New aircraft models were unveiled by Diamond and Piper at October's Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Expo in Connecticut.

The Matrix, Piper's latest single, was developed from the Malibu Mirage and has an unpressurised airframe and new avionics. Air conditioning and oxygen are standard in the $757,000 airframe.

"The Piper Matrix does everything the Malibu Mirage does, but with the economy of an unpressurised aircraft," says chief executive James Bass.

More than 100 orders of the Matrix have been placed and the first aircraft will be delivered in November. Piper vice-president of sales Bob Kromer says that owners of Beechcraft Bonanzas are seen as potential customers for the new model and "we are really going to be targeting the Cirrus and Columbia owners".

As demand for the new aircraft increases, the Piper Saratoga could be dropped, says Bass. "As long as we see significant market demand, we'll continue to produce it," he says.

The Matrix is equipped with the Avidyne Entegra integrated flightdeck. Maximum cruise speed is 215kt (398km/h) and range with full fuel is greater than 2,490km (1,345nm) at the maximum operating altitude of 25,000ft.

Meanwhile, two new models from Diamond Aircraft - the DA40 XLS and DA40 CS - are derived from the DA40 Diamondstar, featuring a wider, taller canopy. "We made a good airplane even better by putting a lot more luxury in the interior," Heike Larson, vice-president of sales and marketing says.

The DA40 CS starts at a base price of $259,950 while the XLS is priced at $334,950.

The CS is targeted at flight schools following success in that market of the DA40, says Jeremy Desruisseaux, manager of the Diamond Flight Center programme.

Source: Flight International