Piper Arrow Guide and Specs : Is It High Performance?

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The Piper Arrow is one of the Piper PA28 ‘Cherokee’ aircraft, which is a whole family of fairly similar aircraft built by Piper, mainly designed for flight training and General Aviation use.   The airplanes are all-metal aircraft, single-engined, piston-powered, and have low-mounted wings and one door on the right-hand side.  The current models are the Warrior, Archer, and Arrow.

The Arrow was introduced in 1967 and featured a constant speed propeller and retractable landing gear.  The Arrow II, which had a stretched fuselage to increase legroom for the rear seat passengers, came out in 1972 and was followed by the Arrow III in 1977.

This last version had a semi-tapered wing and a longer stabilator, which gave better low-speed handling.  It also featured larger fuel tanks. In 1979 Piper produced an Arrow IV with a modified ‘T’ tail. Finally, they built the New Arrow, which is the current version and is still being produced.

1970 Piper Arrow PA-28R-180 (Original Piper Arrow)

1970 Piper Arrow PA-28R-180

Specifications

  • Engine: Lycoming IO-360-B1E
  • Horsepower: 180 hp
  • Propeller: Hartzell 2-blade constant speed
  • Length: 24 feet 3 inches
  • Height: 8 feet
  • Wingspan: 30 feet
  • Wing Area: 160 square feet
  • Wing Loading: 15.6 pounds/square foot
  • Power Loading: 13.9 pounds/horsepower
  • Seats: 4
  • Standard Empty Weight: 1,380 pounds
  • Maximum Gross Weight: 2,500 pounds
  • Takeoff/Landing Weight: 2,500 pounds
  • Maximum Useful Load: 1,120 pounds
  • Baggage Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 50 gallons

Performance

Takeoff Ground Roll: 820 feet

  • Takeoff Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,240 feet
  • Rate of Climb, Sea Level: 875 feet per minute
  • Top Speed: 186 KCAS
  • Cruise Speed: 148 KCAS
  • Stall Speed (Landing Configuration): 55 knots
  • Stall Speed (Clean): 60 knots
  • Fuel Consumption: 9.4 gallons per hour at 75% power
  • Range: 550 nautical miles
  • Service Ceiling: 15,000 feet
  • Landing Ground Roll: 776 feet
  • Landing Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,340 feet

1988 Piper Arrow III PA-28R-201 

1988 Piper Arrow III PA-28R-201 

Specifications

  • Engine: Lycoming IO-360-C1C6
  • Horsepower: 200 hp
  • Length: 24 feet 7 inches
  • Height: 7 feet 9 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet 4 inches
  • Wing Loading: 16.2 pounds/square foot
  • Power Loading: 13.7 pounds/horsepower
  • Seats: 4
  • Standard Empty Weight: 1,603 pounds
  • Maximum Gross Weight: 2,750 pounds
  • Takeoff/Landing Weight: 2,750 pounds
  • Maximum Useful Load: 1,147 pounds
  • Baggage Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 77 gallons

Performance

Takeoff Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,600 feet

  • Rate of Climb, Sea Level: 510 feet per minute
  • Top Speed: 186 KCAS
  • Cruise Speed: 148 KCAS
  • Stall Speed (Landing Configuration): 55 knots
  • Stall Speed (Clean): 60 knots
  • Fuel Consumption: 12.7 gallons per hour at 75% power
  • Range: 695 nautical miles
  • Service Ceiling: 16,200 feet
  • Landing Ground Roll: 615 feet
  • Landing Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,525 feet

New Piper Arrow (current version) 

New Piper Arrow

Specifications

  • Engine: Lycoming IO-360-C1C6
  • Horsepower: 200 hp
  • Propeller: McCauley 2-blade constant speed
  • Length: 24 feet 8 inches
  • Height: 7 feet 10 inches
  • Wingspan: 35 feet 5 inches
  • Wing Area: 170 square feet
  • Wing Loading: 16.18 pounds/square foot
  • Power Loading: 13.75 pounds/horsepower
  • Seats: 4
  • Standard Empty Weight: 1,798 pounds
  • Maximum Gross Weight: 2,758 pounds
  • Maximum Ramp Weight: 2,758 pounds
  • Maximum Useful Load: 960 pounds
  • Baggage Capacity: 200 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 72 usable gallons

Performance

Takeoff Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,600 feet

  • Rate of Climb, Sea Level: 831 feet per minute
  • Cruise Speed: 137 ktas
  • Stall Speed: 55 kts (landing configuration)
  • Fuel Consumption: 10.5 gallons per hour at 75% power
  • Endurance: 6.5 hours at 65%
  • Range: 880 nautical miles
  • Service Ceiling: 16,200 feet
  • Landing Over 50 ft. Obstacle: 1,520 feet

Prices

Piper

With nearly 7,000 Arrows produced overall, a large number of all the different variants are still in circulation.  Therefore there is an extremely wide range of prices is secondhand models are considered in addition to new Arrows.

