Mooney M20M “Bravo”

mooneyMooneys are built to go fast. A focus on speed seems natural for a company that at one time offered a plane powered by a Porsche engine. Although the partnership with the Germans didn’t last, Mooney’s commitment to speed certainly has. In keeping with this idea, Mooney has experimented with a number of “big engine” models. The Bravo is Mooney’s fastest; with 270 horsepwer all the way to 25,000 feet, the Bravo can attain speeds up to 220 KTAS, making it the fastest single-engine airplane currently produced.

In 1989, the M-20M TLS (Turbocharged Lycoming Sabre) was introduced. It married the fuselage of the Porsche-powered Mooney PFM to a turbocharged and intercooled Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AF1A six-cylinder engine. Capable of producing 350 horsepower (hp), Mooney limited the M-20M to 270 horsepower to provide a quieter cabin and longer time between engine overhauls. It also had a three-bladed prop, which added ground clearance. (Besides, pilots find three-bladed props sexy.)

Electronically operated Precise Flight speed brakes became standard equipment on the TLS. With its high cruise speeds and high-altitude performance, the speed brakes were a welcome addition. Coming down from altitude, the pilot can leave the power at higher settings to avoid shock-cooling the engine and use the speed brakes to stay at the desired airspeed. Electric rudder trim was also added to compensate for the high torque forces with the big engine. Only minor engineering changes were incorporated into the plane from 1989 to 1996—testament to a solid initial design.

In mid-1996, Mooney introduced a new version of the TLS. The most significant change in this model was an engine upgrade. Engineers decided that additional cooling lubrication was needed, so the airplane was fitted with the Lycoming TIO-540-AF1B. The engine’s “B” designation gave the new Mooney its name: Bravo.

Although turbocharging an engine adds cost and complexity, it gives the airplane more flexibility as a vehicle. You can get higher and go faster when the turbocharger is feeding the engine denser air than it would normally find at higher altitudes. And this is what the Bravo is all about; the ability to get above the bulk of the nasty weather and still achieve 220-knot cruise speeds. At low to medium altitudes, the only thing that will outrun the Bravo is Mooney’s own Ovation. Above 10,000 feet, the Bravo will outrun virtually any new production piston single or twin, even challenging such accepted twin-engine speed demons as the out-of-production Baron 58P and Aerostar 601P.

That’s what defines this aircraft’s appeal: it’s about getting there fast. And in that department, the Bravo stands alone.

Specifications

U.S. Metric
Maximum Speed 220 knots 253 mph 407 km per hour
Cruise Speed 195 knots 224 mph 361 km per hour
Engine Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AF1B 270 horsepower
Propeller McCauley three-bladed constant speed
Maximum Range 1,050 nm 1,204 miles 1,945 km
Service Ceiling 25,000 feet 7,620 meters
Fuel Capacity 89 U.S. gallons 337 liters
Empty Weight 2,189 pounds 993 kilograms
Maximum Gross Weight 3,368 pounds 1,528 kilograms
Length 26.75 feet 8.15 meters
Wingspan 36 feet 11 meters
Height 8.33 feet 2.5 meters
Seating Up to 4
Useful Load 1,179 pounds 535 kilograms

Flight Notes

Many factors affect flight planning and aircraft operation, including aircraft weight, weather, and runway surface. The recommended flight parameters listed below are intended to give approximations for flights at maximum takeoff or landing weight on a day with International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) conditions.

Important: These instructions are intended for use with Flight Simulator only and are no substitute for using the actual aircraft manual for real-world flight.

Note: As with all of the Flight Simulator aircraft, the V-speeds and checklists are located on the Kneeboard. To access the Kneeboard while flying, press SHIFT+F10, or on the Aircraft menu, click Kneeboard.

Note: All speeds given in Flight Notes are indicated airspeeds. If you’re using these speeds as reference, be sure that you select “Display Indicated Airspeed” in the Realism Settings dialog box. Speeds listed in the specifications table are shown as true airspeeds.

By default, this aircraft has full fuel and payload. Depending on atmospheric conditions, altitude, and other factors, you will not get the same performance at gross weight that you would with a lighter load.

Required Runway Length

Takeoff: 2,000 feet (610 meters), flaps 10
Landing: 2,500 feet (762 meters), flaps full

The length required for both takeoff and landing is a result of a number of factors, such as aircraft weight, altitude, headwind, use of flaps, and ambient temperature. The figures here are conservative and assume:

Weight: 3,200 pounds (975 kilograms)
Altitude: sea level
Wind: no headwind
Temperature: 15° C
Runway: hard surface

Lower weights and temperatures will result in better performance, as will having a headwind component. Higher altitudes and temperatures will degrade performance.

