Piper PA-24 Comanche


Country of Origin
United States of America
Four seat high performance light aircraft
Piper's PA-24 Comanche was a high performance retractable undercarriage single designed to challenge the established high performance Beech Bonanza. Piper's first low wing single engine design, the Comanche featured a retractable tricycle undercarriage, swept back tail, flying tail or "stabilator" horizontal tail surfaces, laminar flow wing and all metal construction, a stark contrast to Piper's earlier high wing fabric covered designs. The Comanche first flew on May 24 1956 and was delivered to customers from late 1957 in PA-24-180 form. Since then through to the cessation of production in June 1972 (due to flooding of Piper's Lock Haven plant), a number of progressively higher performance variants were released. These included 1958's 185kW (250hp) PA-24-250 and the 300kW (400hp) PA-24-400. Just 148 400s were built, despite Piper claiming it to be the fastest production four seat single available at the time. Its massive eight cylinder IO-720 engine consumed fuel at a prodigious rate, meaning that it was expensive to operate, and there were problems with cooling the rear cylinders. Today however it has something of a mini cult status. Following the PA-24-400 was the PA-24-260 from 1964, with a 195kW (260hp) O-540 or IO-540, and finally the Rajay turbocharger fitted PA-24-260 Turbo C, available from 1970.
PA-24-250 - One 185kW (250hp) Lycoming O-540-A1A5 flat six driving a constant speed propeller. PA-24-400 - One 300kW (400hp) Lycoming IO-720-A1A flat eight driving a three blade c/s prop. PA-24-260 Turbo C - One 200kW (260hp) turbocharged and fuel injected IO-540-R1A5 flat six driving a two blade c/s prop.
PA-24-250 - Max speed 306km/h (165kt), max cruising speed 291km/h (157kt). Initial rate of climb 1350ft/min. Service ceiling 20,000ft. Max range with optional fuel 2665km (1440nm). PA-24-400 - Max speed 360km/h (194kt), max cruising speed 343km/h (185kt). Initial rate of climb 1600ft/min. Service ceiling 19,500ft. Range with standard fuel 2012km (1086nm), with optional fuel 2478km (1338nm). PA-24-260 Turbo C - Max speed 390km/h (210kt), max cruising speed 318km/h (172kt). Initial rate of climb 1320ft/min. Operating ceiling 25,000ft. Max range 2052km (1108nm), with optional fuel 2398km (1295nm).
PA-24-250 - Empty 767kg (1690lb), max takeoff 1315kg (2900lb). PA-24-400 - Empty 957kg (2110lb), max takeoff 1633kg (3600lb). PA-24-260 Turbo C - Empty 860kg (1894lb), max takeoff 1450kg (3200lb).
PA-24-250 - Wing span 10.97m (36ft 0in), length 7.59m (24ft 11in), height 2.29m (7ft 6in). Wing area 16.5m2 (178sq ft). PA-24-400 - Wing span 10.97m (36ft 0in), length 7.84m (25ft 8in), height 2.39m (7ft 10in). Wing area 16.5m2 (178sq ft). PA-24-260 Turbo C - Wing span 10.97m (36ft 0in), length 7.62m (25ft 0in), height 2.29m (7ft 6in). Wing area 16.5m2 (178sq ft).
Standard seating for four, Comanche B and C could have optional fifth and sixth seats.
Total PA-24 production 4856, including 1143 180s, 2537 250s, 1028 260s and 260 Ts, and 148 400s.
Related Links
Piper PA-24 Comanche
The backbone of this section is from the The International Directory of Civil Aircraft by Gerard Frawley and used with permission. To get your own copy of the book click here.