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In a never-ending attempt to create the perfect all-in-one aircraft, Piper began to design the Meridian in 1997 after the successful Malibu was created. This turboprop version of the 5-seater Piper Malibu was the third single-engine aircraft to have a pressurized cabin and is the only one that is still in production.
The Meridian grew to have larger wing and tail surfaces and in 2009 started to come equipped with a glass cockpit. Autopilot was also introduced, creating the ultimate setup for single-pilot flying.
Being a single-engine turboprop, the Piper Meridian is considered a great aircraft for those who are looking to begin their transition from single-engine piston into turboprop aircraft.
Because Piper recognized the market was in need of a low-cost single-engine turboprop aircraft, they were able to create an aircraft that is still in high demand today. The Piper Meridian is the first choice for potential buyers who are looking for high performance without the expensive maintenance costs of two engines.
Piper Meridian / Model Specs
The Piper Meridian gives a lot of performance for such a small frame. Due to its strong performance and specifications, the Meridian maintains a good reputation among pilots and owners alike.
The Piper Meridian can seat 5 passengers and 1 crew member. The aircraft can be flown with two pilots, and while it’s not necessary some passengers prefer the comfort of having a safety pilot on board.
The total height of the Piper Meridian is 11 feet and 3 inches, giving enough cabin space for even the tallest of passengers to fit comfortably.
The wingspan is 43 feet, and the length is just over 29 feet, making it slightly on the larger side compared to other small aircraft but it’s still possible to find decent hangar space for storage.
The Piper Meridian has a maximum takeoff weight of 5092 lbs and a maximum landing weight of 4850 lbs. This leaves a significant amount of weight to be transported in passengers and carry on, as well as fuel. Payload with fuel is 331 lbs allowing passengers to pack heavy for their desired vacation spot.
The Piper Meridian has a fuel capacity of 1140 lbs. When meeting weight and balance limitations the aircraft can carry full fuel, allowing it to meet its maximum performance, and fly to its furthest destinations.
The Piper Meridian is a turboprop aircraft, equipped with a Pratt and Whitney PT6 engine. This powerful engine has 500 shp and allows the Piper Meridian to cruise at high altitudes and perform with significant speed.
Piper Meridian / Model Prices
Designed to appeal to the masses, the Piper Meridian can be acquired both new and used. Whether you prefer top-of-the-line fresh off-the-shelf specs or would rather save a bit of money and purchase one pre-owned, the Piper Meridian is a deal for every buyer.
You can purchase the all-new Piper PA46 between 1.4 million and 2.3 million. These models are no longer named Malibu, Meridian, or Mirage.
These newer models have received the title of Piper M Class, and range from the M350 to the M500. The flagship model, the M600, is priced at 3.3 million and has the most top-of-the-line performance and specifications.
Of course, some owners prefer to buy their aircraft used. Older models can be found a decent prices and are well maintained. Aircraft that aren’t new have had a break-in period with their owner and have time on the engine, allowing a purchaser to know if there are any quirks or issues with the plane beforehand.
An older model Meridian from 2001 can be as little as 800,000$, while a newer 2015 model can be up to 1.4 million. The price is decided on the time on the aircraft and engine, as well as its interior aesthetics and avionics.
Whether it be new or used, owners purchase their aircraft based on their budget. It is also important to keep the cost of fuel, insurance, and maintenance in mind when it comes to operating a turboprop aircraft.
Piper Meridian / Performance and Handling
Piper was set on creating an aircraft whose performance can compare to that of a twin-engine, allowing them to appeal to more buyers. The Piper Meridian is the result of that successful endeavor, and many owners boast of its handling and characteristics.
The range is the distance from which the aircraft can be flown for that specific flight. The range is affected by fuel on board, the weight of the aircraft, the weather that day, and the altitude that it is flown at.
The Piper Meridian has a range of 489 nautical miles when flown at its normal power settings and on a standard day while flying at economy can reach a distance of 1091 nautical miles.
The Piper Meridian has a service ceiling of 30,000 feet. This is one of the many benefits of a turboprop, allowing it to fly at high altitudes. Flying high has its own benefits, mainly less time spent in the air due to winds and less fuel burn for the aircraft.
