Aircraft Spotlight Mooney M20J 201/205

By Jason Zilberbrand

November 29, 2021 Educational

Mooney 201/205 M20J

Mooney

The Mooney International Corporation took root in 1929 through Albert Mooney and his brother Arthur. Together they established the company in Wichita, Kansas. However, they faced the perils of a crashing economy. When the Great Depression struck in 1930, Mooney went bankrupt. While the brothers worked other jobs, Al continued to feed into Mooney Aircraft Incorporated, eventually bringing in financial bankers Charles Yankey and W. L. McMahon.

Mooney’s first aircraft was the Mooney Mite M-18, a single-seater aircraft designed to entice ex-fighter pilots post-military service. This plane remained in production until the 1950s. By 1953, Mooney moved to Kerrville, Texas. From there, the M20 sped up production and took its first flight in 1953. It received its certification in 1955. Sales started slow but picked up as the aircraft became known for its speed through its Lycoming O-320 engine.

Since its start, Mooney has experienced many setbacks and hardships, mostly due to the economy. Mooney has filed several bankruptcies and has had many different owners. At one point, Mooney was tied to Chinese operations through its new ownership, Soaring America, where production resumed in Kerrville. But Chinese investors had other developments and projects in mind. One such project included the introduction of two new M10 models in 2014. However, by 2017 the entire project was canceled.

In 2019 and again in 2020, Mooney shut down and either furloughed or laid off its employees. Even after reopening, Mooney continued to search for an investor. By the fall of 2020, a group of aircraft owners and pilots named US Financial, LLC, bought a majority share of Mooney from Soaring America. Today, this same group operates the aviation company under the guidance of CEO Jonny Pollack.

  • Country of Origin: America

Mooney M20J Statistics (1977)

162 kts

Maximum Speed

974 nm

Maximum Range

4

Maximum Occupants

1977-1987

Range Of Years Manufactured

1,634

Total Aircraft Build

About 70

Current Operational Aircraft

800 lbs

Useful Load

$152,943

Average Sale Value

152 Days

Average Days On Market For Sale

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VREF Demand Rating (Buyer/Seller/Normal)

Operational Resources

Operations Manual

Maintenance Document

Local Resources

Manufacturer

Insurance

Mooney M20J Details

Interior

You’re more likely to find fully or partially refurbished M20J aircraft because of its production time frame (1977-1987). The original factory interior of the aircraft would be enough room to fit four people. This model does not particularly have a large cabin interior, but it did have a sloping windshield, which improved its previous model. The M20J’s original interior was constructed from a durable fabric rather than leather, like many modern-day aircraft.

Exterior

Again, because the M20J is a vintage aircraft, you are more likely to find them with a new paint job or updated exterior. The original exterior featured a mostly white paint job with stripes running horizontally.

Many wonder why the tail on an M20J appears to be “backwards.” But the reason for this now iconic design is that Art once asked Al to design the original wood spars so they could be built on a flat table. This design is reflected in its T-shaped tail, which looks reversed but is now part of many Mooney aircraft signature designs.

Additional changes were made down the line to several M20J external characteristics, including adding fiberglass wingtips, a better dorsal fin, and ventilation. Its McCauley propeller changed slightly in design over its production years, sporting both a square and round tip at some point. Later models also had the option of split removable rear seats.

Avionics

The 1977 Mooney M20J may or may not contain the following standard avionics:

  • PMA 8000B with a 6-place stereo intercom

  • Garmin GNS-530

  • King KX-155 navigation/communication

  • GTX-330 transponder

  • KCS-55 HSI system

  • BFG WX-1000+ StormScope GPS steering

  • S-Tec 60-2 autopilot

  • GEM 602 graphic engine monitor

  • Shadin fuel flow wired for Garmin 696 (yoke mount)

Specifications

  • Cruise: 169 kts.

  • Range: 974 nm.

  • Max Takeoff Weight: 2,740 lbs.

  • Take Off Run: 830 ft.

  • Landing Roll: 770 ft.

  • Wing Span: 35 ft.

  • Length: 24 ft. 8 in.

  • Height: 8 ft. 4 in.

  • Take Off Run (50ft): 1,700 ft.

  • Configuration: Single Engine, Piston, Retractable Gear

  • Max Seats: 4

Mooney M20 Models

M20

Early models featured wooden structures in the wings and tail. However, these features were a safety hazard and proved dangerous after several incidents of the wooden tails breaking while in flight. 1960 saw the last of these wooden features. This particular model was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 engine. A total of 200 of these were made.

M20A

This 1958 variant saw an engine change through the use of the Lycoming O-360. This kicked up its horsepower to 180 compared to its predecessor at 150. There were 499 of these made during the years 1958 to 1960.

M20B

This 1961 model kept the same engine as the M20A and made 222 in total. This is the first aircraft you would see without wood parts. From here on, all M20s would be made of all metal and other necessary materials.

M20C Ranger

In this 1962 model, the M20C made a few tweaks to reduce some of the issues the M20B had. It changed to the Hartzell 74" Constant Speed HC-C2YK/7666-2 propeller with Hartzell governor, Dl-4, and a reduced cowl flap opening. To take off some of the backpressure, its exhaust system changed to a Hanlon & Wilson exhaust, which was more lightweight and efficient. Sound and lighting improved with this model, as did its weight, balance, and a few other alterations.

M20D Master

The 1963 M20D featured a Lycoming O-360 engine with 180 horsepower. A total of 161 of these models were made.

