Cessna's 414 is among a large group of aircraft headed for extinction. In response, the market for these airplanes is quite active.
Earlier 414s are easily recognizable by their tip tanks and stubbier nose. In 1976, Cessna redesigned the 400 series, beginning with its best seller, the 421. A new bonded wet wing replaced the riveted tip-tanked wing. When the changes trickled to the 414 in 1978, it was renamed the 414A Chancellor. The resulting airplane had a wingspan that was 4.5 feet longer and a nose stretched nearly 3 feet. Fuel capacity reached 206 usable gallons, and the operation of the fuel system was made far simpler with an On/Off/Crossfeed valve for each engine. Previous 414s had as many as six tanks and made for hair-pulling fuel management for the newcomer.
Continental's TSIO-520-J powered the original 414s, while the TSIO-520-Ns pulled the 414A. Both models were rated at 310 hp at 2,700 rpm. Since most pressurized/turbocharged airplanes spend their useful life in the less-than-perfect environment of the flight levels, the 414's engines have had their share of problems. These engines can be very temperamental and do not take kindly to abrupt throttle movements or casually monitored engine operations. The engines began life with a TBO of 1,400 hours, which was later extended to 1,600 hours; but, according to many owners, the 1,400-hour figure is a more accurate estimate of the engine's lifespan.
Airworthiness directives are limited mostly to the engines, and those tagged to the airframe should have been complied with by now. Given the airplane's average of logging 200 or more flight hours per year, aircraft owners should have complied with most of the engine ADs or service bulletins, such as those requiring replacement of crankshafts made via the airmelt process. Exhaust manifold clamps and elbows have a 100-hour inspection requirement, but improved parts can be obtained through RAM Aircraft Corporation. Finally, a recent AD regarding recurrent inspections of McCauley three-blade propellers covers the 414 line.
Although the 414s have a huge cabin-class interior, the stock airplane has never been a tremendous load hauler. A typically equipped 414A has a full-fuel payload of about 500 to 700 pounds, depending on equipment. Although you could fly for about 1,100 miles, you would be able to bring only two friends and a few bags. In a well- equipped airplane weighing in at 5,100 pounds, you could fill the cabin with six people and a little baggage and fly for about 2 hours with IFR reserves. It's because of this rather limited load-carrying ability that many operators opt for some modifications. RAM's winglet or vortex generator kits boost the maximum takeoff weight of a 414A by 300 to 355 pounds. The winglets are also supposed to give you a few knots at altitudes above Flight Level 200; but, in our observation, they exhibited little if any gains besides that of the gross weight increase. Other companies, such as Micro Aerodynamics and Robertson, also offer VG kits with gross weight increases. For the tip-tanked 414s, RAM offers a 415-pound increase through an engine/prop upgrade and the application of VGs.
The 414 won't be considered a spirited handler by any pilot. Control forces are heavy but rock solid — good for an IFR airplane. According to accident reports compiled by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, there were 46 accidents involving 414s between 1983 and 1993. The pilot was responsible for almost every 414 accident, and weather was a common link in the accident chain. VMC rollovers are conspicuous only by their absence. Despite the fact that the engines appear to be located far outboard on the wings, their relatively low power output — coupled with the airplane's huge rudder — helps to reduce the chance of a VMC rollover. The addition of vortex generators eliminates VMC, say the VG manufacturers. Many accidents that occurred after engine failures involved airplanes loaded far beyond the maximum gross weight and flown improperly with a failed engine (for example, with the gear and/or flaps down). Single-engine rate of climb is listed as 240 feet per minute for the 414 and 290 fpm for the 414A with the gear and flaps up.
Passengers will like the 414's spacious cabin. In fact, it's the same fuselage as that used for the turboprop 425 (Conquest I). The only unfortunate part is that the stock 414s have more room than the useful load allows. The nose baggage and avionics bays of the long-snouted 414A are cavernous and can swallow skis, golf clubs, and lots of other ungainly cargo. The wing lockers are also useful for baggage and/or auxiliary fuel tanks.
To utilize the 414 to its potential, it needs to be flown high. True airspeeds down low are no better — in some cases worse — than many normally aspirated light twins, while fuel flow is much higher. Once above 12,000 feet, the 414's turbocharging begins to ratchet up the speed, and at FL 250, Cessna claims 224 knots at 75-percent power. Our test aircraft with RAM's winglets and VGs consistently trued at about 205 knots at FL 240 in warmer than standard air at 75-percent power. At 65 percent, TAS averaged about 195 knots. If you're lightly loaded and if ATC allows you to cruise at high altitudes, bladder-busting legs are possible — and they don't have to be painful if the airplane has the optional potty in the back.
Prices can vary greatly, depending on modifications and equipment. Because so many of the airplanes have been modified, it would be hard to find one that is still completely stock — and that's a good thing, considering the added usefulness of an airplane with a higher gross weight.
Overall, the 414 is flexible. It can fly six people on a 2-hour trip in a comfortable pressurized cabin or it can fly two people some 1,200 miles. On the other hand, the big cabin results in an equally big speed penalty. Aerostars, Dukes, and the 58P Baron will outrun the 414, but the penalties are comfort and noise level. The availability of modifications is another reason buyers may prefer the 414 over some of its competitors.
Cessna 414 Used Aircraft Report: Buying Before Extinction
Peter A Bedell, AOPA Pilot, October 1996