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Marvelous Maules! page 3

report by neil macdougall • photos by doyle buehler

The MXT-7-160 (as with Pipers, the engine horsepower follows the series number) Sportplane at US$105,000 is the least expensive model, but you can also get Maules with 235-hp and 260-hp. If you yearn to be the first on your street with a turboprop, there is the 420-shp Allison-engined M-7-420AC for US$450,000. You’ll get a 2,800-fpm climb but only a 930-pound useful load and a plodding 190 mph cruise, although the airspeed is red-lined at 150 mph IAS. (This sounds odd, but true air speed increases with altitude.) Seven of the 10 turboprops delivered are on amphibious floats and one is based on a yacht.

By the summer of 2002, Maule expects to offer a model (presumably the M-9) powered by a 230-hp, 4-cylinder, fuel injected, air and oil cooled diesel engine. The engine will use Jet A1 fuel, which should cut operating costs by 30% to 40%. Built by SMA in France, the SR305 engine has already been flight tested in a Socata Trinidad.

Maules have a door on each side for the front seats, and a door on the right side for the rear seats. A large baggage compartment door opens in the opposite direction. In late model M-4s and more recent types, there’s no vertical structural member between the doors, so that a stretcher and other large objects can be loaded easily. In contrast to what an owner calls this “suicide door,” the front doors are small, and oddly shaped. If you like squirming into a Piper J-3 Cub, you’ll think getting into a Maule is easier. Like the Citabria, the Maules have a flat stance, which ensures a good view over the nose and makes taxiing simple.

Put a lot of power in a light airframe and you get good performance. Few light planes of similar power, except the Zenair CH-801 and the Helio Courier, can match the Maule’s short field capabilities. Precise information on Maules’ performance is as elusive as the recipe for Coca-Cola. Because information in sales literature often differs from that in pilot’s handbooks, we try to use the latter. The Maule airplane flight manual gives no information on climb, cruise, takeoff or landing performance. Stalling speed is noted only in connection with the operating ranges on the airspeed indicator. David Wright of Maule’s engineering department says that performance data are not required by the Civil Air Regulations under which the aircraft were certified.

Reference books, magazine articles and Internet sources provide contradictory figures. Indeed, a Maule brochure gives the gross weight of the M-5-210C as 2,300 pounds in one place and 2,500 pounds in a table on the opposite page. Takeoff over a 50-foot obstacle is said to be 600 feet in both cases! Stalling speed with full flaps, one person, half fuel is 38 mph. In the same configuration, the more recent M-6 has a stalling of 35 mph, hardly the “12 mph slower than the M-5” claimed. The latest sales brochure on the M-7 series gives performance at “light weight.” According to Brent Maule, this means one person and half fuel. Lacking figures for gross weight, journalists often quote the light weight performance, usually without comment.

Other plane makers converted to knots years ago, but Maule still thinks miles per hour sound faster. The 2001 company brochure quotes cruising speeds at 75% power of 120 mph for the 160-hp versions, 135 to 145 mph for the 180-hp models and 160 to 164 mph for the M‑7‑235s. “Do not use for flight planning,” the leaflet says. Could that be because the figures are not for aircraft at gross weight?

The Maule’s stout structure is easy to maintain, and has attracted few airworthiness directives. A typical 1963 M-4 has eight ADs on the airframe and six on the engine. Such a small number is a credit to the manufacturer. Potential buyers should ensure all ADs are already complied with, especially those relating to potential failure of the tail-to-fuselage attach tube or the lift struts. If you have the registration of a plane in which you’re interested, you can find all applicable ADs on Transport Canada’s web site (wwwapps3.tc.gc.ca/Saf-Sec-Sur/2/cawis-swimn/awd-lv-cs1401.asp?rand=).

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