Engine Startup

The engine is running by default when you begin a flight. If you shut the engine down, you can initiate an auto-startup sequence by pressing CTRL+E. If you want to do the startup procedures manually, use the checklist on the Kneeboard.

Taxiing

While taxiing, the power should be set at around 1000 rpm (prop and mixture are full forward.) As you move down the taxiway, turn the nose right and left for directional control by using the rudder (twist the joystick, use the rudder pedals, or press 0 [left] or ENTER [right] on the numeric keypad).

Takeoff

Run through the Before Takeoff checklist, and set flaps to 10 degrees (press F7, or click the flaps lever on the panel).

Cowl flaps should be OPEN for takeoff and climb (click the Cowl Flaps switch).

With the aircraft aligned with the runway centerline, advance the throttle control to full power and monitor the manifold pressure during the initial stage of the takeoff roll (it should remain at or below 38 inches of mercury). Fuel pressure should read a minimum of 24 PSI.

At around 60 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), smoothly pull the stick back (using the joystick or yoke, or press the DOWN ARROW) to raise the nose to 10 degrees above the horizon. Climb out at 85 KIAS.

As soon as you have a positive rate of climb on liftoff (both vertical speed and altitude are increasing), retract the landing gear (press G on the keyboard, or click the landing gear lever on the panel). Then, raise the flaps (press F6, or drag the flaps lever). Accelerate to 105 KIAS.

Climb

For the climb to cruise altitude, the recommended parameters are 2400 rpm (press CTRL+F2, or drag the prop control) and 34 inches manifold pressure (press F2, or drag the throttle control). The cowl flaps should remain open. Your climb speed should be around 120 KIAS.

For best fuel efficiency, adjust the mixture (press CTRL+SHIFT+F2, or drag the mixture control) until the turbine inlet temperature (TIT) gauge reads peak value for the chosen power setting. Changes in altitude or power may require adjustments of TIT. Operation at a TIT in excess of 1,750 F (954 C) is prohibited.

If fluctuations appear on the fuel pressure gauge during prolonged climbs or when you reduce power upon reaching cruise altitude, turn the fuel boost pump on (click the Fuel Boost switch) until the fluctuations cease.

Cruise

Cruise altitude would normally be determined by winds, weather, and other factors. You might want to use these factors in your flight planning if you have created weather systems along your route. Optimum altitude is the altitude that gives the best fuel economy for a given configuration and gross weight. A complete discussion about choosing altitudes is beyond the scope of this section.

Best power settings will result in both high cruise speeds and high fuel flow.

Set the propeller rpm at 2400 and the manifold pressure at 34 inches. Set the mixture at peak TIT. Lower power settings will result in better fuel flow and range.

For best fuel efficiency, adjust the mixture (press CTRL+SHIFT+F2, or drag the mixture control) until TIT reads peak value for the chosen power setting. Changes in altitude or power may require adjustments of TIT. Operation at a TIT in excess of 1,750 F is prohibited.

At altitudes above 22,000 ft (6,706 m) and at manifold pressures above 32 inches, only best power (1,650 degrees TIT) or richer mixture is permitted.

Cowl flaps should be CLOSED for cruise and descent (click the Cowl Flaps lever).

Descent

Avoid extended descents at manifold pressure settings below 15 inches, as the engine may cool excessively.

Using a descent from 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) as an example, set the propeller at 2000 rpm and the manifold pressure as required to maintain a rate of descent of 500 to 750 feet per minute (fpm). A typical descent is done at around 150 KIAS. Keep the engine leaned to peak TIT during your descent.

In the example above, the descent would take approximately 24 minutes to reach sea level and cover nearly 69 miles (111 kilometers). If necessary, you can leave the power up and deploy the speed brakes to increase your rate of descent.

Approach

Below 110 KIAS, you can begin extending the flaps. The flaps are good at reducing airspeed. Extending the landing gear can also reduce speed (140 KIAS or below).

Plan to slow to around 110 KIAS entering the downwind or at your initial approach fix on an instrument approach.

Landing

Final approach with full flaps deployed should be flown at around 75 KIAS. The propeller and mixture controls should be full forward. On final approach, verify that the landing gear is down.

Select a point past the runway threshold and aim for it. Adjust your pitch so that the point remains stationary in your view out the windscreen. Leave the power at your final approach setting, and fly the airplane down to the runway. Reduce power to idle just before flaring and touch down.

Upon touchdown, bring the power back to idle, apply the brakes (press the PERIOD key), and exit the runway. Retract the wing flaps (press F6).

Leave a Reply