The Impressive M-ClassWritten by Jennifer Dellenbusch
With 150 hp (the original had just 108 hp) Piper’s rag-and-tube nosewheel classic is a “no-worries airplane”
The M-Class series of aircraft first began as a glimmer in Piper’s eye in 1977. Piper management had set a goal of increasing its 26 percent market share to a full 50 percent. To reach this goal Piper would need to outsell its competitors—by a lot. Piper executives knew they’d have to develop a brand-new product to meet the challenge.
The market segment identified for Piper’s new model was the pressurized single; Cessna’s pressurized 210had begun shipping to customers, and was proving to be a popular model.1 In 1978, Piper lured Jim Griswold away from Cessna to serve as Piper’s Director of Engineering.
The new Piper model was specified to be six-place, pressurized, low-wing, turbocharged and high performance. Where the Cessna 210’s third-row seats were smaller than the front seats, Piper wanted each of its six seats to be equal in head, shoulder and leg room. Entry would be through the cabin and not over the wing.
Instead of just designing and creating a single model, Piper wanted the ability to expand the project into an entirely new line of aircraft where parts and engineering interchangeability would be maximized.