M600 Initial thoughts

In a nutshell, I REALLY like the M600!!  I think Piper hit an absolute home-run with this airplane and I am already a big fan.  Would I recommend buying one?  You can bet your (tax-depreciated) bottom-dollar I would!

With the new purchase of an M600, the owner will receive training at the Piper Factory (I’ve not given an “initial training” in an M600 yet, although I bet that day comes soon!).  So, I’ve only been able to see the M600 from afar until recently.  Now that the first M600’s are approaching one year old, I’ve had customers come to me for Recurrent Training.  I’ve (as of this writing) conducted 4 M600 Recurrent Training events in the last month (NOV-DEC 2017), so I feel like I’ve now gained the ability to give my thoughts with some credibility.  To those owners that came to me with their first recurrent event…thank you!!  You honor me with your selection of instructor!

The M600 is a super-well thought out airplane that takes the PA46 lineage and moves it to the next level.  Not just an “overgrown Meridian”, this airplane solved some of the biggest complaints against the Meridian while bringing along all of the good aspects that Meridian owners enjoy.  I suspect the M600 will have a long lifespan and owners should be justifiably proud of their purchase decision.  I think the M600 will be the backbone of Piper’s profits for years to come.

Since most M600 buyers will be former Meridian (M500) owners, it seems a good approach to contrast the two while highlighting the M600.

Wing: The biggest difference is the wing.  Clearly Piper went to the drawing board and started with a clean sheet.  The wing is MUCH wider at the root, has a MUCH thicker chord, is WAY more robust (thick skins, beefy spar), and carries a LOT more fuel than any other PA46.  It looks bigger and feels stronger.  The bigger, stronger wing translates into a bunch of value-added results such as:

* Higher Vmo: When starting a descent, the power can be left at cruise.  In fact, in cruise speed, there’s so much available room on the airspeed indicator that Vmo doesn’t even show up on the G3000 display until a descent is started and the speed builds.  The higher Vmo translates into LOTS of safety and strength.

* Greater fuel capacity = range:  Holding 260+ gallons of fuel translates into the M600 having MUCH higher range than the Meridian.  From my home airport in Texas (KJSO), I can reach either the east coast or west coast with reserves.

* More solid feel: The ride in the M600 is more stable while on the ground and in flight.

* Small Ailerons, big flaps: The ailerons are smaller, and this results in less-than-robust roll rates.  This is totally fine because the airplane is built for stable, cross county, fast operation, and I found the airplane to have good control harmony.  The flaps are REALLY long, taking up nearly 3/4 of the span of the wing.  When flap position is changed it has definite impact on performance.  The performance change is notable especially on approach and landing.  There are only 3 flap settings: UP, T/O, and Landing.  The Landing Vfe is 112 KIAS, which requires an approach to be flown slightly different than other PA46’s, but the “approach flow” is easy to learn and fly.

Cool winglets: I’m not sure what the winglets do insofar as increased performance, but sure look cool and make the M600 distinctive on the ramp.

Beefy Landing Gear: Another welcome addition is the beefy landing gear.  The tires are much larger, the braking system more effective, and the feel on the ground is solid.  As an aside…the M600 tire is tubeless, so this eliminates the tube failure problems that have been a nuisance to the other PA46 airframes.

Engine: The engine on the M600 is the identical engine that is found on the Meridian, except that the limits (ITT, TQ, etc) are higher which allows the engine to create more horsepower (600 HP).  This is a compliment because the PT6-42A is an excellent engine that is a perfect size for the M600 airframe/wing.

Payload Capability: With the strong wing, strong gear, and powerful engine come the ability to haul more.  The MGW jumped up significantly allowing for the pilot to have full fuel plus a nearly full cabin.

Ice protection: One of my big complaints against the traditional PA46 tail is the “unprotected gap” at the elevator horn.  If flown in icing, ice bridging can occur which can hinder movement of the elevator and cause the pitch trim servo to cycle.  The M600 has a heated element on the elevator at the gap on the elevator horn which eliminates this dangerous bridging.  All other aspects of the icing on the M600 are robust, making the M600 an excellent platform in icing conditions.

G3000: I really like the G3000.  For those that are coming from a G750-equipped airplane, the transition will be super-easy.  The G3000 is more robust and offers a myriad of “niceties” that are found on no other PA46.  Expect a article from me soon discussing the advantages, but suffice it to say that the G3000 is super-robust and easy to use.

Ultra-nice interior:  Piper has improved the M500 interior tremendously over the years, and the M600 continued that upward trajectory.  It’s absolutely gorgeous with fabulous leather, wonder appointments, and lighting that is second to none.

Needed improvements: Now, having made this article sound like an advertisement for Piper (Nope…I really don’t get any benefit from them at all…), you are probably wondering what I think Piper could do better in subsequent improvements to the M600.  Well, I do think there’s a few things that could be improved:

  • Add a baggage compartment:  The M600 requires weights to be added to the front of the M600 to ensure proper balance…it’s sightly tail-heavy  Most owners REALLY don’t like adding additional weights, and I don’t either.  It seems to me that Piper could have moved the engine forward slightly (to move the CG slightly forward) and allowed for a small baggage area. Even a small baggage area would be immensely popular and helpful.  I’m betting this will be a part of the next generation of M600’s.
  • Created a new name:  I get it…the M350, M500, and M600 are named after the available horsepower in each airframe.  But, they could have come up with a better name that could be used in aircraft callsigns.  It is clearly an “M-Class” airplane, so they could have selected any name that starts with “M”.  Most M600 pilots use the callsign “Meridian” when talking with ATC, but most don’t like using that name because it REALLY is a different airplane compared to a Meridian.  A minor point, but hey…it would be very easy to accomplish.  I’d have called it “Magic”, “Maestro”, “Marvel”, “Mentor”, “Meteor”, “Myriad”, or “Maximum”…anything would be better for use on the radio.  With the new M-number designations, the only airplane without a “proper name” is the M600 (M350 = Mirage; M500 = Meridian).  I think they could boost sales by coming up with a cool name.

I’m super-pleased with with Piper for bringing the M600 to the market.  It translates into Piper being healthy for the next 2-3 decades and that is great news for every Piper airframe owner.  A healthy Piper is good for all Piper owners.  I predict the M600 really will sell well for decades.  For any M600 prospective buyer that is contemplating a purchase, you’ve got my “green light”…this is one well-thought-out airplane that does a great job of retaining the best of the M-Class series while adding a wing that changes the game.

About Joe Casey

ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, CFI-G Commercial Pilot - SE, ME, Rotorcraft, Glider US Army AH-64 Pilot and UH-60 Instructor Pilot and Instrument Flight Examiner
This entry was posted in Buying an Airplane, Thinking of buying a PA-46? and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.