Landing and takeoff distances are deciding factors when it comes to choosing an airport to land at. Because the aircraft needs enough distance to land and safely vacate the runway, it requires sufficient distance.
The takeoff distance for the Piper Meridian averages at 1800 feet. With changes to headwind and weight, this distance can be increased or decreased.
The same applies to the landing distance, which can average 1950 feet but can be greatly affected by the weather and the surface of the runway. Water or ice on a runway will increase stopping distance while landing with a stronger heading will decrease it.
The Piper Meridian has an average rate of climb of 1556 feet per minute. This is standard for getting out of locations with obstacles or needing to climb at altitude. The higher the aircraft is, the more reduced the rate of climb will be due to the change in density altitude.
Fuel burn is an important consideration when it comes to buying an aircraft, as the fuel spent will decide to what destinations you can travel to, and how much you can afford to fly. The average fuel burn in the Piper Meridian is 40 gallons per hour at cruise.
Piper Meridian / Model Maintenance Schedule
Aircraft need regular maintenance in order to keep their airworthiness. Other than the usual replacement of broken parts or small fixes that need to be completed, the Piper Meridian is a solid aircraft when it comes to maintenance.
The Piper Meridian needs an annual inspection, as does every aircraft owned privately. If used for commercial operations such as charter or air taxi, inspections become based on hours and not calendar year.
For the annual inspection, an aircraft maintenance engineer needs to completely disassemble the aircraft in order to inspect all of its inner workings. Inspection panels, seats, and additional screws are all removed in order to get a full view of the inside of the aircraft.
Piper Meridian / Modifications and Upgrades
There are many modifications and upgrades available to the Piper Meridian. Owners can purchase an STC off of different certified websites and apply the changes to the aircraft when they desire.
Common upgrades include changes to the avionics panel for something more modern, new interiors such as a change in seat material or seatbelts, and different paint schemes.
More complicated upgrades need approval from the FAA and a required STC. These modifications include seats, lights, and engine monitors.
The Piper Meridian is approved for the AmSafe Airbag Seatbelt STC. This modification is an airbag integrated system with the Piper Meridians seats. The airbag decreased accident injuries by protecting the passenger from hurting their head, neck, or torso.
Just as it is important to see, it is important to be seen. The Piper Meridian has an STC available to install Ultra High-Intensity LED Lighting to the aircraft. This improves both flying and taxiing experiences allowing the pilot to be able to see and be seen by oncoming aircraft.
Sometimes factory engine instruments don’t provide all the information that the pilot requires. There are modifications available to the Piper Meridian for a Digital Engine Monitor. The installation of this tool gives the pilot clear information through sensors and displayed it on a digital screen that is easily accessible.
Piper Meridian / Where to Find Replacement Parts
It can often be difficult for aircraft owners to find pieces or parts required when the aircraft is no longer in production. Luckily, the Piper Meridian is still young and a very common aircraft, not to mention still in production as the M series.
As a result, parts are generally easy to come by. Should the aircraft need a piece for the engine or airframe, there are a few places that the owner or mechanic can look in order to find the best solution for them.
Used parts can be purchased from online communities like forums, Kijiji, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace. Used parts might be preferable in case of the rare chance a part can’t be purchased new, or a new part is just too far over budget.
Many other members of the community will be more than happy to help you find a used part, so do not hesitate to reach out among the Piper clubs and communities for help.
Parts can be purchased new from Piper itself, or from websites like Univair or Aircraft Spruce. These websites provide lots of bits and pieces that might be required for your aircraft and provide them at an array of prices.
Your AME will usually have access to a catalog for parts or might have pieces that are often required in their personal collection. An aircraft mechanic often knows where to find the parts they need and is a great resource if you’re not sure what to buy.
Piper Meridian / Model Common Problems
While purchasing the aircraft of your dreams might seem like a bright idea, it is important to consider the possible future problems you could have and what you can do about them. The Piper Meridian, like many aircraft, has a few of its own concerns.
Because of its hot-running turboprop engine, the Piper Meridian has had some heat issues in the past.
