Piper Aircraft is exploring a range of new products to complement its existing family of propeller-driven aircraft.
The company’s line-up ranges from the Warrior four-seat piston single to the M600 single-engined turboprop.
“We are continually looking at new products,” says Piper chief executive Simon Caldecott. “We have upgraded every one of our aircraft over the last four years and introduced the M600.”
The six-seat flagship was launched in 2015 as an upgrade to the M500, featuring a redesigned wing, advanced digital fuel management technologies and a restyled interior. It is scheduled to enter service in the third quarter of 2016.
“This model came out of the M500 stable because we identified a gap in the high-performance turboprop market,” says Caldecott
While he is tight-lipped about the specific programmes that Piper is exploring, Caldecott does reveal that the airframer is “watching the twin-engined space”.
The Vero Beach, Florida-based firm already produces the six-seat Seneca and four-seat Seminole piston-twins, so a natural evolution could be a larger model. The airframer is also looking at a diesel-fuelled offering in this segment and a new turboprop –- although Caldecott admits this “would be a big, big investment,” for Piper.
Plans for the product line do not include the Altaire business jet, at least for the foreseeable future. Piper cancelled the programme in 2011 following the collapse of the very-light jet market. “Although 80% of the detailed design is complete, the market is still not big enough to justify the significant investment it will take [to complete development],” says Caldecott. “So it will remain in the parking lot until the market bounces back.”
Meanwhile, operators of the M500 and earlier generation Meridian turboprop-singles can now upgrade their aircraft with a new five-blade composite propeller designed and certificated by Hartzell.
The swept airfoil design is 15lb (6.8kg) lighter than the six-seat type’s current four-blade propeller resulting in improved climb rate and lower noise, says Hartzell.