Plane & Pilot
Monday, March 1, 2004

Getting Better All The Time


With an increase in useful load and some refinements to the avionics, Piper’s turbine Meridian continues to evolve


piperWhen New Piper first took the wraps off its Meridian, they set some rather lofty performance goals for their first single-engine turboprop. They needed to. Their target buyer was someone who would be moving up from either a high-end piston single or twin. They also wanted the Meridian’s performance and capabilities to attract owners who were already flying older turboprops, like King Airs and Cheyennes, but who may be in the mood for a new airplane that gave them the performance they were used to, while cutting their fuel and engine-maintenance bills virtually in half.
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piperWhen New Piper first took the wraps off its Meridian, they set some rather lofty performance goals for their first single-engine turboprop. They needed to. Their target buyer was someone who would be moving up from either a high-end piston single or twin. They also wanted the Meridian’s performance and capabilities to attract owners who were already flying older turboprops, like King Airs and Cheyennes, but who may be in the mood for a new airplane that gave them the performance they were used to, while cutting their fuel and engine-maintenance bills virtually in half.

When New Piper first took the wraps off its Meridian, they set some rather lofty performance goals for their first single-engine turboprop. They needed to. Their target buyer was someone who would be moving up from either a high-end piston single or twin. They also wanted the Meridian’s performance and capabilities to attract owners who were already flying older turboprops, like King Airs and Cheyennes, but who may be in the mood for a new airplane that gave them the performance they were used to, while cutting their fuel and engine-maintenance bills virtually in half.

They wanted to wrap it all up in a package that you could take home for around $1.75 million (in 2003 dollars), which would put the Meridian’s sticker at just about a cool million under its chief rival, Socata’s TBM 700. And don’t, for a minute, think that the difference wouldn’t sway a lot of purchase decisions.

“We looked at the TBM 700 and the King Air, and found the Meridian to be a much better value for our needs,” explains Don Catalano, president of Corrate Realty Consultants. “With the prospect of the ‘low-cost’ jets coming on the market, I didn’t think it prudent to spend $2.7 million on a turboprop, not when the Meridian was almost as fast, had superior avionics and was 60% of the price.”

Catalano, who stepped up from a Mooney Ovation, has owned his Meridian since August 2002 and has put just over 200 hours on it. He says that he currently uses the airplane to cover a nine-state area, but because of the Meridian’s added speed and capabilities, he’s planning on adding three more states to his travel plans.

His story of how the Meridian fits his company’s travel needs is exactly how New Piper’s president and CEO Chuck Suma describes the initial goals for the Meridian’s design team. “Our goal was to design a high-performance turbine airplane that really delivers a great balance of capability and value to our owners,” says Suma. “The unique thing about our engineers is that they really know personal aircraft—that’s all we build—so they set out to create a capable airplane that would be easy for a non-professional pilot to fly on business or pleasure.”




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