Is it a Piper Apache PA?
The Piper Apache and Piper Aztec: Birds of a Feather
Or a Piper Aztec PA? Or PA Aztec? I guess technically all three designations are correct with the official FAA designation for this aircraft being the Piper PA The PA was not initially designed by Piper Aircraft.
It was, in fact, a design from the now-defunct Stinson Aircraft Company.
Piper inherited the design when they purchased Stinson in The prototype PA was a twin-tail design with two hp Lycoming OD piston engines and a fuselage composed of steel tubing covered in fabric.
This design led to some unfavorable flight characteristics and so the aircraft was changed to a single-tail design and constructed with aluminum skin. The engines were also upgraded to some more powerful hp OAs.
This four-seat aircraft entered production in as the PA Apache. Photo provided by Fly-by-Owen. Apaches continued to come off the line with the hp engines with only minor modifications made to the airframe until when two notable events happened. The first was the upgrade to the engines; hp OB engines were added to the Apache and designated the Apache E.
This aircraft would undergo some other small modifications, including a slight increase to the cabin length and replacing the OB engines with the OB2B; this final designation was the PA Apache H.
The second event was the introduction of the Piper Aztec PA The Aztec was a slightly elongated Apache, now seating five, but it came with much more powerful hp Lycoming O engines. A couple of years later Piper lengthened the nose of the Aztec slightly, added a sixth seat, and upgraded the engines to the fuel-injected IOs.
Photo by Huhu Uet.
Following all of this? Aztecs and Apaches were mostly indistinguishable from a distance. The Aztec was also called the PA in an effort to clear up this confusion between the two drastically different engine configurations. Piper would make one more model of the Apache, which was actually based off of the Aztec and came with less powerful hp O engines, but designated the PA Apache.
Only PAs were produced before Piper discontinued the Apache in in favor of the more powerful, faster Aztecs. This change in production was more or less the last time the PA would undergo any major changes for the next twenty years of production.
From the Aztec B to the Aztec F, there were some changes to instrument panels and controls, some slight modifications to wingtips and engine nacelles for better performance, and one more nose elongation in the Aztec E. Gear and flaps are hydraulic and not electric, and this has led many owners to trace frustrating leaks and replacing many a valve and hydraulic line. Prior to the Piper Aztec F, the hydraulic pump was on the left engine. If that engine quit, the pilot would need to give a hefty pumps of the manual gear extension to get the wheels down.
Current Top Sellers
The Aztec F added an auxiliary hydraulic pump on the right engine. Apaches and Aztecs have wings with constant, long chords, and this gives them great slow-speed performance, making takeoff and landing on short fields a breeze. Photo by Bob Butcher. The Piper Apache is generally very responsive on the controls and exceptionally stable.
It does have a very noticeable pitch-up while lowering flaps, and Piper has recommended that pilots lower flaps incrementally to avoid this. The earlier Apaches will cruise at around knots consuming 15 gallons per hour.
The stronger Aztecs normally cruise close to knots while consuming nearly twice the fuel as the Apaches. Early Apaches had gallon fuel bladders in each wing while the later Aztecs doubled this with fuel cells, for a total of gallons. All models are capable of carrying an extra gallons in optional wingtip tanks.
Apaches have generous loading options; most pilots can get away with filling four seats with full tanks and a little bit of baggage.
Piper PA-23-230 Aztec
All six seats can be filled in later models with full tanks. Depending on options, the early s have a useful load of 1, pounds and the later F a load of 2, pounds. Single engine performance in both the Apaches and Aztecs is pretty miserable compared to the Piper Seneca. Published climb rates are between feet per minute, but most Apache pilots know that this is only realistic in optimal conditions.
In fact, many pilots have reported being barely able to maintain altitude on a single engine with a loaded PA on a hot day.
Piper Aztec “E” PA-23 Pilot’s Operating Manual
The rear cabin steadily grew throughout the years, adding a third row with a fifth, and eventually a sixth seat. This third row is very uncomfortable for standard passengers though, so many owners have removed this third row to reduce weight and make room for more cargo. The Piper Apache is very forgiving for balance limitations.
Photo by FlugKerl2. Pilots flying this modification have reported an increased useful load, better climb performance, increased cruise speed, lower fuel burn at cruise, and safer single-engine characteristics. Just be careful — older Apaches can quickly drain the bank account if not actively maintained.
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