September 13, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
The Piper Meridian, until now limited to operating from paved runways, has FAA approval to operate from unpaved runways, including grass and dirt runways. The new privilege also is granted to owners of older Meridians. The $2 million Meridian is a single-engine turboprop with six seats.
Piper officials said the aircraft will require a ground roll of 1,980 feet to take off from dry grass (compared to 1,650 feet on a paved runway), or 2,926 feet (compared to 2,438 feet) to take off from dry grass and clear a 50-foot obstacle. The Meridian will require a ground roll of 1,224 feet to land on dry grass (compared to 1,020 feet on a paved runway) for landing, or 2,532 feet (compared to 2,110 feet) to land over a 50-foot obstacle.
The feature has often been requested by owners.
“The ability to land and depart from unpaved runways adds increased operating flexibility to an already outstanding aircraft through a change to the POH and without requiring any kind of airframe modifications,” said Piper Executive Vice President Randy Groom.
The approval required extensive operational flight testing by Piper engineers and will be reflected in supplements to the Meridian pilot’s operating handbook.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
AOPA is testing whether aircraft ownership can be more affordable than many people believe with the development of “Reimagined Aircraft.”
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