The Cessna TTX, an evolution of the Columbia 400, was built for speed and looked the part. Its sleek, modern curves were a sharp departure from Cessna’s traditional high-wing designs, and at the time of its introduction, the Cessna TTX was the fastest piston-engined aircraft in their entire portfolio.
This need for speed went beyond the realm of Cessna – traditional hot rods like the Cirrus SR22 and the pressurized Piper Mirage were also left in the dust by the TTX.
Unfortunately, in the chase of groundbreaking speed and revolutionizing general aviation, the Cessna TTX flew too close to the sun. In its latest iteration, the TTX pushed its performance envelope further and was priced lower than Cirrus’ closest offer by around $50000. It turned out to not be enough.
During its history, despite being a similar aircraft at its core, it went by Columbia 400, Cessna Corvalis TT, Cessna TTX, and finally Cessna TTx.
The company’s approach to marketing scrambled the head of prospective buyers, and while the TTx could beat the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 series without breaking a sweat, Cessna fell on its own swords – Cirrus buyers chased Cirrus aesthetics and performance, and the same could be said for Cessna owners.
Timeless classics like the Skyhawk and Skylane were flying off the shelves at Cessna because that is what the company had established itself for. Meanwhile, orders for the TTX family fell ever deeper into an unrecoverable stall until the eventual termination of production in 2018.
Despite its meager market performance, the units that did make it to the hands of owners are undeniable hits. The unique ramp aesthetics mixed with great flying characteristics and a stupendous cockpit arrangement make anyone who encounters a Cessna TTX wishes there were more being made to this day. It looks, feels, and flies like the Cessna of the future.
Cessna TTX / Specs
The Cessna TTX is a single-engine low-wing general aviation aircraft with fixed landing gear. It was built by Columbia Aircraft as the Columbia 400 between 2004 and 2007.
After Columbia’s takeover, Cessna began marketing it as the Cessna 400, with evolutions of the design eventually earning the name Cessna TTX in 2013, with the internal designation of Model T240. The aircraft’s origins can be traced through the Columbia 300 down to the Lancair ES.
Unlike its in-house Cessna cousins, the Model T240’s assembly line had no hammering, riveting, or any metal clanging around to be heard. The aircraft’s composite structure was a major factor towards achieving its excellent performance without having to dish out on a thirsty engine.
The Cessna TTX is powered by a Continental TSIO-550-C engine. This powerplant outputs 310 hp at 2600 hp and is equipped with two turbochargers, which gave origin to the “TT” in the aircraft’s name.
The air-cooled engine is fuel-injected and is comprised of six cylinders in a horizontally-opposed configuration. It is rated for 100LL avgas and is capable of being operated lean of peak.
While the previous Cessna 400 had been equipped with a Garmin G1000, at Sun ‘n Fun 2011 Cessna unveiled an upgrade branded the Cessna TTX which was to be equipped with an all-new Garmin G2000.
This new avionics arrangement features two 14-inch high definition screens with a touchscreen controller based on an infra-red grid to accept commands. Like most modern Garmin suites, the G2000 packs its signature synthetic vision that has become a pilot favorite worldwide.
The Cessna TTX also has a dual attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) for redundancy, and a GFC 700 ARHS-based autopilot that can be coupled to the Garmin G2000. The autopilot panel was revised from the Cessna 400 to have a scroll wheel instead of just nose up and down keys.
Combined with the G2000, the GFC 700 allows for coupled go-arounds and it can perform potentially life-saving functions when actuated by the Garmin Electronic Stability Protection System, described below.
Safety features include a Garmin GTS800 traffic avoidance system, GTX 33ES transponder compliant with ADS-B regulations, and a Electronic Stability Protection System (ESP). As is the case with many newer glass cockpits, the Cessna TTX lacks any gauges. Instead, back-up instrumentation is provided by the simple yet reliable all-in-one L-3 Trilogy display.
The Trilogy traditionally gives the pilot the aircraft’s attitude, altitude plus pressure setting, heading, slip, airspeed, and the instrument’s battery status.
The ESP equipment is designed to act as a safeguard when hand-flying the aircraft. Using data from the avionics suite, the ESP stays passive until it detects that the aircraft is entering a state that can be dangerous to its integrity, crew, and passengers.
