Piper Aircraft is seeking approval for its M600 single-engine turboprop to operate from rough and unpaved surfaces, such as rural landing strips. The company told a July 26 media briefing at the EAA AirVenture show that it hopes to get clearance from the FAA by the end of this year.
On the 85th anniversary of Piper Aircraft and the ubiquitous Piper Cub, the Florida-based company is “experiencing significant growth,” said president and CEO John Calcagno. “We’re seeing demand that we’ve not seen in years,” he said. “There is zero worldwide dealer inventory. We cannot even demonstrate an aircraft because we just cannot find [availability].”
Through the second quarter of this year, revenue climbed $28 million, up 35 percent and with 31 more airplanes delivered compared to the same period last year. Trainer sales and deliveries were up more than 50 percent in that period, and M-class (M350, M500, and M600 models) climbed 35 percent, Calcagno said.
On July 19 at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK, Piper announced that it is working with training technology provider CAE to develop an electric propulsion supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Piper PA-28-181 Archer. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding so far, and further details about how the STC will be accomplished are pending, according to Marc Ouellet, Piper's director of engineering.
The STC, to be certified first in Canada, will be owned by CAE, he told AIN, followed by U.S. validation then UK and European certification. CAE plans to electrify about two-thirds of its fleet of Archers, which are used in its flight academies for ab initio pilot training. Students will fly the electric Archers for short-range missions and the remaining piston-powered versions on longer flights.
“This will significantly reduce emissions and noise and prepare pilots to operate electric aircraft,” Calcagno said.
The M600 is the final model for the rough-field upgrade, which involves some new landing gear hardware that moves the wheel about half an inch in trail for added stability, Ouellet explained. The M350 and M500 already have this capability.
Another new feature for the M600 is FAA approval on July 11 of a master minimum equipment list, which will make it easier for charter providers to operate the M600 in commercial service.
The M600’s Garmin G3000 avionics have also been upgraded with a new SafeTaxi 3D depiction of the airport ground environment. This gives pilots an exocentric view of their aircraft while taxiing and provides graphical and textual guidance during ground operations.
“We’re committed to continuous product improvement,” Calcagno said. “We will never quit innovating on our flagship product.”