Engine fires and failures have happened slightly more often than they should, and while Piper has released many amendments along with the FAA in response to the issue, pilots are still encouraged to take extra care in monitoring the engine’s outputs and responding when necessary to any overheating.
To the pleasure of many pilots and owners, the Piper Meridian has retractable landing gear. This is a benefit in reducing drag and therefore reducing fuel burn, allowing for a more economical flight.
Because of its retractable landing gear, the Piper Meridian does receive more wear and tear. Pilots are encouraged to exam landing gear during the walk around for any cracks or breaks, especially on the actuators.
A note made by owners was the Piper Meridians windshields. Expensive to replace, and costing up to 28,000$, the aircraft’s windshields are not appreciated by those who fly it.
Due to its regular issues with the defroster, the Piper Meridian will need its windshields replaced at least once during its life spent with each new owner.
Piper Meridian / Insurance Options
Insurance is a requirement for every aircraft, just like roadside vehicles. Although accidents are significantly less common, should they occur a lot more damage can happen than to just the airplane. Property and persons can become injured during an airplane accident, therefore liability insurance is of the utmost importance.
Liability insurance is required by all aircraft and provides insurance for the pilots, passengers, and the surroundings. Hull insurance is also available for an extra premium and provides insurance to the aircraft itself.
There are some companies that also offer not-in-motion hull insurance, which is insurance for the aircraft while it is sitting on the ground. This is best for locations where the aircraft is parked outside and is vulnerable to weather, or at a busy airport where another aircraft can cause damage.
Currently, as of January 2021, there are 7 carriers that provide insurance for the Piper Meridian in the United States according to bwifly.com.
Qualified pilots have a less expensive premium, and are considered those who have at least a Private License, and IFR rating, 1000 hours total time 500 of which are on turboprops with retractable gear, 100 hours in the Piper Meridian itself, and official training within the past 24 months.
Anyone who doesn’t match these requirements is considered an unqualified pilot and will receive higher premiums.
For liability coverage only, owners can expect an annual cost of 650-800$ for qualified pilots and 875-1150$ a year for non-qualified pilots.
For the addition of hull coverage, qualified pilots can expect a premium of 13,500 to 17,100$ a year. Unqualified pilots can expect a cost of 23,000 to 36,000$ a year.
Piper Meridian / Model Resale Value
As the family or business grows, an owner might want to look for a larger aircraft. Maybe even downsize to a smaller one, to reduce operating costs. Either way, the resale value of the Piper Meridian is important to consider even when making the initial purchase.
Generally, when used, the aircraft will maintain its value if properly cared for and kept airworthy. Any maintenance or aesthetic issues that are fixed will keep the initial cost of the aircraft. However, it is important to keep in mind that the more hours put on the airframe and its engine, the more the value will decrease.
An aircraft that is purchased brand new will almost never resell for the same value it was purchased unless the owner has invested money into better systems or a better engine. Either way, the owner can expect to lose a little bit of their investment when selling the aircraft.
If the aircraft is purchased new and is kept by the same owner until after it is no longer being manufactured, it is possible for its value to increase. Even with increasing engine and airframe times, a well-designed aircraft that is sought out by many can fetch a high price for an owner once they are ready to sell.
As such, the Piper Meridian can be purchased or sold used for anywhere between 700,000$ and 1.5 million dollars depending on its year, condition, and time on the airframe.
Piper Meridian / Owner Reviews
Piper was not oblivious to the market searching for a high-performance single-engine aircraft. Thanks to the successful Piper Meridian, Piper opened the door to owners choosing a single-engine turboprop aircraft over a twin-engine, because of its numerous benefits.
Owners appreciate the spaciousness of the Piper Meridian. While the baggage needs to be loaded through the main compartment with the passengers, which can result in some difficulty, the overall legroom is much appreciated.
Pilots have expressed how they have been impressed by the large number of passengers and cargo the aircraft can carry before having an effect on performance or weight and balance.
High-range and economical fuel burn is also appreciated by the Piper Meridian crowd. Thanks to the turboprop, the aircraft can fly to higher altitudes to get better fuel burn and range.
