New Piper Aircraft plans to increase production of the Malibu Meridian to meet demand for the single-turboprop business aircraft, deliveries of which are to begin next July.

The company will deliver 40 Meridians next year, up from 30 this year, and is considering increasing production in 2001 from the 60 planned. Piper has orders for over 130 aircraft, and the $1.4 million Meridian is sold out until the latter part of 2001.

The Meridian is being built on the Vero Beach assembly line in Florida - the same as the Malibu Mirage high-performance piston single from which it is derived. Piper will deliver 61 Mirages this year, but production will drop to around 45 next year as the Meridian comes on line. The production rate in 2001 will depend on demand, says manager of international sales, Matt Amundson.

Wing design changes developed for the Meridian will be introduced on the Mirage next year, and further improvements are planned for 2001. These may include installing the Meridian's Meggitt Avionics flat-panel electronic flight instrument system in the Mirage.

Source: Flight International