Current production model ‘New Arrows’ are available new directly from Piper via a local dealer or through fleet sales. The base price of a new Arrow is $228,700.  If that is more than you want to spend, a used Arrow will set you back an average of  $43,000.

Performance and Handling

The Piper Arrow is similar to all the PA28 Cherokee family in being easy to fly and having no real vices.  In fact, it is so similar that it has been described as a repurposed Cherokee.  However, it differs from the earlier models in one important way – it has retractable landing gear, providing extra speed and saving fuel when compared with fixed-wing trainers.

Also, it is designed to be an excellent first retractable for pilots, in that the landing gear on an Arrow is automatic. This ingenious system prevents the gear from being raised too early on takeoff or put down too late before landing.

How it works is that after takeoff, the system will not let the gear retract until a safe climb speed has been reached, and during the approach to landing, it automatically extends the wheels if power and airspeed go below a certain amount.

This allows the pilot to learn the process of extending and retracting the gear, but it provides a built-in safety net should he or she forget.  However, there have been instances of the automatic system not functioning properly, with this malfunction sometimes causing accidents.  As a result, Piper released a kit to eliminate the automatic system, although some pilots do still prefer to keep it.

Overall, however, the consensus among pilots is that the Arrow is reliable, competent, and generally completely unremarkable. That might make it sound a little bit boring, but for pilots making that transition to retractable gear aircraft, it is a good aircraft.  It performs well overall, with benign handling characteristics and satisfactory performance–Most owners and pilots love it!

Maintenance

Maintenance on a Piper Arrow is similar to that of the rest of the PA28 family.  Since these aircraft are so popular, it should not be hard to find mechanics and engineers who are familiar with them.  However, Arrow owners should be aware of the long history of wing spar cracks on the whole PA28 family of aircraft. So do make sure that whoever is doing the maintenance knows about this, knows what to inspect, and conducts regular inspections as recommended.

Modifications and Upgrades

Piper Arrow Inside

As already stated, the Piper Arrow has had a large number of variants during the more than 50 years it has been produced.

The original 1967 Arrow had a 180 horsepower Lycoming engine, and more than 1,100 of these were sold in the first two years of production.  This was then increased to a 200 horsepower engine.

Next, in 1972, came the Piper Arrow II. This had an extended fuselage for increased passenger comfort, wider cabin windows and doors, and an updated paint scheme.  It also got a modified upswept rudder and an increase in wingspan to improve the takeoff run and rate of climb.

The Piper Arrow III came along in 1977.  It had a new semi-tapered wing, which was actually a copy of that of the Cherokee 140.  it also had improved glide performance and better fuel capacity.  The Turbo Arrow III, which was produced in 1977, was the first turbo version of the Arrow.

Next, in 1979, came the Piper Arrow IV, with a new T-tail design.  This was meant to improve things, but was not successful overall and was removed by the end of the 1980s.  The turbo version of the Arrow IV was given the same T-tail, but with the same result.

Finally, we have the New Piper Arrow, the current model.  This is powered by a 200-horsepower Lycoming engine and also has Garmin G500 avionics.

So there really are numerous different Piper Arrows for different pilot requirements and wallet sizes!

Where to Find Replacement Parts

Since the Piper Archer is still in production, obtaining new parts is not at all difficult, and numerous companies sell them, or they can be obtained from Piper itself.  And many companies can be found online selling parts for older models.

Common Problems

As mentioned above, problems with the automatic landing gear have been more common than they should be.  Owners should perhaps obtain the kit to disable it once they are familiar with retractable gear, although to be honest, not all sources mention this that often as a major problem, and many pilots have no issues at all with it.

Like all the PA28 series, the Arrow has only one door on the right-hand side.  Some people find this a problem, as it means the passengers have to enter the aircraft last and leave it first.

This could cause difficulties for passengers unfamiliar with light aircraft or who need assistance climbing aboard or getting out.  Indeed, in an emergency, it could even prevent everyone from leaving quickly, although I have never heard of this being the cause of an accident.  But some pilots do not like PA28s for this reason, and it is certainly worth bearing in mind.

When it comes to maintenance, owners should look out for wing spar cracks, as also mentioned above, and as tends to occur on all PA28 aircraft.

Other than these, the Arrow has few problems and is generally a safe, comfortable, and easy-to-fly aircraft.  Of course, there are the usual problems relating to pilot error and occasional mechanical malfunction, but not much else specific to the Arrow.

Insurance Options

Aviation insurance, in general, is very specialized.  Premiums depend on the type of aircraft and its value, what the aircraft is used for, and the pilot’s qualifications.  However, in general terms, the PA28 series are all easy aircraft to insure.  At least one aviation insurance company puts it in their top ten list of easiest aircraft to insure.