Once one of the limits is exceeded, the Electronic Stability Protection applies a control force towards stable flight. Beyond actuating the controls, EPS can also command the engine: if it detects an underspeed situation, it will add power to prevent a stall. If the aircraft is overspeeding, ESP will reduce throttle.
Another magnificent feature of Garmin’s Electronic Stability Protection is the ability to detect and act in case of crew incapacitation. If the ESP remains active over a certain amount of time without any pilot input, the system triggers the aircraft’s GFC 700 autopilot with the flight director on altitude hold mode.
For pilots intending to use the Cessna TTX for stall or spin recovery practice, it is possible to disable the ESP for any desired length of time. To protect high-flying pilots from hypoxia, the Cessna TTX is fitted with a pulse oximeter.
While the Cessna 400 was not rated for flight into known icing conditions, the TTX changed that with an upgraded anti-icing system that could provide up to 2.5 hours of protection in icing conditions.
Flying into known icing conditions is not generally recommended to put it mildly, but in situations where it is unavoidable, having an aircraft that can do the job without issue is excellent.
Following feedback from Cessna 400 owners about the COM 2 radio generally working better than COM 1, the latter’s position was changed to the top of the fuselage to avoid interference from the landing gear and steps.
The Cessna TTX maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is of 3600 lbs, with a maximum landing weight of 3420 lbs. The empty weight is 2575 lbs. It seats one pilot plus three passengers.
Cessna TTX / Model Prices
During the aircraft’s production run, the Cessna TTX with the standard equipment fit was sold for $810785. This was cheaper than its direct competitor, the Cirrus SR22T, which cost owners $859800 at the time.
Cessna TTX / Performance and Handling
The Cessna TTX’s performance is similar to its predecessors from Columbia Aircraft. This aircraft has a speed limit of 235 knots indicated. Standard cruise is 235 knots of true airspeed at its service ceiling of FL250, reached with a best rate of climb of 1500 feet per minute (fpm). Following these parameters yield a range of 1107 nautical miles plus NBAA IFR reserves.
The Continental TSIO-550-C engine gives the pilot some flexibility about parameters. Tests made at FL110 and 50 ºF rich of peak turbine inlet temperature resulted in a cruise speed of 199 KTAS, with a fuel flow of 24.7 gallons per hour (gph). When flying 50 to 75 ºF lean of peak in the same aircraft, a cruise speed of 189 KTAS was achieved but with a fuel burn of 17.8 gph.
Controls on the Cessna TTX are described as naturally responsive and precise, which has earned the aircraft a reputation as a pilot’s airplane, perfect for those particularly fond of hand flying.
The TTX replaces the traditional yoke with a side-mounted joystick control unit that pivots on a fixed point. The grip is perfectly in reach of the pilot with one’s arm on the armrest, making it a very comfortable and effortless experience even on longer flights.
The aircraft has few vices, and its safety is augmented by the Garmin ESP system that prevents pilots from exceeding the flight envelope. Unusually for an aircraft with docile handling, Cessna has decided to add a rudder limiter.
The Cessna TTX does require a generous amount of right rudder in flight, which can make long climbs tiresome despite the rudder hold system implemented.
Cessna TTX / Model Maintenance Schedule
The turbocharger on the Cessna TTX increases performance, particularly at higher altitudes and long flights, but it also brings on additional maintenance costs. The engine’s overhaul is considered to be on the expensive side, which is why many owners who would not operate in the envelope that benefits the turbocharged TSIO-550-C opt for the Columbia 350 instead.
Cessna TTX / Modifications and Upgrades
The Cessna TTX has spent most of its life without major modifications, itself being an upgraded version of the previous Cessna 400 acquired from Columbia Aviation.
Cessna TTX / Where to Find Replacement Parts
As is the case with most Cessna products, finding parts for the Cessna TTX is an uneventful affair for the most part. However, due to its composite construction, many owners have reported that it is not particularly easy to find shops with technicians with enough experience to conduct certain repairs on the aircraft.
Cessna TTX / Model Common Problems
While the Cessna TTX is an owner and pilot favorite, there are a few items those familiar with the type have complained about.
Given the aircraft’s performance, the rudder limiter has been often dubbed a useless addition for two reasons. It does not serve its intended purpose very well given the docile nature of the aircraft, and is also prone to breaking due to wear, which adds expenses to the aircraft without providing any noticeable benefits.