M20E Super 21 / Chaparral

Horsepower on this 1964 aircraft increased to 200. Additionally, it featured a Bendix fuel injection and altitude power boost. We also see an engine shift to the Lycoming IO-360.

M20F Executive 21

The 1966 M20F kept the same horsepower as its predecessor. Furthermore, its fuselage extended by 1 foot and its cabin by 10 inches. This model maintains the same engine as the Super 21 with the Lycoming IO-360 but now with Power Control.

M20G Statesman

The 1968 Statesman M20 model returned to a Lycoming O-360 engine, pulling its horsepower back to 180. The M20G also had an upgraded Long (F model) fuselage, fuel capacity of 52 gallons, Power Control, and a one-piece windshield.

M20J 201

The introduction of the M20J is where many started to take notice of Mooney in the aviation industry. The M20J model was often referred to as the Mooney 201 because it could fly at 201 miles per hour (323 km/h) using its 200 horsepower (150 kW) engine. Here, the propeller is squared off, and it has a drag reduction similar to that of the F model.

M20K 231

We see our first turbocharged M20 model with the 1979 M20K ignited by an engine change to a Continental TSIO-360-GB or -LB. This model also featured a Rajay-fixed wastegate, 75-gallon fuel capacity, and Dorsal fin air scoop. Minor details included curved wingtips and enclosed lighting.

M20K 252TSE

Also supercharged, this 1986 M20K model came with a Continental TSIO-360-MB engine with the same configuration as its 1979 M20K relative.

M20K Encore

This 1997 M20K Encore model featured a supercharged engine through the Continental TSIO-360-SB. This kicked up its horsepower to 220 compared to its predecessor at 210. Only 27 of these were made.

M20L PFM

This 1988 M20 model had a horsepower of 217 but was not turbocharged. This model is unique as it is powered by a Porsche PFM 3200 engine, which had been created using the engine design of Porsche’s 911 Carrera. This model saw a few changes to its throttle with a replacement mixture and propeller controls using single power control. The M20L PFM’s mixture and propeller rotation speed were adjusted automatically based on the setting of this single control. This particular model did not last, and only 41 were ever made.

M20M TLS / M20M Bravo

Different from the M20L, the 1989 M20M made an engine switch to the Lycoming TIO-540. This turbocharged aircraft had a horsepower of 270 and was made until 2006 with 314 units created.

M20R Ovation / Ovation 2

The 1994 Ovation saw a kick up in horsepower to 280 using a Continental IO-550-G engine. This model featured an extra-long body and was produced until 2001 with 266 units made.

M20S Eagle / Eagle 2

The 1999 M20S continued using the same Continental IO-550-G engine as the Ovation with a reduced horsepower of 244. This model also featured a long body, 2-axis STEC autopilot, and 75-gallon capacity.

M20TN Acclaim

This 2006 model changed engines to the Continental TSIO-550-G and had a horsepower of 280. This turbocharged model was only produced from 2006 to 2008.

M20U Ovation Ultra

As one of the most recent models, the 2017 Ovation Ultra has a Continental IO-550-G engine and 280 horsepower. The starting price for this model was set at $689,000.

M20V Acclaim Ultra

This 2017 model uses a Continental TSIO-550-G engine and has a horsepower of 280. It is turbocharged and has a set price of $769,000.

Top Mooney M20J Questions

How Much Does A Mooney M20J Cost?

The average cost is $145,000 for a pre-owned Mooney M20J. Because the M20J series of aircraft was only produced for ten years spanning from 1977 to 1987, only pre-owned options are available. Its true cost will depend on several factors, including:

  • Demand/Availability

  • Logbooks

  • Condition

  • Engine maintenance

  • Flight time

  • And so much more

You may have the option of financing your purchase, which would make budget maintenance a smoother process.

How Fast Is A Mooney M20J?

It’s true, the Mooney M20J is known as being the first aircraft to reach beyond 200 miles per hour using a 200 horsepower engine.

According to the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), the M20J has a cruise speed of 160 knots with a fuel burn of 11.5 gallons per hour. You could also fly the M20J at 55% power and burn a little under 8 gallons per hour. With a full 64 gallons of fuel in the tanks, you can fly 700 miles carrying a useful load of 800 pounds.

Is It Easy To Fly A Mooney M20J?

The M20J is considered an easy aircraft to fly. It has responsive flight controls and flies similar to other single-engine aircraft. Aviation enthusiasts say the M20J is a good compromise between speed and ease of use. However, landing can be tricky, with most accidents a result of runway loss of control (RLOC), overshot or hard landings, and blown go-arounds.

Are Mooney Aircraft Safe?

The Aviation Safety Network has tracked 1,276 occurrences involving Mooney aircraft. However, a study conducted by the AOPA in 1995 found that 75% of accidents involving Mooney aircraft resulted from pilot error. At about six accidents per 100 aircraft, its comparison group sat at a slightly higher accident rate of 7.7%.

What Engine Does A Mooney M20J Have?

This particular model has a Lycoming IO-360 with a horsepower of 200.

Mooney has experimented with other engines producing turbocharged models, as well as the unique use of one Porsche engine in the 1988 M20L PFM model. Its engine is derived from one of Porsche’s signature automobiles, the 911 Carrera. However, in 2007, Porsche said it would no longer support the M20L’s parts and services, giving up its FAA-type certificate.

Related VREF Resources

Is Buying An Aircraft To Build Flight Time A Good Idea?

VREF Value Vector Newsletter 4th Quarter 2019

Considering The Purchase Of A Mooney M20J?

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