NEWPIPER Aircraft has unveiled a mock-up of its Malibu Meridian six-seat turbine-single, further boosting this burgeoning sector of the aircraft market. The Meridian is based on Piper's Malibu Mirage pressurised piston-single, and is the company's first turboprop since the Cheyenne production line was halted several years ago.

The Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42A-powered aircraft has been launched as a rival to the Pilatus PC-12 and Aerospatiale TBM-700 single-turboprops and has a maximum cruise speed of more than 260kt (480km/h) at an altitude of 30,000ft (9,000m).

New Piper says that the Meridian "-is available with a much, much lower price tag than other luxury turboprops". To date, it has received 74 orders for the aircraft, with first deliveries scheduled for 2000.

The company aims to swell its order books further after announcing an incentive programme called Step-up. Under the scheme, customers who buy a six-seat Malibu Mirage now receive priority placement on the waiting list for the Meridian aircraft, and will also be entitled to a "sizeable" cash discount if they agree to buy a Meridian.

New Piper is confident that the single-turbine engine market will continue to grow, replacing the less reliable piston aircraft in its class.

"Single-turbine aircraft are changing the face of the market," says Chuck Suma, New Piper's president and chief executive officer. "The powerplant technology in this class of aircraft makes the product more affordable and more flexible."

Source: Flight International