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TOPIC: Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning 11 months 4 weeks ago #60

  • grodolph
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I am in the market for a Piper Arrow III (my first airplane!), and one of the planes I'm considering has air conditioning. Living in Texas, air conditioning is near and dear to our hearts, and having it in a plane would be a huge plus. However, it seems that a lot of planes have had their air conditioning systems either deactivated or removed entirely. Is this typically done to gain useful load and/or reduce maintenance expenses? What are your experiences with the air conditioning systems installed in the Arrows (and other PA-28s to the extent they are the same)? Are air conditioning parts hard to come by (one owner told me that the compressor belt for his Arrow was on backorder)?

Thanks,
Grant
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Air Conditioning 11 months 4 weeks ago #61

  • DrPatSr
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I have a 2002 Archer III with Piper factory air conditioning. I'm the third owner of this plane, and I love it.
I have a slow leak of refrigerant requiring that I recharge the system every 12-18 months. I have resisted suggestions that I replace the compressor, preferring instead to recharge periodically. That works fine, and I still have very cold air this year from last summer's recharge Other than that I've had no problem.
I live in Alabama, and our summer this year has been very hot and humid.
I risk the ire of my pilot buddies saying so, but if it was between a 430 and the AC, I might take the AC right now!

One note: If you get an air conditioned plane, watch the difference in weight and balance calculations from "generic" weight figures for Pipers posted on some sites. It adds some weight reducung available payload, but again is worth it.
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Air Conditioning 11 months 1 week ago #63

Grant,

I own a 1974 Arrow II with PiperAire since 2007. I think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. When I bought my airplane, the air had been disabled by removing the belt but not removed. I opted to have it repaired back to functioning condition. It required a new compressor and a hose the rest of the system has worked well. The system was an R12 system which made it a bit pricey to refill with refrigerant but not impossible as many older jets still have R12 systems. Even living in Michigan it is awfully nice on a hot and muggy day to be able to turn on the system which cools the cockpit quickly. I have used it in flight when flying down south in Mississippi at low altitude. It only cost about 3 knots when the condenser door is open. The only aggravation has been on the A/C equipped Arrows, the alternator belt is a 1/4" section belt that is not too robust as I am on my third belt since 2007 which is around 450 hours. Pulley alignment is super critical as the belt is as tight as a guitar string and with the slightest misalignment the belt will roll over and invert and then fail. Changing the belt requires removal of the prop. The other thing for your mechanic to watch is the compressor is fastened to the bracket using the lower compressor case screws and they must use sealant because if they are removed the Freon will leak out which is costly to replace. In my view, it is all worth it.
Jim
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Air Conditioning 11 months 5 days ago #64

  • kshaw
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I had a flight instructor that had an Arrow with air conditioning. He had a continuous problem where belt would come off often within 15-20 hours of replacement. This was very expensive because an A&P had to remove the prop to install a new belt. He was not able to find a permanent fix for the problem. He eventually removed his.
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