The Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra is the fastest single-engine four-seater plane on the planet. This guide looks at its features for prospective buyers.
The Acclaim Ultra rolled out in 2016 and currently costs between $780,000 and $900,000 new or $700,000 to $800,000 used. It has a max speed of 242 kn, a cruise speed of 175 kn and a maximum range of 1275 nmi. It is powered by a single Continental TSIO-550-G that burns 18 gallons of fuel per hour.
As an experienced flight instructor who teaches in single and multi-engine airplanes and a corporate pilot, I frequently fly various members of the Mooney M20 family, including the Acclaim Ultra,in addition to other GA and corporate aircraft.
Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra Background
It is easy to mistake the fastest single-engine four-seater Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra as just the latest iteration of the M20 line that began in 1960. But it's not. Mooney Aircraft, the manufacturer of the Acclaim Ultra, changed enough of the structural design and the production process that it had to undergo recertification with the FAA.
The Acclaim Ultra, which rolled out in 2016 and remains in production, has been redesigned to be aerodynamically refined, structurally robust, and ergonomically superior. The changes resulted in production cost savings, reduced weight, and better performance.
The final result is a plane that is quicker to build and flies further faster while carrying more.
Based on the long body airframe of the M20 lineage, the Acclaim Ultra uses a welded steel tube cage combined with a semi-monocoque rear fuselage to deliver added strength and reduced weight. Aside from aerodynamic considerations that drive the new design, ergonomics of egress and ingress changed how structural designers reimagined the fuselage and cabin.
With two doors now, one for each front-row occupant, the steel tubing in the previous fuselage had to be redesigned to transfer stresses and force distribution around the brand new second door. The significantly larger doors meant that the force-carrying members of the fuselage had to be repositioned and strengthened to handle the torsion and bending moments of the airplane that is meant to go faster and carry more.
The steel structure is covered with a single-piece composite shell that was clipped to it, resulting in a smooth, aerodynamic outer layer that allows the Mooney to slip through the air with a lower drag coefficient. This is further enhanced by the practice of flush riveting in areas where they still use sheet aluminum.
The result of the new doors and the extra rear windows, combined with the new version of previously-popular paint schemes, resurrected the race-bred aesthetics of Mooney’s heyday. But all the structural and aerodynamic changes do affect how the plane feels in your hands.
The Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra is fast, no doubt, but it's also not as agile as its predecessors. To keep the CG within range, the engine was hung a little farther forward, changing the feel of the airplane, especially noticeable when pulling back the yoke on rotation. Compared to the older M20 variations, the M20V Acclaim Ultra needs a positive yank to unstick it from the ground.
This is by no means a bad thing. The older Mooney’s tended to leap into the air before they were fully ready. That didn’t matter so much on cold days, but on high-density-altitude days, it used to be a problem. Setting the trim for take-off helps considerably.
Roll sensitivity remains solid. With enough practice, course corrections just require you to think it for the plane to bank one way or the other. That’s how sensitive they can be. And up at altitude doing 240 knots, that’s how you want it if you are hand-flying the speedster. Don’t be ham-fisted with this plane.
Pitching up for a 120-knot cruise climb can get the deck angle pretty high, but it will result in an over-1000 fpm climb rate. It is possible to get up to 1,800 fpm depending on how cold it is outside and how light you are.
Even being one of the heavier of the variants, the M20V still manages to be the fastest, and that’s because of its streamlined lines and clean surfaces. You have to fly this aircraft by the numbers, otherwise, it will get ahead of you.
What most forget is that they have two things working against them on the way down. Unlike a normally aspirated piston engine that is aerodynamically dirty, the Acclaim Ultra takes a long time to bleed off its speed. That’s made worse on the descent phase of the flight. The first problem is that you can’t just pull the power back to idle. It will shock cool the turbos and the engine.
The second problem, as with all M20 variants, the Acclaim Ultra is as slippery, if not more so, than other Mooneys. This is where the speed brakes come in handy. They have no limitations and you can deploy them at any time, even with your cruise power still engaged. Just don't engage them too close to the ground if you haven't already stabilized the plane.
A good practice for the descent is to pull back the MAP by an inch and let the nose drop at the top-of-descent, then deploy the speed brakes. Keep reducing the throttle by an inch every thousand feet and the temperature will drop gently. The speed brakes that come with the Ultra are a good way to save your engine and bleed the excess energy to set yourself up for a stable final approach.
The larger cabin now features increased leg and shoulder room for all four passengers while converting the once-steam gauge-driven dash into a glass cockpit with full avionics and coupled autopilot.
