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Unleashed

The latest evolution of the PA–46 line is faster and more powerful

The five-blade propeller digs into the salt air as it yanks the Piper M700 Fury forward. I hold the brakes in a short-lived effort to keep the airplane stationary on Runway 30L at Florida’s Vero Beach Regional Airport (VRB).
The Piper M700 Fury. Photographed by Chris Rose.
Zoomed image
The Piper M700 Fury. Photographed by Chris Rose.

The standoff lasts only a few seconds as the Fury’s autothrottle increases engine torque to its 700-horsepower limit, and I can’t keep the 6,000-pound aircraft from moving any longer.

The Fury surges ahead as I add right rudder to keep it on the runway centerline. In seven seconds, it reaches its 85-knot rotation speed. Moderate back-pressure on the leather-wrapped yoke raises the nose, and the airplane vaults off the grooved concrete.

I initiate a climb at a 10-degree pitch attitude, but it’s too shallow. The Fury is accelerating through its best-angle climb speed of 95 knots even before I’ve managed to raise the landing gear or flaps.

I pitch for 15 degrees, then raise the gear and flaps, and the airplane accelerates to its best rate of climb at 122 knots. Despite a moderate fuel load, four people on board, and a warm, 80-degree Fahrenheit day, the Fury climbs at about 2,500 feet per minute.

It’s still going up at 1,900 feet per minute (and its PT6A-52 engine is consuming 450 pounds, or 67 gallons, of jet fuel per hour) as it reaches the preprogrammed level-off altitude of 10,500 feet.

“The initial acceleration and climb are pretty stellar and really set the M700 apart,” says Joel Glunt, an experimental test pilot at Piper who helped steer the new model through FAA certification. “A 100-horsepower increase [from the M600] and the new five-blade prop enhance performance quite a bit—especially during takeoff and climb.”

The engine and prop changes also give Piper customers something they’ve long sought: greater speed. The Fury now boasts a top speed of 301 KTAS—up from 276 KTAS in its predecessor. It’s not as quick as the Daher TBM 960 or the Epic E1000—both six-seat, single-engine turboprops—but Piper now crosses the 300-knot milestone.

Bragging rights aside, however, most Fury pilots are likely to cruise at about 292 KTAS, which reduces fuel consumption and extends range to more than 1,400 nautical miles with a 45-minute reserve.

Short-field performance is dramatically improved, with the Fury getting off the ground in 1,261 feet compared to 1,922 feet in the M600—a 34-percent reduction.

And although it’s difficult to quantify, the additional propeller blade allows the Fury to accelerate and decelerate more quickly. In fact, the airplane doesn’t have speed brakes on the airframe or anti-skid brakes on the wheels because the propeller is so effective at slowing the Fury down.

“That fan is a massive air brake when you flatten the blades,” Glunt said. “Or you can feather it, and the M700 has a 17-to-one glide ratio that’s better than some glider trainers.”

Piper M700 Fury

  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    The Piper M700 Fury, the 1,000th PA–46 to come off the assembly line, flies in formation with N4319M, the first PA–46 sold.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    5 blade propeller allows the Fury to accelerate and decelerate more quickly.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    The five-blade, composite, Hartzell propeller gets lots of credit from Piper engineers for the Fury’s improved acceleration, rate of climb, and top speed.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    A single power lever keeps the propeller turning at 2,000 rpm in flight, and pulling the lever back over the gate moves it to beta or reverse thrust on the ground.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.
  • Piper M700 Fury
    Photography by Chris Rose.

Malibu Barbie

The Fury is the latest evolutionary step in the PA–46 line of “M-class” airplanes that Piper launched in 1983 with the piston-powered Malibu (see "First in its M-Class," p. 55). The company has steadily built on that pioneering design with the turboprop Meridian (now called the M500) in 2000 and the M600 in 2015. Along the way, the company added Garmin G1000 and later the G3000 integrated avionics suite, an autothrottle, and the Garmin Autoland system (which Piper calls Halo) in 2020. The Fury makes full use of those features (Autoland is standard equipment on the Fury instead of an option) as well as fuel capacity and gross weight expansions that bring them up to 260 gallons and 6,050 pounds.

The first Fury is the one-thousandth single-engine turboprop that Piper has produced, and the company’s rate of manufacturing is accelerating. Piper’s M-Class production is sold out through 2024, and dealers have bought most of the 48 M700s the company expects to produce in the next 12 months.

Let’s fly

Piper M700 Fury Spec sheetThe first impression of the Fury is familiarity—with a bit of aggression. Its external dimensions are pure PA–46 and the metal airframe is unchanged from the M600, which was little changed from the M500. Yet the black, five-blade Hartzell composite prop hints of the Fury’s additional power and performance.

Landing lights on the main gear and wing tip navigation, strobes, and an ice inspection bulb at the left-wing root are all LED. The long, thin, high-aspect ratio wings (43.2-foot wingspan) have pneumatic deice boots and slightly swept leading edges, and Fowler flaps cover more than two-thirds of their span. The ailerons seem tiny next to them.

Climbing into the cabin via the airstair door is like coming home for Piper pilots. The fuselage dimensions have been the same throughout the PA–46’s long history. Step over the bump in the floor that outlines the position of the forward wing spar, grab the handle at the center of the windscreen, and slide into the left seat.

