The Aztec was never the fastest light twin, nor the one with the greatest payload, nor the most powerful. But in terms of cabin space, load- hauling ability, fuel economy, range, VMC, short-field performance, durability, and accelerate/stop distance, it matched or beat its rivals handily. What it lacked in panache, it made up in good manners. Today, more than 30 years on, it continues to provide comfortable personal transportation and to labor honestly in the vineyards of commercial aviation. Perhaps more important, it offers many students their introduction to the challenges of multiengine flight, where, like any good instructor, the Aztec is a gentle and reliable friend.
The load-carrying ability of the Aztec had always been one of its selling points, and it truly was prodigious: You could fill the tanks, seats (with 170-pound FAA-standard people), and baggage compartments and still not reach the maximum certificated takeoff weight of 5,200 pounds in the normally aspirated (and minimally equipped) D (the earliest models had a 4,800-pound MTOW. The straight D had a useful load of 2,267 pounds; the turbo, 2,077 pounds.