The Mooney M20V, like its predecessors, is not pressurized but has the capacity to effortlessly climb to its ceiling of 25,000 feet. This is because of Continental’s turbo-supercharged engine that delivers 280 horsepower for much of the climb phase.
Both the M20V and the M20U Ovation Ultra that was released at the same time have had a somewhat tumultuous production history. First put into production in 2017, production of the types ceased in 2019 due the company having financial troubles, though production restarted before the year was over. Since then, Mooney has struggled to gain new orders of both types, even if deliveries continue to be made to willing customers.
What Are The Specifications of Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra?
How Much Does The Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra Cost?
There are three price categories for the Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra. The first two are ascribed to brand-new airplanes, priced by the factory. The low end of the price range is $760,000. For this price, you still get the full glass cockpit and the autopilot.
The upper end of the price range gets you the factory's full spec version which runs close to $900,000. This includes factory air conditioning, long-range tanks, long-range oxygen systems that will allow you to stay up at 12,500 feet or higher for longer, and de-ice systems that will get you FIKI-certified.
The de-icing system that does raise the factory price considerably allows you to fly up to three hours in known icing conditions. Its unique design, not following the typical bleed air heating or the inflatable boots, glycol that is pumped out to the prop, the wings, and the empennage through tiny holes and spread across the surface. This prevents ice from forming.
The third price category is for a used Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra. It’s not always easy to find between $700,000 and $850,000. There are two reasons for the high price in the secondary market. The first is that there just aren't many of them on the market, but that could change as the lower serial numbers begin to show up in the secondary market as their tenth anniversary rolls around.
To calculate the costs to operate the Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra, we will assume that the average fuel burn is 18 gallons per hour and that the price of 100LL is $6.50.
Direct operating Costs, DOC, for the Acclaim Ultra include hourly fuel and oil burn. Hourly fuel costs are (18 GPH x $6.50) $117.00 per hour.
Most Acclaim owners reckon that they burn oil at a rate of about a quart every five hours. At $10 per quart, the hourly cost for oil is $2.
Consider oil changes every 25 hours to keep your engine in good shape. With an 8-quart sump, a new oil filter at each oil change, and workmanship, it will cost $250 every 25 hours, or $25 per hour.
With these three items, the Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra’s Direct Operating Cost is $144.00 per hour.
In addition to DOCs, you will also have fixed costs that accrue regardless of the number of hours of flight time you place on the aircraft.
The largest fixed cost item you will face is the insurance premium. Assuming you purchase the Acclaim for $900,000 and you are a qualified pilot, as far as the insurers are concerned, then your premium for hull and liability will be $22,500. It could go up as high as $30,000 if you are less than fully qualified.
Assuming you flew the Acclaim Ultra 500 hours a year, your insurance cost breaks down to $54 per hour.
Hangaring the airplane will add another $7200 for a typical T-hangar or maybe a shared spot in the main hangar on your field. That adds up to $14.4 per hour.
In addition to the direct and fixed costs that you will incur when you own the Acclaim Ultra, you will also have to create a kitty for the maintenance and work that will have to be conducted over the course of usage.
The biggest line item to think about is the engine. The engine on the Acclaim Ultra has a recommended TBO of 2,200 hours. Across a wide range of aircraft owners, the Continental TSIO-550-G costs $48,000 to overhaul and $68,000 to replace.
The first two TBOs can expect a simple overhaul while you should expect to replace the engine at the third. That’s a horizon of 6.600 hours that will see two overhauls and one new engine. This will result in a total cost of $164,000 over 6600 hours of use. That’s $25 per hour.
The prop will also need to be overhauled every two years or 2,000 hours. The Hartzell scimitar prop costs $9,000 for a brand new one, and $3,000 to overhaul. Assume having to change out a new prop every 4,000 hours while overhauling it every 2000 hours. As such, over 4,000 hours you will purchase one new prop and overhaul it once.
However, since you will fly only 500 hours a year, while the prop needs to be overhauled once every two years, you would have only flown 1000 hours before timing out. As such, figure overhauling the prop three times and replacing it once every four years. This costs a total of $18,000 for 2,000 hours or $9 per hour.
Whether you rent the aircraft out, you should consider getting a mechanic to do a 100-hour inspection as well. It will be a good time to have the oil changed and look around and take care of anything that comes up.
A typical hundred-hour for a Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra will cost $600, including the oil change. That’s $6 per hour.
While we are talking about maintenance, set aside $1,500 for unscheduled maintenance every year. That’s $3 per hour.
To keep the aircraft airworthy, Annual Inspections are required and it has to be signed off by an IA. Annual Inspections which will include any Service Bulletins or Airworthiness Directives can cost up to $2500 a year. That’s $5 per hour.
