Family-owned aircraft maker Maule Air Inc. has added four new variations to a product line of aircraft based on a design that has stood the test of time, including a two-seater with 900 pounds of useful load and an introductory price of $199,900.
Maule Air is among the oldest airplane makers in continuous production, if not the oldest, having produced airplanes for 55 years since the first M-4, known as the Jetasen, was delivered in 1962. Family patriarch B.D. Maule designed the taildragger for “serious pilots who fly for the love of it,” as the Moultrie, Georgia-based company notes on its website. The design that features a rugged steel tube truss fuselage and short-field capabilities has sustained the company through thick and thin—the reliable machine evolved with care (and many late nights in the family factory) into new models with an instantly recognizable heritage.
Maules can be found today in more than 50 countries, and supporting the fleet with parts helped sustain the family business through economic downturns, as other aircraft makers came and went. After 75 years in the aviation business (B.D. Maule invented, among other things, a non-destructive aircraft fabric tester that remains in production) and 55 years of continuous aircraft production, the family remains as committed as ever to producing rugged, reliable, and capable airplanes that fly well and are suited for many missions.
In January, Maule Air announced new variations on the long-running theme, including a relaunch of the original, an updated M-4-180V S2 (two seats) and S4 (four seats), with a 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360 engine turning a Hartzell constant speed propeller.
“It’s different,” said Brent Maule, grandson of B.D. Maule and vice president of sales, in a telephone interview, without a trace of irony.
“It’s got our classic round tail,” he added, noting the new M-4 models are a “reintroduction of our original model with a lot of changes made to it.”
The modern M-4s feature a 38-cubic-foot cargo area accessed with huge double doors, all-metal wings, 900 pounds of useful load, and an available supplemental type certificate to run on automotive fuel. The new M-4 180V S2 has an introductory price of $199,900.
“We’ve got the first one going through the production line right now,” Maule said. “It’ll be ready late spring or early summer.”
Maule also announced two new variations on a larger iteration, the M-9: The M-9-260 is powered by a fuel-injected Lycoming IO-540 engine rated at 260 hp, and the M-9-235 (certified in 2012 with a fuel-injected powerplant) is now available with a carbureted O-540 that is eligible for supplemental type certification to run on automotive fuels, as are the M-4 variants. The M-9 models feature four seats with a fifth jump seat that can accommodate a passenger in the cargo area. The new M-9 configurations follow up on the anniversary edition M-9-235 flown by AOPA in 2012, powered by a Lycoming IO-540-W1A5.
The M-9 models all offer heavy hauling capability, with useful loads in the vicinity of 1,100 pounds, depending on equipment options, 42 cubic feet of cargo space, and a maximum gross weight of 2,800 pounds. Heavy-duty aluminum spring gear and metal wings with flaps that can be set to minus-7 degrees for improved cruise performance, and a modular cabin design that can be customized for a range of missions are also M-9 hallmarks.
“The M-9 gives pilots Maule's large cargo capacity and the useful load to fill it up,” Maule said in a January press release. The M-9s can carry four adults and 100 pounds of baggage with enough load to spare for more than four hours of fuel, or two adults, 250 pounds of equipment, and more than 7 hours of fuel, the company noted.
The base prices of $297,900 for the M-9-235 (carbureted), $307,900 for the fuel-injected M-9-235 certified in 2012, and $321,900 for the 260-hp version all include “a full gyro panel” and modern engine instrumentation in the form of a JPI EDM 930 engine analyzer, Maule said, but no radios, and plenty of room for panel customization.
“We do that purposefully because there’s so much out there that people want,” Maule said in the telephone interview. “We don’t want to lock them into something that they don’t want.”
With Maule models flying on every continent except Antarctica, the company appears to have done a good job figuring out what customers want, for more than five decades and counting.
“This year, we’ve been in the aviation business for 75 years,” Maule said. “It’s gotta be a world record by now… 55 years of continuous aircraft production, as well.”