Piper Updates M600/SLS Halo with GWX 8000

StormOptix weather radar technology is a first in the owner-flown GA market.

The M600/SLS Halo now features 16-color weather radar with automated modes and volumetric scanning.Jim Barrett/Piper Aircraft

Piper Aircraft introduced its new interim president and CEO John Calcagno at EAA AirVenture on Monday, July 26, and Calcagno expressed enthusiasm for his new role at the legendary manufacturer after 11 years as its CFO. “It goes without saying that I’m honored to be here at Piper Aircraft,” and he went on to stress the legacy of excellence, quality, and value that he finds continuing on at the OEM. He also emphasized the advance in safety made possible by the partnership with Garmin Aviation on the Autoland version found on the M600. “The M600 SLS and its Halo Safety System with Autoland is the result of an unwavering commitment to safety as well as the desire to evolve our products based on market input. The Halo system greatly enhances situational awareness and operational safety through the use of advanced technology and is one the most significant advancements in general aviation history.”

Piper announced at the show the certification and availability of Garmin’s GWX 8000 weather radar system for the M600, M500, and M350 models. Featuring StormOptix, it represents Garmin’s most advanced radar technology bundled into one package—and the first such certification in owner-flown, non-jet GA aircraft. Its Auto Mode and 3D volumetric scanning provide easier threat identification and reduction of pilot workload. In a nutshell, you just don’t have to fiddle with it the way a pilot does with legacy radar systems.

A multi-angle, volumetric scan ahead of the aircraft collects data, which then goes into the expanded system memory. The system compares and contrasts the various scans to identify and delineate ground versus airborne weather radar targets, depicting the weather returns and omitting the ground returns. The system runs at a scan/refresh rate of 4 scans at 5 seconds each, plus 5 seconds for processing, for 25 seconds between images. Auto Mode allows the pilot to select the Weather mode, and the volumetric scanning becomes automated, making an automatic adjustment of the antenna sweep pattern to build a picture of the scanned volume. An enhanced color palette makes that picture pop in brilliant color as compared to legacy systems.

The GWX 8000 with StormOptix debuted on the Citation Longitude. The GWX 8000 StormOptix is intended to replace solutions such as MultiScan and RDR 7000 radars, which are targeted at high-end business jets and commercial aircraft. It includes all past GWX 75 features as well.

Calcagno also commented on strong sales on the M600 and M500, plus great market acceptance of the Piper 100i for flight training. While a handful of M600s are available before the end of the year, the M500 and 100i are essentially sold out until the second quarter of 2022.