The Meridian M500 is not your typical turbine.
Sometimes, the more things change, the more they improve. This is certainly the case for Piper’s latest commodity, the Meridian M500. While the airframe remains true to its esteemed Meridian roots, the M500 embodies advancements in avionics and other improvements that move this turbine into impressive new aviation territory.
Unveiled last January, the M500 has long been a labor of love. When it wasn’t concealed in the shadows of the experimental hangar, monopolized by obsessive engineers, Piper’s M500 was chasing tempestuous skies.
Test pilots pushed the envelope of conventional parameters flight after flight, trying to elicit an acute response from the M500 and refining its systems until they were satisfied that the aircraft would be a preeminent example of the safety available in a modern turbine.
At the forefront of the M500’s mission is safety. With continued emphasis on the safety and convenience of flying, manufacturers are pursuing avenues to not only invent modernized and more secure aircraft, but to implement aggressive safety measures and improve upon existing models currently in production.
This brings us to the M500. It is a uniquely refined aircraft. Tracing its lineage to Piper’s Meridian, the M500 contains the best DNA of its predecessors while exhibiting its own new impressive features—most notably in the cockpit.
Some of its attributes are those you might expect to find, such as a digital pressurization system; XM Weather digital monitoring; electroluminescent placards and an extended squitter transponder and traffic advisory system with ADS-B In and Out functionality.
However, it is the remarkable capabilities of the all-glass Garmin G1000 cockpit that advance the M500 to a superior safety class with a sophistication all its own.
Perhaps most impressive is the enhanced Autopilot Flight Control System (AFCS). With the ability to perform coupled go-around, engage automatic underspeed protection, command an expanded autopilot engagement envelope, offer an automatic wings-level mode and prevent the onset of stalls, spins and spirals with Electronic Stability Protection (ESP), Piper’s M500 is arguably the industry leader in safety equipment for its class.
Functioning independently of the autopilot, ESP is a passive feature that deters the aircraft from operating outside of its optimal flight envelope. ESP acts on roll, pitch and airspeed, applying a subtle corrective force if the aircraft moves outside of its desired range of operation, gently nudging it back into the preferred envelope.
Automatic Level Mode (LVL) will return the aircraft to wings level when the blue button is pushed. Simply by engaging the LVL button, the plane is restored to straight and level flight—another safety redundancy for pilots.
Underspeed Protection (USP) is an intuitive flight director function that reacts to underspeed conditions in a way that allows the autopilot to remain engaged, but prevents the airplane from stalling.
Add all of these advanced safety measures to its tried-and-true powerful Pratt & Whitney 500 shp engine, and Piper’s new product is a pristine performance machine, one certainly deserving of the attention it is getting.
Just how revolutionary is this turboprop? That remains to be seen, but from a company that prides itself on changing the countenance of aviation since the late 1930s with its iconic Cub, challenging the way pilots think about safety in a turbine is a natural trajectory for Piper Aircraft.
Elaine Ryan joined Piper Aircraft’s marketing team in early 2014, bringing substantial experience in copywriting, editing and photography with her. Ryan graduated from the University of California, San Diego and has worked in the creative marketing field for more than 20 years. Because her father was a private pilot, Ryan was exposed to aviation at an early age. She continues to be enamored with aircraft and the infinite sky. Send questions or comments to