Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Piper Matrix: The Second-Year Test


A year after Piper shut down the Saratoga HP, the Matrix helps pick up the slack


Having operated several Mirages at weights well above 5,300 pounds (1,000 over gross), I can attest that the airplane is a true Big Bird. Handling with the 43-foot wingspan is deliberate and positive, though anything but quick. Even so, landings are easily predictable and no special challenge if you’re fairly competent and simply awake. Recognizing flare height is no big challenge, and it’s easy to ground the airplane with style, even in a strong crosswind.

Pricewise, the Cessna 400TT is closest to the Matrix base price at $635,000, but remember, the 400TT is a four-seater. The G36 Bonanza comes next at a base $605,000, though that may not be a fair comparison, considering that the Bonanza isn’t turbocharged. The Cirrus SR22-G3 Turbo checks in at $598,500, and Mooney’s Acclaim S is $579,000; these four-seaters are quick competition for the Matrix, but again, they’re four-seaters. The Cessna T-Stationair, at a base $565,000, follows on the list. The utilitarian T206 is the slowest airplane of the lot, 40 knots behind the Matrix, but it has large left-side cargo doors to help enclose six folks.

The Matrix is the most expensive airplane in the group, but it’s also the only cabin-class machine with the largest cockpit, an airstair door and, perhaps most important of all, the lineage of the world’s most luxurious piston single, the Piper Mirage.


FLIR In The PA46
Piper is determined to offer the most sophisticated avionics package in general aviation. The Vero Beach, Fla., company’s latest innovation is a fully capable Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) system as optional equipment in the Matrix, Mirage and Meridian.

Using heat-sensitive infrared- or thermal-imaging cameras, similar to those used by police and military aircraft, Forward Vision’s EVS-100 and EVS-600 offer pilots the equivalent of a real-world view of the forward quadrant, no matter what the weather or lighting conditions.

During the day, EVS penetrates haze, fog, smoke and precipitation up to 10 times farther than the unaided human eye. On the ground, EVS allows pilots to see animals or unlit obstacles during night taxi or takeoff. In flight, EVS depicts clouds that might otherwise be hard to see, and notes ground features with improved detail both day and night.

The EVS-100 provides pilots with an infrared field of view that’s 40 degrees wide by 30 degrees tall. Unlike synthetic vision, a computer-generated image based on an extensive database, the EVS is a standalone device that presents a real-world image of current terrain, vehicles and even people. At this writing, prices hadn’t been announced. Learn more at www.forward-vision.net.





Labels: Piston Singles

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