The PA-46 has super-long wings that are perfect for high altitude performance, but they also come with the penalty of a low Va (Maneuvering speed) for the airframe (read post, “Malibu Maneuvering Speed”). Due to this, many owners have installed spoilers to help with quick descents.
One of my biggest arguments against the spoilers is the position of the switch located inside the thumb hole of the throttle quadrant. While this is a very natural position ergonomically for the hand, for those of us who are taller (I’m 6’3″…) the knee will come into contact with the switch while seated. Especially in the straight Malibu (where the seat does not recline), I find that I inadvertently activate the switch at unexpected moments in flight, especially in turbulence.
Any Malibu pilot flying a bird with spoilers must remain vigilant to the sounds and feel of the airplane when the spoilers are deployed. The airframe will shake slightly and the buffeting creates an audible muffled tone. The sound and feel is hard to describe, but through experience a pilot can sense when the spoilers are deployed. This early recognition is critical in certain phases of flight when the eyes are mostly “outside” the airplane, such as short final to landing. Obviously, inadvertently deployed (and unrecognized) spoilers during landing could easily destroy lift to a point where the airplane could not recover if the spoilers were not retracted.
The point? Make sure you are aware of spoiler position at all times, especially if you are tall or have long legs. Or…better yet, if you don’t have spoilers, don’t spend the money to purchase them. The Malibu can easily be flown in all regimes of flight without them. They are a greater threat to the safety of flight than they are a benefit during a descent.