Information for Prospective Twin Cessna 421 Owners

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The Cessna 421 Golden Eagle is the top-of-the-line Cessna piston twin. Introduced in 1968, it's popularity was proven by a very successful production run of about 1,920 aircraft produced until Cessna shut down its entire piston production line in 1985. The 421 was derived from the 411 model. The marketing strategy was to develop a medium twin that could compete with the turboprops of the day yet cost less to acquire and operate. It met this mission well, with over 200 airplanes sold during the first production year.

The hallmarks of the 421 are cabin comfort and load carrying ability. It utilizes TCM GTSIO-520 engines producing 375 HP each. Because they are geared, the prop RPM is low compared to a direct drive engine - about 1/3 lower. Typically in cruise, they turn at 1,800 RPM which makes for a very quiet cabin. Passengers can converse without headsets and arrive at their destination less fatigued. Like the other 400 series airplanes, the cabin features a galley, a potty and fold out writing tables.

The high power output of the geared engines allows for a maximum gross weight in the later models of 7,560 lbs and a useful load of in excess of 2,200 lbs. The 421 flies well at higher gross weights and has good single engine performance (for a piston twin).

Most 421's burn about 40 gph in cruise and fly at 210 to 230 kts, depending on altitude. Standard fuel capacity ranged from 170 gallons in the early models to 213 gallons in the later models. As with all Twin Cessna's, aux tanks are available which can add significantly to range. Although the service ceiling is 30,000 feet, most owners fly their airplanes in the low to mid 20's on long trips in order to keep the cabin altitude under 10,000 ft (max. pressure differential is 5.0 psi in the later models).

Four models were built: the 421, 421A, 421B and 421C. The production runs of the straight 421 and the A model were brief, ending in 1970. In 1971, the B model was introduced with major changes, including a 2-foot increase in both the wingspan and the nose section. During the production run of the 421B, window size was increased and known icing certification was added in 1975. The C model was introduced in 1976. The most noticeable change was the removal of the tip tanks and incorporation of a two tank (left/right) wet-wing fuel system. The electro-mechanical landing gear was replaced by a simpler and more reliable hydraulic system and the size of the vertical fin and rudder were increased. 421's produced in 1980 and afterwards (from serial #800 and up) featured trailing link landing gear. Almost half of the total production run of 421's were C models.

421's also incorporated some features only found on larger aircraft at the time, including an engine fire detection and extinguishing system and an annunciator panel. Cockpit visibility is excellent thanks to generous windows and the airplane is a very stable instrument platform.

Operating costs are similar to the other 400 series Cessna's with the exception of a slightly higher fuel burn and significantly higher overhaul costs. Many owners find these increase costs are more than offset by the superb performance and comfort the 421 offers.

The 421 is arguably the best cabin-class piston twin ever made. To get a better package of performance and comfort requires stepping up to a turboprop.


1967 - 1968 1969 1970 - 1975 1976 - 1984
Model 421 421A 421B 421C
Engines Cont. GTSIO - 520D375 HP TBO: 1600 hours Cont. GTSIO - 520D375 HP TBO: 1600 hours Cont. GTSIO - 520H375 HP TBO: 1600 hours Cont. GTSIO - 520L375 HP TBO: 1600 hours
Cruise Speed 215 kts 215 kts 225 kts 225 kts
Useful Load 2,563 lbs 2,588 lbs 2,588 lbs 2,402 lbs
Approx. 2015 Price $95,000 $115,000 $135,000 $210,000 to $450,000 **
NOTES: - original engines had 1200 TBO. Upgraded engines with heavier cases have 1600 hr TBO. - 170 gallons usable fuel (248 optional) - 3 inches added to fuselage - 40 lb gross weight increase - fuel capacity increased by 5 gallons - Nose section extended 25 inches - Wing span increased by 2 feet - Landing gear beefed up - Several engine improvements: intercooler, oil cooler, turbocharger - Cowl flaps eliminated - Max takeoff weight increased 400 lbs. Landing weight increased by 700 lbs. - Cabin differential increased to 5 psi - Tip tanks removed; wingspan increased to accommodate wet wing fuel system - Vertical stabilizer and rudder enlarged - Hydraulic landing gear replaces electro-mechanical system - New turbocharger and larger intercooler added - Trailing link landing gear added in 1980