Average Cloud Tops

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I'm an IFR rated pilot with close to 500 hours total time. All of my
hours thus far have been in C172 and have never flown above 10,000

I'm in a position now to afford a new airplane and have my heart set
on Mooney. My question is, will the Acclaim allow more flyable days
rather than the ovation? Will I get "on top" more often in the
Acclaim at FL250, rather than the ovation at FL200? I would get TKS
on either, but wondering if the Turbo is necessary.

Any insight would be much appreciated.

-- Matthew Rooney, June 16, 2009


"Tops to FL250" is a fairly common filler phrase in the area forecast, so I do think that the ability to reach 250 is useful. Unfortunately the forecast sometimes says "Tops to FL300" so a plane that goes to 250 is not guaranteed to break out.

In my experience with the Piper Malibu at 240 and 250, we were on top all of the time when it was cold on the surface and most of the time when it was warm and crummy on the surface. A lot of times clouds seem to go up to about 20,000'.

Remember also that the final 5000' gives you a greater possibility of climbing out of the ice. You can fly all day through clouds at FL250 as long as it is not icing conditions, which it shouldn't be unless you're in the top of a convective cloud.

-- Philip Greenspun, June 16, 2009

At those altitudes, the only thing you need to avoid is turbulence, unless you just can't stand being in the soup. At 15k and above, I really don't mind being in the clouds in my Ovation.

I would have to ask what you mean by, "flyable day?". Certainly, your passengers, and perhaps you, are more comfortable on top, but if you want to get there, I don't know how many times it will make a difference. OTOH, I am not a big fan of turbo's, so I would ask how many days you might be stuck due to extra maintenance due to the turbo and compare.

To me, the real reason to get the Acclaim is if the trips you plan really benefit by the speed. Also, I am not sure if the speed brakes are standard on the Acclaim, but you really MUST have them when flying at FL250 for safety (IMO). At any rate they will pay for themselves, so get them.

-- Eric Warren, June 17, 2009

PS, are you in Canada?

-- Eric Warren, June 17, 2009

Thank you for your responses. Yes I am in Canada - Ottawa. What I mean by flyable day I suppose is icing levels. Will the Acclaim allow me to fly on top of icing more often than the ovation, or are both aircraft going to give me the same. In your experiences, how high can the icing levels reach? The extra speed claimed by the Acclaim is of no importance to me. What I am truly after is finding good weather on IFR days.

-- Matthew Rooney, June 18, 2009

I would recommend talking to many local pilots about the areas you intend to fly in. I lived in Alberta, and never saw a day with icing that I would have braved with TKS. Icing was really rare as well. OTOH, coastal flyers were braving their ice without TKS.

You can PM me concerning dealing with the distributor and maintenance support for east Canada.

-- Eric Warren, June 19, 2009