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FAA approves Malibu Meridian

Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

New Piper Aircraft received US Federal Aviation Administration approval for its Malibu Meridian single engine turboprop on 27 September and plans to deliver the first aircraft this week.

The $1.5 million Meridian, launched in late 1997, is the first single engine turboprop designed by the Vero Beach, Florida-based manufacturer. Based on the Mirage high-performance piston single, the Meridian is powered a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A, flat rated at 370kW (500hp) for take off and a continuous power rating of 300kW. The aircraft cruises at over 262kt (500km/h) and has a maximum range of 1,980km (1,070nm), putting New York in range of Vero Beach, says New Piper. The engine drives a four-bladed Hartzell propeller.

New Piper has chalked up 135 orders for the Meridian to date. To accommodate the demand, the company started production earlier this year and plans to deliver 35 aircraft by the end of December. Production will be accelerated to more than 100 aircraft in 2001.

New Piper says the Meridian, with its turbine engine and advanced systems, will be easier and safer to operate than the Mirage. Buyers will complete a week's training course, which will include use of a type-specific Meridian flight simulator. The aircraft is aimed at the "owner-flown" business market, with buyers typically stepping up from the Mirage or coming from older piston and turbine twins. The Meridian is pitched against the Pilatus PC12 and Socata TBM 700.