In 2000, Cessna’s first retractable single turned 40. No doubt, the engineers employed by the Wichita manufacturer would be amazed to learn that their handiwork is prized as the model enters its fifth decade. So much so that pilots with large families and a penchant for speed may want to take this opportunity to face the general direction of Kansas and salute. Although it wasn’t so in the beginning, the Cessna 210, eventually called Centurion, would become an alluring high-performance load-hauler. Its ability to tote a serious load at speeds fully reasonable for the installed power has made the 210 a top seller when new and quite desirable as a used aircraft.
When the pressurized Skymaster was introduced in 1971, quite a few pilots thought a pressurized 210 would follow fairly soon. There were a lot of similarities between the two, particularly in the fuselage.
By then the 210 had evolved considerably from its original version. It already was considered a good combination of performance, load carrying and loading flexibility. The T210 had been introduced in 1967, so operational experience and development had been taking place, in effect, too.
It was not until late 1977, however, that the pressurized single made it to the market. It did not represent new technology or equipment. The engine/turbo system had been well proven. It is, however, a fairly successful marriage or agglomeration of what existed and a concept: all-weather, high altitude, single-engine flight.
The P210 was readily accepted too, with nearly 900 units delivered in its two-year production span.
Is the pressurized model worth the extra money though? If you fly a lot and have schedules to keep, once you have flown a pressurized airplane, the answer will be yes. Noise level is lower. The noisiest part of a P210 from the cabin is the avionics cooling fan. And noise is a large factor in fatigue. So are the physiological factors, such as reduced oxygen, as low as 10,000 ft. The difference in fatigue levels after a long flight is remarkable.
The P210 is almost as much a set of systems that are transported by air as is a turbine aircraft. It is a checklist airplane and one that is operated by a manager. Operational considerations and flight planning are key. The decisions you make before you buy it and fly it will affect greatly the flying you do in it. What it can do and how well it does it are more important than how it flies. It is a set of compromises to achieve a capability.
See the original articles:
Used Aircraft Report: Hail Centurion
-Edward G. Tripp, AOPA Pilot,