Also, put aside $500 for subscriptions and charts. That’s $1 per hour.
Consider painting your airplane once every five years. This is approximately $15,000 and works out to be $10 per hour of flight time.
In total, your hourly cost to operate the Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra is $271.40 (this includes DOC, Fixed Costs, and maintenance reserves.)
How Fast is The Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra?
The Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra is the fastest plane in the Mooney lineup, and the fastest piston engine aircraft on the planet flying at a max speed of an impressive 242 knots and a cruise speed of an impressive 175 knots. The Mooney relies on its powerful Continental TSIO-550-G engine to develop the most power it can while using the three-bladed scimitar prop to convert much of the 280 horsepower to thrust.
In slower single-engine airplanes that use the same six-cylinder engine, much of the speed loss results from the poor conversion of power to thrust that uses a two-bladed conventional prop. This is in addition to the aerodynamic efficiencies that have already been mentioned.
The power of the twin-turbo with double intercoolers provides 35 inches of manifold pressure at sea level when the throttles are fully advanced, so be careful not to over-boost. There are no wastegates on the Mooney so you could damage the internals if you make it a habit of over-boosting.
Instead, advance the RPM to full forward, hold the brakes, and advance the throttle to 30.5 inches of MAP before releasing the brakes for the take-off roll. When it gets to FL250, it can still maintain 30.5 inches of manifold pressure, allowing for its max speed of 242 knots or cruise speed of 175 knots in standard conditions.
For the climb segment, with the power at 30.5 inches and the RPM at 2500, the Acclaim Ultra will climb at 1200 fpm if you pitch for 120 knots. With that kind of performance, it is hard to think of the Mooney M20V Acclaim Ultra in the same way you think of most GA aircraft.
It takes about 10 minutes to get to 12,000 feet and, with a fuel flow of 22 gallons per hour, achieve 210 knots (true). If you just want to go fast and are not willing to go through the trouble of hooking up the oxygen, then you can still tap into the speed, but you will have to accept the high fuel burn at lower altitudes. For economy and speed, the Mooney demands that you fly it at FL250.
At the ceiling, you can bring the fuel flow back to 15 gallons per hour at 50 degrees lean of peak and still get 218 knots. You can take it up to 240 knots at FL250 if you set it to 2500 RPM and 30 inches MAP and lean it out to 18 gph.
How Much Fuel Does The Mooney M20 Acclaim Ultra Burn?
The M20V Acclaim Ultra comes with tanks that you can top off to 100 gallons. There are long-range tanks that you can opt for that will extend the legs of an already respectable maximum range of 1,200-plus nautical miles.
However, the Acclaim Ultra is already a little thin as far as being able to load all of its four plush leather seats. With full fuel taking up 600 pounds from its 3,280-lb MTOW, that leaves 2,680 pounds of aircraft, passengers, and baggage.
The Mooney Acclaim Ultra weighs 2,225 empty. It’s a little heavy compared to its predecessors due to its factory air, the de-ice tanks, the added steel tubing to accommodate the pilot’s-side door, and so on. As such, what’s left is just 435 pounds that you can use for people and bags. This is not enough to take four people on a twelve-hundred-mile trip.
With two average-size adults, weighing a total of 380 pounds, that gives you 55 pounds for luggage if you decide to carry full fuel.
With 100 gallons of fuel, only 92 gallons are usable. This is where the Mooney’s high ceiling comes in handy. The take-off and climb phase that gets you to 12,000 feet has a typical fuel burn of 12 gallons. For this, you will have to be running the mixture at full rich with manifold pressure at 30.5 inches and RPMs at 2500. When you level off at 12,000 feet, setting the MAP to 30.5 inches, you will get a fuel burn of 22 GPH.
Figure that the descent and landing phase will take up about 8 gallons of fuel. That’s 20 gallons out of 92. Assume also that 16 gallons will be your IFR reserve, and that’s what you should have, at the very least, when you land. That leaves you with 54 gallons of fuel for your en route phase. Flying at 12,000 feet and burning 22 gallons per hour giving you 2.45 hours of endurance with IFR reserves.
At 210 knots (true) you will only be able to get 515 nautical miles, assuming still air conditions.
The endurance and maximum range picture is significantly different, however, if you fly the Acclaim Ultra at FL250. It gets you to 241 knots for the same payload while the fuel burn can be leaned back to 18 GPH.
Taking into account the extra 6 gallons it would take to get you to FL250 and the slightly longer descent time on the back end, you would have 50 gallons for cruise, giving you an endurance of 2.8 hours at a fuel burn of 18 GPH. This will result in about 588 nautical miles in still conditions.
About THE AUTHOR
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