The takeoff weight increase will cost a knot or two of maximum cruise speed until fuel burns down, and then performance will match that of the original Meridian. Expect 260 knots, or a little more, at optimum cruise, and if you fly at FL 290 you can stay up for four hours with an acceptable IFR reserve. The new takeoff weight limit doesn't change range, but it does change the range versus payload profile. In other words, in the new Meridian you can carry more people and stuff farther than you could before.
In early summer the Piper people told me that they experienced a sudden and strong increase in demand for the Meridian. A small inventory of Meridians was on hand in the dealer network, but that quickly shrank as pilots started serious shopping for high-performance personal airplanes. No doubt the new accelerated tax depreciation law had something to do with it, but the important changes Piper has made in the Meridian's max takeoff weight and autopilot system are also important. Every new airplane needs to grow and improve, and it's gratifying to see that Piper is adding more capability to this exciting personal airplane.
2003 Piper Meridian
|The airplane flown for this report was equipped with the Meggitt Magic avionics system that includes dual flat-panel EFIS on both sides of the cockpit, plus the new Magic 1500 autopilot as standard equipment. Garmin GNS 530s are also standard, as is the Bendix/King RDR-2000 vertical profile weather radar. All data here is from the Pilot's Operating Handbook and reflects standard day conditions at sea level.|