Piper’s M600 is ideal for an owner pilot transitioning out of a piston-engine-powered aircraft or for a corporate flight department needing short-hop or short-field supplemental lift.
In a little less than three years since the model’s introduction, Piper Aircraft has delivered 99 of these single-engine, six-seat turboprops. The $2.994 million airplane builds on Piper’s M-series fuselage, which dates back to the company’s piston-engine twin Navajo of the 1960s and its now discontinued line of Cheyenne twin turboprops.
The M600 is one of three M series aircraft currently in production. (The others are the piston-powered M350, formerly known as the Malibu, and the M500 turboprop, formerly called the Meridian.) As the accountants would say, the fuselage is fully amortized, with development costs having been paid down back in the days when people smoked in airplanes.
No one is going to call the inside of this airplane voluminous: the cabin interiors for all M Class Pipers measure 12 feet, 4 inches long; 4 feet, 2 inches wide; and 3 feet, 11 inches tall. Take a peek behind the pilot and copilots to the club-four configuration of facing passenger seats. If Procrustes had had an airplane, this would be it. Yes, you could throw four people back there, but you’d probably be accused of inhumane treatment. (To be fair, the same knock applies to several other single-engine turboprops and light jets). Not even the fresh, jet-like interior styling can compensate for going hip-to-hip, knee-to-knee with your fellow man.
Piper M600 Specifications
|Price Used (Min)||$2.5M|
|Price Used (Max)||$2.5M|
|Total Fixed Cost/Year||$172,619|
|Total Variable Cost/Year||$295,463|
|Volume||165 cu ft|
|Year Ended||In Production|
|Max Takeoff Weight||6,000 lb|
|Max Cruise Speed||274 ktas|
|Max Altitude||30,000 ft|
|Balanced Field Length||2,902 ft|
For many missions, though, that’s not an option: an M600 with a full bag of gas (270 gallons) has a sparse remaining available payload of just 422 pounds, barely enough for the pilot up front and one passenger and a small dog riding in the back. Still, on runs the length of Mackinac Island, Michigan to Chicago (269 nautical miles) you could conceivably go seats full in an M600.
Compared with the M500, the M600 has a more modern-looking interior with upscale leather and convenience features, including cupholders, USB charging ports, and fold-out work tables. Entry is through an aft fuselage door that measures 46 by 24 inches. There is a small 20-cubic-foot baggage compartment behind the aft-most passenger seats that can hold 100 pounds.
Beginning in 2017, M600 buyers could opt for the “EXP” exterior and interior option, which offers more ways to customize the aircraft’s appearance. Options include multiple colors and stitching patterns for seats, embroidered or embossed logos, customized cockpit and threshold plates, custom ceiling bezels, leather-wrapped control yokes, new exterior-paint schemes, and luggage to match the scheme selected. The aircraft is also available with a new Hartzell, five-blade, swept-tip propeller that reduces cabin noise and vibration. Starting with serial number 81 in mid-2018, the M600 received additional upgrades, including a new fuel control unit that facilitates starting temperatures that are up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit cooler.
The other main differences between the M600 and M500 concern avionics, power, payload, range, speed, and, of course, price. For roughly an extra $600,000 the M600 delivers the more feature-packed Garmin G3000 touchscreen-controlled avionics system with larger displays and a variety of capabilities to simplify single-pilot operations. It is the same system that is standard in many light jets, as opposed to the more basic Garmin G1000 in the M500. Both airplanes have the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A engine, but on the M600 it is rated for 600 shaft horsepower, 100 more than on the M500. While the M600 has a range of 1,658 nautical miles (no reserves), the M500, holding 90 fewer gallons of fuel, tops out at 1,000 nautical miles. Full-fuel payload in the M500 is just 315 pounds—basically you and your luggage. The extra horsepower and the redesigned wing make the M600 slightly faster at maximum cruise power, 274 knots compared with 260 in the M500.
The M600’s new wing—which is only a few inches longer than that on the M500— enables it to hold more fuel, and the fuel differential also accounts for the M600’s heftier maximum takeoff weight—6,000 pounds, 908 more than the M500’s takeoff weight. The new wing is also home to a wider-track main landing gear design that makes strong crosswinds—up to 17 knots—easier to navigate on the runway.
Surprisingly, the required takeoff distance difference between the two airplanes when fully loaded is less than 200 feet, but the M600 needs more than 500 feet of additional runway to stop. This is an airplane that can easily use runways shorter than 3,500 feet (sea level, standard temperature). The M600 does particularly well under high altitude/high temperature conditions like those encountered in places such as Telluride, Colorado (field elevation 9,078 feet). Fuel burns are about the same in both at cruise power—39 and 37 gallons per hour, respectively, on the M600 and M500, and both aircraft have an approved service ceiling of 30,000 feet.
The M600 comes with a solid five-year, 1,500-hour airframe warranty (seven years and 2,500 hours for the engine). Bryant Elliott, Piper’s senior product marketing manager, is not sure whether owners will keep the airplane that long, based on Piper’s experience with Meridian buyers, as many transition into jets or replace their Pipers with upgraded models. However, he acknowledges that M600 owners are typically flying their airplanes on much longer missions than M500/Meridian owners do.
Priced more than $1 million below comparably equipped albeit somewhat faster single-engine turboprops such as the Daher TBM 940 and Pilatus PC-12 NG, the M600 has obvious market appeal, a time-tested fuselage, modern avionics, and pleasant flying qualities. You could spend more to get nearly the same performance from another aircraft. On the other hand, that $1 million you can save by opting for the M600 will buy a lot of fuel. Or baubles for the small dog.