Friday, October 1, 2004
Return of the Big Six
Piper recertified the 6X and 6XT last summer, and the company quickly cranked out 25 airplanes to fill the domestic and international pipeline. The basic PA-32 always has been a popular model overseas, especially in places such as Africa, Australia and South America where paved runways aren’t always available.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it), one of the joys of the 6X is its extreme tractability in the pattern. With a full-flap stall speed of 59 knots, the 1.3 Vso rule suggests you could use approach speeds as slow as 77 knots, and sure enough, you can. Short-field efforts don’t feel too aggressive, even down to 70 knots. In IFR conditions, the 6X loves to fly the ILS at 90 knots, but you can speed up to 100 or even 110 knots if there’s a need to stay ahead of the Aerostar five miles from the outer marker.
Piper’s new model is one of those airplanes that makes any pilot look good in the flare. Judging the payoff and finessing the airplane onto the ground are easy, and the 6X just naturally rotates into that nose-high flare that encourages main-gear-first touchdowns. It’s probably possible to make a bad landing, but certainly, I’ve never made any.
The 6X stacks up well against its only real competition, Cessna’s 206 Stationair. On the plus side, the 6X is a few knots faster, climbs a little quicker to a higher service ceiling and offers more fuel for greater range and payload flexibility. On the minus side, it’s not as quick coming off or getting back on the ground, and the low wing may be a limitation in some places.
The 6X/6XT joins the Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Seminole, Saratoga HP/Saratoga TC, Seneca V, Malibu Mirage and Meridian to bring the total model line to nine or 11, depending on how you count. New Piper’s base price for the 6X is $365,500. That buys a reasonably equipped airplane, IFR-capable with an all-Garmin stack—GPS430, SL30 VHF navcom, GTX327 transponder and a GMA 340 audio panel. After that, the sky is very much the limit. Step up to a GPS530, S-TEC Fifty Five X autopilot, HSI and electric trim for $55,740, and/or add an “awareness package” of Skywatch and Stormscope for $36,705. If you must have the best of everything, you can purchase the 6X with the Avidyne Entegra flight display for $413,000, and you’ll be fully integrated with the latest avionics. There’s also air-conditioning, a valuable option if you spend much time in hot locations.
When you’re done, you’ll be well north of $500,000, but you’ll be flying an airplane nearly as comfortable as a suite at the Waldorf and smart enough to do everything short of last year’s tax return. Add to that the ability to transit the planet at nearly 150 knots with five friends for company, and the Piper 6X just may have the ingredients for success on today’s tough market.
For more information, contact New Piper Aircraft at (772) 567-4361 or log on to www.newpiper.com.
SPECS: 2007 Piper 6x
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