Piper Aircraft is confident it will secure long-awaited European Aviation Safety Agency certification for its M500 single-engined turboprop in July, ending a 20-month wait for approval.
The US airframer will now step up its marketing of the five-seat aircraft on the continent where it believes there is considerable pent-up demand. “We have delivered three M500s in Europe to date but they are all operating on the [US] N register,” says Piper president and chief operating officer Simon Caldecott. “People would rather have their aircraft on their home country's register. We expect orders to take-off now."
The M500 received US certification in December 2014 and entered service the following month.
The aircraft is an upgraded and rebranded version of the 15-year-old Meridian turboprop, featuring a Garmin G1000 flightdeck and a revamped interior.
Florida-based Piper recently slashed the price of the M500 by almost $300,000, to $2 million as part of a strategy to reposition the M-Class piston and turboprop family and boost its appeal within an increasingly competitive marketplace. The M-Class line-up also includes the $900,000 Matrix, $1.3 million M350 and the $2.9 million M600.
The latter secured US approval in June with first deliveries imminent. Its arrival in Europe should follow shortly: “We have already submitted our application for EASA approval,” says Caldecott. "We hope it won’t take long."
Piper is planning to promote the M600 to the North American charter community. A handful of dealers are already preparing to put the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A-powered type on their air operator certificates to broaden its exposure. “The aircraft’s impressive payload, range and low operating costs, will appeal to many commercial operators,” Caldecott says. Piper's specification data lists standard useful load as 1,090kg (2,400lb) and range as 1,480nm (2,670km).
He dismisses suggestions that the M600's single engine may be a deterrent for some users.
“Other single-engined models such as the [Pilatus] PC-12 and Cessna Caravan series have proved very popular in commercial service," says Caldecott. "The PT6 turboprop has a fantastic safety record.”
Source: Flight International