- 05 Jan 2022
- Sherryn de Vos
- AvBuyer Africa Articles
Tracing its roots back to 1927, Piper Aircraft is one of the most recognized manufacturers of turboprop planes today. The company produces a selection of single- and twin-piston engine aircraft, and turboprops. Since it began operations, the company has produced over 150 different aircraft models, the majority of which still fly today.
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A new Piper single-engine turboprop costs between $2.1m for a Piper M500, and $3.3m for a Piper M600/SLS (according to Aircraft Bluebook’s Winter 2021 data). Buyers can buy a used Piper turboprop for less, with the price ultimately depending on the model, age and condition of the aircraft. For example, Aircraft Bluebook’s Winter 2021 data shows that a 2010-model Piper Meridian retails for an average of $1.075m, while a 2001-model Piper Meridian costs $550k. A much older 1980-model Piper Cheyenne costs $360k.
There were 820 Piper Meridian and M Class turboprops in operation worldwide (excluding Piper Malibu JetProp conversions), according to JETNET data in December 2021. The Piper Meridian has the largest fleet, with 546 units in operation. At the time of writing, there had been 31 fleet retirements (again excluding Malibu JetProps) from a total 878 units built.
According to Piper, the M600 has a maximum range of 1,658 nautical miles, while the Piper Meridian and M500 have top ranges of 1,000nm. Carrying four passengers and available fuel, the Piper Meridian offers a range of 754nm, while the M600 flies up to 1,278nm, according to Conklin & de Decker.
The Piper M500 provides an excellent step-up aircraft for operators seeking an entry into turboprops operations. It fills the gap between the leading piston products (including Piper’s M350, and the next level of performance offered by Piper’s M600/SLS and Daher’s TBM 940. For model-specific comparisons, check out AvBuyer’s Turboprop Comparison articles.
Piper Turboprops Overview
By Gerrard Cowan - Editor, Aircraft Reviews
An iconic name in aviation, Piper Aircraft has long had an interest in the turboprop market, with the past two decades proving particular successful for the US manufacturer.
Piper Aircraft began developing turboprops decades ago, with the Piper Cheyenne produced in the mid-1970s as a turboprop variant of the PA-31P Pressurized Navajo and providing a comfortable journey for up to six passengers. More than 800 of the platforms were developed.
Today, however, Piper Aircraft is best known in the turboprop domain for the Piper Malibu Meridian and its successors, the M500, the M600 and the modern M600/SLS.
The Piper Meridian, which was certified in 2000, is a single-engine turboprop variant of the earlier Piper Malibu. It was a significant success for Piper Aircraft, with hundreds of platforms sold to a diverse range of customers, such as Sweden’s Aston Harald AB, and training specialists like Airline Transport Professionals (ATP).
The Meridian has a 500shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A engine, and a range of about 1,000nm and, since 2009, the aircraft has featured Garmin G1000 avionics. The Meridian has a comfortable main cabin in a club-four layout, accessed through a rear air-stair door.
Piper ‘M’ Class
Over the years, Piper has developed its single-engine turboprop products, and opted to change the naming format of its aircraft which are now known as ‘M’ class.
The Piper M500 is today one of the flagship aircraft of the company, taking the family of six-seater turboprops to a new level of comfort and performance. It has a range of 1,000nm and a maximum cruise speed of 260ktas.
Major improvements over the Piper Meridian include a new Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite, which features GFC 700 Autopilot capability and an enhanced automatic flight control system. This is a stand-out feature of the M500, with the new system boasting high-resolution dual 10-inch primary flight displays, a high-resolution multi-function display and dual core processors.
Subsequently, the Piper M600 was launched in 2015, winning a range of different customers in its relatively short time on the market to date.
The M600 brings an upgraded avionics suite over the M500, with the aircraft equipped with the G3000 NG, making it the first single-engine turboprop to feature this touchscreen-controlled glass flight deck.
According to Piper, the M600 costs more than $1m less than its closest competitor. It also has a range of advanced safety features and the capacity to carry more fuel through a clean-sheet wing design. This provides it with a greater range of 1,658nm.
The Piper M600 is powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A 600 shp engine, while the interior has also been significantly upgraded with ergonomically, aesthetically designed seats that are optimized for passenger comfort.
Since its initial introduction to the market, M600 today has been upgraded to the Piper M600/SLS (SLS standing for Safety, Luxury and Support), and this became the first aircraft to be certified for the Garmin Autoland System which supplies the “Safety” element of the name. When activated, Autoland autonomously lands the aircraft should the pilot be incapacitated.
Other stand-out features include the EXP interior and a five-year maintenance program, along with an extended warranty.
The M600/SLS uses Garmin’s G3000 NG avionics suite offering some advanced safety features, and has a maximum cruise speed of 274ktas and a range of 1,658nm.
Read Mike Chase's Turboprop Comparisons:
Piper M600: What’s it Like to Fly?
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