Piper Aircraft had people guessing at AOPA Expo when it announced that a new product was forthcoming.
Were they going to jump into the LSA pool, as many expected?
“We’re not bringing back the Cub,” Mark Miller, director of the company’s corporate communications, said during the Expo, which was held earlier this month in Hartford, Conn.
The announcement, it turned out, was of the Piper Matrix, a sort of light-weight Malibu Mirage, without pressurization and at a competitive price of $757,000.
Other than its lack of pressurization, however, the Matrix remains a cabin-class, high-performance, six-place airplane with air conditioning, an 800-pound payload and a well-equipped, two-screen Avidyne Integra glass cockpit. Its range with full seats is 831 nm at 188 knots. Reduce cabin payload by 120 pounds, or one small passenger, and range goes up to 960 nm. Its 350-hp Lycoming delivers a maximum cruise speed of 215 knots and full-fuel range of some 1,345 nm at its maximum operating altitude of 25,000 feet.
Jim Bass, Piper CEO, described the Matrix as delivering “unsurpassed luxury in a niche currently unfilled in general aviation.”
The company conducted a large-scale market survey before deciding to build the plane, he said. “Many of our customers and prospective buyers told us they wanted an airplane that provided…luxury and performance at a price hundreds of thousands of dollars below what has been available,” he said.
Bass described the typical Matrix operating altitude, between 8,000 and 17,500 feet, as a “home run altitude.” The Matrix, in essence, “extends the Malibu line by offering an unpressurized model to those who want the economy that offers without sacrificing performance and luxury.”
It will be built on the same assembly line as the Mirage and fundamentally is the same airframe.