Piper Arrow insurance, like all aviation insurance, is broken down into liability cover, which is standard on all aircraft types, and optional hull cover, which covers damage to the aircraft itself.  So, of course, you can save money by opting for only liability coverage, although you would probably not be wise to do so.

With all these variations, it is impossible to quote prices for insurance in individual cases.  However, one source quotes cover for qualified pilots requiring only liability coverage as between $160 and $260 per year and for insurance including hull coverage of $440 – 1,050 per year.  You would need to contact a specific insurance company to get a more precise quote.

Resale Value

Piper Aircraft

The Piper Arrow being a popular aircraft, models tend to keep their value well, and you are unlikely to lose money when you come to sell your Arrow.  Of course, prices vary to a large extent depending on the variant and how well the individual airplane has been maintained.  The average cost of a pre-owned Piper Arrow is quoted as around $43,000, but there is a huge amount of variation.

Owner Reviews

Most owners really like their Arrows.  A number have stepped up from simpler PA28 versions, and they find moving to the Arrow to be an easy transition.  They also like its ability to cope well with longer trips than much less powerful general aviation aircraft.  Here is what some of them have to say:

“When I was looking to step up from my Cherokee 140 back in 2004, I thought the Arrow would be the ultimate transition. It looked to have reasonable performance, good handling and might be relatively inexpensive to maintain. It just so happened that a friend had one and invited me to fly along on a cross-country trip to the Midwest and back to Connecticut. This opportunity allowed me to fly and see firsthand how well this airplane performed. Needless to say, I was hooked.”

“I’ve enjoyed my 1973 200-HP Arrow II with air conditioning since early 2001 and plan to keep it many more years. It is a good all-purpose airplane, from the $100 barbecue to frequent 200 nautical mile runs to the beach, to the occasional 500 to 1000 nautical mile trip to Canada and the Bahamas.”

Similar Aircraft

Cessna 172

The Arrow competes primarily with the Cessna 172, the Grumman AA-5 series, and Beechcraft Musketeer.  There are a number of other aircraft in this price category; indeed, prospective buyers are quite spoiled for choice when it comes to aircraft like this, and it depends to a large extent on exactly what you want.  The advantage of the Arrow is that it is retractable, which is fairly unusual in aircraft of this type and price range.

Clubs You Can Join

The best-known club is the Piper Flyer Association, which is designed for owners of all types of Piper aircraft.  Details can be found here. https://www.piperflyer.org/.  For those who own their own Arrow, there is also a Piper Owner Society https://piperowner.org/.  There is a Piper Arrow flying group on Facebook and also a number of local and regional clubs and groups.  So there is plenty of choices when it comes to joining clubs and organizations catering to Arrow flyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I learned to fly on a Piper Warrior.  How hard will it be for me to learn to fly a Piper Arrow?

Answer: It should not be very difficult.  The main difference is that the Arrow has retractable gear, and you will need to learn to use this.  For this reason, it would be a good idea to get some specific training with an instructor before you start to fly an Arrow.  However, the Arrow does have an automatic landing system that raises and lowers the gear should the pilot forget, so this provides a safety net for the inexperienced.

Question: How much does a Piper Arrow cost?

Answer: This depends on numerous factors, such as age, specifications, and how well the individual aircraft has been maintained.  But according to one source, the average price for a pre-owned Piper Arrow is $43,000.

Question: How fast is a Piper Arrow?

Answer: According to owners, an Arrow III cruises at around 135 kts.

Question: I have never flown an aircraft with retractable gear.  Will I find it difficult to get used to a Piper Arrow?

Answer: The Arrow is one of the easiest retractables to learn to fly, as it has an automatic system that raises and lowers the landing gear should you forget to do so.  Of course, it is not a good idea to rely on this, and at least one owner says that if the automatic system kicks in, it is because the pilot is behind the aircraft.  But Piper designed the Arrow for pilots new to retractables, so it should be fairly easy for you.

Conclusion

The Piper Arrow is an easy-to-fly, safe aircraft and is very popular.  It is bought by many pilots as their first aircraft with retractable gear and is designed to make this aspect of flying easy for those new to it.  It comes in many different variants to suit different pilots with different levels of experience and wanting different price ranges, so there should be a version to suit everyone.  Why not try flying one and see what you think!

Research Citations

AOPA https://www.aopa.org/go-fly/aircraft-and-ownership/aircraft-fact-sheets/piper-arrow

Pilotmall https://www.pilotmall.com/blogs/news/piper-arrow-specifications-and-history

Aviation Consumer https://www.aviationconsumer.com/used-aircraft-guide/piper-arrow-3/

bwi fly https://bwifly.com/piper-cherokee-insurance-cost/

Aviation Insurance Resources  https://www.air-pros.com/blog/air-pros-news/top-9-easiest-aircraft-insure/

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