The lack of a yaw damper makes long climbs an exhausting affair as the Cessna TTX requires considerable right rudder input.
The passenger door cannot be opened from the outside, which means a passenger or flight instructor needs to wait for the pilot to open their side of the cockpit, climb through, reach over then open it. It is also arguably a safety issue as it makes it harder to remove an incapacitated person from the passenger’s seat in the event of an accident.
Another safety-related complaint about the TTX is that it lacks airbags, despite these being standard fits to the rest of Cessna‘s classic piston line and the Cessna TTX’s direct competitors, the Cirrus SR20 and SR22.
Cessna TTX / Insurance Options
According to insurance company BWI FLY, there are seven carriers quoting Cessna TTX insurance in the United States. Rates vary drastically based on the experience of the pilot in question.
An annual policy with $1000000 in liability coverage plus $400000 in hull coverage is available from $4050 to $6530 for a pilot with a PPL, IFR rating, over 1000 hours, and 25 hours in the Cessna TTX. For a low time or underqualified pilot, this number grows to $8150-$12300.
Cessna TTX / Model Resale Value
As of 2021, a 2012 Cessna TTX can fetch around $650000 in the market. Older aircraft will generally see a cost reduction, while newer ones will fetch close to their brand new price if in good conditions. Due to the somewhat costly engine overhaul, the amount of hours in the engine is also a significant factor in resale value.
Cessna TTX / Owner Reviews
Author Richard L. Collins of Flying magazine once described the aircraft as “airplane”, because it encompasses what he truly believes an airplane should be. The Cessna TTX is a capable high performance aircraft that beats the competition in altitude, speed, and range while doing so at a great price point for what is on offer.
Cessna TTX / Similar Aircraft
The main nemesis of the Cessna TTX in the market, and ultimately the aircraft that sent it to its proverbial grave as far as a Cessna is concerned, is the Cirrus SR22. This single-engine four-seater by Minnesota’s Cirrus Aircraft has a Continental IO-550-N engine also producing 310 hp like the Cessna TTX’s.
It has a cruise speed of 183 knots, and a range of 1049 nautical miles plus reserves at its service ceiling of FL175, which it can reach with a rate of climb of 1270 ft/min. Avionics in the Cirrus are the tailor-made Garmin Cirrus Perspective.
To compete directly with the Cessna TTX in performance, Cirrus introduced the turbocharged SR22T. This increased the service ceiling to FL250 and brought cruise speeds up to 211 knots, with a top speed of 219 knots.
Cirrus Aircraft could never compete with Cessna as a whole, but they have had the high performance composite single-engine aircraft niche locked down for decades. Cessna, while a giant as a whole, ultimately failed to dislodge Cirrus from this position.
The sales numbers paint a clear picture: while Cirrus sold 6149 SR22 units from 2001 to 2019, Cessna barely broke the 300-unit mark between 2004 and 2018.
Cessna TTX / Clubs You Can Join
The Cessna owner community traditionally leans towards the high-wing classics, but the TTX still finds a home in the large associations such as the Cessna Flyer Association and Cessna Owner Association. There are Facebook groups and forums specifically catering to Cessna TTX owners for fans of this misunderstood hot rod.
Question: Why Did Cessna Stop Making the TTX?
Answer: The reason why Cessna TTX production ceased was poor market performance. Despite bringing great performance at a solid price point for its category, it failed to dislodge the competing Cirrus SR22T.
Question: Is the Cessna TTX Pressurized?
Answer: No, the Cessna TTX is not pressurized despite having a somewhat high flight ceiling at 25000 ft. The aircraft comes with a built-in pulse oxymeter to warn pilots of incoming hypoxia symptoms during high altitude operations.
Question: How Much Does a Cessna TTX Cost?
Answer: A new Cessna TTX sold for $810785 during its production, while a second hand unit goes for around $650000.
Question: How Far Can a Cessna TTX Fly?
Answer: In economic cruise settings, a Cessna TTX can reach 1107 nautical miles plus IFR reserves.
Question: When Did Cessna Buy Columbia?
Answer: In 2007, Cessna Aircraft acquired Columbia Aircraft and promptly renamed the Columbia 350 and Columbia 400 to Cessna 350 and Cessna 400. The latter was the basis for the Cessna TTX, or Model T240.