The Archer Goes Glass
New Piper’s amazingly popular PA-28 series now comes with the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra
For most pilots, the quintessential Cherokee always has been the Archer. Yes, there’s still the Warrior, and there were the 140, 150, 160 and Cadet before that, but the Archer always has represented perhaps the most generic of the Cherokees. Just as the Cub was the signature general-aviation single of the ’30s and ’40s, and the flawed but beautiful V-tailed Bonanza dominated the ’50s and ’60s, the Piper Cherokee has become one of the most recognizable aviation icons of the ’70, ’80s and ’90s, hardly the fastest or the most comfortable, not the most efficient to buy or operate, but an outstanding combination of talents nevertheless. " />
New Piper hasn’t yet embraced FADEC on the Archer, meaning there are still two knobs on the power console, throttle and mixture. For most flights below 3,000 feet, you can set the mixture to full rich and forget about it. With a power loading of more than 14 pounds per horsepower, takeoff doesn’t happen in a rush, although the airplane lifts off in a little more than 1,000 feet and starts uphill at a reasonable 600 to 700 fpm. While Archers have never been touted as short-field airplanes, they’ll operate from 2,000-foot strips with ease, even with short obstacles to clear.
There’s little reason not to use max cruise virtually all the time in an Archer, and that means endurance is about four hours plus reserve, as long as most pilots (excluding ferry pilots) are willing to sit in an airplane anyway. According to New Piper’s specs, max cruise is 128 knots, but most owners block the airplane at 115 to 120 knots at 8,000 feet, 110 knots up at 11,000 feet. High cruise allows the airplane 450 nm between fuel stops. Pulling back to 55% only adds 75 nm to range, so there’s little justification for using lower power settings, unless you’re short on fuel or a high cruise altitude demands it. The service ceiling is 14,100 feet.
The essence of the Archer always has been its ability to transport its pilot and passengers with stability and a minimum of fuss and complexity, and that talent remains to this day. The airplane may be the same formula as of old, but it never fails to provide a pleasant flying experience.
Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I flew about two dozen new Warriors, Archers and Arrows across the Atlantic for Globe Aero of Lakeland, Fla., and although the trips weren’t always fun, flying through northeastern Canada in mid-winter, I felt I could rely on the little Cherokees, especially the Archer. clouds much of the time, and the Archer made a good instrument platform. I once saw a new PA-28-181 land at Reykjavik, Iceland, and taxi onto the ramp with a full inch of ice on the wings—no one’s idea of a good time. The pilot reported he had been in and out of icing for the last several hours, but since there’s nowhere to divert between Greenland and Iceland, he had little choice but to keep on plugging. The airplane flew reasonably well despite the temporarily deformed airfoil.
Like the Cessna Skyhawk that seems ageless (it will be 50 years old in 2006), Piper’s Archer is one of those airplanes that just may be around forever. It offers entry-level buyers a little of everything that pilots look for in a flying machine. Now, with the introduction of the Avidyne Entegra flat-panel display, the reliable Archer has assumed a level of sophistication it never had before.
For more information, contact New Piper Aircraft at (772) 567-4361 or log on to www.newpiper.com.
SPECS: 2004 New Piper Archer III N184CF