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Entries in Single-Engine Turboprop (1)

Piper Meridian: Cheapest High-Performance Single-Engine Turboprop

| Business & Commercial Aviation

Piper’s PA-46-500TP Meridian, rebadged as M500 in 2015, made its debut in September 2000 as a 2001 model. It has been the lowest-priced pressurized, single-engine turboprop offered by an airframe manufacturer for nearly two decades. Piper created the Meridian by modifying a Malibu Mirage to handle and additional 500+ lb. of weight and higher cruise speeds and then replacing its 350-hp piston engine with a 500-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop. Meridian most assuredly was a design-to-cost development program as reflected in the final product.

The Malibu, launched almost three decades ago, was the product of Jim Griswold, head of Piper engineering in the early 1980s. The aircraft was a near-perfect, clean-sheet, pressurized cabin-class piston single, one with clean aerodynamics, a high aspect-ratio wing and low empty weight. It was the first single to offer cabin-class twin comfort and speed with much lower operating costs. But Malibu’s turbocharged Continental engine and succeeding Mirage’s boosted Lycoming piston engine both failed to...

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