The seat is adjustable fore and aft as well as up and down, and it reclines. Getting the seat height right is critical because the windshield is relatively thin. Sit too high and all you’ll see ahead is the long cowl. Too low and your forward view is similarly compromised. The side windows seem huge by comparison and greatly improve the outside view.

A three-screen G3000 fills the panel and provides unparalleled situational awareness. Pilots can interact with the avionics through a keypad or dual touchscreen controllers. The G700 autopilot controller is front and center at the top of the panel, and a covered Autoland button is within easy reach of both front-seat occupants. A single power lever controls engine torque, and internal sensors keep the prop at 2,000 rpm continuously in flight.

The start sequence is normal for a PT6A. Check battery voltage, turn on the fuel pumps and igniters, hit the start button, confirm rotation speed, then add fuel via the condition lever. Air conditioning is available once the PT6A-52 is running.

The G3000 and autothrottle can be programmed to follow custom climb, cruise, and descent profiles. The smart system also factors in winds aloft to provide exceptionally accurate estimates for fuel planning in flight. The Fury has an automated fuel management system that draws from both wing fuel tanks and balances them in flight. All the pilot has to do is monitor fuel consumption and transfer fuel between tanks manually if the automatic system or a component fails.

Once cleared for takeoff, I move the condition lever to flight idle, push the power lever forward, and feel the rapid acceleration. I fly the airplane manually during the initial climb through 5,000 feet and then engage the autopilot, which, using the Flight Level Change mode, holds the Fury at the optimum 122-knot climb speed. At 10,500 feet, I click the autopilot off.

Steep turns are a cinch using the Garmin-provided crutch of holding the flight path marker (green dot) on the horizon line. Speed changes involve lots of trimming via the electric switch under the pilot’s right thumb.

With gear down at 170 knots or below and flaps set for landing, an aural alert in the unignorable form of a female voice warns of minimum speed at 90 knots (“Stall! Stall!”), and a stick shaker activates at about 68 knots. I don't wait for the stick pusher to activate. Simply lowering the angle of attack keeps the wings flying, and adding power allows for an immediate climb, even with landing flaps deployed.

Full aileron deflection shows no apparent adverse yaw, and I estimate the roll rate at about 40 degrees per second.

The Fury is slightly heavier in roll than pitch but crisp and obedient in all axes. It is a stable instrument platform, and hand-flying approaches in IMC could be done accurately and enjoyably, although the automation is surely better and more consistent at that job than any human.

A north wind is gusting to 18 knots as Glunt coaches me through my first Fury approach and landing. There’s a minor pitch-down moment when the landing gear is extended and two more when the flaps are deployed (via a flap-shaped handle) to their takeoff (15 degrees) and landing (35 degrees) settings. The landing setting also produces a ballooning tendency that’s easily counteracted with slight forward pressure on the yoke.

Glunt advises 95 knots on final approach and 85 over the airport fence. The Fury seems to find its groove on final with minor power adjustments providing instant responses. I’m able to hold the intended speed precisely on the visual glideslope. But I get a little exuberant by pulling the power to idle too quickly in the landing flare and decelerate rapidly. When I notice my mistake, I add too much power and balloon before settling down.

The touchdown is nothing like the roll-on version I was hoping for, but the forgiving landing gear masks my errors and cushions the impact. I was curious about how the straight-legged, non-trailing-link main gear would stand up to inelegant arrivals, and this unintentional test provided an affirmative answer.

It does so without complaint.

Value pricing

The Fury faces intense competition from formidable rivals.

The Daher TBM line in France has long been the market leader in six-seat, single-engine turboprops, and it consistently raises the bar on top speed and overall performance. It also commands the highest price.

Piper markets the Fury as a value buy with a base price of $4.1 million that’s “a million dollars less than the competition.” The allure of comparable performance at a discount has been a mainstay of Piper’s business strategy for decades. The Comanche isn’t a Bonanza, yet it delivers similar speed, payload, and range at a lower price without sacrificing safety. The Cheyenne isn’t a King Air, but it gained a dedicated following because its performance is similar at a lower cost.

Piper well knows how to make incremental yet meaningful improvements to existing models without incurring the huge costs of designing, testing, and certifying entirely new aircraft. The Fury follows that practical, disciplined, and proven pattern. The company’s 1,300 employees are experts at making PA–46s and they’ve got the tribal knowledge and skills to do it well and consistently at predictable rates.

From a flying perspective, the Fury will appeal to analytical pilots who like automation and rely on it. It’ll also attract stick-and-rudder pilots who appreciate power and precision as well as ruggedness and reliability. And it will win over those who want the safety and smoothness of a turbine engine without paying a seven-figure premium for a 10-percent increase in top speed.

Passengers will appreciate the comfort of the Fury compared to any piston single, and the one-button Autoland feature is a selling point. But the Fury lacks the interior space of its larger competitors, and there’s no getting around the fact that filling all six seats with normal-size adults would feel cramped. Piper knows, however, that its M-Class airplanes are rarely called upon to carry that many people.

Piper’s value strategy of updating existing designs to deliver comparable performance to its rivals at a significantly lower price has worked extremely well in the past—and there’s no reason to think it won’t be successful again.

[email protected]

Dave Hirschman
Dave Hirschman
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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