By the time the Piper Cherokee Archer came to market in 1974 the Cherokee line had been in production for 13 years and had yielded many variations.
The Archer was the product of the “fuselage II” project which had explored options for creating an airframe with a longer fuselage than the original Cherokee. Engineers had proposed either stretching the fuselage (four inches forward and 16 inches aft of the spar was proposed) or by designing a new fuselage with a door on each side. Eventually Piper decided to go forward with the stretched version and abandoned the double-door idea as too expensive.
The stretched Cherokee received a five inch increase between the front and rear seats at the forward wing attach point. A wider door was added which, along with the extra cabin space, provided for easier ingress and egress—a feature that surveys had shown Piper customers wanted.
Initially named the Cherokee Challenger, the airframe was certified on May 22, 1972 and sales began in September of that year at a price of $16,990.
The name was changed to Cherokee Archer for the 1974 model year. That year saw improvements in nosewheel steering, a new overhead vent system and new exterior paint.
Piper built 7,455 Archers through 1975 when it was replaced by the Archer II.
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