Interview by PFA Staff | Photos courtesy Piper Aircraft
Piper Flyer recently queried Piper Aircraft president and CEO Simon Caldecott about its latest offering in the M-series, the M600. Here is what Caldecott had to say about the development and features of this 600 shp single.
PF: You mentioned at AirVenture that the M600 is your favorite—or at least one of your favorite—Pipers to date. Why do you like it so much?
SC: The M600 is one of my favorite Piper products because of its capability and performance. As we went through the development program, we discovered that the M600’s performance and capability were going to surpass our initial expectations, which made me particularly proud of our team.
Additionally, I challenged the group to design and implement an interior that was both luxurious and comfortable without creating a need for a significant amount of new tooling. We hit it out of the park with an interior design that was relatively easy to implement, is in line with today’s business aviation products, but is also comfortable and functional. We are delighted at how well received it has been in the marketplace.
Finally, the M600 is positioned to fit within multiple market segments. While we have initially targeted the owner-flown market, the aircraft—given its range and payload—is ideally suited as a “stablemate” to a corporate flight department with jet products in its hangar. It can also serve as a very cost effective and efficient Part 135 aircraft.
PF: What prompted you to bring to market a new airframe requiring new FAA certification? Why not just refurbish the Meridian, for example?
SC: The Meridian as well as the M500 have both been tremendous products with great success. The M500 continues to serve a specific niche of the market place as an entry-level turboprop that features advanced safety features and a highly competitive price point of less than two million dollars.
However, in conducting a thorough market analysis as well as a survey of both our dealers and customers, it was clear to us that the market needed an aircraft that could carry more and fly further.
With this in mind, we knew that the wing on the M500 would need to be redesigned in order to carry the additional load as well as accommodate more fuel. The new project, which included a clean-sheet-design wing, was named PA-46X.
PF: What will be different for the pilot that transitions to the M600, and what will be familiar—if anything?
SC: In early 2016 we announced that Legacy Flight Training would be the exclusive training provider for the M600. Each new M600 [purchase] includes one initial training course with the training provider. Legacy has worked together with Piper Aircraft to create a thorough training curriculum that includes a combination of ground school, simulator and in-aircraft training.
The course includes systems training, normal and emergency procedures training, as well as transition training for the Garmin G3000 avionics system. Those customers who are stepping out of current M-class products will be somewhat familiar with the cockpit layout as well as the general operating procedures. Customers with G1000 experience will find the transition to the G3000 avionics systems relatively seamless and intuitive.
As a far as aircraft handling performance goes, the M600 is not significantly dissimilar to the Meridian/M500. Certainly it has more payload, range and fuel, but generally speaking, there are more similarities than one might expect.
Perhaps one of the more significant differences that one will find in the M600 as compared to its predecessor the M500 is the VMO speed (max operating speed).
With the newly designed wing, the M600 is able to descend at a higher rate of speed, which is helpful when entering congested airspace—aircraft control is less likely to vector an M600 out of the way of larger commercial aircraft.
Additionally, the time to travel from point to point is reduced as a result of the higher speed.
PF: What has the response been to the M600? How many ordered to date?
SC: The response to the M600 has been extremely positive. While we do not publically announce production numbers outside of the GAMA Aircraft Shipments and Billings report, all units for 2016 are fully allocated, as well as the units for 2017.
PF: To what kind of mission profile is the M600 best suited: individual pilot business flyer, corporate, family trips or other?
SC: The M600 was designed to support multiple mission profiles and to fit within several different market segments. With a max range of nearly 1,500 nm and full fuel payload of over 650 pounds, the aircraft can easily support a private owner in both a business and leisure capacity.
Additionally, with a price point of more than one million dollars less than the closest competitor, the M600 offers a great value proposition for a corporate flight department on trips that don’t warrant the use of larger, more expensive corporate jets.
The M600 offers a comfortable cabin that can serve as an office in the sky for a businessperson who needs a flexible workspace. A work table along with USB charging ports enables passengers to be productive while traveling from point to point.
For families, there is plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the flight while charging devices like cell phones and tablets. There is room for 100 pounds of baggage in the aft compartment, which can be accessed from inside.
Piper Flyer would like to thank Simon Caldecott and Jacqueline Carlon for granting us this interview. For more about the M600’s features and systems, visit piper.com.