Mooney M20M "Bravo"

Flight Notes - how to fly the Mooney Bravo

Mooneys are built to go fast. A focus on speed seems natural for a company that at one time offered a plane powered by a Porsche engine. Although the partnership with the Germans didn't last, Mooney's commitment to speed certainly has. In keeping with this idea, Mooney has experimented with a number of "big engine" models. The Bravo is Mooney's fastest; with 270 horsepwer all the way to 25,000 feet, the Bravo can attain speeds up to 220 KTAS, making it the fastest single-engine airplane currently produced.

In 1989, the M-20M TLS (Turbocharged Lycoming Sabre) was introduced. It married the fuselage of the Porsche-powered Mooney PFM to a turbocharged and intercooled Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AF1A six-cylinder engine. Capable of producing 350 horsepower (hp), Mooney limited the M-20M to 270 horsepower to provide a quieter cabin and longer time between engine overhauls. It also had a three-bladed prop, which added ground clearance. (Besides, pilots find three-bladed props sexy.)

Electronically operated Precise Flight speed brakes became standard equipment on the TLS. With its high cruise speeds and high-altitude performance, the speed brakes were a welcome addition. Coming down from altitude, the pilot can leave the power at higher settings to avoid shock-cooling the engine and use the speed brakes to stay at the desired airspeed. Electric rudder trim was also added to compensate for the high torque forces with the big engine. Only minor engineering changes were incorporated into the plane from 1989 to 1996—testament to a solid initial design.

In mid-1996, Mooney introduced a new version of the TLS. The most significant change in this model was an engine upgrade. Engineers decided that additional cooling lubrication was needed, so the airplane was fitted with the Lycoming TIO-540-AF1B. The engine's "B" designation gave the new Mooney its name: Bravo.

Although turbocharging an engine adds cost and complexity, it gives the airplane more flexibility as a vehicle. You can get higher and go faster when the turbocharger is feeding the engine denser air than it would normally find at higher altitudes. And this is what the Bravo is all about; the ability to get above the bulk of the nasty weather and still achieve 220-knot cruise speeds. At low to medium altitudes, the only thing that will outrun the Bravo is Mooney's own Ovation. Above 10,000 feet, the Bravo will outrun virtually any new production piston single or twin, even challenging such accepted twin-engine speed demons as the out-of-production Baron 58P and Aerostar 601P.

That's what defines this aircraft's appeal: it's about getting there fast. And in that department, the Bravo stands alone.


U.S. Metric
Maximum Speed 220 knots 253 mph 407 km per hour
Cruise Speed 195 knots 224 mph 361 km per hour
Engine Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AF1B 270 horsepower
Propeller McCauley three-bladed constant speed
Maximum Range 1,050 nm 1,204 miles 1,945 km
Service Ceiling 25,000 feet 7,620 meters
Fuel Capacity 89 U.S. gallons 337 liters
Empty Weight 2,189 pounds 993 kilograms
Maximum Gross Weight 3,368 pounds 1,528 kilograms
Length 26.75 feet 8.15 meters
Wingspan 36 feet 11 meters
Height 8.33 feet 2.5 meters
Seating Up to 4
Useful Load 1,179 pounds 535 kilograms