When Piper launched its update to the Meridian pressurized turboprop single, we had to wonder how it would improve upon the limitations of the popular plane. We fly the new M600 just last week and found out. Here’s the lowdown.
The PA46-600TP is certified and being delivered to customers. It goes for $2.85 million nicely equipped and will tip the $3 million mark with a few popular options.
Everyone gets the big changes, which have to do with three things: the wing, the avionics and the engine. All play key roles in making the M600 the turboprop PA46 that more than a few customers have been asking for.
The wing is all-new—and it is NOT the wing from the abandoned Piper Jet. It has a lot more fuel capacity, 260 gallons, than the original Meridian, which held just 170 gallons. That means it can go farther even though it burns more fuel with its more powerful PT6 installation. At high-speed cruise it travels better than 1,000 nm. If you pull the power way back, you can exceed 1,400 nm, though we doubt many will do this. The wing is stronger, so the Vmo has increased tremendously, up to 260 knots, so descent speeds are much faster.
The new engine isn’t really new at all, but the same PT6A-42A with the wick turned up to produce 600 shp instead of 500, as on the Meridian. The additional power gives the plane better takeoff and climb performance, and increases its top cruise speed to 274 knots. A more typical cruise at lower fuel flows is as fast as the Meridian’s top figure.
The avionics are all new as well, with Garmin’s high-end G3000 touch-controlled flight deck. The integration is great, and includes digital pressurization and Garmin’s color radar, from the 10-inch radar mounted not below the wing, as before, but on the leading edge. Another big selling point is envelope protection, which includes overbanking protection, underspeed and overspeed protection, and hypoxia protection. We tried them all out—with the exception of the hypoxia safety feature—and they all work exactly as advertised.
The M600 feels heavier than the M500, and it’s a heavier airplane, tipping the scales at 6,000 pounds max takeoff weight. The pull on the elevator required to climb or flare is high compared to previous PA46s, but with a little practice, the airplane lands better than the Meridian, rebranded the M500. The improved ground handling is thanks to a wider set gear, so you don’t get the pronounced darting proclivity of the previous model.
With better speed, more range, the same nice cockpit and the best Piper panel yet, the M600 is a success. Piper reports brisk sales as customers get wind, as we just did, of how big an improvement the model is.
Look for our complete pilot report in the September issue of Plane & Pilot.