although most people pay around $450,000 for a used Columbia 400, the truth is that you can actually find them cheaper than this. The majority of the planes that sell at this price are fairly new and are most likely Cessna 400 models that were released after 2007. You can find older versions of the Columbia 400 that were made from 2004 to 2007 for as little as $325,000 to $410,000.

Columbia 400 Variable Costs

Whenever you buy a plane, the one thing that you do not want to overlook is its variable costs. Buying a plane is a major decision for most people and their variable costs will add up quickly - especially if the aircraft requires a lot of maintenance.

With that said, the variable costs of the Columbia 400 are actually quite reasonable compared to other planes of its class. The total variable costs of the Columbia 400 are around $104,000, which can fluctuate depending on how much the aircraft is used. When you factor in the total fixed costs of $27,500, the total annual variable costs will add up to roughly $132,000.

The bottom line is that owning a Columbia 400 still requires a substantial amount of upkeep, which is why you can expect to pay roughly $293 per hour of flight time. Fuel costs vary greatly and predicting the lifelong variable costs of owning a Columbia 400 is challenging, to say the least.

Columbia 400 Insurance Costs

There are several different insurance classifications that you can opt for with a Columbia 400 - with liability and hull coverage being the most standard options.

Insurance companies generally offer better quotes to pilots who are qualified and experienced. If you have a decent amount of flight time under your belt, you can save yourself thousands on your annual insurance bill. Whereas, if you are new to flying with minimal experience, you can expect to pay a premium for your insurance package.

In addition, Columbia 400 models that have advanced features such as upgraded avionics will often cost more to insure. This is particularly common with models that were released after 2013, which are the most expensive options on the market.

Liability Insurance

You can always choose to get additional insurance for your Columbia 400, but the one type of coverage that you will be required to have is liability protection. This will ensure that you are protected in case of an accident, which is why there is no way around this annual expense.

Given that the Columbia 400 is a relatively affordable plane, the liability insurance for experienced and qualified pilots should not cost more than $560 to $750 per year. If you are an intro-level pilot without a lot of flight time, liability coverage is more expensive and costs around $800 to $1,000 per year.

Hull Insurance

Given that the Columbia 400 is a relatively new aircraft with a mid-range price tag, getting additional insurance that protects the integrity of the plane is highly recommended. This is known as hull insurance and it will cover damage that is done to your Columbia 400.

Unlike liability coverage, hull insurance is going to cost significantly more per year. This has mainly to do with the value of the aircraft being $400,000+ on average. With that said, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 to $6,500 for hull insurance as an experienced and qualified pilot.

Needless to say, intro-level pilots will be stuck with a hull insurance bill that ranges from $8,000 to $12,000+. While hull insurance is a cringe-worthy expense, opting for it can ultimately save you a lot more should something go wrong with your Columbia 400.

Columbia 400 Modification Costs

The specs of the Columbia are sound, but a lot of pilots have decided to upgrade and modify their planes by installing custom features. This is rarely done with models that were made past 2013, as they are already equipped with advanced avionics and an upgraded interior.

For Columbia 400 models that were made prior to 2013, particularly from 2004 to 2007, opting for additional modifications is a great way to modernize the aircraft and increase its resale value. With that said, the list of potential modifications that you can choose to install into an early Columbia 400 model is quite long and the price of upgrades can vary significantly.

The most common feature to upgrade on any older aircraft is the avionics. The 2013 model has advanced Garmin G2000 14 avionics, which is superior to everything that was used prior to this. Upgrading the avionics of the original Columbia 400 will potentially cost $10,000 (or more) depending on the system that you choose to install.

Is the Columbia 400 Expensive to Maintain?

If you are considering a Columbia 400, a key characteristic that you should keep in mind is this aircraft's maintenance costs. The Columbia 400 will require anywhere from $5,000 $10,000 in annual maintenance, which is quite reasonable for an aircraft with these specs.

Naturally, the price of maintaining a Columbia 400 can vary depending on how routinely it was serviced by the previous owner, as well as the model variation of the aircraft. Annual maintenance rarely exceeds more than $5,000 to $10,000 on Columbia 400 planes that have been looked after.

On the other hand, if the Columbia 400 has been neglected, there could be a number of underlying issues with the aircraft, which not only brings into question its potential maintenance costs but also its reliability.

How Reliable is the Columbia 400?

Reliability is the most important factor that I look for in a plane and it is often the biggest selling point for most people that consider buying secondhand aircraft. In general, the Columbia 400 is considered to be a very reliable plane with exceptional performance.

This aircraft has been around for nearly 20 years and it has received a minimal number of complaints since it entered the market. With so much positive feedback from pilots and aviation critics, the Columbia 400 has proven itself as being a world-class plane with top-notch capabilities overall.

The single-engine fixed-gear design of this aircraft implies that it is easier to take care of and will amount to fewer maintenance costs over the years. However, the Columbia 400 does have a turbo, which can greatly add to the price of its lifelong maintenance. Given the extra heat that the turbo generates, this can often amount to increased repair work and potential mechanical issues.

Why Was the Columbia 400 Discontinued?

The Columbia 400 is a highly-regarded aircraft with amazing specs, which begs the question of why it was discontinued at all. This plane has been very well-received by its owners and aviation critics, but it was ultimately discontinued due to poor sales.

During the last years that the Columbia/Cessna 400 was on the market, this plane's top competitor was the Cirrus SR22. Despite the Columbia/Cessna 400 having better specs and performance than the SR22, it failed to generate enough sales to make it a sustainable model to keep alive in the aviation market.

The Columbia/Cessna 400 simply could not compete during its later years - with SR22 doing substantially better in 2017. After this defeat, Cessna decided that they would discontinue the 400, which is when production of the aircraft ended in 2018.

Is the Columbia 400 Worth Buying?

If you want a world-class aircraft and can afford the $400,000+ price tag, the Columbia 400 is definitely worth buying. This is a top-notch plane and it is the world’s fastest single-engine fixed-gear aircraft - a characteristic that has won over a lot of pilots who were on the fence between the Columbia 400 and its competitors.

One thing that you should keep in mind as you decide whether the Columbia 400 is right for you is that the aircraft is not pressurized. This can be a huge limitation on your altitude and flight destinations. If this is not a characteristic that you require, you should be good with the Columbia 400.

Lastly, the main competitor of the Columbia 400 is the Cirrus SR22. This plane has comparative specs to the Columbia 400, but it is a bit cheaper to maintain and it has lower variable costs. If you have to choose between these two planes, you should reflect on whether you prefer to mitigate costs by choosing the Cirrus SR22 or have enhanced performance with the Columbia 400.

About THE AUTHOR

Joe Haygood

Joe Haygood

After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.

Read More About Joe Haygood