Updated Garmin G1000 avionics bring electronic stability protection and other automated safety features to the six-seat Piper Meridian M500, the 2015 edition of Piper Aircraft’s turbine-powered member of the Malibu family.
The Meridian was designed to be simple to operate, easing the transition for customers stepping up from other Pipers, and the latest edition includes new features designed to give the pilot a little help when the edges of the envelope approach.
First delivered in 2000, the Meridian has since seen several updates including airframe changes that boosted the maximum takeoff weight to 5,092 pounds, with a useful load of 1,698 pounds. The M500 can cruise at 260 knots, with a maximum range of 1,000 nautical miles.
Piper’s flagship remains a comparatively recent entry in the certified, single-engine, pressurized, turboprop market niche, and the 2015 edition features avionics upgrades designed to enhance the safety of an already reliable aircraft. (The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A is derived from a basic design used by more than 6,500 operators in 170 countries, with more than 335 million hours flown.)
Updates to the Garmin G1000 avionics suite for 2015 include electronic stability protection, under speed protection, and an automatic level function—a blue button that directs the autopilot and flight director to return to straight-and-level. Stability protection functions independently of the autopilot and works only when the aircraft is flown by hand. It is designed to apply small corrections to control surface positions to avoid exceeding the flight envelope. Under speed protection functions with the autopilot engaged, and is designed to prevent stalls. This feature allows coupled go-arounds without disengaging the autopilot allowing the autopilot to fly the missed approach. If insufficient power is added, the system will adjust pitch to maintain lift.
The G1000 displays also now incorporate various cautions, including the master caution, gear warning, and gear position indicators.
The company announced on Jan. 28 a few additional upgrades for the M500, including digital pressurization, an Aspen EFD-1000 standby instrument, electroluminescent placards, a Mode S GTX 33ES transponder with extended squitter capability, a single, center-mounted audio panel, and dual USB charging ports.
The M500 price tag climbed slightly with those new features on board, up to $2.26 million from the 2014 list price of $2.22 million.