Some owners have mentioned it might take a while to reach flight planned altitude, due to the reduced performance at higher altitudes, but many consider the benefits of flying higher to be worth the amount of time it takes to get there.
One complaint by owners is that maintenance is costly. While the turboprop can go significantly longer than a piston engine before overhaul, the costs of all the extra work and maintenance required can be deterring. Engine pieces are more expensive as well, as opposed to the more common piston engine.
Some owners mention some sensitivity when taxiing when the tires are slightly low on pressure. This can easily be rectified by ensuring the proper pressure is in the tires during the walkaround.
Piper Meridian / Similar Aircraft
While the Piper Meridian is wildly popular thanks to its turboprop engine for those who need something with a bit more performance, some owners are interested in sticking with the piston engine. In this case, there are a few options available.
The Piper Malibu is the first iteration of the Meridian. With a piston engine, its performance is slightly less, although it still carries the same number of passengers at the same level of comfort.
Those looking for a slightly more cost-effective Piper without the need for more performance are often satisfied with getting a used Piper Malibu or one of the newer Piper PA46 M models.
The Beechcraft Bonanza A36 has a reputation for being high in both quality and performance. While it is a piston engine aircraft, its roomy space for passengers and its remarkable performance for its size has won itself a place in many owners’ hearts.
The Piper Cherokee Six is considered one of Piper’s minivans. With loads of space for passengers, it also has a fuel-injected engine that provides strong performance in order to pull off some of the most unreasonable flights.
The Cessna 206 Stationair is considered a Cessnas design of the sky SUV. With a fixed gear, more wing and bigger flaps, this upgraded version of the Cessna 210 can haul both passengers and cargo to their destination.
Piper Meridian / Clubs You can Join
Connecting with other aircraft owners is a huge benefit when it comes to maintaining your aircraft. Thanks to the large network of communities available to Piper Owners, finding parts and having questions answered has never been easier.
The Piper Flyer Association at piperflyer.org is an online network of Piper pilots and owners who are looking to connect with other people in the community. Memberships are available all across the world and provide access to the online community.
Membership for the Piper Flyer Association starts at just 44$ for one year, with a three-year membership only costing 110$. This includes a monthly print magazine, so a membership for a digital-only copy is slightly less at 33$ for the year.
The Piper Owner Society is another online platform that provides its members access to members-only information and communications. Members can participate in group discussions and go through the club’s documents to learn more about their aircraft.
The Piper Owner Society is online at piperowner.org and has a one-year membership fee of only 59$, with a digital-only membership that doesn’t include the monthly print magazine for 29.95$.
There are other methods to communicate with other Piper owners. Facebook has numerous groups that can be joined for free, allowing aircraft owners to connect and share advice or look for parts. Online forums can also be searched and found through Google, and in-person clubs can be joined through word of mouth.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the Time to Overhaul?
Answer: Engine overhaul is when the aircraft is completely dismantled and inspected for any damage. Once the engine is confirmed to be in the proper operating conditions it is released and placed back in the aircraft.
Every engine has a recommended time at which it should get an overhaul, and the Piper Meridian is recommended to have the procedure completed at 3600 hours.
Question: What is the Cost of an Overhaul?
Answer: Because the engine is completely disassembled and put back together again, the process is costly and takes a lot of time and manpower. A typical engine overhaul on the Piper Meridian can cost up to 200,000$.
Question: What is the Cost to Operate?
Answer: Because it is a turboprop aircraft the Piper Meridian has a different operating cost than a piston aircraft and is generally more expensive. Considering factors such as fuel, insurance, and maintenance the Piper Meridian can cost up to 800$ per hour to operate.
Question: Is the Piper Meridian Pressurized?
Answer: Because the Piper Meridian is able to fly to such high altitudes, thanks to its turboprop engine, the aircraft is pressurized in order to maintain cabin comfort and not force the occupants to wear oxygen masks once they are above a certain altitude.
Question: How Many Pilots Fly the Piper Meridian?
Answer: The Piper Meridian comes with two sets of pilot controls but can be flown with only one pilot. The pilot needs to be certified to operate the aircraft, and while they are more than capable of handling it themselves, many passengers prefer to have a second pilot on board for safety.
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